When you feel a sniffle or a stuffy nose coming on, you may rifle through the bathroom cabinet for just one thing: Vicks VapoRub. And that’s a good idea, as the menthol-rich formula is a winner when it comes to clearing sinuses and soothing the symptoms of colds. But the tried-and-tested ointment is more versatile than you think – and there’s at least one weird trick that you should definitely know about.
20. It relieves headaches and migraines
Most people look to VapoRub for respite from colds and congestion – not surprising, as Vicks markets the product as a remedy for these ailments. But there’s another long-touted benefit of which you may not be aware. Simply put, VapoRub can assist in treating headaches and even migraines, which is good news for many.
You see, migraine sufferers can be found in almost a quarter of American homes. And those who have been through the pain and disorientation of the condition know that they can be severely debilitating. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, over 90 percent of people who experience migraines find themselves struggling to do their jobs or even go about their day-to-day lives as usual during an attack. Kids are often affected, too, and this can prove detrimental to their education. The Migraine Research Foundation claims on its website, “Children who suffer are absent from school twice as often as children without migraine.”
If you struggle with migraines, then, you’ve probably popped more than a few Advil in your time. You may even have had shots, used nasal sprays or resorted to Botox injections – all just to keep that intense discomfort at bay. What you may not have tried, however, is VapoRub. That’s right: the household staple can apparently help banish migraines when they come on. To alleviate a pounding head, then, you should take a dollop of Vicks and massage it into your temples. After that, the ointment’s menthol scent and coolness can start to assuage your head pressure and dull that pain.
19. It tackles nail fungus
Sadly, our nails tend to get drier and more brittle as we age, and any cracks that appear as a result can allow fungus to intrude. This in turn leads to some unpleasant side effects: nails may become thicker, turn yellowish-brown, change shape or even give off an off-putting scent. However, if this has happened to you – regardless of how old you are – reach for a jar of Vicks VapoRub.
Then, after you’ve scooped up some VapoRub, apply it to the affected area. You may notice that your nail goes dark afterward, but that’s a good thing, as it means the VapoRub – or more specifically, its antimicrobial and antibacterial ingredient thymol – has killed off the fungus. And from then on, you should hopefully have no more problems.
18. It relaxes achy muscles
Perhaps you’re a marathon runner who trains intensively; maybe, on the other hand, you sit in a less-than-ergonomic desk chair for eight hours a day. Either way, you come home and your muscles ache. And to dull some of the pain, you should be reaching for your trusted jar of Vicks VapoRub.
Applying VapoRub to the affected area will quickly soothe your pain as it promotes circulation, which gets the muscles back to normal. The rub – complete with the active ingredients camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol – has even been proven to relieve moderate cases of myalgia and could potentially work for arthritis. And there’s yet another added benefit: the eucalyptus contained within the product may assist in boosting your immune system. That’s according to a study published in 2008 in the journal BMC Immunology, which claims that the substance helped rats fight off pathogens – disease-causing microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses – within the body.
Menthol, meanwhile, is thought to encourage the flow of blood, and the cooling feeling it provides on the skin may just be the ticket in alleviating cramps and muscle twinges. Research has also shown that a mixture of peppermint oil – which contains menthol – and eucalyptus may not only help you wind down, but also improve your brain function. And then there’s the camphor found in VapoRub, which can help calm inflamed areas on the body and soothe any itchiness. Altogether, though, these ingredients should work wonders on tired or sore limbs. So, after a long run or hard day at the office, have VapoRub at the ready.
17. It hastens the healing of bruises
Apparently, it typically takes about two weeks for a bruise to fade away. And during that time, your skin will put on a serious show as the mark morphs from red to blue to green and then finally brown. This muted rainbow appears as the blood that formed the initial bruise gets reabsorbed into your body.
If you don’t want to wait so long for your bruise to disappear, however, you can hasten the process with a bit of Vicks VapoRub. The product’s menthol will cool down the area and so help alleviate the pain that came with your initial injury, while its camphor will tamp down the inflammation. And, altogether, those effects speed up the healing process.
16. It plumps chapped lips
Oil glands keep many areas of your skin moisturized and plump. However, your lips do not have that luxury, and this explains why wintery weather and sun exposure can cause your kisser to get chapped or dry. And, once again, Vicks VapoRub can come to your rescue.
You see, a very thin coating of VapoRub can give your lips the hydration they need to plump back up. You can also use the menthol-rich salve to soothe painful or split areas. Regardless of why you’re applying the ointment, though, be sure to use only a tiny amount and avoid eating any of it.
15. It disinfects minor cuts
It’s not often you suffer from a sizable cut that needs bandages or stitches. But small scrapes, splinters and other scratches? Those happen all of the time. And while you may leave them to close up on their own, you can use Vicks VapoRub to help the process go even more smoothly.
For one thing, VapoRub has antiseptic qualities, meaning it can clean out your wound and keep infections at bay. It should also help speed up the healing process, and anyone who’s had a painful paper cut will know that hastening its disappearance is ideal.
14. It cools sunburn
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 33 percent of Americans claim to get sunburn each year – and if you’re among them, you know just how aggravating the condition can be. Your skin aches, pulsates and can even feel hot to the touch. But while you may be tempted to reach for the aloe for relief, just know that VapoRub does the job, too.
Applying a layer of VapoRub will have the same effect as aloe, in fact, as you’ll be able to feel how it quickly cools the surface of your skin. And if that’s not enough, the ointment can also neutralize the redness. So, slather VapoRub on this time, and be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen in the future.
13. It removes stubborn lipstick
According to a 2004 survey by Mintel, more than 80 percent of women in America sport lipstick – many on a daily basis. But as any make-up afficionado will know, a long-lasting formula that stays put through drinking and eating can be tough to take off before you head to bed.
Let’s say you’ve wiped off your lipstick, but a hint of the color still lingers. If that’s the case, then slather a thin layer of VapoRub over the unwanted stain and leave it in place for five minutes. After that, you should be able to wipe off your make-up with ease. And as an added bonus, you’ll have moisturized your pout, too.
12. It fights acne
The American Academy of Dermatology Association claims that as many as 50 million people in the U.S. deal with acne each year – and they’re not all teenagers, either. Many are blighted with pimples well into adulthood, in fact, and are yearning for that magic bullet to get rid of them once and for all. If that sounds like you, then perhaps you should try Vicks VapoRub.
You see, VapoRub’s ingredient list includes camphor and eucalyptus, which both have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Together, they can soothe your skin, calm inflammation and neutralize an unclear complexion. However, you should be cautious if you try this tip, as for some Vaporub causes more breakouts. That’s because it contains petroleum jelly, which is meant to keep skin moisturized.
11. It moisturizes dry feet
Your feet can dry out for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps you’ve taken a lot of hot baths, for instance, or spent too much time in a humidity-free environment. You may even have athlete’s foot – a fungal infection that can cause skin to get sore, flaky and, yes, dehydrated.
Fortunately, you can rely on VapoRub to help you. As the ointment’s formula includes petroleum jelly, applying it to the skin should help lock in moisture. VapoRub even includes antimicrobials that can kill off the bacteria responsible for your athlete’s foot.
10. It diminishes warts
While your skin may have come in contact with the virus responsible for causing warts many months ago, that doesn’t matter, as a bump can still form on your skin even after that much time has passed. And once a wart appears, it can take years to vanish on its own without any intervention.
However, Vicks VapoRub aficionados swear by the stuff as DIY wart relief. And if you want to follow in their lead, simply apply a touch of the ointment to the affected area, then cover it with a bandage. But proceed with caution, as experts have yet to weigh in on this remedy – and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for help, either.
9. It repels insects
Summer may be the season that beckons us all outdoors, but it’s not a pleasant experience when we have to deal with bugs – especially mosquitoes. If you feel like you’ve tried every insect repellent on the shelves without any relief from bites and stings, however, then dab a bit of VapoRub onto yourself before leaving the house.
VapoRub works wonders as an insect repellent as it contains cedar leaf oil – something that many pests can’t stand. So, put a bit of the product on your legs, arms, neck, ankles and other exposed skin before returning to enjoying life outside in summer and beyond.
8. It dulls hemorrhoid pain
Hemorrhoids hurt, and sometimes sufferers may not have the right remedy on hand to soothe such a sensitive spot. Just know, though, that you can always reach for Vicks VapoRub for relief. Take a generous dab of the menthol-laden ointment and layer it over the area to dull the pain and itchiness you feel.
But however effective it may be, VapoRub is only a temporary solution and won’t get rid of the discomfort in the long term. So, if you’ve been persistently annoyed by hemorrhoids, a visit to the doctor’s office may be required for more professional and personalized treatment.
7. It tightens skin to fight wrinkles
It’s no secret that skincare products can cost a lot of money – with no guarantee that they’ll live up to the hype. And then there’s Vicks VapoRub, which costs a fraction of what you’d pay for a fancy face cream and makes zero promises about its wrinkle-fighting abilities.
However, VapoRub can make skin brighter and tighter after just a night’s wear – especially on the fine lines that appear on your neck and chest. And while speaking to the Daily Mail in 2009, pharmacist Shabir Daya explained why the ointment works so well. “It is the combination of menthol and camphor that have a tightening effect on the skin,” she revealed.
6. It softens stretch marks
Stretch marks are part of life and often mark an incredible milestone – carrying a baby, anyone? Still, you may want to soften the look of these jagged lines, and you can do so with a helping of Vicks VapoRub. According to a 2016 article by the Daily Mail, some who’ve slathered the product onto their skin have reported that their marks diminished by 60 to 100 percent after just a week of usage.
But maybe that shouldn’t come as a surprise, as VapoRub has a slew of ingredients that work together to mute stretch marks’ appearance. The combination of camphor, eucalyptus oil, cedar leaf oil, petrolatum and turpentine oil softens the skin and makes it seem less dry – a boon if you want to wave bye-bye to those tell-tale scars.
5. It moisturizes a dry scalp
Perhaps you’re having a bad reaction to a new shampoo, or maybe you’re just getting older. Regardless of the reason, you have a dry scalp, which isn’t just uncomfortable, but also aesthetically displeasing. No one wants flakes of dead skin appearing on their head, after all.
Luckily, you can quench a dry scalp with the help of Vicks VapoRub, as the petroleum and eucalyptus contained within the ointment help make it an effective salve. Shortly before bed, simply work a thin layer of VapoRub over the driest areas of your head, then sleep with it in place.
4. It makes a sinus-clearing shower bomb
As you know, Vicks VapoRub is a great tool in the fight against congestion. You also may be aware that breathing in hot shower steam can help relieve the sensation of stuffiness. So, just imagine how good it’d feel to combine these two remedies – and get to work on a DIY shower bomb to make it happen.
To make this sinus-clearing wonder, you only need three tablespoons of VapoRub, a half-cup of cornstarch and two tablespoons of water. Firstly, put the ointment into a bowl, then add the cornstarch and, finally, the water. After that, form the resulting paste into balls and leave these out overnight to harden. Then pop one of these balls onto the shower floor and let the whole chamber fill with soothing fumes.
3. It softens coughs… if you put it on your feet
Any Vicks VapoRub aficionado can tell you that the stuff helps to soothe coughs and colds. You just have to rub some onto your chest and breathe in deeply, right? Well, that’s true enough, but some pioneering users have come to realize that it’s not just an upper-body-only remedy.
When you’re next plagued with an irritating cough, then, try applying VapoRub to the bottoms of your feet before sliding into socks. And while that idea may sound a little odd, don’t rule it out completely. According to some people, slathering the ointment on this part of the body still tells your throat to stop tickling. Apparently, your chest will loosen up a bit, too.
2. It calms eczema and rosacea
We know that Vicks VapoRub can quell some of your acne breakouts and redness. But that’s not the only inflammation your skin can face – as you’ll know if you’ve been diagnosed with eczema or rosacea. Luckily, you can use the over-the-counter remedy to clear up these skin conditions, too.
VapoRub’s eucalyptus and camphor are, of course, both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, while the salve’s ingredients also improve the skin’s appearance and dull any discomfort you may feel from rosacea or eczema. However, you should apply the VapoRub to only a small section of the skin at first to ensure that it doesn’t react badly. Then, if you’re good to go, feel free to layer the product onto your face and experience the relief.
1. It boosts hair growth
Four of Vicks VapoRub’s ingredients are said to promote hair growth. Lavender apparently boosts blood flow around the follicles, as does eucalyptus, which also fights a dry scalp. At the same time, menthol rids the scalp of irritants, while camphor boosts circulation – thus helping stronger strands to grow.
As such, some people swear by VapoRub to give their locks a helping hand. Yet while experts do acknowledge that bettering blood flow to the head can, indeed, inspire improved hair growth, VapoRub is apparently pretty unlikely to make a substantial difference.
So, VapoRub has a multitude of handy uses – and some of them may have proved surprising. But did you know that there’s a completely natural solution to many of your health woes? And, in fact, you’ve probably been underestimating the humble aloe vera plant all these years, as it’s not just good for alleviating sunburn.
For thousands of years, aloe vera has been hailed as a wonder plant by civilizations such as the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamian people. But it continues to feature in a number of cosmetics to this day, and given the health benefits associated with aloe vera, it’s not hard to see why.
Aloe vera is a kind of succulent that originally comes from the Arabian Peninsula. However, it can also now be found in arid and tropical climates across the globe. It has many uses in medicine and agriculture, though many green-fingered individuals use the species simply as decoration because it grows well as a house plant.
Many of us will already be familiar with aloe vera; after all, extracts of the plant are used in a number of everyday products. These include tissues, soaps, makeup, moisturizers and sunscreens. However, what is less known about the plant is its unique composition and how that has been harnessed over the centuries.
Aloe vera is around 95 percent water, though the other five percent of the plant contains large amounts of healthy enzymes. Furthermore, it has 200 so-called bioactive compounds: including vitamins, amino acids, minerals and polysaccharides. And these components help the body absorb nutrients.
Aloe vera is also rich in magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, zinc, calcium, and iron. The plant has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can reportedly aid the immune system and remove toxins from the body. As a result, it has been used as a health supplement for thousands of years.
The ancient Egyptians called aloe vera “the plant of immortality” and it was used by the civilization 6,000 years ago. It’s believed that they valued the juices of the plant for its nourishing qualities. Aloe was considered sacred by the Egyptians, who thought its “blood” was the elixir of health and beauty.
Ancient Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra are thought to have made use of aloe vera in their daily skincare regimes. At the time, the plant was inextricably linked to beauty. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory and soothing qualities of aloe were recorded by the Egyptians in 1,550 BC.
However, the ancient Egyptians regarded aloe not only for its cosmetic uses but for its spiritual ones as well. They apparently made further use of the anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities of aloe vera by using the plant to embalm the dead – believing that stopping physical decomposition would lead to eternal life.
So prized was aloe vera in ancient Egypt that people would present dead pharaohs with the plant at their funerals. The offering was so valuable that a person’s wealth and regard for the king were displayed in the amount of aloe that he gave. So no doubt, the more plant a man presented, the better he was deemed to be.
For the Mahometans of Egypt, aloe vera was symbolic of religion. They would hang motifs of the plant above their doors in a bid to protect them from evil influences and slander. Similarly, the ancient Mesopotamians believed that aloe had the power to expel demons.
In fact, it was the Mesopotamian people who were responsible for one of the earliest recorded uses of aloe vera – which dates from approximately 2,200 BC. They had documented the plant on clay boards found in the ancient city of Nippur. In Mesopotamia, aloe vera was known for its cleansing effect on the intestines. But it was also said to possess the power to exorcise illness-causing demons.
For his part, Alexander the Great was said to have traveled through Asia with carts of planted aloe vera in tow. The plant was valued for its apparent medicinal qualities at the time, and the ancient King of Macedon relied on aloe juice to treat the wounds his soldiers sustained in battle. Apparently, Aristotle persuaded Alexander to invade the island of Socotra in modern-day Yemen just so he could gain possession of the aloe groves there.
Elsewhere, aloe vera has been used in Chinese medicine for nearly 800 years. The plant is believed to have the ability to drain downwards in the body and is therefore used as a treatment for constipation. Furthermore, practitioners of Chinese medicine also believe that aloe has the ability to detoxify the liver.
So as we’ve seen, aloe vera’s detoxifying powers have long made the plant a much-used natural remedy. Sebastian Pole is a herbalism expert and co-founder of the supplement company Pukka Herbs. And in March 2019 he explained the purifying properties of aloe vera to Marie Claire.
During Pole’s interview with the magazine, he explained the science behind the plant’s powers. The expert said, “Aloe vera juice is crammed full of amino acids, vitamins and minerals – making it one of nature’s most effective cleansers. It can help strengthen digestion and rid the body of any nasty waste, thus detoxifying the body naturally.”
Pole then revealed some more of aloe vera’s many reported benefits. He said, “Its main property is to be soothing, cooling and moistening. [This] helps to clear inflammatory and irritating heat, such as in menopause, plus inflammatory skin and digestive problems – such as acne, rosacea and IBS.”
Aloe vera is cited by some as a wonder plant with the ability to aid all kinds of ailments even to this day. Throughout the centuries, it has been used to treat over 50 medical conditions: including dermatitis, burns, acne, obesity, diabetes, ulcers and asthma. Moreover, the plant has even been used to medicate leprosy.
While aloe vera has been used in cosmetic and health treatments for millennia, there is still little clinical evidence to attest to the plant’s effectiveness or safety. Though with a number of possible benefits, people continue to use aloe in their everyday lives. Nevertheless, you may wish to consult a doctor before use.
So despite a lack of solid evidence to its effectiveness, aloe vera continues to be one of the most popular natural remedies on the planet. It is used as a juice which is cold-pressed from the rind of the plant. Alternatively, aloe vera can come as a gel, which comes from the innermost layer of the plant’s distinctive triangular leaves.
Aloe vera gel is often applied topically to the skin to help with various issues. One of the most common uses of the plant is perhaps the treatment of sunburn. Aloe gel can be used to cool burned skin and even help to heal the affected area thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
And there’s some science to back up the claim that aloe vera can help to treat sunburn. The plant’s gel contains polysaccharides, which are compounds that promote skin repair and skin cell renewal. Furthermore, the pain reliever carboxypeptidase is found in aloe vera gel – which could explain its ability to soothe the skin.
But the benefits that aloe vera may have on the skin go beyond the treatment of sunburn. In fact, some dermatologists have advised incorporating extracts of the plant into our daily skincare regimes for our faces. That’s because the minerals and vitamins within the plant can be used as a natural remedy to acne, aging and dark spots.
Cosmetic surgeon and dermatologist Joel Schlessinger explained how the plant treats the skin in a January 2019 interview with Prevention magazine. He said, “Aloe vera is a cactus-like plant known for its healing and medicinal properties. Its stems store water, creating a clear, gel-like substance in the leaves, which contains vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids.”
And while the benefits of aloe vera are yet to be proven, Schlessinger insisted that there’s some evidence that the plant can help certain ailments. He told Prevention, “… The biochemistry of aloe vera does have some anti-viral, anti-fungal, and cell-regenerative properties. So, applying it to the skin in addition to other medications or remedies may prove to be helpful.”
Some dermatologists believe that aloe vera gel is effective in relieving inflammation, which can exacerbate many skin conditions – including eczema and psoriasis. The compound acemannan is found in the plant and is known to prevent inflammation. As a result, aloe could help to relieve irritation, though a patch test is advisable before applying the gel to inflamed skin.
Given that aloe vera gel is largely made up of water, it also makes an excellent moisturizer. The plant extract has the ability to retain moisture, without making the skin feel greasy. In addition, it also helps the top layer of skin bind together – leading to a soft and smooth finish.
Not only can aloe vera gel moisturize skin, but it can also apparently help to fight acne. As well as having antibacterial properties, the plant also contains the exfoliant salicylic acid. This keeps pores clear and prevents spots and blackheads from forming. Moreover, aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory qualities work on the pesky oil glands that are responsible for acne.
Elsewhere, aloe vera can also be used to reduce the signs of aging. That’s because the plant encourages fibroblast activity, which in turn leads to increased collagen production and elastin fibers. Apparently, this can help to smooth out skin and make it more elastic. Aloe also contains zinc – which tightens pores – and antioxidants that combat the formation of free radicals.
Perhaps surprisingly, aloe vera is also used as a treatment for cold sores. Dermatologist David Lortscher explained to Prevention, “Aloe vera is an antiseptic, containing six agents known to help inhibit fungi, bacteria, and viruses, including salicylic acid, phenols, and sulfur.” The plant can also boost the immune system’s antibodies, and this helps the body to fight off the cold sore virus.
Given the soothing qualities of aloe vera, extracts of the plant are used in both homemade and shop-bought shaving creams. DIY recipes combine aloe gel with coconut oil to make for a more environmentally friendly formula, which is devoid of some of the toxic chemicals that are sometimes found in big-name shaving creams.
Another way that people have incorporated aloe vera into their beauty regimes is as a makeup remover. In one simple homemade recipe, aloe gel is combined with olive oil to create a gentle formula that is good for the skin but still has the power to remove stubborn cosmetics like mascara.
Maybe one of the more unexpected uses of aloe vera gel is in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – a digestive disorder which can cause heartburn. According to a review from 2010, the consumption of one to three ounces of gel with meals could help lower the severity of the condition. And given the low toxicity of aloe, it is a useful remedy for heartburn in general.
Aloe vera gel is said to be an effective natural alternative to mouthwash, too. A 2014 study in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences found that the plant’s ingredients – including vitamin C – created an effective barrier for plaque. Meanwhile, aloe vera gel can also alleviate swollen or bleeding gums.
However, it’s not just aloe vera gel that has benefits when it comes to health. The juice of the plant is also said to be advantageous – particularly to the immune system. As pole explained to Marie Claire, “Aloe vera is packed full of immune-boosting polysaccharides which help the immune system to behave properly.”
Pole added, “Too much inflammation in the body can cause problems within the immune system and can cause conditions like asthma, eczema and Crohn’s disease. Soothing herbs like aloe vera juice can slow the inflammatory cascade and help reorder the immune response to prevent these conditions.”
Furthermore, just one small spoonful of aloe vera juice could help to lower blood sugar quickly. Pole revealed to Marie Claire, “There is some evidence to suggest aloe vera lowers cholesterol and has a positive effect on blood sugar levels, meaning it can be useful for treating diabetes and obesity.”
According to Pole, aloe vera juice might also aid digestion. As a result, the herbalist advised people with stomach issues to bare the plant in mind, adding, “It’s worth trying for anyone who suffers with digestion problems like IBS. Its healing and soothing properties can help with the painful symptoms.”
In his interview with Marie Claire, Pole continued, “Aloe vera juice is packed with vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and folic acid. It’s also rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium and potassium.” In addition, he also revealed that some of the plant’s enzymes and vitamins contributed to healthy hair.
How much aloe vera to consume in order to experience all the aforementioned advantages depends on the potency of the product. However, Pole recommends ingesting three to six tablespoons of his company’s aloe vera once or twice every day. And while the plant’s powers are yet to be proven, there’s little risk in drinking aloe juice.
Pole told Marie Claire, “There are no negative side effects if you use a pure aloe vera inner leaf juice.” But the plant extract can lead to one unpleasant reaction. Pole explained, “If you use an aloe vera leaf product it may have high aloin levels, and aloin is a laxative which can cause diarrhea if too much is used.”