I don't know about you, but I find coughs unnerving. A bit of a snotty nose or a scratchy throat somehow seems less complicated than a cough. I certainly meet a lot of parents with concerns about what they can do for their children who are up all night coughing and spluttering. The concept of inhalation of herbs, oils and vapours is by no means a new one. All traditional cultures have plants used for smoking, steam inhalation, chest rubs or poultice for the management of symptoms of colds, flus and coughs. This is an easy home remedy which contains no petroleum based chemicals or additives like the widely used varieties you can buy from the pharmacy or supermarket.
I always think, if we're going to put something on our skin (or hair, or under our arms etc) then it needs to be 'nasty' chemical free. Those chemicals go into the body via the skin after all. I think this is especially important for little ones - whose detoxification systems are weaker and skin is more sensitive. Some of the common chemicals in skin care (and baby products/chest rubs) are phthalates, petrochemicals, artificial fragrances and sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate. These chemicals are known to be harmful to humans in a wide variety of ways and having a book reference like The Chemical Maze helps to check up your common products. While we're on the topic: Did you know that Lucus PawPaw Ointment - the one most widely available in Australia is based on petroleum jelly (a petrochemical base)?! You could try others from Natural Alternative or Phytocare for a chemical free option for your family.
When using essential oils it is imperative they are 100% pure essential oil, not fragrances. You can buy these online, at your local health food shop or at some natural therapies businesses. It's good to start a selection of frequently used oils so they are ready when you need them. You only use a few drops at a time so they last ages and ages!
Homemade Natural Chest Rub
2 tbs Coconut Oil
2 tbs Olive Oil
20 drops Eucalyptus Oil
15 drops Rosemary Oil
15 drops Tea Tree Oil
5 drops Peppermint Oil
5 drops Lemon Oil
5 drops Sweet Basil Oil
Using a double boiler method (with a glass dish sitting in a pot of boiling water) gently melt the coconut oil and olive oil together. Drop in the 100% pure essential oils and mix. Pour into a 50g glass jar, or another non plastic container. Place in the fridge or freezer to firm up. This is quite likely to melt at room temperature, so you might like to keep it in the fridge for preservation as well as staying semi-solid. Alternatively you can add melted bees wax to harden it. I like it oily so that it spreads easily and a little goes a long way.
This chest rub helps to drain a blocked sinus, settle a cough, break up mucus and kill infections. It can be rubbed on the chest, neck, back, under the nose or a personal favourite...on the feet. For very little ones use only a very small amount or even put it on a cloth next to their sleeping place.
Even Easier Chest Rub
1 tsp Paw Paw Ointment (chemical free of course!)
5 drops Eucalyptus Oil
Place the paw paw ointment in the palm of your hand. Drop on the 5 drops of eucalytpus and mix it up with your finger. Rub onto chest, back, neck or feet. Make again as required.
Happy home remedy making!