With the introduction of winter at our footsteps and the temperature dropping rapidly, the colder weather is the prime time to come down with the unfortunate cold, and, in some cases, the flu. With all the germs flying around as we’re trapped indoors, you’re bound to suffer at least one sore throat this season.
Be proactive during this time of year and do your best to keep warm, fuel your body right, and exercise regularly (try indoor workouts, if the weather doesn’t cooperate). However, even with extra precaution, it’s hard to completely avoid the the unwanted sore throat. The good news is many sore throats can be healed on their own, without medical or prescription intervention. Sometimes it’s best to take the natural route and give the body the proper nutrients it needs. Below, with the help of medical studies and university findings, we’ve listed ten natural ways to soothe and cure a sore throat.
1. Salt Water Gargle
According to Health Services at the University of Connecticut, “Gargling with warm salt water may help break down secretions, remove white spots, and soothe the throat.” Salt water is an especially great choice to rid your throat of that itchy or scratchy feeling. Salt water gargling is not a one-time quick fix. It’s recommended to gargle multiple times throughout the day until you notice your sore throat subsiding. Simply stir one-fourth of a teaspoon of salt (preferably Himalayan) into a glass of warm water. Use the salt water to gargle, swishing it around for a few seconds, then spit it out. Repeat this pattern a few times throughout the day.
2. Proper Rest
A lack of sleep can be one of the contributing culprits in developing a cold or flu, which leads to symptoms like a sore throat. Given this, it makes sense that catching extra Z’s throughout the day and at night can help alleviate your symptoms. The Women’s Health Organization recommends taking periodic naps throughout the day and getting at least the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep to help get rid of a sore throat. Additionally, if you’re hoping to alleviate pain and sleep through the night, try to avoid taking aspirin. The Women’s Health Organization believes it can possibly lead to other health complications like Reye’s Syndrome.
3. Olive Leaf Extract
Imagine one extraordinary product that is both antiviral and antibacterial. Olive leaf extract is this miracle savior and it can be taken via oral supplements. The Olive Wellness Organization has research “that suggests olive leaf extract may reduce the infectivity and inhibit the replication of viruses that cause colds, influenza, and lower respiratory tract infections.” They mention that this particular finding needs further research. However, they did add that sipping on olive leaf extract, “may alleviate symptoms of a sore throat—potentially due to a reduction of inflammation and viral infectivity.”
4. Manuka Honey
Along with flus and colds, more serious conditions, like strep throat, can also cause serious discomfort in the upper respiratory tract. Instances like these call for visiting a medical professional, and most likely prescription medication. However, it doesn’t hurt to assist with natural healers, as well. Manuka honey added to warm water (with a hint of lemon) is a great throat soother. The honey’s high levels of antibacterial properties can suit up against some of the toughest infections out there.
5. Essential Oils
As we mentioned earlier, mixing lemon with honey in warm water is a tried and true throat soother. Like lemon, there are many natural ingredients and remedies that can help soothe our respiratory tracts. Essential oils are a great way to do this. Ingest*, breath in, or topically apply a great quantity or dose of a healing supplement to reap full benefits. For a sore throat, try mixing water with a drop of lemon, peppermint, and oregano oil into a bottle and spray throughout the day towards the back of your throat. The healing antiviral and antibacterial properties of each oil will help soothe your throat.
A very important reminder about essential oils is they are a very heavy concentration of the listed product, so be wary when trying. One drop of essential oil is plenty. Plus, it needs to be properly diluted in a carrier oil or water before ingesting or applying.
*To be safe, consult a medical professional before implementing essential oils into your routine.
6. Raw Garlic or Garlic Supplement
Sometimes a simple serving of a natural food source can be enough to help cure an inconvenient scratch, itch, or tingle in the throat. Believe it or not, garlic, when consumed raw or in a supplement form, is extremely beneficial to every system in our body. This is especially true for our respiratory system. In a study performed by the US National Library of Medicine, researchers discovered that taking garlic supplements during the winter months presented fewer colds and flus, which means fewer individuals with sore throats. Therefore, they concluded that the presence of “allicin [which is a star element in garlic] in the body, can prevent an attack by the common cold virus.”
7. Baking Soda Gargle
Instead of gargling salt water, you can try gargling baking soda mixed with water. Along with keeping your refrigerator fresh and clean, baking soda can keep your throat soothed and healthy, as well. Gargling this mixture is known to kill off unwanted bacteria and prevent any growth of yeast or fungus, leaving your throat feeling sore-free. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda (not from the same box that you’re using to keep your fridge fresh!) into a glass of warm water. Gargle and spit. Repeat this a few times throughout the day.
Dry air is not a sore throat’s friend. There’s a reason why those who suffer irritated or sore throats wake up feeling the worst. It has to do with the mouth becoming dry overnight. (You’re not producing saliva or drinking fluids during your sleep). Try sleeping through the night with a humidifier. It’ll moisten the air around you, leaving your throat less dry and, therefore, less irritated when you wake up. The National Institute of Health recommends always keeping your throat moist while you’re suffering from a cold or flu, as it can help delay the symptoms of a sore throat. In addition to the humidifier, experts from the NIH suggest “having lozenges or hard candies—or anything that stimulates saliva production—[to] keep your throat moist. It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids.”
9. Ginger Tea
Ginger root, part of the Zingiberaceae family (like turmeric), is a spice that can help the body fight the flu or common cold. This, in turn, helps reduce the chance of dealing with a sore throat. You can consume ginger tea. Or, you can also crush or mince ginger into your favorite dishes, put it into your morning smoothies, or even add it to lemonade. Its powerful anti-inflammatory properties make it a must have in your kitchen—plus it tastes spicy and delicious.
Sore throats aren’t fun and, unfortunately, they’re pretty common. Try these natural remedies to find relief. If your sore throat worsens or doesn’t improve in a few days, talk to your doctor about the next steps.