Written by Courtney, Contributing Writer

Seeing our children suffer from a cough is no fun at all. However, coughs have their place in healing and should usually not be suppressed. If we prevent a cough from doing its part in recovery, we can set our child up for a much more serious illness. What starts out as a simple cold could quickly turn into bronchitis or pnemonia if mucous is allowed to settle in the chest.

At times, a cough can interfere with recovery when it causes severe irritation and prevents our child from getting adequate rest. We can ease our child’s discomfort while still allowing a cough to do its job.

Soothing herbs and honey protect the throat from dryness and irritation, but don’t “turn off” the brain’s response to cough like some cough remedies do. Propping a child slightly helps to prevent the infection from settling in the lungs. Steam, poultices, and chest rub salves help to break up the chest congestion and make our child feel better fast.

Natural Remedies to Relieve a Cough

Eucalyptus and other essential oils can be very effective in relieving a cough. The oils help to increase oxygen flow and break up chest congestion. Some have antibacterial and/or antiviral properties as well! We can include these essential oils in stream treatments (diffused in vaporizors or humidifiers or in towel steam treatments) or in chest rubs, applied topically with a carrier oil or salve.

For years, I simply added essential oils to olive oil, similar to this recipe, and rubbed it on the chest for relief, but I’ve come to prefer a salve over the oil. It’s not as greasy or messy and it’s much less likely to spill.

Making a chest rub salve is simple. It’s also safer (and cheaper) than the store-bought brands, like Vic’s, which are made from a petroleum base and contain questionable preservatives and other ingredients.

How to Make a Chest Rub Salve

To make a chest rub salve, you will need a pan to melt the ingredients and a container to store the finished product in. I prefer metal tins, either 2 ounces or 4 ounces for this type of salve. Used moisturizer containers work well, too.

The size of your container will determine how much salve you make, so I will list the ingredient amounts in parts instead of a pre-determined amount. Over the years, I have found this to be much easier than trying to adjust a recipe to fit the container I store it in.


Simply melt the oil and beeswax in a pan and then add the essential oils. Pour into your metal tin(s) or other container. And that’s it!

The salve will harden within 10-15 minutes. If you find it is too soft, like the consistency of an ointment, you can scoop it back into the pan, remelt it and add more beeswax. If it is too hard, remelt and add more oil. I’ve also remelted to add more essential oil when I wasn’t satisfied with the strength of the oils.

This is a basic chest rub salve recipe that can be altered or added to to suit your individual needs or preferences. Essential oils of hyssop, rosemary, peppermint, thyme are a few examples of other oils that help relieve chest congestion. (Some essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy, so check the safety of any oils you plan to add if pregnant.)

We also use this salve to help relieve nasal congestion. When applied right under the nose, it helps to clear the airway instantly!

What are your favorite home remedies for relieving the discomfort of a cough?

Disclaimer: The writers at KOTH are not certified medical professionals of any kind and are not qualified to give you medical advice. Our goal is to help to educate and inspire you to take responsibility for your own family’s health and make informed choices of your own, not to consult you on medical treatment. 

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