Calendula ointment (see "Cuts/Scrapes") in a 2 percent to 5 percent strength applied three to four times a day is also great for insect bites, stings, and burns, as are pure aloe gel or a witch hazel astringent. Apply either with a cotton ball as needed. And if you live near poison ivy, stock a supply of calamine lotion.
MUST-HAVE Black cohosh
To counter menopausal hot flashes and mood swings, try black cohosh, an estrogen-less remedy that Native Americans have used for many years. "Research from Germany shows it works, although scientists aren't sure why," says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven. "It probably acts on the hypothalamus [the part of the brain that controls temperature]." Minkin recommends 20 mg twice daily of Remifemen, a black cohosh supplement.
MUST-HAVES Toothpaste, green tea, calendula
No need to pay big bucks for a brighter smile: Either natural or conventional toothpaste is fine for brushing. Burris recommends a daily cup of green tea, which fights inflammation and bacteria, to help prevent gum disease and gingivitis.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of calendula (see "Cuts/Scrapes") help heal canker sores, which often appear when you have a viral infection. Add 1 tablespoon of calendula extract (2 percent to 5 percent strength in a non-alcohol base) to 1/2 cup water or to cooled tea, and rinse with the mixture three times a day.
MUST-HAVES Fresh ginger, probiotic supplements, yogurt, chamomile and peppermint teas, DGL (a form of licorice)
Consider opening a branch office of your medicine cabinet in your refrigerator. Along with garlic-infused olive oil (see "Earaches"), that's where you'll find help for a troubled stomach.
Keep fresh ginger on hand for ginger tinctures, suggests Burris. A 2005 German review noted that ginger is particularly helpful for pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. For any kind of nausea, slice three or four pieces the size of a quarter and steep them in mint tea; drink a cupful as often as needed. Or use up to three dropperfuls of tincture per day (containing a total of 3,000 mg of ginger extract) as needed.
To rebalance your gut during bouts of diarrhea, Koffler advises taking refrigerated probiotic supplements such as Metagenic Ultra Flora Plus and New Chapter All-Flora, found in most health-food stores. "They have a mix of organisms that approximates the mix in our bowels," she says. While it's less effective than probiotics, you can also consume 1 to 2 cups daily of yogurt with live active cultures until the problem clears up. Look for the National Yogurt Association Live & Active Culture (LAC)seal, which guarantees 100 million live cultures per gram. Chamomile and peppermint teas also calm a gassy, bloated bowel and ease muscle spasms--and if you have diarrhea, they're rehydrating.
For both heartburn and constipation, Koffler prefers DGL, a form of licorice that soothes the inflamed mucous lining of the gastrointestinal tract and loosens the stools. Chew one or two 380 mg tablets (but not the sugar-free ones) 20 minutes before meals as needed.