Finally! A Natural Alternative to Vicks VapoRub

Finally! A Natural Alternative to Vicks VapoRub

Getting over a cold is often both frustrating and difficult. Even worse, it can be hard to get to sleep at night to give your body the rest and recuperation it needs, especially if you can’t breathe, have trouble with sniffling or a sore throat, or just feel muscle soreness all over.

For a long time, people have relied on treatments like Vicks VapoRub to relieve the immediate symptoms of their underlying flu or cold illnesses. Vicks VapoRub has historically provided fast relief for these symptoms, allowing people to go to sleep and get the rest they need to rise and face the next day.

But, Vicks VapoRub has some issues, largely because of its ingredient composition and potential for side effects. No one wants to deal with a burning sensation when they are already fighting off a cold, yet Vicks sometimes causes just that. 

What if there was a natural alternative?

Turns out, there is! Green Goo’s Free To Breathe Salve is a perfect natural remedy for many of the same symptoms that Vicks helps with. Let’s break down both products and see why the natural alternative is the clear, better choice!

Vicks VapoRub: What Is It, and Why Can It Be Harmful?

Vicks VapoRub is one of the most well-known cold and muscle soreness treatments in the world. It’s also one of the oldest, having first been manufactured and sold in 1905. 

It’s created with a proprietary blend of several active ingredients, including:

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Menthol
  • Camphor: an ingredient that serves as a cough suppressant and topical analgesic; there is a naturally derived version of it, but Vicks uses the synthetic version

Cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil are the inactive ingredients, which round out the formula.

Throughout its history, Vicks VapoRub has been one of the number one treatments for general cold symptoms and muscle soreness. By rubbing it on to your chest, neck, and even the bottoms of your feet, your body will supposedly be able to fight off the symptoms of a typical cold more easily as you inhale the ointment. 

However, although Vicks VapoRub is one of the most popular cold symptom treatments, as you’ll see in the next section, there are also some issues that have cropped up time and again.

Potential Side Effects

While Vicks’ only synthetic ingredient is camphor (which easily has a natural derivative), the blend and strength of ingredients used in their formula have strong possibility for side effects, and it’s been this way since the product’s earliest stages.

A study from Penn State, in fact, once showed that Vicks VapoRub could create some burning sensations for the skin, nose, and eyes. Some of the study participants even reported certain rash outbreaks and redness when they used the product.

The Natural Alternative

Despite these issues, many people have used Vicks VapoRub over time and swear by it. But for those who don’t like putting synthetic chemicals or artificial ingredients on or in their body, the search for a safe and worthwhile alternative has been a long one.

In fact, many people have wondered whether it’s possible to create an alternative made with mostly or entirely all-natural ingredients. While aromatherapy has been a popular therapeutic remedy for quite some time, having steam distill certain essential oils into your environment is quite different from having a topical salve or rub that provides some of the same benefits.

But we put our minds to the task and cracked the case.

Cue Green Goo’s Free To Breathe Salve. This topical salve is made only with natural, plant-based ingredients, and features a particularly high concentration of certain botanical oils. 

It provides soothing relief for many of the common symptoms of colds and seasonal flu, including:

  • Soreness in your muscles
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Congestion

In fact, it’s effective enough that you can use it for both colds and even some seasonal allergies. Like many aromatherapy remedies, it provides some relief for stubborn symptoms of common ailments.

Just like with Vicks or similar remedies, however, this salve does not directly cure the sources of the cold or flu. It’s best thought of as a way to alleviate the symptoms so your body can heal naturally and you can rest and recuperate without feeling too uncomfortable.

The Free To Breathe Salve: Benefits and Ingredients

The Free To Breathe Salve provides all of the same benefits that Vicks VapoRub does and more, especially since it doesn’t use any synthetic compounds or chemicals in its formula while still working to suppress coughs and serve as a topical analgesic and skin protectant. Want proven relief from coughing? This salve can offer that. Need something to rub into your sore muscles after a day with the flu? It can do that, too. Need aromatherapy? You’ve got it. 

It can do all this thanks to the unique ingredients mindfully selected by our herbalist. 

The ingredients used are:

  • Calendula oil
  • Eucalyptus leaf oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Olive fruit oil
  • Beeswax
  • Castor seed oil
  • Sunflower seed oil
  • Vitamin E
  • Rosemary leaf oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Ravensara oil

All of these oils are carefully combined and mixed in the perfect proportion so that, when your body absorbs the oils through inhalation, you receive gentle and passive benefits from the blend and can feel relief from its gently cough suppressing effects, instead of being overwhelmed by any one ingredient, like the burning sensation often experienced with Vicks Vapor Rub’s synthetic version of camphor. 

The beeswax, among other things, is to create the salve's soft texture, and to make sure that it's easy to rub into any affected area. At the same time, it doesn’t make the salve impossible to be absorbed by your body, in contrast to the petroleum in Vicks which is not easily absorbed

Don’t know what a salve is?

In short, a salve is a particular mixture of herbs, oils, and a texturizing or balancing agent that is more often than not beeswax. They're pretty similar to balms, which are a little firmer, and butters, which have less of a waxy texture and are usually made from cocoa or shea butter or some other natural alternative.

But salves are usually applied in the same way: by rubbing the topical treatment on your skin. Depending on the exact ingredients, your skin will either directly absorb the beneficial ingredients over time, or you can inhale the ingredients over time if you apply the salve to your chest, especially to enjoy the relieving cough suppression. 

Either way, a salve is a perfect natural remedy to temporarily soothe the symptoms of a variety of ills and ailments. They’re some of the oldest medicinal solutions ever created, which is why they’re trusted almost everywhere. We think natural salves are far better than synthetic rubs like Vicks.

How to Use

Like with Vicks VapoRub, you should use this topical salve by rubbing it onto your chest or neck area for fast-acting, cough suppressing relief! 

When using for pain relief, you can give yourself a mini-massage by rubbing this salve into aching and sore muscles, whether caused by your cold or just by an extra strenuous workout. 

You can also try rubbing some onto the bottom of your feet before bed for a pleasant cooling sensation--some people simply swear that it makes them just feel better!

Plus, on top of it all, you’ll be able to enjoy the gentle aromatic goodness it offers, too. 

Unlike with Vicks VapoRub, you can apply this salve as often as needed since there aren’t any dangerous ingredients that could cause harsh side effects. Feel free to apply the salve as needed to enjoy its soothing effects!

Do Natural Ingredients Really Make That Big of a Difference?

Absolutely! Our bodies are fine-tuned machines that don’t usually need all of the synthetic chemicals or compounds that are packed into most products. In fact, many ingredients like petroleum (which is used in Vicks VapoRub) may lead to negative side effects later down the road. Even worse, some chemical-based products use parabens, particularly nasty preservatives that are now known to cause long-lasting health side effects for humans that consume or otherwise absorb them.

Additionally, when it comes to petroleum versus calendula as a skin protectant, there’s no contest. Petroleum just covers the skin and sits on top of it--like we mentioned earlier, petroleum isn’t easily absorbed. Calendula on the other hand is readily absorbed by your skin, where its antioxidants and flavonoids can go to work not only protecting your skin, but nourishing it, too. 

Calendula versus petroleum is just one example of how natural, plant based ingredients bring so much more to the table than just not being synthetic. 

One of the biggest differences comes in the complexity of plant based ingredients and the added benefits that they bring along, including vitamins, mineras, terpenes, and more that all naturally occur within the plant, and effortlessly bring that whole array of health-boosting benefits to you


If you’re dedicated to only providing your body with the best of the best, you should prioritize using salves and other remedies derived from natural ingredients. It’s the best way to make sure that you never have to deal with accidentally poisoning your body with sub-par stuff.

The Free To Breathe Salve is a top-notch natural alternative to Vicks VapoRub. If you’ve used Vicks for a long time but have waited for something natural to come and replace it, your wait is over!

We think the Green Goo Free To Breathe Salve is the number one replacement for Vicks VapoRub since it’s made with natural ingredients and provides the same benefits for those suffering from colds, flu, or allergies with less potential for burning and other side effects. Even with natural ingredients, it’s still helpful to test the salve on a patch of skin to make sure you don’t have an unusual reaction to any of the ingredients.

Give it a try yourself and let us know what you think, and don’t forget to check out more tips and tricks on how to prepare for cold and flu season.


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