This is a hot topic and even though people have used store bought chest rubs for years, that does not mean they are safe to use. It is all about reducing risk and why take a risk using products such as these when there are just as effective and safer options? Yes, many of these products are marketed as safe for little ones & they even makes “baby” versions, (and there are many different brands that sell these type of things.), and they feel that the products are safe, so each one after learning the facts will have to decide what is best for their family.
Many of these types of products contain essential oils such as eucalyptus and/or peppermint and contain high levels of menthol and/or camphor which is great for reducing chest congestion and clearing nasal passages for older children and adults, but can be dangerous to use around small children. Even if these are “fragrance” oils instead of essential oils, the menthol scent can cause adverse reactions and cause breathing to become shallow and labored in little ones.
The reason behind this is that menthol and other similar substances can stimulate the cold receptors in the lungs which causes respiration to become more restricted. Think about going outside during bitterly cold weather and taking a deep breath of that icy cold air. It makes it hard to breathe and can even be a bit painful. In an older child or adult our bodies can better handle this response, but in a young child or baby, their response to something like this is often going to be more severe due to the fact that they are still developing.
* For using oils safely with children, please see our info here.
* For some much safer alternatives to store bought products or even DIY recipes which contain the same type of ingredients, please see our Cold & Congestion info.
* Here is a great recipe for a child safe chest rub from Aromahead. If you aren’t familiar Elemi, please click on the meme which will take you to a page on the Aromahead site where you can learn more. If you do not have Elemi, you can use Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) as a sub.
You can learn more about why using oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus are not child safe here.
* More info on why Vicks may not be the safest option for your family.
Vicks VapoRub May Lead To Respiratory Distress In Babies And Toddlers
Lea Harris is a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist Scholar's Program graduate from Aromahead Institute. This website, and its sister website, LearningAboutEOs, is home to educational advice and information about using essential oils safely. Lea founded and runs the Using Essential Oils Safely facebook group, with hundreds of new members joining each week. Lea is the author of The TRUTH About Essential Oil Safety, and the creator of Safe Essential Oil Labels and the UEOS App. You can find FREE classes here: Free Essential Oil Classes.
Lea received her herbalist certification through The Herbal Academy of New England. Lea is a contributing writer for Natural Herbal Living magazine, and blogs about herbs and natural living on her website, Nourishing Treasures.
Lea is Professional level member of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists.
Businesses, groups, and individuals can hire Lea to consult on safety, product formulation, and more on her website Lea Harris CCA.