So far, we’ve been pretty lucky with the loo paper. Unlike the States, the UK and Australia, the Big Bog Roll Buyout hasn’t swept across Cyprus! In fact, we’ve been pretty fortunate all round…
Recently, Andreas Hadjiadamou, the General Director of the Cyprus Supermarket Association, said there’s no risk of a shortage in supermarkets. The food basics are still there, and everyone’s stocking up on rice, pasta, and long-life milk. However, what you may have noticed is the virus-busters – hand sanitisers, disinfectants, masks and immune boosters; the products we most need – ARE becoming harder to find.
But there is a solution. If you’re running low (maybe your local supermarket is totally out, or perhaps you can’t make it to the shops at all) then these home-made coronavirus busters might be a viable option.
While The World Health Organisation has released a DIY recipe for hand sanitiser, recognising the shortage and its importance in curbing the spread of the virus, we’ve asked an expert closer to home for her tips on making your own.
“You just need three ingredients,” explains Miranda Tringis, the island’s best-known clinical herbalist. “Rubbing alcohol 90 proof, aloe vera gel, and essential oil. Start by putting the aloe vera gel in a bowl, then slowly add the alcohol, while stirring all the time with a spatula to bind the two together. At the end, add the essential oil and stir some more. Then pour your hand sanitiser into a sterilised bottle and seal tightly.
“A hand sanitiser,” she notes, “must consist of at least 70% alcohol for it to be effective in its antiseptic action, so I make mine using 75% alcohol, 22% aloe vera gel and 3% essential oil. If you use cups for your measurements, that would be ¾ cup alcohol, ¼ cup aloe vera gel and half a teaspoon of essential oil.”
Alcohol, she adds, can be very drying to the skin, but this is combated by the moisturising properties of the aloe vera gel which makes the product gentle on the hands. Meanwhile, Miranda suggests that any essential oil is a strong antiseptic in itself (as well as an aromatic addition to your sanitiser!); she herself uses lavender oil, “a great healer for chafed or irritated skin.”
There are a number of methods for DIY-ing disinfectants. “White vinegar or apple cider vinegar, lemons and baking soda are all indispensable items at this time,” Miranda reveals. “You can make an easy surface cleaner by infusing lemon peel in white vinegar for two days, then straining the peel and putting the result in a spray bottle. If you have a rosemary or thyme plant in your garden, add a few sprigs of these herbs too – the essential oils of both have disinfectant properties.”
A quick-to-make alternative is white vinegar and essential oil of lavender or rosemary. “This takes less than a minute to put together,” says Miranda. “Simply fill an empty spray bottle with white vinegar and add 20 drops of essential oil. Shake well and your cleaner is ready to use.”
Of course not all of us have essential oils to hand. But you can utilise plants found in your garden – or on your authorised morning walk! Sage, thyme, oregano, or rosemary can all be made into a spray disinfectant, says Miranda. “Cut a few sprigs of any of these herbs and infuse them in white vinegar. After a week, strain the liquid, add it to a sterilised spray bottle, and use on surfaces around the house; if you keep it in the fridge, it will last for six months,” she adds.
For floor cleaning, she suggests a recipe that includes 10 to 15 drops of a safe essential oil – such as lavender, peppermint or lemon – in a shot glass full of rubbing alcohol or vinegar. Pour this into a bucketful of water, and you have an ideal solution to mop, clean and disinfect your floors.
And for anyone who wants to be super safe, Miranda suggests a method for killing airborne pathogens. “You can burn dried sage leaves, rosemary or olive leaves too, to purify the air in the house. This method was long employed in hospitals to sterilise the rooms, where sage was used to kill bacteria in the air.”
Virus-busting isn’t only about what happens on the outside – what you put in your insides is also important, especially if you contract coronavirus. “Antiviral herbs there are aplenty, but this particular virus is new, which means we do not have any data on the efficacy of any known medicine, either made from chemicals in a lab or from nature,” says Miranda. “Just as scientists all over the world are looking for a cure, those of us in the international herbal community are doing the same, and we all share our results and findings.”
A healthy immune system is generally agreed to be a boon in these times. First and foremost, that means a diet high in nutritional value: lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, home-cooked meals over processed foods, and limited sugar intake. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with the vitamins and minerals your immune system needs,” says Miranda. “Home-cooked meals tend to have a higher nutritional value compared with processed foods. And sugar is known to weaken the immune system.
“You may wish to supplement your diet with vitamin C, B complex, D, or a multivitamin,” she advises. “And strong antiviral herbs such as elderflower, elderberry, thyme, oregano, and sage – all of which can be grown in your garden or in pots on your balcony, as long as they get enough sunlight – also boost our immune system. Nettle tea is a fantastic for immunity,” she adds. “Put 2 tablespoons of nettle in a teapot or jar, add boiling water, close the lid and leave it to infuse for 1 to 2 hours in order to get all the nourishing goodness from the plant. Then strain and drink. You could also make it at bedtime and leave it to infuse overnight to make it extra powerful.”
MAKE YOUR OWN MASK
In an interview with Science.mag.org, George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggested that “The big mistake in the US and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks. This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. You’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others.”
Spurred into action when the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that hospital workers could use bandannas as a last-ditch substitute for out-of-stock masks, Health Centres in the States have started asking citizens to set to and sew masks – both for personal use and for medical personnel. It’s a trend that’s sweeping the world and, even here in Cyprus a number of enterprising locals have begun fashioning their own masks.
“Are they effective like an N95 [surgical mask]?” asks Dr. Nicole Seminara, a doctor at NYU Langone Health who is volunteering in the coronavirus ward and founder of the Masks4Medicine project. “No. We’re not claiming they are. But there’s a shortage right now. This frees up the surgical masks for the people who are the highest risk.”
But what if you can’t sew? “To provide the utmost protection when you venture out for your weekly shopping, put 1 to 2 drops of thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano or lavender essential oil on a scarf” – made, ideally, from tightly-woven material – “wrapped round the face,” Miranda suggests. “Inhaling the oil can provide an extra layer of protection against airborne pathogens.”
Check out this link for a CDC-approved face mask tutorial.
To buy fresh herbs and essential oils, visit https://cyherbia.com/