5 Science-Backed Natural Remedies For A Sore Throat

by Shaun Dmello
Published on In HealthLeave a Comment

It’s probably time for your weekend festivities or a big presentation and you wake up excited only to find that your throat’s on fire and you can barely swallow your own spit. Sore throats may be non-threatening and all too common, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. They have a way of surfacing when you can least afford to deal with them and they leave you feeling weak, frustrated, and irritable. After all, not being able to even enjoy a decent meal would get anyone quite worked up. So, what can you do? Turn to cough and cold medications or go the natural way with sore throat remedies?

You’ll be surprised, but in most cases cold and cough medications do little to relieve or cure a sore throat. Antibiotics, although helpful, are ineffective in this situation too, unless you can be sure that your sore throat is the result of a bacterial infection. To add to it, prolonged or frequent usage of such medications can produce other undesired side effects. But, can natural sore throat remedies really step up to the challenge and get the job done? Experts say that this is not always the case as with the sheer number of remedies out there, some are plain useless, while others may only provide relief and not do much else. The trick is to find the right remedies or the right blend of remedies that will soothe a sore throat and also fight the infection. To make life a little easier for you, we’ve picked a few home remedies that we’ve found to be most effective.

Natural Sore Throat Remedies

While lifestyle diseases that are prevalent today may not have been as common a few thousand years ago, you can be pretty sure the sore throats even buggered the hell out of our distant ancestors. Not surprisingly, Ayurveda has a wealth of knowledge on sore throats and how to treat them naturally. Looking at these classical texts and referring to modern studies gives us a pretty good inkling of which ones actually deserve our attention. So, here are some of the best ways to heal a sore throat naturally.

Sore Throat Honey Remedy

If you ever wished that your cough syrups were as sweet as honey, this ones for you. Raw honey has been used for millennia across the world, not just as food ingredient, but also for its medicinal value. Ayurveda has relied heavily upon honey, using it as a remedy for various ailments and also as a medium for administering other medications. Ayurvedic texts recommend the use of honey as a natural cough and sore throat remedy that soothes inflammation and facilitates healing.

Jar of raw honey

Honey has stood up to close scrutiny, with many of its traditional uses now supported by modern scientific findings. It has proven anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that make it useful not just in the treatment of external wounds and burns, but also in the treatment of a sore throat. It can help provide relief by reducing throat inflammation, while also fighting the underlying infection. A study that appeared in Canadian Family Physician (CFP), a peer-reviewed medical journal, found that a single dose of honey before bedtime could relieve throat inflammation and coughing in children. 

Sore Throat Ginger Remedy

Ginger is regarded as a superfood in Ayurveda and has been widely used in numerous remedies. With its sweet pungent rasa and heating action, ginger can pacify vata and kapha aggravations, but in excess can aggravate pitta. Ginger is also believed to destroy ama and clear kapha buildup in the respiratory passages, easing conditions like coughs, colds, and sore throats.

As a widely used culinary herb that has been embraced across the world, ginger has been the subject of numerous studies, most of which have been favorable. The use of ginger as a sore throat remedy does make sense as research shows that one of the main bioactive components of ginger,  gingerols, possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. This means that ginger can help reduce throat inflammation, also reducing the sensation of pain. Ginger extracts also display significant antimicrobial activity, helping fight infections. A study looking specifically at the herb’s antibacterial activity found that ginger can kill some strains of bacteria responsible for respiratory tract infections.

Sore Throat Garlic Remedy

Despite the many myths that restrict garlic intake in Indian culture, the herb has long been used in Ayurveda. Most classical texts actually describe garlic as a rasayana or rejuvenator. Unlike most other herbs and spices, garlic is ascribed with 5 of the 6 rasas and has a heating energy. This makes it excellent for pacifying vata and kapha, but excessive intake can cause pitta aggravation. To treat a sore throat or respiratory tract infections, garlic is usually used in conjunction with other ingredients like honey.

Garlic has been studied rigorously for decades and most researchers agree on its cardiovascular and anticancer benefits. As a natural remedy for sore throats, more research is needed but what we know so far already supports its use. Garlic contains a bioactive compound called allicin, which has been shown to possess antiviral properties against common viral strains like the rhinovirus. One study even found that garlic supplementation reduced incidence of common cold by 64% and symptom duration by as much as 70%.

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    Sore Throat Turmeric Remedy

    Long before turmeric became the trendy supplement that it is today, Ayurvedic physicians used the herb as an antiseptic agent to treat wounds, sore throats, and other infections. Referred to as haridra in Sanskrit, turmeric is suitable for all dosha types and can be used in a variety of forms, both for external application or ingested.

    Modern studies have identified curcuminoids, which are bioactive chemicals, in turmeric as the main source of its medicinal properties. Most notable among these is curcumin, which has numerous therapeutic applications. This active ingredient in turmeric has been shown to exhibit strong anti-inflammatory activity, even prompting recommendations for its use as an adjunct in arthritis treatment. As suggested by some studies, the herb also exhibits antimicrobial and immune-stimulatory activity, making it one of the most valuable home remedies for sore throats.

    Sore Throat Salt Water Remedy

    Before you roll your eyes, read further. Salt water gargling may not be unique to Ayurveda – it’s recommended by health care practitioners across the world and has been passed on for generations as perhaps the oldest sore throat remedy! But there’s good cause for its presence in any list of natural sore throat remedies. You’ve probably heard that salt water works like a natural antiseptic, but science has shown that it does a lot more than that.

    A home remedy for a soar throat: salt and hot water

    Aside from the cleansing action and loosening of phlegm that occurs with gargling (which can happen with regular water too), salt water exerts a positive influence on wound healing. A study found that salt water gargling changed healing at a molecular level, encouraging the formation of specific proteins that aid cell adhesion for quicker healing. Salt water gargling has also been shown to reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections by around 40%. Using salt water gargling to treat a sore throat could therefore speed up healing and also lower the risk of recurrent throat infections.

    Parting Advice

    No matter how healthy you might be or how hard you may try to avoid falling sick, there’s no escaping the occasional sore throat. In such situations, home treatments using common kitchen ingredients and herbs can come to the rescue, but they are only effective when used consistently. If despite your adherence to recommendations you find that there is no improvement or even a worsening of your condition, or if the problem persists for a week or more, it would be wise to seek an accurate medical diagnosis. Severe throat pain that lasts for more than a few days is not normal and could be indicative of a more serious infection or condition that requires a medical diagnosis and treatment.

    References:

    • Eteraf-Oskouei, Tahereh, and Moslem Najafi. “Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review.” Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences 16.6 (2013): 731–742. Print.
    • Goldman, Ran D. “Honey for Treatment of Cough in Children.” Canadian Family Physician 60.12 (2014): 1107–1110. Print.
    • Young, H Y, et al. “Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of [6]-Gingerol.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 4 Jan. 2005, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15588672.
    • Akoachere, J-F T. K., et al. “Antibacterial Effects of Zingiber Officinale and Garcinia Kola on Respiratory Tract Pathogens.” East African Medical Journal, vol. 79, no. 11, Jan. 2002, pp. 588–592., doi:10.4314/eamj.v79i11.8804.
    • Ankri, Serge, and David Mirelman. “Antimicrobial Properties of Allicin from Garlic.” Microbes and Infection, vol. 1, no. 2, 1999, pp. 125–129., doi:10.1016/s1286-4579(99)80003-3.
    • Josling, Peter. “Preventing the Common Cold with a Garlic Supplement: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Survey.” Advances in Therapy, vol. 18, no. 4, 2001, pp. 189–193., doi:10.1007/bf02850113.
    • Amalraj, Augustine, et al. “Biological Activities of Curcuminoids, Other Biomolecules from Turmeric and Their Derivatives – A Review.” Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, vol. 7, no. 2, 2017, pp. 205–233., doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.05.005.
    • Daily, James W., Mini Yang, and Sunmin Park. “Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials.” Journal of Medicinal Food 19.8 (2016): 717–729. PMC. Web. 27 June 2018.
    • Chandrasekaran, Chinampudur V. et al. “Immune-Stimulatory and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Curcuma Longa Extract and Its Polysaccharide Fraction.” Pharmacognosy Research 5.2 (2013): 71–79. PMC. Web. 27 June 2018.
    • Huynh, Nam Cong-Nhat, et al. “Rinsing with Saline Promotes Human Gingival Fibroblast Wound Healing In Vitro.” Plos One, vol. 11, no. 7, 2016, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159843.
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