Cold season. You know it’s coming—you’ve washed your hands religiously, avoided close your sneezing co-worker like the plague and have been treating your body like a temple, and yet, even the healthiest of us can get sick. It can be unavoidable during cold and flu season.
There are so many cold medicines and remedies out there, often packaged in wasteful plastic packaging. But to me, the old fashioned ways of treating a cold have are the most effective. They also happen to be cheap and zero waste.
So, if you do catch a bug, here are 5 zero waste ways to fight a cold:
- Sip ginger/lemon/honey tea: Sipping hot teas and broths is not only comforting during a cold, it helps break up mucus and clear congestion. They also help prevent dehydration and sooth sore throats. Lemon is a good source of vitamin C and help reduce inflammation in the body. Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory and has antibiotic properties that help boost the immune system. Local raw honey soothes sore throats and relieves congestion, and is a natural cough suppressant. Slice 1” of ginger into rounds and soak in 2 cups of boiling water. Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tsp of honey. Strain ginger and drink.
- Soak in salts: A steamy bath is an age-old remedy for helping relieve a fever. Adding epsom salts can help ease muscle aches, reduce inflammation and detoxify your body. Because skin highly porous, adding epsom salts (full of minerals like magnesium and sulfate) to your bathwater can literally pulls salt out of your body and harmful toxins along with it. Buy your epsom salts in bulk and add a few drops of lavender and eucalyptus essential oils to help aid relaxation.
- Oil of oregano: I know that without fail, every time I mention I’m coming down with a cold to my dad, the first thing he recommends is oil of oregano. Oil of oregano has strong antibacterial and anti-viral properties and has been used since ancient Greek and Roman times as a natural remedy for respiratory issues including coughs, colds, flu, sore throats and bronchitis. You can buy oil of oregano at many natural food stores and it comes in a glass bottle. Place a 3 drops under your tough twice a day until your cold is gone, but beware—this stuff is pungent and the strong taste can be intense. Keep a glass of water nearby.
- Sleep with a scarf: Whenever I feel a sore throat coming on, I keep a warm scarf wrapped around my neck. I’ve found that keeping my throat warm, especially at night when I sleep, really helps reduce a sore throat by the morning. The tradition of wearing a scarf when you’re sick comes from Northern Europe, and specifically Germany. The theory is that the scarf slightly raises the temperature of your throat, drawing immune cells to the area and helping speed recovery.
- Flush mucus with a neti pot: I hate nothing more than trying to go to sleep when I’m sick and not being able breath easily out of my nose. My solution: the neti pot. Pouring warm salt water through your nose may sound unappealing, but it really helps flush mucus out of your nasal passages so you can finally breathe! It also rinses away dust, pollen and other irritants and supports a healthy upper respiratory system. I also like it because it reduces sinus pressure and headaches that can be common when you’re congested. You can pick up a ceramic neti pot at most health food stores.
I hope all of you stay healthy this cold and flu season, and if heaven forbid you do come down with a bug, hopefully these natural remedies can help speed your recovery.