A sore throat is a relatively common form of upper respiratory tract infection. Cold and flu viruses are typically responsible, but a bacterial infection can also be the cause, specifically the Streptococcus pyogenes. It can also be caused by an allergic reaction to dust pollen, pollution, and pet dander. Other causes include tonsillitis, tonsil stones, oral thrush, and mononucleosis.
Besides a painful and scratchy throat, the condition also causes voice hoarseness, inflammation of the tonsil, cough, fever, difficulty in swallowing, and body aches. A sore throat can go away on its own after several days or weeks, but if you want to experience immediate relief, you should try the safe and effective natural remedies discussed below.
9 Natural Remedies for Sore Throat
Chamomile tea can be an effective natural remedy for a sore throat. The tea is made using the dried flowers of chamomile, which is one of the most effective medicinal herbs for killing germs. The dried leaves flowers in itself are full of antiseptic and antioxidant properties.
Chamomile is one of the most studied plants due to its powerful healing abilities and is commonly used in herbal and Ayurvedic medicines to treat a sore throat. It is very effective when it comes to eliminating the symptoms of flu, cold, and headaches.
Chamomile extract spray has been successfully used to treat tonsil stones (white spots on tonsils). Tonsil stones are an accumulation of plaque and germs that cause a throat infection. A study revealed that chamomile bio-activities can help soothe the soreness and cure throat infections.1
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is incredibly effective when it comes to treating sore throat. It can help reduce infection as well as prevent the tissue from swelling. It is a powerful natural antibiotic that kills the bacteria and disinfects the tissue and helps relieve pain caused by bacterial infections.
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Apple cider vinegar is acidic in nature, which is why it is always advisable to do a patch test on your wrist, otherwise, it can burn skin tissue. The ideal way to determine whether you are allergic or not is to consult a physician.
Due to its acidic nature, apple cider vinegar is very effective in thinning mucus and helping you cough the sputum out more easily. It also helps reduce the burning sensation after you throw up which sometimes causes throat soreness.
Peppermint is an herb that’s known for its soothing and calming properties. The leaf of the peppermint herb contains high quantities of anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce swelling in tonsils caused by an infection.
According to research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, peppermint can help reduce swelling of human tissues.2 Peppermint is a powerful natural remedy for a sore throat and is not only highly beneficial for stomach problems, but it can also help relieve an aching stomach.
Cinnamon is one of the most effective ways to treat sore throat thanks to its antibacterial properties. It helps to fight infection as well as get rid of bacteria. Sipping on cinnamon infused water, especially during winter, is a great way to prevent colds and flu.
A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine found that cinnamon exhibits potent antimicrobial properties.3 The study concluded that oil extracted from the bark of the cinnamon tree is capable of controlling bacterial infections.
Drinking lukewarm cinnamon herbal tea has been proven to have a soothing effect on a sore throat, as it helps relieve pain and discomfort around the tonsils.
Licorice was originally cultivated in Asia and Europe and was first used as an expectorant for treating the symptoms of coughs and colds. It helps get rid of mucus from the throat and prevents dryness. Licorice is also used to treat heartburn and stomach acidity and is also a natural laxative.
People that used licorice root claim that it can help treat a sore throat. According to a research report, licorice gargle is effective in preventing Postoperative Sore Throat (POST).4 However, there isn’t any scientific research that claims its efficacy in healing throat soreness.
It is important to note that the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says that lactating mothers should avoid using licorice root for treating a sore throat or otherwise.5 It is also not recommended for pregnant women.
Sage is an ancient herb that has a wide variety of medicinal applications and benefits. From relieving pain in the throat caused by allergies to curing the symptoms of flu, sage is one of the most powerful natural remedies.
Sage was first used in herbal medicine during the late 14th century where the leaves were used to treat skin inflammation caused by infection. A research study found that drinking sage tea helps to increase antioxidants in the body that help in fighting infection.6
A separate study published in the European Journal of Medicinal Research shows that using a sage spray for the throat can help cure acute pharyngitis.7 It’s one of the major causes of severe throat soreness and pain. You can buy sage tea bags from various natural food stores.
Echinacea is another important remedy for a sore throat that has been used for a long time. It is widely used in both North America and Europe for the prevention and treatment of respiratory tract infections.8 It is often used to treat coughs and colds.
A clinical trial was published in 2009 that involved 154 patients suffering from an acute sore throat that lasted for longer than 72 hours. Some of the study participants were given echinacea and sage spray while the rest were given chlorhexidine/lidocaine spray.
The responses of the patients were evaluated by researchers after using the treatment methods every 2 hours, 10 times daily for 5 days. Results show that when echinacea is combined with sage, it is more effective than the chlorhexidine/lidocaine combo in providing relief for sore throat symptoms.9
One way that echinacea works is to stimulate the immune system to give the body a much stronger shield against disease-causing pathogens. Echinacea is also very effective when it comes to reducing discomfort caused by a sore throat, flu, and other respiratory tract problems.
Honey is a healthy sweetener that should be used by everybody more often. Besides making desserts and dishes more palatable, it is also very effective for improving health. If you are suffering from a sore throat along with other infections of the respiratory tract, honey works by destroying the root cause.
A variety of studies reveal that honey has strong antibiotic activities against pathogens such as Streptococcus pyogenes.10 Algerian scientists tested the effects of honey on Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes at various concentrations.
The antibacterial activities of honey were found to be comparable to those of regular antibiotics such as amoxicillin, ampicillin, gentamicin, erythromycin, tobramycin, penicillin G, and chloramphenicol. Honey not only inhibits the growth of the pathogens but also ensures that they don’t adhere to the respiratory tract.
Essential oils can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to treating a sore throat because they not only help in the alleviation of the associated pain, but they are also the root cause of the ailment. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of essential oils are what make them so effective in combating sore throat.
Five of the Most Effective Essential Oils for a Sore Throat
Lemon Essential Oil
Vitamin C has a long-established reputation for being very effective in the prevention and treatment of the common cold and associated symptoms. It not only seems to get rid of viral respiratory infections, but it also helps boost the immune system to strengthen the defense against harmful pathogens.
Lemon essential oil is very effective for people suffering from a sore throat and is actually one of the most effective essential oils for sore throat relief. It has been proven to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can be beneficial for people suffering from throat pain and irritation.11
Unlike other essential oils that cannot be consumed orally, lemon essential oil is safe to ingest. However, it is worth remembering that it should not be taken in its undiluted form because it is quite strong. It should be first diluted in water, fruit juice, or tea before you drink it.
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme is a staple in many kitchens and is often used to add a unique aroma and flavor to dishes. What you might not know is that it can be a powerful remedy for a sore throat. You can find thyme essential oil in our Happy personal essential oil diffuser.
Poland researchers discovered that thyme inhibited 120 strains of bacteria responsible for infection in the respiratory tract and oral cavity.12 Thyme is actually noted for having the strongest antibacterial activity against all strains of bacteria including the ones no longer susceptible to antibiotics.
A study published in the Phytotherapy Research Journal also posted similar results. Researchers from Italy discovered that thyme essential oil has toxic effects on major respiratory tract pathogens including Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, Haemophilus influenza, and Klebsiella pneumonia.13
It appeared that thyme oil has the ability to suppress the growth as well as the spread of these strains of bacteria in the respiratory tract.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
A sore throat is also caused by tonsillitis, which is a condition that’s characterized by infection and the swelling of tonsils. With its proven anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, eucalyptus helps tone down the swelling and ease the pain caused by tonsillitis.
Eucalyptus does not stop there as it also works to eliminate the source of the problem. Multiple studies have hypothesized the strong inhibitory effects of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus essential oil is able to inhibit the activity of bacteria and viruses within the respiratory tract, including the throat.
In a study involving 120 viral and bacterial isolates, eucalyptus was found to be particularly powerful against Haemophilus Influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Parainfluenza, and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia.14
Eucalyptus essential oil has even been found to work on drug-resistant strains of bacteria according to a 2010 study.15 Iranian researchers, however, recommend further investigation into this issue to evaluate the potential of eucalyptus as a treatment for a variety of respiratory infections.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is used by many people to help them relax and calm their senses. However, lavender has been used since World War I for its antibacterial properties.
Lavender is not only a strong antibacterial for the pathogens that attack the respiratory tract, but is also very effective as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory.16 This means that lavender essential oils can be used to alleviate the unpleasant symptoms associated with throat irritation. Lavender can be found in MONQ’s personal essential oil diffuser Happy.
Whether applied topically or used aromatically, lavender essential oil induces calmness and relaxation. Since conditions like sore throats cause stress and anxiety, you can take advantage of the relaxation effects of lavender to make yourself feel better
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree essential oil has over 100 bioactive components, which make it a potent antimicrobial against a broad spectrum of bacteria and viruses. Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is featured in the list of natural remedies for a sore throat, which is a condition caused by harmful pathogens.
Tea tree essential oil has been found to be a powerful antibacterial, especially against Streptococcus pyogenes.17 Besides this, it is also an anti-inflammatory that helps tone down swelling in the throat.
If you use tea tree essential oil, you will get 2-fold action: destroy the cause of the infection and alleviate the symptoms such as inflammation and pain.
The Bottom Line
A sore throat is an infection that can make simple activities such as eating and talking difficult due to the constant pain and inflammation of the tonsils. To experience relief from your symptoms immediately, you can use the proven techniques discussed in this article. If you try out the natural remedies discussed here without much success or if you are suffering from a severe sore throat then consult a doctor.