A Non-Toxic Alternative Topical Decongestant Safe for Kids

     Over 100 years ago the American family had a common elixir in their bathroom cupboard used for coughs and colds. Lee's Save the Baby was especially meant for children who suffered from winter ailments.  However, during it's 100 year run, concerns had been raised regarding the potential risks associated with its main ingredient, camphor. As cosmetic home crafters, its worth the considering the risks involved in adding any amount of an ingredient that is potentially toxic when consumed even if the product isn't meant for consumption, if only to ensure a non toxic environment for babies and pets and design an alternative non-toxic formula that may be just as effective.

     Firstly, 'Lee's, Save the Baby' was marketed as a natural remedy for various infant health issues, including congestion, coughs, and minor skin irritations. It was often praised for its soothing properties and perceived effectiveness in alleviating symptoms. Parents, drawn to its organic composition and gentle application, viewed it as a safe alternative to conventional medications, and many still do to this day. When used topically it was a safe product that delivered on its promises.

     However, the primary ingredient in 'Save the Baby,' camphor, presents a significant concern due to its toxicity. Camphor is a substance derived from the wood of camphor trees or synthesized from turpentine oil. While it has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, modern research has highlighted its potential dangers, particularly when ingested or excessively applied.

     Camphor toxicity manifests in several ways, depending on the dosage and route of exposure. Ingestion of even small amounts can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, seizures, and in severe cases, respiratory collapse. In infants and young children, who are more susceptible due to their smaller size and developing systems, these effects can be especially pronounced. Inhalation of camphor vapors can also cause respiratory distress and neurological symptoms.

      Regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States have issued warnings and restrictions on the use of camphor-containing products, especially those intended for infants and children. Despite these regulations, cases of accidental ingestion or misuse of camphor-based products continue to be reported, underscoring the importance of awareness and education among caregivers.    

Making Your Own Decongestant Salve

      The strong pungent aroma that many have come to associate with Save the Baby, as well as modern over the counter products like Vicks Vapo Rub comes primarily from the camphor, but that's not to say we can't create alternatives that are just as soothing by replacing camphor with oils from balsam, fir, rosemary, and peppermint. Even CBD, which is not an ingredient for children, is not known to be toxic if ingested. Eucalyptus, which comes with its own unique set of warnings, could be blended in to a decongestant formula safely, and strong menthol can satisfactorily replace with peppermint oil.


Make your own natural non-toxic decongestant safer than over the counter brands that contain camphor, which can be lethal to babies, toddlers, and children.

Click Here to View the Video Tutorial and Printable formula for the CBD Decongestant Salve.

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