Ointments called vapor rubs are designed to be rubbed directly on the chest and throat. They rely on essential oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus to produce a heating sensation that reduces constriction by stimulating blood circulation. The oils in a vapor balm are also absorbed through the skin to relieve congestion and kill infection. They serve double duty—the antibiotic scent is also inhaled into the lungs. Vapor balms sold in pharmacies still use compounds derived from antibiotic essential oils (or synthetic counterparts), such as thymol from thyme and menthol from mint.
Kathi Keville is the author of eleven books, including Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art (Crossing Press, 1995) and Herbs for Health and Healing (Rodale, 1996). She teaches herb and aromatherapy seminars throughout the United States and is director of the American Herb Association ( www.ahaherb.com ).
Click here for the original article, Herbs for Cold and Flu.
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