Q. My dog got too close to a skunk yesterday, and now he’s not fit to come in the house. I’ve given him three baths, but he still smells terrible. Do you have any recommendations?

A. A few years ago, a reader sent us this suggestion from Chemical and Engineering News: “Mix one quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide (from your pharmacy) with one quarter cup of baking soda and one teaspoon of liquid soap. Soak the pooch in water and scrub with the mixture, then rinse in warm water.” Check with your vet first to make sure this solution is safe for your dog, and be sure to keep it out of his eyes.

Q. When I was in Europe last month, I caught a cold and developed an awful cough. Luckily, a German pharmacist understood my sign language and sold me a miracle cure that cleared it up in a few days.

The medicine is Makatussin and it contains “Thymianfluidextrakt” and “Sternanisol.” It comes as drops to be put on a sugar cube or in tea. It worked so much better than the Robitussin DM I usually use that I would like to find something similar here. Is there a medicine like it?

A. Makatussin contains extract of thyme and star anise oil. The German government has approved both herbs for colds and coughs.

We know of no similar medicine available in the U.S. You could, however, make yourself a tea with thyme leaves, approximately one half teaspoon per cup, and a piece of star anise. You can buy this spice where Chinese groceries are sold.

We are sending you our Guide to Cold Remedies, which offers other natural approaches for treating colds and coughs. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped, self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. Q-20, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Q. I was intrigued to read that stinging nettle can be used for allergies and enlarged prostate. I do not suffer from those conditions, but years ago we carefully picked wild stinging nettles with clippers, dropping the nettles into a large paper sack. Once home, we dumped them into a sink full of cold water and then cooked them. Believe me, they tasted much better than spinach!

A. When stinging nettles contact the skin, their tiny hairs cause acute pain, redness and irritation. For many centuries people have eaten nettles as a vegetable as well as using them for medicine. Once cooked, they no longer sting and people find them very tasty. Stinging nettles are also used to treat arthritis, bladder infections and kidney stones.

Q. I’ve been told that drinking a tablespoon of cod liver oil in a half cup of milk upon arising will do away with arthritis pain. I am an insulin-dependent diabetic and have so much pain when I get up I can hardly stand it. Would this remedy be harmful?

A. Regular use of cod liver oil has been associated with weakening of the bones. That is because of the high dose of vitamin A it contains. Studies of Scandinavian women who consume cod liver oil show a higher rate of osteoporosis.

Purified fish oil avoids this problem. Because it is high in omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory activity, fish oil might help with your arthritis without weakening your bones. A recent study suggests that it may interfere with glucose control, so be sure to monitor your blood sugar closely.

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