Have you ever experienced any of these conditions: sinus infection, allergies, viral infection, acid reflux? If so, chances are, you’ve also suffered from the sore throat that comes along with it. Having a sore throat is, undeniably, an unpleasant experience. Regular tasks such as eating, drinking, and even talking become more of a painful nuisance. Needless to say, it is vital that you act quickly to heal your throat not only to alleviate the pain, but also because most sore throats are caused by viruses and harmful bacteria and are, therefore, contagious.
A sore throat is the result of inflammation of the throat and tonsils and causes pain and discomfort. It is often marked by the following symptoms: scratchiness, dryness, pain when talking or swallowing, hoarseness, swelling of glands in the neck or jaw, coughing, and redness. Enduring these symptoms may seem unbearable at times but, rest assured, there is hope.
There are conventional ways to treat a sore throat and decrease swelling and pain which include antibiotics, decongestant nasal sprays, throat lozenges, and over the counter medicines like Vicks, Tylenol, and Aleve. These remedies can be very effective and could very well be the answer to your problems. However, there are many people who prefer to take the natural approach either because of cost effectiveness, they don’t feel comfortable taking medicine, they are already taking medications and are told these conventional treatments could interfere with the effectiveness of their medications, etc. Because of these reasons, I have listed 10 natural remedies for healing sore throats and I’ll point out my personal favorites that I use whenever I have a sore throat.
1. Coconut oil
Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is infamous for killing the bacteria that causes bad breath and a strain of bacteria known to cause strep throat. Lauric acid is a fatty acid that is highly effective at maintaining a healthy immune system due to its antimicrobial and
antibacterial properties. It is able to treat common colds, the flu, and more serious infections. Just take one tablespoon of coconut oil, swish it around in your mouth, and gargle for about 5-10 minutes. You can do this about 3 to 4 times a day if you really want that sore throat gone. Check out our blog on our website about oil pulling to learn how to do this effectively. I take coconut oil as soon as I feel tenderness in my throat and it gets to work immediately. For me, coconut oil is my number one “go to” for sore throats.
2. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another favorite of mine because of its main active ingredient, acetic acid. Acetic acid helps fight bacteria which will definitely help heal your sore throat. To use this remedy, drink, or gargle, 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, also known as the father of medicine, even used apple cider vinegar as a treatment for flu symptoms. He combined apple cider vinegar with honey in a mixture known as oxymel to treat coughs and sore throats (1). For another idea on how to make apple cider vinegar a part of your daily nutrition, check out our video on how to make your our own electrolyte drink.
Raw honey has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can help to soothe the throat and ease swelling. Raw honey also has the ability to reduce mucus secretion and coughs, which can be associated with a sore throat. I love to add honey to teas and other drinks when I have a sore throat not only because it’s so soothing but also because it’s a natural sweetener and better to use than regular sugar.
4. Lemon Juice
Lemons are acidic and stimulate the flow of saliva. Increasing saliva helps keep your mucous membranes moist and can relieve dryness and discomfort in the throat. Lemons also contain vitamin C (it helps w/ immune system function and boosts white blood cells) and antioxidants. It is recommended to take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C every 8 hours to prevent a cold or sore throat. If you feel the cold or sore throat coming, take 2,000mg per hour (2). You can get your vitamin C through foods like grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, oranges, kale and guava, or you can get your vitamin C from supplements. It is vitally important, though, not to buy vitamin C supplements if the ingredients label reads “Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).” This is because the ascorbic acid (a nutrient found in natural vitamin C) that this description is referencing is man-made and mixed with other chemicals that are deadly to our body (3,4,5). Unfortunately, the FDA allows manufacturers to label the man-made ascorbic acid as vitamin C even though it is not! Look for supplements that list vitamin C and nothing in parentheses. Also, if you're worried about swallowing solid foods because of the pain, just try making a smoothie instead.
5 Licorice Root
Licorice root is a remedy that is not necessarily used to treat illness-related sore throats (because there’s not sufficient research) but is has been proven to help with sore throats from breathing tube removal after surgery (6,7). Another benefit of this herb is it has properties similar to aspirin which can help decrease throat pain.
In one study, gargling with licorice water prior to surgery proved superior to gargling with salt water because it reduced the risk of getting a sore throat by 50% (8).
You can consume licorice root by grinding it up in warm water and gargling it, or by purchasing licorice root tea from natural grocery stores. I cannot attest, personally, to the effectiveness of this remedy but, after researching its benefits I most certainly want to try it!
6. Salt water
Ah, the age old salt water remedy. This sore throat remedy is an oldie but goodie. Salt works so well because it pulls water out of your throat tissue thereby reducing inflammation and relieving soreness and scratchiness. It may also help kill unwanted microbes in your throat. For your salt water mixture, stir 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water. Gargle for 30 seconds until the mixture is gone, then repeat a few times a day. However, do not use iodized salt (table salt) because it is stripped of nutrients. Instead, purchase Pink Himalayan salt or all natural sea salt.
7. Peppermint tea
You’ve probably heard of peppermint being used to relieve upset stomach but there are also many other amazing benefits. One of those benefits includes, you guessed it, healing sore throats! Peppermint tea will work to soothe the throat and it contains anti-inflammatory compounds which will help reduce swelling and discomfort. Peppermint also has a slight numbing and cooling effect due to the naturally occurring menthol within it. Menthol is known to relieve soreness and break up phlegm and mucus (9). Peppermint tea can be purchased from your local natural food store or you can steep peppermint leaves in boiling water and, after 5 minutes, strain the leaves out.
8. Ginger root and Bitter Kola
Ginger root has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve throat pain and is also used to treat upset stomach and nausea, among other things. It also increases saliva flow which will soothe a sore throat. Garcinia Kola, also known as Bitter Kola, is a tree that grows in west and central Africa. “It is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of laryngitis, general inflammation, bronchitis, viral infections and diabetes as well as [being] a rejuvenating agent, adaptogen and general antidote” (10). A study was done with people who had bacterial respiratory tract infections and they were given ginger extract and bitter kola. The result is it helped kill some of the bacteria that caused the infection (11). Needless to say, both ginger root and bitter kola are powerful remedies. To prepare ginger root, you can purchase the spice from a natural foods store or grate it into boiling water. After grating, let it steep for about 10 minutes, add honey (or another natural sweetener) and drink. Ginger is a staple in our house and we usually add a small piece of ginger to our juicing recipes. To get the benefits of bitter kola, you can just chew on the nuts.
9. Bone broth
Let me start off by saying this...bone broth is amazing! It is very nutrient dense and, depending on how you make it, it is rich in flavor as well. Bone broth is made by boiling the bones of animals like chicken, cows, lambs, etc., and adding seasonings and vegetables to the pot while it steeps for a period of a few hours. Because of its high nutrient profile, it immediately helps heal the body by supporting the immune system which in turn helps heal the throat. The minerals present in bone broth such as magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus, are in forms that are easily absorbed and digested by the body. You can purchase bone broth from your local store, or make it on your own. Click on this amazing bone broth recipe to help get those juices flowing.
Now, here is a flower that is not just aesthetically appealing, but also has amazing health benefits. Echinacea is a North American coneflower that has been used as a traditional herbal remedy for more than 400 years. It is a natural pain reliever, it reduces inflammation, and it is a powerful immune system booster which are three important qualities to look for when seeking after sore throat remedies. In a study done by the University of Connecticut, echinacea “cuts the chances of catching the common cold by 58 percent and reduces the duration of the common cold by 1.4 days” (12).
To see the best results from echinacea, the NIH (National Institutes of Health) notes that regular daily use is beneficial for immune support and overall health. (13) It should also be noted that “echinacea appears to be most effective when started as soon as symptoms are noticed, taken many times a day, and used for seven to 10 days” (14). If you decide to take echinacea, get the liquid form over the capsules because it has been shown to be more effective (15). You can also purchase echinacea tea if you would rather enjoy a warm drink to also help ease your throat.
One of the best ways to prevent sore throats is to keep your health up with proper nutrition. By this, I mean have a well-balanced diet where you are incorporating these natural remedies and other natural foods daily. Also, try to buy organic food items for a better chance at getting all of their health benefits. We hope you found these natural remedies helpful, and let us know if there is another natural remedy that works well for you. We would love to hear it and add it to the list. As always, whatever you do, do it from the heart.