Sore throats can be annoying, but they are a common occurrence during cold and flu season. They may be caused by either bacterial or viral infections, or simply overuse.
Some over-the-counter medications help ease discomfort, but do not actually treat the root of the problem – the infection. In addition, many of these medicines have adverse effects.
Fortunately, there are several home remedies for sore throat that work together to help ease pain and suffering, while simultaneously treating the cause of the infection.
Some of these time-honored remedies have yet to receive scientific validation, so be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner before trying them out.
Remember that holistic medicine should be used in conjunction with, and not in place of conventional care.
1. Mouthwash and Gargle
Gargling with an herbal mouthwash can help soothe a sore throat as well as kill bacteria. Common botanicals to use in a sore throat wash include sage, turmeric, peppermint, tea tree oil, eucalyptus and rosemary. These herbs have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties.
Sage and rosemary have a sweeter taste, while peppermint and eucalyptus tend to be more soothing. Simply add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice to warm water and gargle for 30 seconds to a minute. Additionally, you can try gargling with salt water, which is also naturally antibacterial, although a bit more difficult to pallet.
2. Herbal Teas
Herbal teas are somewhat more practical because they can be made from items you already have in your home spice rack. Some common remedies you may already have include rosemary, sage, ginger, thyme, marjoram, garlic, horseradish and clove. These culinary herbs double as medicinal remedies because they are naturally antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Some, such as garlic, are used as natural antibiotics and are believed to help reduce the duration of a cold or flu.
Other liquid home remedies for sore throat include drinking raspberry tea, warm lemon water with honey or apple cider vinegar.
3. Homeopathic Remedies
While they are not usually thought of as a home remedy, homeopathic medicines are good to have on hand as they can be very effective, yet do not have any adverse side effects. They are highly diluted substances, many of which are made from organic materials such as herbs and minerals. Because of their mild effects, they are also considered safe for both infants and children.
Some homeopathic remedies to keep on hand, especially during cold and flu season, include:
- Belladonna – Used for sore throats accompanied by high fevers, redness and an aversion to drinking liquids.
- Cantharis – Used for extreme sore throats accompanied by burning or stinging sensations. It is used mainly in severe cases, where there are blisters on the throat.
- Guaiacum – This is a common sore throat remedy used in milder cases. There is little redness, and the pain is mostly on the right side.
- Hepar Sulfur – Used in cases of tonsillitis. Hepar sulfur patients tend to have a splintering sensation in the back of the throat, associated with difficulty swallowing.
- Kali Bichromicum – Used in sore throat cases where there is a lot of mucous. There may be a white or yellow coating on the tongue, and a dry sensation in the mouth.
- Lachesis – Used in cases where the throat is constricted, or there is a sensation of a lump in the throat.
- Mercurius – Like Cantharis, mercurius is used in extreme cases. There is redness and severe burning in the throat, accompanied by decent swelling. The patient may feel the need to swallow often.
- Pulsatilla – The pulsatilla patient has extreme redness and dryness, yet does not feel thirsty. Their face will have a dark red appearance.
4. Soothing Compress
Another age-old home remedy for sore throat is the warm compress. Compresses are made by soaking a cloth in warm water mixed with herbal extracts or essential oils. Popular choices for compresses include eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, and peppermint, which is believed to be a natural analgesic.
Use a medium-sized cloth or dish towel. Soak in warm water mixed with 8 to 10 drops of the essential oil of your choice, then wrap gently around the neck and leave in place for 20 to 30 minutes.
5. Room Diffusers
The same essential oils used in your sore throat mouthwash formula can also be added to a room diffuser. These aromatic oils are very soothing, and can help you relax so you can get the rest that your body needs to further fight infection. Place 3 to 4 drops of the essential oil of your choice in water in the diffuser and leave in the bedroom.
In addition, try essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, vanilla, orange blossom and German chamomile which have powerful relaxing effects.