Fall is here. Complete with crisp leaves underfoot, brisk winds blowing, and golden sunshine streaming. Tis the season for apple pies, chunky sweaters, steaming mugs of spiced tea...and snuffling noses.
We love fall but we hate getting hit with a cold. The struggle of deciding whether we should get out of bed and power through the day - despite a snuffly nose, hacking cough, and a foggy mind - and wondering when this lingering cold will ever go away is our least favorite part of this crisp and cool season. Before calling in the big guns (aka DayQuil, NyQuil and all their friends), here are some of our favorite remedies for cold & flu season that won’t require a trip to the pharmacy.
*DISCLAIMER: Please note that while colds are a mere annoyance for otherwise healthy adults, they can be fatal for young children, the elderly, or those with an already compromised immune system. If you are well and truly sick, you should absolutely seek medical attention. Natural remedies are wonderful for prevention and treatment, but your health is too important to not consult a doctor when necessary.
Fire cider is a vinegar-based tonic that is packed with powerful immune-boosting ingredients like ginger, garlic, onion, horseradish, lemon, and cayenne pepper. It’s one of those ancient remedies that is so simple and effective that it pops up in the history of cultures around the world. The vinegar base and the wide range of ingredients used to make fire cider provide powerful antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, circulation-boosting, and digestion-aiding properties. It helps to take a small shot whenever we feel a cold coming on, but watch out, it’s incredibly spicy!
You can make your own fire cider with this easy recipe by Free Fire Cider, a movement committed to making fire cider available and accessible for everyone. You can also purchase a pre-made bottle from this shop on Etsy.
Oregano oil is a powerful ingredient that has helped us kick a cold many times over. It is widely known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties, as well as its ability to stimulate the immune system. It’s the first thing we reach for when we feel a little under the weather because it’s so effective at preventing a full-blown cold. This simple remedy packs such a punch that it can actually be dangerous to take too much internally, so always be sure to read the suggested dosage or consult an expert if you’re unsure of how much to take. Oregano oil also has a very distinct and strong flavor, so we suggest mixing your dosage into a cup of orange juice or lemonade (it also helps to have a salty snack on hand to cleanse your palette afterwards).
Ginger, lemon, and honey water
This one comes straight from the kitchen of my Chinese mother - it was one of her go-to remedies for almost any sickness that has provided me with comfort a hundred times over. The recipe is extremely simple: boil ginger in water, strain, then add lemon and honey (if you need more details, this recipe by Bon Appetit is great!). If you don’t have fresh ginger you can easily sub in a bag of ginger tea, instead. The ginger helps to soothe flu-induced nausea and contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm a sore throat, while lemon and honey add an extra boost for the immune system. Drinking a steaming hot mug of this in the morning or right before bed is a surefire way to ease the symptoms of a cold or the flu while giving your body the fuel it needs to fight off that sickness. Plus, it’s a delicious way to get more fluids into your body, which is important for recovery.
Delicious whether you’re sick or not, miso soup is an awesome way to nourish the body and kick a cold. Miso is made from soybeans, barley, or oats, which are mixed with a bacterial culture called koji and then fermented, resulting in a savory, salty, and probiotic-laden paste. That paste can be used to level up lots of savory dishes and soups, but when we’re sick we prefer it in a simple broth. Simply mix miso paste with hot water (you can add green onions, soy sauce, or sesame oil for extra flavor) and enjoy. The remedy will hydrate you and give your body plenty of salts, while the probiotics in the miso will go to work strengthening your gut and immune system. It’s a win-win.
When you have the cold or flu, your body’s immune system is hard at work fighting off the virus, which means that it needs all of the support it can get. Plenty of rest is proven to strengthen the immune system and keep your body operating at its best. We know it’s difficult to stop and rest, especially when to-do lists are long and we are stressed for time, but this is perhaps the most important thing we can do when we have a cold, as it allows your body to focus on doing what it needs to do to get you back up and running again.
This post was written by Faye Lessler, a California born, New York City based advocate for holistic sustainable living. Faye is the author of sustainable lifestyle blog, Sustaining Life, and is passionate about supporting sustainable brands and making an ethical & eco-friendly lifestyle easier and more accessible for all. Faye is also a freelance writer, consultant, and the Events + Talent Manager for the Ethical Writers & Creatives. Sustaining Life has been featured in Glamour Magazine and has collaborated with sustainability leaders Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, Thinx, and Klean Kanteen.