The Vicks plant - a home remedy you can grow

The Vicks plant

This week while buying some jonquils in my local florist (to help keep me motivated while I mark exams) I came across a plant which I had never heard of before. It was the Vicks plant.  A little gem that I have become very excited about and wanted to share with you.  

Vicks plant (Plectranthus purpuratus) is a hardy house plant happy in pots, hanging baskets, or summer containers outdoors. It is closely related to swedish ivy, and more distantly related to coleus. 

As the name suggests, it has a strong odour similar to that of "Vick’s Vapor Rub", a common over-the-counter oily liniment available at pharmacies that can be rubbed on to the chest to help ease congestion.

If you were born in the 70's in Australia then it is highly likely you were raised knowing full well what Vick's vapour rub is.  The smell evokes strong memories of when I was sick as a child but paradoxically I find comfort in this scent even though it reminds me of runny noses and tonsillitis. It wasn't until much later on that we learn of the chemically laden ingredients in this product and are motivated to seek other alternatives. See previous post on using essential oils and laponite gel to make your own chest balm - alternatively you could buy some of mine from my dispensary!

In fact, the vicks plant can be used for the same purpose as the aforementioned product. The leaves can be steeped in boiling water to vapourize the characteristic oils which are then inhaled, helping to clear your nose and respiratory passages. Alternatively, the leaves can also be applied as a poultice (a soft, moist covering of material, typically applied to the body to relieve soreness and inflammation and kept in place with a warm cloth).   

Go on .... see if you can get a cutting of this little gem off of someone, poke it in your garden or in a little pot and grow some over Winter. Use it (carefully) in an inhalation with your kids when they have a cold so that they too grow up with that lovely smell of menthol in Winter and create some memories!  

Just sticking your head over a bowl of warm water and a towel over your head can also be helpful in opening the airways which may help your little one breathe a little clearer when they have a cold.  For little ones that may feel nervous or hesitant about having a towel over there head and breathing the menthol air under it - sit with them on your knee and do it together at the kitchen table. Be careful with water that is too hot and scalding. Let the leaves steep for at least 5 minutes so that the vapour particles release and you get the full benefits of the essential oils. This is a much cheaper option than buying a bottle of essential oil that you may only use a couple of times a year.  

Yours in health, 

Natalie