Keeping in mind that holistic approaches treat people, not diseases or side effects, here we offer some suggestions for increasing comfort. This is not meant as medical advice. Although rare, any one of these approaches may cause adverse reactions in some patients. You may want to consult a physician or qualified herbalist on choices before beginning use.


  • Chew food until soupy.
  • Bitters: gentian or angostura and soda.
  • Chew fennel seeds.
  • Ginger (in capsules, tea or added to food).
  • Reflexology: roll or manipulate the arch of the foot and just in front of the heel.
  • Enzymes -- Betaine HCl with pepsin, 1 each meal for a few days, increase gradually until mild heartburn occurs, then cut back.
  • Probiotics (e.g. acidophilus and bifidus); in yogurt and capsules.


  • Avoid strong forward bends that put pressure on abdominal area. Do postures to soothe and gently stretch the abdomen.
  • Homeopathic remedies, possibly arsenicum album, nux vomica.
  • Boil basmati rice in extra water until soft. Let the water cool a bit and drink slowly.
  • Garlic (in cooking, capsules, broth).
  • Probiotics (e.g. acidophilus and bifidus).


  • Reevaluate lifestyle to minimize stress.
  • Avoid extremes in temperatures, such as too hot baths or sauna.
  • Chywan prash (rejuvenative Ayurvedic jam).
  • Chinese mushrooms (e.g. astragalus, shiitake).
  • Ginseng (in tea or capsules).
  • Shatavari (Ayurvedic herb).


  • Herbs: St. John's Wort; nervines, such as hops; passion flower; lemon balm; skullcap.
  • Lavender, bergamot, and sandalwood oils.
  • Walk a little each day if possible.
  • Sip plain hot water throughout the day.
  • Recreation, self-expression.


  • Eat a light meal in the evening.
  • Don't watch TV at bedtime or fall asleep to it.
  • Hyland's Calms or Calms Forte: Try taking two in the evening, more at bedtime if needed.
  • Boiled milk with 2 garlic cloves or nutmeg.
  • Go to bed around 10 p.m., when most people's internal clocks are set to go to sleep.
  • Chamomile tea.
  • Soothing warm herbal baths, i.e. chamomile.
  • Burn sandalwood incense.
  • Lavender and marjoram essential oils in bath.
  • Valerian (must be taken in adequate amount; the effectiveness often increases in the first few weeks of use).
  • Diffuse lavender essential oil, or put a drop on bedclothes or pillowcase.
  • Nervine herbs -- hops, passion flower, lemon balm, skullcap.

Respiratory Ailments/Sinusitis

  • Eucalyptus steam -- put a few drops on a washcloth at night. Leave on the shower floor while showering in the morning.
  • Essential oils: basil, bergamot.
  • Nasal irrigation with Ayurvedic neti pot.
  • Homeopathic kali bichromicum.

Sore Throat

  • Turmeric in honey (swallow slowly).
  • Gargle hot salt water or cayenne hot water.
  • Diffuse essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, camphor, lemon, basil.

Flu-Like Symptoms

  • Echinacea/goldenseal formula at first sign of illness; herbalists typically dose heavily at the onset of symptoms; safe to take daily for a period of up to 10 days, but usually only necessary for a few days.


  • Two drops tea tree oil in 10 oz. warm water, swish around mouth and spit.
  • Thyme oil, as above -- can combine with tea tree oil.
  • Citrus seed extract in water; swish and spit.
  • Pau d'Arco, a Brazilian herb (usually taken in tea or capsules).
  • Garlic if possible.
  • Astragalus, shiitake mushrooms, etc. -- immune enhancers.
  • Probiotics (acidophilus and bifidus).


  • Milk thistle tincture.
  • Aloe vera (sold in jars and mixed into juice).
  • Turmeric (in tincture or capsules).
  • Essential oils: helychrisum; yarrow.

Although these suggestions have been compiled from diverse sources, I'd like to give special acknowledgment to Drs. Marcey Shapiro, Tieraona Low Dog, Vasant Lad, Scott Gerson and Andrew Weil. Physicians and medical caregivers can learn more about natural therapies at Columbia University's Botanical Medicine Symposium, held each May (call 212/781-5990 for more information), or through a variety of CMEs offered on-site and long distance by the University of Arizona School of Medicine (call 520/626-7222 for more information).

Pamela Miles is a clinician, researcher, educator and writer in the field of natural medicine. She has instructed medical personnel and patients at most New York City hospitals, serves as an adjunct professor at Marymount Manhattan College, and maintains an active private practice in New York City.