Columnist: Grandmother’s old cure-all still works

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 3, 2016

Loran Smith

Syndicated columnist

This being cold and flu season, I wonder how many out there are using Vicks VapoRub to cure runny noses and coughs?

Recently, I ran across a Vicks advertisement in an old magazine. When I read what Vicks can do for you, I became curious about its use today. There are so many medications, which you see on TV, that are convincing that by using them, it will clear your system of all bugs and infections within a few hours. I am never persuaded by those messages which guarantee quick relief.

It has been my experience that no matter what you get and what you take, it is going to take a cold, sinus infection and whatever germ that invades your respiratory system at least a week to go away. More than likely, it will be two weeks or longer. If you find that one of those “overnight cures” works, please let me know.

Somehow or other, I have escaped the flu for years. Convinces one that flu shots really work. Now, have I jinxed myself? Is there going to be a flu bug which will knock me into a bedridden status? I really don’t believe in jinxes. However, I always harbor the notion that you can never be sure about your health — even the common cold.

In my growing up days, the only remedy we used, when there was a sniffle or a cough, was Vicks salve. You rubbed it generously on whatever ailed you. It was good for more than colds.

It was the only remedy my grandmother ever used. My mother, too. According to the ad about Vicks VapoRub, there hardly is anything that Vicks won’t cure — from acne to coughs to cracked heels. That last one brought about a chuckle. Reckon there are people out there today with cracked heels?

There was a time when such was commonplace. Those who worked the fields, walked behind mules and were always outside had bad feet. They had cracked heels from the environment in which they toiled.

Vicks VapoRub gave them relief. Didn’t matter the discomfort, a man had to keep walking to make a living down on the farm. Even though work around the house for the womenfolk was not as punishing as following a mule in the fields, women had cracked heels too, from the demands of managing the home where there were endless chores.

After thinking about it, I am convinced that those who lived the hard life years ago in the fields would not have made it without Vicks VapoRub, which was always within arms length.

Whenever I came down with a cold, I always got a Vicks rubdown, its menthol qualities soothing to my nostrils. You were enveloped by warm senses, and you seemed to sleep soundly after a night of Vicks medication.

Here is what the old Vicks ad, claimed Vicks would do for any ailment:

Sore throat: Rub Vicks VapoRub and wrap in a man’s sock.

Decongestant: Rub on chest and under each nostril.

Sore muscles: Rub generously on sore muscles.

Headaches: Rub a small amount on your temples and forehead.

Ear Aches: Apply a small amount to a cotton ball and place in ear to relive pain.

Nail fungus: Rub on toenails with fungus. The nail will turn a dark color as it kills the fungus. Dark color will go away as the nail grows out.

Mosquito Repellent: Rub a small amount to the exposed skin.

Itchy bug bites: Rub on bite and cover with a band-aid.

Acne: Dab on zit to clear it up.

Cold Sores: Rub a little on the area when you begin to feel one coming on.

Coughs: Rub generously on feet and cover with socks to minimize coughing.

How ‘bout that last one! To cure a cold, medicate your feet.

A lot of patent medicines have fallen by the wayside over the years, but a testing of Vicks in lab at a major university has revealed that old fashioned Vicks VapoRub really is effective and works better than other over the counter products.

I can’t talk to my grandmother anymore, but the next cold I feel coming on, I am going to do what she would do. I’m gonna get some Vicks VapoRub.

If I should break a leg, I’ll go to the doctor for sure, but I’m also going to rub some VapoRub on the damaged appendage. That’s what my grandmother would do.

Loran Smith is an athletic administrator at the University of Georgia.