Sore throat is one of the common medical problems experienced by people all over the world, irrespective of their ages. Majority of sore throat are caused by viral or bacterial infection. What usually starts with a slight pain or scratching feeling may later develop into severe pain, which leads to difficulty in swallowing food, water and even saliva. So it is important to treat the condition from the very beginning itself and to take precautions to avoid it from getting worse. A large majority of the population consider antibiotics as an effective means to cure sore throat, but over the years, the excessive use of these medicines have led to the development of resistant bacteria. Fortunately, there is an abundance of natural remedies that will help you find relief from sore throat.
What is Sore throat?
Although majority of the sore throat are generally caused by an infection in the throat by virus or bacteria, there can be myriad other reasons for this condition as well. A sore throat is a frequent symptom of the common cold or infections that may have affected the respiratory system. Some other causes of sore throat include allergies, smoking, chemical irritants and dry air. Gastroesophageal reflux disorder, popular as GERD may also cause inflammation of throat as a result of stomach acid or its fumes. Any mechanical injury, excessive talking or yelling also causes a sore throat. It is often accompanied by symptoms such as cough, sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, body aches, headaches and fever. Sore throat mainly involves inflammation of tissues inside the throat.
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Natural remedies for sore throat
Regardless of what causes sore throat, the urgent thing to do when soreness occurs is to look for ways to treat it. Most people tend to consult a doctor and get prescription medications, but there are a few wonderful remedies that can be tried at home. Given below are some of these remedies that can bring relief to your sore throat:
In case your sore throat is accompanied with cough, cold or fever, it is most probably because of some microbial infection. Sore throat caused by viral or bacterial infection can often be treated with salt water. According to many studies, gargling with warm salt water several times a day can be very helpful in reducing the inflammation and pain in the throat. It is also effective in loosening mucus and in getting rid of the bacteria or irritants causing the infection. To a cup of warm water, add half a teaspoon of salt and gargle with this solution as often as possible.
Salt may be replaced with Baking soda, which is another simple and effective home remedy for sore throats. It has strong antibacterial properties that could be helpful in eliminating the infection causing germs in your throat. Moreover the slightly alkaline pH of baking soda can soothe the inflammation in your throat. For getting relief from sore throat gargle with warm water to which some baking soda and salt has been added. Do this two or three time daily.
Rock salt or Himalayan salt is also useful for curing sore throat. Make solution of Himalayan salt with water and used this to gargle. It contains varied minerals and salt which is good to get rid of microbes causing inflammation in throat.
One can also use other herbs and essential oil which are found effective in treating sore throat. Gentle warm water mixed with eucalyptus oil can be used effectively for gargling. Gargle with tea of sorrel, anise or neem also provides relief for sore throat, laryngitis or pharyngitis. Myrrh oil works well for sore throat; add few drops to your gargle.
Drink plenty of fluids
Though drinking fluids may not help you get rid of sore throat, keeping your body well hydrated is extremely important when you have an inflamed or sore throat. Drinking plenty of fluids helps in keeping your mucous membranes moist. It also equips your body to reduce the symptoms by fighting off bacteria and other irritants like allergens.
Did you know? Water has amazing healing properties. Read to know more.
Inhaling steam is a great way to ease a sore throat. All you need is to boil some water in a large bowl and then inhale the steam. Make sure to cover your head and the bowl using a towel so that you can inhale thoroughly without letting the steam escape. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the water can boost the effects.
Drinking a cup of warm tea (herbal or non-herbal) is another way to get relief from painful sore throat. Non-herbal teas are rich in antioxidants that are capable of improving the strength of your immune system, which in turn helps fight off infections. Herbal tea, containing basil leaves, licorice or ginger should be excellent choice for treating sore throat.
Studies confirm that honey has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and healing properties, which makes it one of the effective remedies for various infections, including sore throat. Honey coats the throat and provides temporary relief from pain and throat irritation. According to research, taking honey before bedtime helps in easing sore throat and nighttime coughing, thus allowing the patients the sleep better. Read more about amazing benefits of honey to body.
Herbal remedies for sore throat
Turmeric – Turmeric powder with strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties is one superfood. In some parts of India, ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder is added to salt gargle water to make it more effective for sore throat. Simply mix ½ tsp of turmeric powder with honey and enjoy it 3-4 times a day. It should take care of your sore throat and cold. It is highly recommended in texts of Ayurveda for treatment of sore throat.
Ginger – Ginger is another herb highly regarded in Ayurveda. Sunth or dried ginger powder is used in treatment of cough and sore throat. It is packed with medicinal properties, which makes it a great remedy for a wide range of ailments. It is an excellent cold remedy and helps in soothing symptoms of cold such as sore throat. Ginger also functions as an expectorant, thus helping to loosen mucus and expel it from your respiratory system. Grate a fresh ginger and squeeze to extract its juice. A shot of this powerful juice along with honey is cure for sore throat. One can also suck slices of ginger as sore throat lozenge.
[Read more about natural food to treat common cold]
Licorice root – Jesthamadh or Licorice root is a remedy that has long been used for treating sore throats. Studies reveal that gargling with water mixed with licorice root is effective in soothing sore throats. Drinking herbal tea containing licorice was found to reduce the intensity of throat pain. Sitopaladi Churna, a medicine in Ayurveda is mixture of Licorice root powder and ginger powder often taken along with honey as cure for cough and sore throat.
Basil Leaves – A cure for all, basil leaves are often used for curing respiratory tract disorders. Herbal cough syrups do contain basil leaves extract. Chewing fresh basil leaves can help soothe sore throat. Herbal tea can be made by boiling leaves of basil in water. This herbal tea can help cure sore throat. As an expectorant it can also provide relief from cough.
Cumin – Cumin seeds are antiseptic and antimicrobial in nature. It prevents growth of microbes causing sore throat. Boil 1tsp cumin seeds along with ginger in a cup of water. Simmer till water reduces to half. Cool and drink this mixtures 4-5 times a day to cure inflammation in throat. Inhaling cumin vapors can cure common cold and congestion.
Onion – Onion has antibacterial properties. Onion juice is mixed with equal amount of honey as cure for sore throat.
Slippery elm – The use of slippery elm is another traditional remedy for sore throat. The bark of this tree contains a mucus-like substance and when mixed with water it forms a thick gel or mucilage that coats the throat and offers relief. Pour a cup of boiling water over half a teaspoon of powdered slippery elm bark, stir well and steep. Once the solution has cooled, you can either drink it or use it to gargle. Slippery elm lozenges are also available.
Lemon juice with cayenne pepper –Make lemon juice with warm water, lemon and honey. To this drink, add a small pinch of cayenne pepper. According to scientists, the acid of the lemon kills off the infection causing microbes, while the capsaicin found in cayenne pepper acts as a pain killer by obstructing the transmission of pain signals by the nerves.
Black Pepper and Cinnamon – Cinnamon and black pepper has anti inflammatory properties. Both have warming properties, and can provide relief in case of throat pain and inflammation. One can take ¼ powder of pepper and Cinnamon mixed with honey to relieve throat. Adding pepper powder or cinnamon powder to gargle water also works. In a cup of water, two cinnamon sticks can be boiled. To this one can add pinch of ground pepper powder and 2 tsp of honey. This is good home remedy for sore throat.
Peppermint – Peppermint has antibacterial, antiviral properties and anti-inflammatory effects, which may get rid of infection and speed up the process of healing. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, peppermint contains menthol, which is beneficial in loosening mucus and in soothing sore throats. The American Cancer Society suggests that the use of sprays that contain peppermint oil is another way to relieve sore throats.
Garlic – Sucking on a garlic clove is another excellent remedy that can get rid of sore throat. Garlic contains a compound known as allicin, which has the ability to kill the bacteria that is responsible for causing sore throat.
Haritaki – In Ayurveda, powder of roasted Haritaki mixed with clarified butter or ghee can be consumed for getting relief from sore throat.
Cloves – Cloves have analgesic properties and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of conditions such as sore throat and tooth ache. Cloves contain a substance known as Eugenol that is a natural pain killer as well as an antibacterial agent. Just chew on whole cloves, which will release eugenol and reduce the pain in your throat. Drinking herbal tea containing cloves can prevent sore throats.
Cardamom – Water boiled with cinnamon and cardamom can be used to gargle. This shall help control sore throats.
Burdock Decoction – Decoction made from Burdock root is used as home remedy for sore throat.
Honeysuckle –Honeysuckle is found to be extremely effective in providing relief from sore throats, coughs, cold and flu. It has antibacterial properties that can help destroy the germs in your body. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce the inflammation in your throat. To enjoy the benefits of this plant, make a cup of hot tea by boiling the flowers and leaves in water.
Sage – Sage has been used for a long time in Europe to cure various kinds of throat problems. This herb is rich in active compounds like cineole, camphor, borneol and thujone, all of which have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties that help in reducing the pain and swelling associated with sore throat. According to a study, a throat spray that contained sage extract was effective in reducing the severity of pain for over a period of two hours. You can prepare a tea by steeping a tablespoon of fresh sage leaves or a teaspoon of dried sage in a cup of boiling water. After 15 minutes, strain the leaves out and drink the tea.
Marshmallow – Marshmallow is another traditional remedy that has been found to be effective for sore throat. The mucilage found in this plant is believed to soothe the mucous membrane and provide relief from soreness of the throat. Drinking marshmallow root tea is a great way to ease the pain and inflammation. The tea can be prepared by mixing a tablespoon of dried marshmallow root to a cup of boiling water. Cover it for about half an hour and allow the tea to steep. Take this drink at least three times a day.
Natural food good for sore throat
Horse Gram – Horse gram is good for treating respiratory tract disorders. Eating horse gram soup along pepper, ginger and fenugreek is good home remedy for sore throat. Read about benefits of horse gram.
Chicken soup for sore throat – Chicken soup is a great age old remedy for soothing common colds and sore throats. According to experts, the anti-inflammatory properties of sodium contained in the broth reduce inflammation and provides relief as you drink the soup. For those who have difficulty swallowing food, soup is the best alternative to stay nourished. It also keeps the body hydrated.
Apple cider vinegar – Just like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar is also effective in curing sore throat. When mixed with honey, apple cider vinegar can provide relief from the condition because the high level of acidity in the vinegar kills off the infection causing germs. For getting relief from sore throat, mix together apple cider vinegar and honey in a cup of warm water and drink it.
Radish – With strong pungent properties, it is effective over various bacteria. It is effective in soothing sore throats and relive congestion. Read more about benefits of radish.
Vitamin C rich foods – Vitamin C rich foods are effective in reducing inflammation and prevents growth of microbes. This makes Vitmain C rich food effective for sore throats. This includes canberry juice, pomegranates, Amla or Indian gooseberry juice. Amla powder taken with equal quantity of honey is good recipe to cure sore thorat. Sea buckthorn is popular in china for treating sore throat. Drinking sea buckthorn juice while suffering from sore throat provides relief. Tamarind juice can be used for gargle and can reduce throat inflammation.
Okra – Juice of okra is often used to cure sore throat. It offers mucilaginous gel which soothes sore throats.
Did you know? Sexually Transmitted Infection as a result of oral sex or blow job may cause sore throat.
Can Ice cream help sore throat?
Contradicting to much of myth some people believe that ice cream or cool food products like yogurt, popsicles may help soothe sore throat. Howeer not much scientific evidence is available. Eating cold foods may lead to condensation of water vapor in lungs. This sudden change of temperature in throat makes dormant microbes become active in respiratory tract. Steam inhalation makes these bacteria inactive. Flu virus is peculiar to such behavior. While eating ice cream may temporary reduce pain, may not help get rid of sore throat.
Things you should not do when sore throat
Smoking should be avoided during sore throat, while it may provide warmth to your throat, smoke may irritate the tissues. Same goes with chewing tobacco. Alcohol consumption is often associated with sore throat – a shot of brandy or vodka is supposed to soothe bad throat. But the relief is temporary and may worsen the condition. Avoid fried and spicy food which may irritate the throat tissues. If not required, put your throat to rest by avoiding speaking; it shall fasten the recovery process.
Drinking lots of liquids, trying out the above mentioned natural remedies and taking good rest will help you feel better fast as well as save you a trip to the physician’s office. The next time a sore throat starts to kick in, make sure to use any of these remedies as soon as possible before the condition has a chance to get worse.
It is always recommended to take advices of medical practitioner. Especially in case of sever sore throats, difficulty in eating, fever > 101 F, blood in saliva, and other symptoms.