Tag Archives: coughs

Curiosity why some things work…

I am sure my best friend won’t mind if I use my darling Godson as a blog post subject.

My 2 year old Godson has been stricken with croup and a chesty cough on top of that now, and he has been sleeping fitfully and being sick a lot as well.  Poor little chap.  It was suggested by one of our mutual Facebook friends that she try putting Vicks Vapo-rub on the soles of his feet to stop the coughing.  It worked!


After reporting this fact, my friend was curious as to why it worked, and to be fair, I was thoroughly intrigued and so I have done some speedy research.  I know from previous research that a traditional folk remedy for bad chests is to put poultices on your feet, and I know anecdotally that it works a treat, but what is the scientific reason why it works?

My research turned up something called the Theory of Counter Irritation.  Essentially, what this states is that if you have an internal pain, or discomfort in one place, then causing a pain or irritation in another place  or externally will help alleviate the original pain or discomfort.  That seems something of a circular argument to me, seeing as you will still have a pain or irritation, but I suppose the menthol, eucalyptus and camphor in the Vapo-rub is not really pain.  It isn’t really discomfort either.  Still.  I am not sure I am necessarily convinced by this argument.

reflexology chart

So the other explanation I found surrounds reflexology and how parts of the feet essential parts of this holistic practice.  Basically, the idea behind reflexology is that there are different areas of the feet which have links to different parts of the body.  Massaging the feet can, according to this theory, really assist you in maintaining overall health.  My hypothesis in relation to Vicks Vapo-Rub is therefore that rubbing the warming jelly on the feet will relax the body and if the body is relaxed, then hopefully coughing will be less of an issue.  I don’t know about you, but after having a foot rub, I tend to be all floppy and relaxed, so this theory persuades me slightly more.

toddler sleeping

In the final analysis however, who cares why it works.  When you are desperate to do something to help a small person struggling to sleep and coughing a lot, you are really only worried about making sure SOMETHING works, not necessarily why it works or how it works.  Still, something to be remembered for the next time I feel like death warmed up and have a cough that just won’t quit!


An unexpected herbal treat from the garden…

This morning dawned bright, blue skied and beautiful, so I would have been crazy not to take full advantage.  I pulled on my brightest pair of summer capri pants (they are cerise pink… I think you might be able to see them from space!), a white T-shirt and headed out into the garden.  The plan was to weed, plant out, deadhead, replant and relocate.  I managed to do everything I wanted to in under 2 hours and have just come in grinning broadly.

I love gardening

Gardening always makes me smile (and sometimes wince… actually, quite often wince!) but another reason for the happiness is that I found a plant that I didn’t know we had.  Honeysuckle.  Now, I love honeysuckle.  I friend of ours gave us a honeysuckle when we got married, and along with cowslips, it rather took over our old garden.  The honeysuckle did not make the cut for coming to this house, but the cowslips have been replanted already.  However… I love the honeysuckle.  It is a fabulous climber, so it can disguise some less than pretty walls and fences, and the fragrance is absolutely gorgeous.  So, the fact that it is out by the back of our garage, competing with a wild rose and a rambling rose was a delightful surprise.


Even more, it was a bit of synchronicity, because yesterday evening I spent a good few hours musing about what I was going to write about today.  I would love to be able to tell you that all these posts of mine were easy to put together and that I have a list of them that I am slowly ticking off.  It is rarely the case that they are easy to produce, so yesterday evening, I got out one of my favourite herb books (Jekka’s Completer Herb Book – fabulous reference and fascinating reading) and leafed through it.  To my surprise, there was a page all about Honeysuckle!


Apparently it is also known as Woodbine, Beerbind, Evening pride, Fairy trumpets, Irish Vine and Sweet suckle.  Alfred Lord Tennyson referenced it in his poetry, and Shakespeare mentioned it in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Honeysuckle was among the plants that averted evil powers on May Day and took care of milk, the butter and the cows in the Scottish Highlands.  It was also thought that if the flowers were brought indoors, it presaged a wedding, or if placed in a girls bedroom, the girl would dream of love.


You can, according to Jekka, who is a Herbal oracle of the highest order, you can pick and dry the flowers for pot pourris just as they open.  They maybe at their palest of their colour, but their fragrance is at its height.  You can also use the flowers in salads. The best flavour is before the nectar has been collected, again, when it is at it’s palest.

honeysuckle tea

In terms of medicinal uses, an infusion of the heavily perfumed flowers can be taken as a substitute for tea.  It is also apparently useful for treating coughs, catarrh and asthma.  If you use a decoction of the flowers in a cream it is good for skin infections.  There is also recent research to suggest that honeysuckle has an outstanding curative action in cases of colitis.


I have only ever seen it as a useful climber!  But I now have a new-found delight in the plant!


Right… the shower is over, so I am back out into the garden again!  See you again on Wednesday