Natural Remedies for a Sore Throat
A sore throat is one of the most common ailments afflicting people around the world; it is usually caused by a virus or bacteria and is often accompanied by nasal congestion, fever, and other symptoms of the common cold. Sore throats can also be caused, or exacerbated, by smoking, dry heat, or allergic reactions. A sore throat is rarely cause for a trip to the doctor; there are a number of steps you can take on your own to alleviate your discomfort.
If you smoke, quit. There are a thousand good reasons to quit smoking now; the fact that cigarette smoke is extremely irritating to the throat lining is one of them. Because dry heat is another throat irritant, you can run a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep. The added moisture in the air will help prevent your throat lining from becoming too dry while you’re sleeping. If it’s winter and you’re running heat in your house, you can place a bowl of water over the radiator or heating vent in your bedroom; this will have roughly the same effect as a humidifier.
Throw away your old toothbrush and use a new one; bacteria tend to collect on the bristles, and can enter your system through tender areas in your gums. It’s a good practice in general to change your toothbrush on a regular basis.
Natural Remedies for a Sore Throat
One of the most common sore throat remedies for a sore throat is a saltwater gargle. Salt can act as an antiseptic, and it draws water from the mucous membranes in your throat; the water helps clear phlegm. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle, at least four times a day. Sore throat lozenges, which you can purchase in most convenience stores, also serve to increase saliva production and lubricate the throat. However, be careful giving throat lozenges to small children; they may choke on them.
In general, drink plenty of fluids. Some people prefer cold liquids, or even sucking on ice cubes or popsicle; others prefer warm drinks such as tea or plain warm water. There seems to be broad disagreement as to whether warm liquids or cold liquids are better for a sore throat; the bottom line is, keep your throat irrigated, and drink whatever feels soothing!
One interesting concoction for soothing a sore throat, recommended by some, is to add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of cayenne pepper, the juice from a quarter of a lemon, and a teaspoon of honey to a cup of hot water. Drink one cup four times a day. The prospect of downing such a potent cocktail may be sufficient for one to take adequate preventive measures and avoid succumbing to a sore throat to begin with. Honey, however, has antibacterial properties and has long been used to treat sore throats; honey also draws water from inflamed tissues in your throat, reducing swelling. Add several teaspoons of honey to a glass of hot herbal tea or hot water, or make hot lemonade with honey, adding several teaspoons to hot water mixed with the juice from half a lemon.
Other common food items that can alleviate a sore throat include Vitamin C (drink orange juice or some other citrus drink); Vitamin C will boost your immune system and help fight off infection. Also, dried garlic has antibacterial and antiseptic properties; you can add extra garlic to your food as a seasoning.
Various other natural products have been shown to help. Slippery Elm is a tree common to eastern North America; the inner bark of this tree contains mucilage, a gel that swells when mixed with water. This mucilage has been traditionally used as a sore throat cure; it is believed to reduce throat irritation. It is sold in capsule form, and is also found in various herbal teas. Check at your local health-food store.
Licorice root has also long been used as a remedy for sore throats; it is a common ingredient in various herbal teas. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, this root has been used to help treat a variety of ailments including stomach ulcers, canker sores, and viral infections. You should not consume licorice root in large amounts, however, as it can cause high blood pressure and lower your body’s potassium level. Marshmallow root has also been used for centuries to treat sore throats; add one tablespoon of dried marshmallow root to a cup of boiling water and let it steep for 30 minutes before straining. Like slippery elm, marshmallow contains mucilage.
A sore throat should only last a few days; if the condition persists, you may wish to see a doctor. And be sure to see a doctor if you have severe throat pain or difficulty swallowing; blood in your saliva or phlegm; tender or swollen lymph nodes in your neck; white or yellow patches in the back of your throat; pus in your throat; or other unusual symptoms.