By Erin Odom , Contributing Writer
We’re smack in the middle of the “happiest” time of the year, but, whether we like it or not, we’re also at that time of year when illness runs rampant . And perhaps one of the most annoying–yet frequent–illnesses to battle is the common cold.
Thankfully, there are a plethora of natural cold remedies that can help you beat this nasty little virus without ever having to enter a conventional drug store. I’ve never liked conventional cold medications anyway. Besides being full of some potentially dangerous ingredients, they just make me feel, well, loopy.
And if a medication makes you feel worse than the sickness it is trying to better, then something’s not working!
So the next time that little virus rears its ugly head, pull out one of these natural cold remedies.
Image courtesy Intentional by Grace 
1. Epsom Salt Baths
2. Raw Garlic 
Raw garlic is full of amazing health benefits –including being anti-viral. Consuming it helps boost the immune system and fight infections (source ). If eating it raw makes you squeamish, you can purchase odorless garlic capsules . But, first, check out these 7 ways to eat raw garlic . One of them might appeal to you!
3. Essential Oils 
Essential oils  have become my first line of defense against any ailment that has plagued our household  over the past couple of years. Some tests have shown that essential oils are so strong that viruses cannot live in their presence (source ).
Our favorites to use for colds are eucalyptus, peppermint and thieves oils. You can dab a drop of eucalyptus on your pajamas, which helps decongest you throughout the night. Or, try making a homemade vapour rub  with eucalyptus oil.
My little girls are actually fighting mild colds right now. Before they went to bed tonight, I rubbed some peppermint oil diluted 1:1 with a carrier oil on their feet and chests.
You can also diffuse the oils into the air or add some oils to a warm bath. We use a homemade disinfectant spray made with essential oils–as well as a homemade hand soap  (peppermint is our favorite  this time of the year!).
Image courtesy Whole New Mom 
4. The Neti Pot
This natural cold remedy is probably my favorite–and I just discovered it last year!
The neti pot  simply provides a way for you to easily and effectively clean out your nasal passages by pouring a warm saline solution in one nostril and allowing it to drain out the other. You can buy the saline solution at most drug stores, or you can try this recipe  to make your own!
As a word of caution, be sure to use very sterile water in your neti pot .
Studies have shown that taking this herb can help boost your immune system, but the results have been mixed as to whether or not it actually prevents or shortens the life of a cold (source ).
I previously took echinacea capsule s daily during the cold and flu season until I discovered that it’s really best to use echinacea at the first sign of illness .
From personal experience, I have seen that when I start taking echinacea capsules, my symptoms either disappear or are very, very weak as opposed to my experiences with the cold virus before I discovered this wonderful herb!
Image by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget 
6. Elderberry Syrup 
Elderberries are a natural immunity booster. You can find the berries made into a syrup at most health stores or online at such places as Vitacost  (this link actually gives new customers a $10 credit!) and iherb.com  (use code CEC426 for $5 free credit towards your order). Or, you can try making your own .
7. Good Nutrition
It sounds like a no-brainer, but it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that optimal nutrition will generally produce better health . Are you still reeling in a sugar coma after all the pies and other treats from Thanksgiving dinner?
It might be time to make some homemade chicken soup , load up on some natural vitamin C via citrus fruits and drink some green smoothies . Last year this time, I joined up with some other bloggers to write about 5 “flu-fighting” foods–pumpkin , garlic , yogurt , breakfast and green tea .
8. Supplements 
The very best vitamin and mineral sources come in real, whole foods. However…we all know that there are days, weeks and seasons when all we can do is hope to squeeze in a shower and keep the kids from killing each other . It’s during these times that upping our supplement intake may be wise .
If I feel a cold coming on, I typically up my vitamin C  and zinc  intake. I also take 4-6,000 IUs of vitamin D  throughout the winter months–in addition to fish oil  and probiotics .
Image by kthread 
9. Raw Honey
This super food is anti-viral and an immunity booster. Honey  is especially effective in soothing a sore throat (always my first sign that a cold is coming).
You can also stir a little into a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. Or, sweeten some hot herbal tea with it and enjoy both the taste and health benefits.
10. Natural Cold Kicker Tinctures/Drinks
I have yet to try one of these myself, but many attest to their fast effectiveness in kicking a cold. I may add this cold kicker remedy  from the Keeper of the Home archives to my to-do list this winter. This one  from Paula of Whole Intentions also looks pretty potent!
Not sure you’ll remember all these natural cold remedies? Click here  to download the free printable below! Stick it on your fridge or in your homemaking binder as a handy reference. And feel free to share via Facebook, etc.!
Looking for even more natural cold remedies?
In addition to the 10 above natural cold remedies, here are some other ideas to keep your family healthy–and out of the drug stores–this winter!
Natural Remedies for Colds @ Creative Christian Mama
Your Flu-Fighting Kit  @ Authentic Simplicity
Curing Coughs with Eucalyptus Oil  @ Accidentally Green
Apple Cider Vinegar “Mock Lemonade” Immunity Booster  @ Living Water Health & Wellness
Stephanie’s Natural Medicine Cabinet  @ Keeper of the Home
Herbal Nurturing  by Frugal Granola (an eBook full of home remedies)
What are some of your favorite natural cold remedies?
Disclaimer: Although all Keeper of the Home contributors are passionate about nutrition, natural living and alternative health issues, we are not certified nutritionists, medical doctors, or practitioners of any kind. We are not licensed to counsel anyone in medical matters, nor may we be held responsible for any course of action that you choose in regards to your own health or that of your family. Please remember that what we are sharing is the result of our own experiences and years of study, but may not necessarily be the right course of action for you. We are advocates of becoming informed, knowledgeable and responsible for one’s own health, but our desire is not to be an authority on any matters of health for you, nor would we presume to have sufficient knowledge to do so. Our hope is that what we share may encourage you and start you on the road to doing your own research, and seeking out the opinions of professionals or others that you trust.
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