Take 3,000 mg of echinacea per day, but check with your doctor if your fever doesn't subside within a few days, advises Ogura. Another option recommended by both naturopaths is the homeopathic remedy aconite. "It triggers the immune system," says Samet. Take one 30 CH dose in pellet form three times a day until your symptoms subside, suggests Ogura.
"For sore throats, try honey," says Merrell. Honey contains a compound called pinocembrin, as well as enzymes that fight infection. Eat a teaspoonful straight, or add it to a cup of tea three or four times a day. Merrell also recommends gargling with hydrogen peroxide diluted with three to four parts water: "It can even kill streptococcus, the kind of bacteria that cause strep throat, if you use it early enough."
For coughs, ask your doctor to prescribe benzonatate, or Tessalon perles. This nonnarcotic drug numbs the sensors in the lungs that trigger coughs. Since coughing actually protects the lungs by clearing them of excess mucus that can carry infectious bacteria and viruses, Koffler advises treating only nighttime hacking.
MUST-HAVES Neti Pot, stinging nettle
A Neti Pot (see "Cold/Flu") is effective for sinus problems. According to 2002 and 2005 studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a saline wash for those with chronic sinus problems decreased congestion and sinus headaches, as well as the need for nasal sprays and antibiotics.
For allergy symptoms like itching eyes, runny nose, and congested sinuses, Kristen Burris, L.Ac., founder and director of American Acupuncture Center in Poway, Calif., recommends stinging nettle, a plant containing compounds that inhibit histamines. Dosages vary from supplement to supplement, so follow the directions on the label.
MUST-HAVES Cotton balls and swabs, hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, calendula, silver-infused bandages
To prevent infection, rinse the scrape with a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide, says Merrell. If the cut looks nasty, follow the rinse with a dab of Neosporin, an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment, applied with a cotton swab.
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., prefers calendula, a yellow flower with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral compounds. Apply a calendula cream (2 percent to 5 percent strength) to cuts and scrapes three or four times a day, and cover with a bandage. "But I don't recommend antibiotic bandages," says Dean. "You could be contributing to germ resistance by using them when they're not necessary." Silver-infused bandages block the growth of bacteria without any danger of germs building resistance.
MUST-HAVES Po Sum On oil, calendula ointment, pure aloe gel, witch hazel astringent, calamine lotion
For stings and itching, a Chinese tea-based herbal oil called Po Sum On (available from Solstice Medicine Company at sosusaco.com) comes highly favored by Burris. The tea leaves contain flavonoids and tannins that together fight off bacteria and reduce inflammation. "Po Sum On facilitates blood flow and healing--and it's miraculous for relieving itching from minor rashes and bites," she says. "But don't put it on broken skin or burns." Apply the oil one to five times a day as needed; wear gloves or wash your hands afterward to avoid accidentally irritating your eyes.