When your Grandmother told you to gargle with salt water, she knew what she was talking about. Gargling with salt water isn’t an old wives tale-it’s about one of the closest to a cures for a sore throat you can get.
When our throats hurt, regardless of what causes it, it’s because the cells in the mucous membranes have become swollen and inflamed. By gargling with salt water you decrease the swelling, as salts primary function is to draw out water, which in turn shrinks the swollen cell and eases the pain. It also helps wash away the excess mucous and allows your stuffy nose (if you have one) to drain properly.
You will need… -1 cup of warm water (8 oz.) -½ teaspoon of table salt
Directions Heat water until it’s warm, but not hot. Thoroughly mix in salt. Gargle. Repeat 3 throughout the day as needed. Any more than that and you risk drying out healthy soft tissue and making things worse.
2. Make And Enjoy A Hot Toddy (or have someone make it for you.)
Typically a Hot Toddy helps a sore throat -particularly one accompanied by a cold- for 2 reasons. The honey and lemon soothes your throat, while the alcohol helps you sleep. I personally leave the alcohol out of mine as my mother did when she made her version for me growing up. Whether or not you use it is up to you, but keep in mind that steering clear of alcohol when you’re under the weather is usually best.
You will need… -2 oz. bourbon or whiskey (optional, not recommended) -1 tablespoon of honey, or more to taste -4 ounces hot water -1 teaspoon lemon juice -1 slice fresh lemon (optional)
Directions If you’re using it, pour the alcohol into a large mug. Add the honey, and leave the spoon in the mug. Pour the hot water into the mug, making sure it gets the last bit of honey off the spoon. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Place the mug in the microwave and heat until its nice and hot, but not boiling (about 1 minute.) Add the lemon slice, and enjoy.
3. Mix up an ACV drink
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is probably right up there with garlic (its unfortunate the things that make us better can’t taste delicious) but some people swear by it. Its high levels of acidity can kill bacteria quite efficiently, and when mixed with honey it can soothe the soreness in your throat as well.
You will need… -1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar -1 tablespoon of honey -1 cup of very warm water
Directions Mix the ACV and honey into very warm water. Drink it while it’s still warm!
If you don’t want to swallow it (and it does have a strong taste) try 2 tablespoons of ACV and mix with ½ cup warm water. Gargle once a day.
4. Suck on Garlic
Yup, it sounds repulsive, and you probably don’t want to go on a dinner date right afterwards, but garlic is a natural remedy that can kick a sore throat right in it’s painfully swollen tush. The reason lies in the garlic’s allicin, a compound that can kill the bacteria that causes strep and fight the germs causing pain and irritation.
You will need… -1 fresh clove of garlic, sliced in half
Directions Place 1 piece of garlic in each cheek, and suck on it like a cough drop. Occasionally crush your teeth against it to release the allicin- there’s no need to actually bite it. Try this once daily.
5. Have A Marshmallow
Don’t get too excited-I am referring to the herb called Marshmallow, or Marshmallow Root. It has been used with a fair amount of success for several centuries in North America and Europe as it contains mucilage, which helps coat and soothe mucus membranes in the throat.
Note that if you have diabetes, you should consult your doctor before using Marshmallow Root, as it may lower your blood sugar.
You will need… -1 tablespoon of the dried root -1 cup of boiling water
Directions Put one tablespoon of dried root in a mug and pour boiling water over it. Cover and steep for 30-60 minutes before straining and drinking.
6. Steam It Out
Steam can ease a sore throat-particularly one that hurts due to dryness-shorten its duration, and make it easier to breathe if you’re congested. You don’t have to head to your gym’s sauna/steam room to get the treatment either-there are ways to use steam as a remedy without leaving the comfort of your home.
You will need… -1 medium to large bowl -Enough hot water to fill your bowl about halfway -1 bath towel or a towel of similar size -Eucalyptus oil (optional)
Directions Boil a pot of water and pour it into your bowl. Lean over the bowl so that you can fully inhale the rising steam-you don’t have to stick your face right up to it. Drape the towel over your head to create a tent for the steam. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil if you’d like to make it more soothing. If you’re worried about frightening someone who walks in on a mysterious towel-draped creature snuffling and sniffling over a bowl of steaming water, taking a hot shower and letting the bathroom steam up can provide some relief as well.
7. Kick It With Cayenne
Drinking warm water with cayenne can actually make you feel better. This is another one of those really funky sounding home remedies, but again, a lot of people swear by it. Dumping something involving hot peppers in any way, shape, or form down your already searing throat seems counterintuitive to helping it, but there’s a method to the madness. Cayenne (and other hot peppers) have a chemical compound called capsaicin that temporarily relieves pain, much like Advil or aspirin does. It accomplishes this by hindering something called substance P, which is what transmits pain signals to your brain. Thus, the discomfort from your sore throat is diluted when coming in contact with the Cayenne-and quickly to boot.
You will need… -1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper -1 cup of boiling water -1 teaspoon of honey
Directions Add 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper to 1 cup of boiling water. Stir in the honey, and wait until the mixture is warm-but not hot-before drinking throughout the day as needed. Make sure to stir it frequently, as the Cayenne tends to settle. If you’re sensitive to spice, reduce the pepper to as little as 1/8 of a teaspoon.
8. Drink Licorice Root Tea
By drinking licorice root tea you can naturally get some relief for your sore throat. The anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties of licorice root help reduce swelling and irritation, and soothe the mucus membranes in your throat. You can buy tea with licorice in it, or brew up your own. The recipe below has a few extra ingredients to make this at home remedy for sore throats taste extra yummy and comforting.
You will need… -1 cup chopped dry licorice root -1/2 cup cinnamon chips -2 tablespoons whole cloves -1/2 cup chamomile flowers
Directions Mix everything in a bowl thoroughly. Store in a glass jar away from light and heat if you wish to save some for later. To prepare the tea, combine 3 heaping tablespoons of the tea mix and 2.5 cups of cold water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, than reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into a large mug through a strainer, sip, and enjoy.
9. Get Your Rest & Fluids
It’s an obvious one, but its repeated so often for a reason, so don’t brush it off. Combine it with other natural remedies, and it may boost their effectiveness as well. Make sure you’re letting your body rest, and drink as much fluid as you can!
You will need… -A comfy place to curl up -Water, orange juice, more water, herbal tea, and anything else liquid you deem appropriate (alcohol and caffeine should be avoided.)
Directions Get a good book or order your favorite movie. Get cozy, rest, and drink, drink, drink!
10. Make Baking Soda “Tea”
Baking soda is often times touted as a simple, straightforward, and effective home remedy for sore throats. The reason? Baking soda has antibacterial properties, which could help to kill off the nasties camping out in your throat. It also has a slightly Alkaline PH-this soothes minor skin irritations such as bug bites and rashes, and it will act similarly on the swollen tissues in your throat. Toss in some salt (see #1 for details on salt) and you have a mixture that’s set up for soothing success.
You will need… -1 cup of very warm water -1/2 teaspoon salt -1/2 teaspoon or a little less baking soda
Directions Heat the water until it is very warm, but not so warm that you can’t drink it. Mix in ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon or a little less baking soda, stir, and test the temperature. Pour some of the liquid into your throat, let it sit for a moment, then gargle. Do this twice in a row 3 times daily.
11. Hunker In With Honeysuckle
There’s a reason why there has recently been a resurgence of the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for both humans and animals alike-many of the natural remedies really work. TCM has the effects and properties of various plants down to a science, and while medical treatment has changed, those same plants remain working just as well as they did way back when they were discovered. Blessed with a name so tasty you just want to cram it into your mouth, Honeysuckle is one of those plants. It is extremely effective in easing coughs, sore throats, and flu symptoms. Thanks to its bacterial fighting properties, it can help ward off the nasty buggers in your system, and keep them from coming back. On top of that, it flushes toxins out of your bloodstream, and works as an anti-inflammatory to help reduce the swelling tissue in your throats. To enjoy its benefits, just brew yourself a fresh cup of piping hot tea.
You will need… -2 cups of Honeysuckle flowers & leaves (fresh is best) -1 quart of water -A way to heat the water
Directions If you’re lucky enough to live by wild Honeysuckle, pick two cups of the flowers and leaves in equal parts. If you don’t grow it or live by wild plants, get them at a store-it can be hard to come by sometimes, TCM shops are your best option. Once you have your leaves and flowers, simmer them in one quart of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain, and add honey/lemon if you like.
12. Chomp Those Cloves
Cloves have been used for centuries, particularly in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but they aren’t used nearly as much nowadays. Still, cloves were often used to help ease pain in the mouth (such as toothaches) and throat. At one time dentists even commonly used it as an anesthetic, and some still do today. The reason they can be successful as a pain killer is because of the substance eugenol they contain. Eugenol can be a natural pain killer, and can act as an anti-bacterial as well. Chewing on whole cloves will slowly release that eugenol, and hopefully numb the pain in your throat. Just try to contain your excitement at finally having an excuse to go chow down on cloves, ok?
Note: Do not substitute clove oil for whole cloves, as it may result in stomach upset.
You will need… -Several whole cloves -A glass of water (optional, but you should be drinking fluids anyway.)
Directions Pop a clove or two into your mouth and suck on it until it becomes soft, and then chew as if it were gum. Swallowing them afterwards is not harmful. Use as needed.
13. Get Help From Hydrogen
Oh yes, it was the mortal enemy of any child who fell off their bike a lot, or did anything that resulted in some nasty skinned knees. You’re hurt, you’re upset that you fell, and then your mom carries you kicking and screaming into the bathroom and dumps Hydrogen Peroxide all over your cuts. Not cool mom. Of course she was correct in her actions though-it does kill off of bacteria and clean out cuts to stave off infection. With that in mind, we can broaden its use to helping a sore throat in the form of a gargle.
You will need… -3 percent Hydrogen Peroxide -Water -A drinking cup
Directions Pour one cap-full of Hydrogen Peroxide into your drinking cup. Warm up some water (don’t make it hot) and dilute the Peroxide with one capful of warm water.
Gargle thoroughly before spitting the liquid back out. If you can’t stand the taste, a little honey won’t hurt.
14. Avoid Irritants
It sounds like stating the obvious to say “avoid irritants,” but many of us are stoic creatures, and we’ll fight whatever ails us and crawl to work, soccer practice, class, or whatever it is to keep life on track. If you truly must go out, make a very conscious effort steer clear of fumes, smog, and smoke-more than usual. Breathing that stuff in will irritate the soft tissues at the back of your throat that already have enough to deal with. While lozenges can help stimulate saliva, avoid those with lots of sugar-same goes for hard candies. Caffeine and alcohol can hinder our body’s ability to fight off infection, and prolong your sore throat, so avoid them if you can. Do your best to rest up, and remember to take care of yourself (or have someone take care of you!)
You will need… -1 bedside bell -A serv-I mean-a good friend who will take care of you
Directions Ring thy bell!
15. Do Pomegranate Power-Ups
The list of all the beneficial stuff contained in pomegranates is off the charts-it has something to help just about anything. Focusing in on sore throats, pomegranates can help fight off infection with anti-oxidants, while they also contain astringents. An astringent is a substance that causes contraction of body tissue, so they will help the swelling in your throat go down, in turn diminishing the pain. You can utilize these properties in a few ways, either by making tea and gargling or drinking it, or gargling/drinking juice. The tea takes a bit more work to make, so I suggest getting the ingredients prepared ahead of time so you don’t have to do much when you’re ill.
You will need… -1 pomegranate -3-4 cups of water
-1 (or more) bottles of pomegranate juice-try to find organic/ones with less sugar
Directions To make tea, peel the pomegranate and collect its rinds. Boil the rinds for 15 minutes or so in 3-4 cups of water (time and water amount can be adjusted to your preferences.) Drink the tea, or gargle for at least 30 seconds. You can get the rinds in advance, and then dry them in an airtight jar away from direct sunlight. That way, you have them on hand for when you get sick. If you don’t want to make the tea, gargling or drinking pomegranate juice at least 3 times a day can help as well.
16. Make Cozy Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is a natural remedy for sore throats. Its components kill off bacteria, while it works as a natural pain-killer. It also has anti-spasmodic properties (aka it helps the muscles relax) which can help you rest. Overall, it’s one soothing wonder herb.
You will need… -1 bag of chamomile tea -1 mug -1 cup of boiling water
Directions When the water has boiled, pour into your mug and add the tea bag. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Add a bit of honey and lemon if you like. Drink as needed.
17. Drink That Ginger
Ginger has a pretty intense-even spicy- flavor, so why would you want to ingest it when your throat is already tender and sore? It just so happens that ginger is packed with properties that will chase away the pain. It works brilliantly as a cold remedy as well, and colds and sore throats often go hand in hand. It’s an expectorant, which means it helps loosen and expel mucus from your respiratory system (including the extra mucus in your throat.) It does this in part because its aroma opens up your sinuses. It also boosts your circulation, increasing oxygen to your cells, flushing out toxins, and speeding up the healing process. To top it off it acts as an anti-inflammatory, and fights off bad bacteria too. To top the top off, you can enjoy all of ginger’s benefits in a warm, soothing, cup of tea.
You will need…
-Fresh ginger root, 2 inches long -Honey -A sharp knife or vegetable peeler -A cutting board -2-3 cups of water -Wax paper
Directions Wash ginger root thoroughly, then peel. Slice into small pieces, place on a cutting board, and cover it with a piece of wax paper. Crush it using a mallet, the flat side of the knife, anything-it’s not a science, a rock from your garden would probably do if it suits your fancy. If you don’t want to bother crushing, you can slice it into very small chunks after peeling. Boil your water over medium heat and then add the ginger. Let it boil for 3-5 minutes, then take a cup and enjoy it piping hot-add some honey or other flavorings if you like. You can strain it before drinking if you don’t want little bits of ginger at the bottom of your cup. Just make sure you enjoy it while it’s nice and warm!
18. Gargle Sage
Sage was used medicinally for a long, long, time well before it entered the culinary scene. Some people say it has something to cure a little bit of everything, but we’re just focusing on how to use it as an effective natural remedy for your sore throat. Sage is an astringent, meaning it causes body tissues to contract, which means that it can help with swelling. Since the tissues at the back of your throat get swollen when you’re ill, you can see why sage could be of use. The phenolic acids in sage are also known to fight and kill off the bad bacteria that could be the culprit or a contributor to your symptoms. In this case, a good way to use the sage is in the form of a gargle.
You will need… -1 cup of boiling water -2 teaspoons sage leaves (dried or fresh) -1/4 ounce salt
Directions Boil your water, and then pour it over the sage in a mug. Cover and steep for 20 minutes. Strain, add salt, and gargle as needed.
19. Avoid Milk, Or Drink It
Warm milk might seem like the perfect thing to ease your throat. It’s soothing, non-irritating, and relaxing-plus, it’s getting fluid into your body. While not true for all sore throats, if your pain comes along with congestion, it may be best to steer clear of milk. The reason is because milk coats the throat, which already has excess mucus thanks to your illness. It may also increase mucus production which, like coating the throat, would not help at all. On the other hand, if you have a very dry or raw sore throat, some milk and honey may be just the thing to help soothe it.
20. Keep Food And Drink Temperatures Moderate
A huge glass of ice water might sound fabulous, but in reality, the temperature can sometimes make the throat ache more. Same thing goes for hot-while teas and soups are often called for “hot,” err more on the side of “warm.” Liquid that is too hot will just burn and cause more pain. By letting things come to room temperature or keeping them cool rather than cold, or warm rather than hot, you can avoid aggravating your throat further (sadly, this means popsicles and ice cream may be best avoided.)
21. Spice Things Up
Truly spicy foods should be avoided when your throat hurts, but one “spicy” home remedy that helps relieve some of the pain of a sore throat (one that is the result of a cold) is cinnamon. It’s extremely high in anti-oxidants, and its aroma often times helps to open up the sinuses, which lessens the production of mucus and helps you breathe a little easier. There are some pretty straightforward remedies using cinnamon out there, including ones that involve mixing cinnamon powder straight into water. To get the best of both taste and health benefits, using “cinnamon water” is a great way to go about achieving a yummy drink that will also help you feel better.
You will need… -1-2 cinnamon sticks -1-1/2 cups of boiling water -The tea of your choice
Directions Bring water to a boil and add the cinnamon. Boil for about 2-3 minutes, and then remove the cinnamon. Steep your choice of herbal or green tea in the cinnamon water, drink, and enjoy.
*Chamomile tea steeped in cinnamon water with honey to taste would be a fabulous combo to beat off the sickness.
22. Mix & Match
There is obviously a theme to the kinds of ingredients used in the home remedies for sore throats. If what they are, and know what’s causing the sore throat, you can try different combinations to see what works for you. There’s a surprising amount of variation, even on things as simple as salt water gargles! Some examples- some people will suggest simply lemon juice and honey, while some say honey and warm water, or others say combine all three and then add a pinch of cayenne.
If none of the remedies above seem to do it for you, below are 5 ingredients that we found to be the most prevalent in helping a sore throat, be it on their own, combined, or in another form.
1. Salt: It draws the water out of your swollen mucus membranes, reducing swelling and pain.
2. Honey: Comforting and soothing honey helps coat the throat when it is dry, scratchy and painful. It also kills bacteria. It should not be given to children under 2 years of age.
3. Lemon: Cuts through unwanted mucus, kills bacteria, and can help dull the pain in sore spots. Often used with honey.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar: It’s a major germ-buster, and while it may seem counter-intuitive, ACV can really help relieve your sore throat.
5. Baking Soda: Due to its PH levels it can help soothe minor skin irritations, and also helps rid your body of bad bacteria that could be lurking about and making things worse. Read more