9 Natural sore-throat cures that work
Sore throats can leave you feeling pretty rough, and they're rife at this time of year - most of us are likely to come down with one before the winter is through. Sore throats can be caused by a virus, allergy, bacterial infection or even a muscle strain, and let's face it, when you have a really sore throat, you probably just want to curl up under the covers and make the world go away.
Over-the-counter medication isn't always the answer and sometimes it can actually prolong your symptoms, but if you really need to get up and go to work, there are some healthy, natural sore-throat cures that really do work. Some of these might require a quick trip to the supermarket or your local corner shop, but we promise you, it's SO worth it just for the relief! Try out one of these natural remedies the next time you find yourself suffering from a sore throat.
#1. Honey and lemon
Honey has been used in concoctions to soothe sore throats for hundreds (maybe even thousands) of years, and there's a reason why. Honey has naturally antibacterial qualities, which can help to boost your immune system and wipe out bugs, and you probably already have a jar of honey in your cupboard. Adding a teaspoon to a mug of hot water with a squeeze of lemon juice - fresh is best but bottled will do in a push - is a well-known remedy for an itchy, scratchy sore throat, and it can even help to soothe a tickly cough, helping you sleep. Science backs the use of this home remedy for sore throats and coughs too, so it's good news all round (1)!
Since ancient times, sage has been used as a herbal treatment for all kinds of conditions - rumour has it that the Ancient Egyptians even used sage as an infertility treatment! The herb is a natural anti-inflammatory, so it's great for soothing sore, scratchy throats and helping to bring down swelling. We recommend brewing a pot of sage tea to enjoy some relief - the hot liquid will also help to ease congestion.
#3. Ice cream and frozen desserts
Whilst we're not recommending you chow down on a box of Magnum ice creams or polish off a tub of Ben and Jerry's in one sitting, experts agree that eating frozen foods can help to relieve the irritation of a sore throat (2). It's not often you'll have the excuse to enjoy a few scoops of ice cream whilst being told it's good for you, so take full advantage! For a healthier option, try some frozen fruit yoghurt which is lower in sugar and fat than ice cream.
#4. Rest and relaxation
Tiring out your throat by chatting on the phone or to friends isn't a great idea when you've got a sore throat. Rest and relaxation will go a long way to helping you to feel better (3). If you don't feel like a nap, some quiet meditation, gentle exercise (such as yoga), reading a book or watching a film are all great, relaxing ways to get some rest and let your body fight the infection.
Echinacea has become popular in recent years as a cold remedy, and it's true that this herb can boost your immune system - it's a natural anti-inflammatory (4). Using echinacea could shorten the duration of your cold, ease your sore throat and reduce fever. You'll find that echinacea is available in a variety of forms in pharmacies and health food shops, from tablets and capsules to extracts and tinctures, so it's up to you which form you find easiest to take.
#6. Slippery Elm
Slippery Elm is a herbal remedy made from elm tree bark, and it has been in use for hundreds of years - not just for sore throats, but for stomach complaints too. It's worth picking some up at your nearest health food store, and you may even be able to find slippery elm lozenges, which can soothe your sore throat and reduce a cold's duration. Slippery Elm contains mucilage, a thick, gel-like substance which coats sore throats and aids healing (5).
#7. Salt water
Gargling with salt water might be an old-fashioned sore throat remedy, but it's one that really works (your gran was right!) When you get a sore throat, mucous membrane cells become inflamed and swollen, causing pain. Gargling with warm salt water helps to reduce swelling and washes away mucous, letting your throat heal naturally. Mix 1/2 tsp of salt with a glass of warm water and gargle up to three times a day for noticeable results.
Shots at your local pub are not on the agenda for you and your sore throat, but a hot toddy can really help ease pain. Mixing a little whisky with honey, hot water and lemon juice helps reduce pain and can also help you to get a good night's sleep. Or if you don't fancy drinking whisky, try gargling with a mixture of whisky and water to numb your throat.
#9. Marshmallow Root
For several centuries, marshmallow root has been used as a remedy for sore throats (6) and it contains mucilage, which can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It's a home remedy that's well worth trying, and you should be able to pick up the root at your local health food shop, or online. A tablespoon of marshmallow root mixed with boiling water and strained creates a soothing tea that will also help to ease congestion.
These all-natural remedies should help to relieve the pain of a sore throat, and hopefully you'll be feeling better in no time. Remember that eating healthily - we recommend warming soups, which also help by providing your body with extra fluids - and getting plenty of sleep will also help to fight infection. If symptoms persist, or if you have a fever as well as a sore throat, it might be time to book an appointment with your GP, to make sure there are no underlying health issues responsible.
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