15 Natural Remedies To Get Rid Of A Sore Throat
By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE
A sore throat can be very uncomfortable.
The main symptom is pain and irritation in the throat, especially when you swallow.
A sore throat occurs as part of your body’s immune response to viral or bacterial infections.
Your natural immune response leads to inflammation and swelling of the mucous membranes in the throat.
Fortunately, there are several natural remedies that may provide relief, including some that are supported by scientific evidence.
Here are 15 natural sore throat remedies.
1. Marshmallow root
The marshmallow plant has been used to treat sore throats and other conditions since the Middle Ages.
Its root contains a gelatin-like substance known as mucilage, which coats and lubricates the throat when you swallow it.
Lozenges containing marshmallow root have been tested in animals and found to be effective and nontoxic, even at very high doses (1).
Here is a recipe for a cold marshmallow root infusion to soothe a painful throat:
Marshmallow root infusion
- Cold water.
- 1 ounce (28 grams) dried marshmallow root.
- Fill a 1-quart (1-liter) jar with cold water.
- Place the marshmallow root in cheesecloth and tie up in a bundle.
- Lower the bundle into the water just until it’s completely submerged in the water.
- Place the tied end of the bundle over the lip of the jar, place the lid on the jar and screw on the lid.
- Infuse overnight, or for at least eight hours, and then remove the bundle.
- Pour desired amount into a glass. Add sweetener of choice, if desired.
When this is ready, you can sip on it throughout the day to help reduce your symptoms.
Bottom line: Marshmallow has been used to treat sore throats since ancient times. Its root contains a gelatinous substance called mucilage, which coats and soothes the throat.
2. Sage and echinacea
Although you may know sage as an herb used in cooking, it also has several medicinal uses.
Sage originated in the Mediterranean and is now grown throughout the world.
In one study, a sage-echinacea spray was actually slightly more effective at reducing throat pain than a chlorhexidine lidocaine spray. Neither treatment caused negative side effects (4).
Follow this recipe to make your own sage-echinacea throat spray at home:
Sage-echinacea throat spray
- 1 teaspoon ground sage.
- 1 teaspoon ground echinacea.
- 1/2 cup water.
- Boil water.
- Place sage and echinacea in a small jar and then fill with boiling water.
- Let steep for 30 minutes.
- Pour mixture through strainer and then combine with 1/2 cup hard liquor (skip the liquor if you are an alcoholic or prefer to avoid alcohol for any reason).
- Place in small spray bottle and spray into throat every two hours or as needed.
Bottom line: A sage-echinacea spray has been shown to relieve sore throat discomfort as effectively as antiseptic medication spray.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a natural health tonic that’s been used in folk medicine remedies for centuries. Its main active ingredient, acetic acid, helps fight bacteria.
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, even prescribed a combination of apple cider vinegar and honey – known as oxymel – to treat flu symptoms such as coughs and sore throats (6).
To help relieve throat pain, drink 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and an optional tablespoon of honey.
Bottom line: Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties and may help provide sore throat relief when consumed in small amounts with warm water.
4. Salt water gargle
Gargling with salt water is a well-known natural remedy to get rid of a sore throat.
The salt helps reduce swelling by pulling water out of your throat tissue. It may also help kill unwanted microbes in your throat.
Combine 1 cup of warm water with 1 teaspoon of salt and stir to dissolve. Gargle with a mouthful of this mixture for 30 seconds, once per hour.
Bottom line: Gargling hourly with warm salt water helps reduce swelling and may ease throat discomfort.
Honey is a delicious sweetener that is often used in combination with other natural ingredients to soothe a sore throat.
In addition to helping fight infection and providing pain relief, honey can undeniably make remedies taste better.
Honey may be especially effective when combined with warm water and apple cider vinegar or herbs.
However, it shouldn’t be given to children under the age of one because their guts haven’t had a chance to acquire healthy bacteria that can fight off germs, such as botulism spores, that are sometimes found in honey.
Also, people who avoid sugar or follow a low-carb diet may want to choose another remedy, since honey is a form of sugar and contains 17 grams of carbs per tablespoon (15 ml).
Bottom line: Honey can help relieve throat pain, particularly when combined with vinegar or herbs in warm water.
6. Licorice root
Licorice is a plant native to Europe and South Asia.
Interestingly, it has been used in traditional medicine to treat many disorders.
Licorice has properties similar to aspirin that may help reduce sore throat pain.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any research on its ability to relieve illness-related sore throats.
One study found that gargling with licorice water prior to surgery reduced the risk of getting a sore throat by 50%, compared to gargling with sugar water (8).
Licorice root tea can be purchased at natural grocery stores or from online retailers.
You can also make your own to drink or gargle. Combine ground licorice root with hot water, let it steep for five minutes, then strain it prior to drinking.
Bottom line: Licorice root has aspirin-like qualities and may help soothe a sore throat when gargled or consumed as a tea.
7. Lemon water
Lemon water is a refreshing beverage that may also reduce the throat pain that occurs during a cold or the flu.
Combining lemon with warm water and a bit of honey or salt water may be the best way to maximize its benefits.
Bottom line: Lemon water contains vitamin C and compounds that can soothe a sore throat and assist with healing.
8. Ginger root tea
Ginger is a spice with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects that may help relieve throat pain.
One study found that when ginger extract was applied to throat swabs from people with bacterial respiratory tract infections, it helped kill some of the bacteria responsible for the illness (9).
Ginger tea can be purchased from most markets or online retailers. You can also make your own from fresh ginger.
Ginger root tea
- Fresh ginger root.
- 1 liter water.
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey or sweetener of choice.
- A squeeze of lemon juice.
- Peel ginger root and grate into a small bowl.
- Boil water in a large saucepan, then remove from heat.
- Place 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated ginger into the saucepan and cover with lid.
- Let steep for 10 minutes.
- Add sweetener and lemon juice, then stir to combine.
This tea can be reheated as needed, or served cold.
Bottom line: Ginger root tea may help fight infection, reduce inflammation and relieve sore throat pain.
9. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is a versatile food with several health benefits.
Coconut oil is also very soothing because it helps lubricate the mucous membranes in the throat.
Here are a few ideas you can try:
- Add a spoonful to hot tea or hot cocoa.
- Add a spoonful to soup.
- Simply put a spoonful in your mouth and allow it to melt down your throat.
It’s best to limit coconut oil to about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) per day, as it can have a laxative effect at higher dosages. If you’ve never tried coconut oil, start out taking 1 teaspoon (5 ml) at a time to minimize potential side effects.
Bottom line: Coconut oil is very soothing on the throat, has anti-inflammatory effects and may help your body fight infection. Take up to 2 tablespoons (30 ml) per day alone or in warm beverages.
It’s a traditional remedy for colds and flus and is used in Chinese medicine to ease sore throat pain.
Cinnamon tea is available for purchase in most grocery stores in both herbal and regular varieties. You can also add cinnamon to herbal or black tea.
Another delicious option is to make your own cinnamon almond milk, which may be especially soothing on your throat.
Cinnamon almond milk
- 1 cup almond milk.
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) ground cinnamon.
- 1/8 teaspoon (0.6 ml) baking soda.
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey or sweetener of choice.
- Place cinnamon and baking soda in saucepan and mix together.
- Add almond milk and mix again until well combined.
- Heat mixture until it just begins to simmer, then remove from heat.
- Stir in sweetener.
Bottom line: Cinnamon may help fight throat pain and infection due to a cold or flu. It can be prepared as a tea or added to other warm beverages to help ease throat discomfort.
11. Plenty of fluids
When your throat hurts, the last thing you may feel like doing is drinking a lot of fluids.
However, it’s important to keep your throat’s mucous membranes hydrated so they can heal.
While swallowing may be uncomfortable, drinking plenty of water or other fluids will ultimately make your throat feel better.
Drink tea, herbal infusions, water or other beverages at whatever temperature feels most comfortable.
Bottom line: Consuming adequate fluid ensures that you stay well hydrated and allows your throat to remain moist so it can heal.
12. Chicken soup
Chicken soup is a well-known natural cold and sore throat remedy. It’s also a comfort food that allows you to get more fluids when you’re sick.
You may want to use garlic in it, because garlic contains bioactive compounds that can also provide benefits when you’re sick (13).
Canned chicken soup can be purchased ahead of time and stored until needed.
You can also prepare tasty homemade chicken soup.
Bottom line: Chicken soup is a comfort food that may help soothe a sore throat. Adding garlic to it may provide additional benefits.
13. Peppermint tea
There are many peppermint herbal teas on the market.
You can also make your own by steeping fresh peppermint leaves in boiling water for three to five minutes, then straining off the leaves.
Peppermint tea is caffeine-free and its naturally sweet taste often requires no additional sweetener.
Bottom line: Peppermint tea is a tasty, refreshing beverage that may help reduce inflammation and throat discomfort.
14. Chamomile tea
Chamomile is a daisy-like plant that has been used for medicinal purposes since the Middle Ages.
You may be most familiar with it in the form of tea.
Chamomile tea is believed to promote restful sleep, which is important for healing.
Studies have found that chamomile may help fight infection and reduce pain (14).
Chamomile tea is widely available at grocery stores and online. It has a pleasant, mild aroma and flavor. Like other herbal teas, chamomile contains no caffeine.
Bottom line: Chamomile tea promotes restorative sleep, helps fight infection and soothes sore throat pain.
15. Herbal throat lozenges
Teas, infusions and other drinks are soothing and provide hydration, but sometimes sucking on a throat lozenge can be comforting as well.
There are herbal throat lozenges available for purchase online and in some natural grocery stores. You can also make homemade throat lozenges with some of the herbs listed in this article.
Another herb you may want to use when making lozenges is slippery elm, which contains mucilage that coats and soothes the throat, similar to marshmallow root.
It’s best to make lozenges ahead of time to have on hand in case you come down with a sore throat.
Bottom line: Purchase herbal throat lozenges or make a batch ahead of time so you’re well prepared before your next sore throat.
Several medicines can help too
There are also some medicines that may help ease a sore throat, some of which are available over the counter. These include:
- NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help relieve inflammation and sore throat pain without causing stomach discomfort. Two common types are ibuprofen and aspirin (15, 16).
- Sprays: Lidocaine sprays and other numbing medications sprayed into the throat have been found to effectively reduce throat pain (4, 17).
- Lozenges: Throat lozenges containing lidocaine or other types of numbing medicine may help soothe a sore throat (18, 19).
Bottom line: There are several medications that can provide relief from a sore throat, including NSAIDs, throat sprays and lozenges.
Take home message
No matter how healthy you are, you’re likely to get a sore throat occasionally.
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to soothe a sore throat and encourage healing.
However, make sure you see a doctor if your sore throat lasts more than a few days or is extremely painful.
Natural and Home Remedies For A Sore Throat
When people have a sore throat, they may experience a scratchy sensation in their throat, experience difficulty swallowing, or have sore or swollen glands in the neck or jaw. Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and fever are symptoms that also sometimes accompany sore throat.
There are several things that people with sore throats can do to relieve their symptoms. This article will look at what natural remedies are available, as well as other treatment options and causes.
Contents of this article:
Natural remedies for sore throat
If someone has a sore throat, they can help their recovery by taking the following steps:
- getting plenty of rest
- eating a healthful diet
- drinking plenty of fluids
Gargling with warm salt water and drinking a warm honey and lemon drink may help to alleviate symptoms of a sore throat.
There are other things that can help reduce pain and alleviate symptoms as well.
One easy remedy for sore throat is gargling with warm saltwater. Half a teaspoon of salt can be mixed into a glass of warm water. Too much salt in the mixture, however, could further dry out the membranes of the throat.
It is also important not to swallow the salt. Users should simply rinse the mouth with the saltwater and spit it out. People with a sore throat may want to consider adding a teaspoonful of apple cider vinegar to their saltwater gargle, as it has antibacterial properties.
The American Cancer Society recommend gargling with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 quart of water.
People with sore throats could also add a spoonful of honey or lemon to a warm drink, which can help to soothe the throat.
Other ingredients that people can add to warm water to soothe a sore throat include sage, turmeric, and goldenseal. However, people should note that more research is needed on the health effects of these herbs.
As hot fluids can help to thin and drain mucus and keep people hydrated, soup may also be effective.
Although not everyone finds it very pleasant to do so, some people find chewing on a raw clove of garlic helps sore throat. This may be because garlic contains a compound called allicin that has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties.
People should not make the mistake of thinking cooked garlic is an equally effective alternative to eating the raw ingredient. Allicin is activated by chewing, chopping, or crushing garlic, but is deactivated by heat. As a result, cooking garlic actually lowers its healing potential.
More research is needed to confirm the claims about the health benefits of garlic for a sore throat.
Somewhat more appealing may be sucking hard candies. Like lozenges or cough drops, hard candies keep the throat lubricated by stimulating the production of saliva. Hard candies are a choking hazard, however, so caregivers should not give them to young children or toddlers.
Sucking on ice chips and eating frozen foods like popsicles is another simple, effective way to alleviate symptoms. The cold temperatures can soothe pain in the throat.
People with sore throats should avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, as these beverages can be dehydrating.
People can use sprays to numb the pain of a sore throat. These sprays, which are available over the counter, include dyclonine and phenol.
Commonly available painkillers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen may also help. Caregivers should avoid giving aspirin to children or teenagers.
Causes of sore throat
A sore throat may be caused by a cold or the flu.
Common causes of sore throat include:
- viruses such as a cold or the flu
- dry air
- smoking or exposure to smoke
Children and teens are more at risk of getting a sore throat than adults. Exposure to someone else with sore throat, having irregularly shaped or large tonsils, or having a weak immune system can all increase risk of sore throat.
Sore throats are sometimes caused by the Streptococcus group of bacteria. This type of sore throat is called strep throat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 20-30 of every 100 sore throats in children are strep throat. Among adults, strep throat accounts for 5-15 out of every 100 sore throats.
When to see a doctor
Although sore throats are common and often go away without trouble, there are some occasions where medical help is needed.
People with a sore throat should seek medical attention if they have:
- a sore throat that has lasted longer than 1 week
- difficulty swallowing or breathing
- a temperature higher than 100.4°F
- a rash
- joint pain
- blood in the saliva or phlegm
If a young child has a sore throat and a fever, then it is important for caregivers to call a healthcare professional immediately.
Learn more about the causes of a sore throat.
What Is Best To Eat And Drink When You Have A Sore Throat?
By Danielle Dresden | Reviewed by Suzanne Falck, MD, FACP
Once it develops, a sore throat can make it painful and difficult to swallow. When that happens, it’s hard to know what to eat and drink.
Just the same, eating and drinking is important, because that’s how the body gets the resources it needs to heal.
Eating and drinking the right things can also reduce the pain of a sore throat and may even speed the recovery process. Avoiding inappropriate foods can prevent some discomfort.
Contents of this article:
Foods and drinks to consume
Honey may help a sore throat as it is effective at healing wounds and fighting infection.
The best things to eat and drink with a sore throat are healthful, soft foods and soothing beverages with a nutritional or curative kick. These foods and drinks include:
- Frozen treats: Fruit-based sherbet and popsicles, and even plain ice chips can help soothe a throat that feels inflamed.
- Pomegranate juice: Studies have shownthat pomegranate juice may ward off infection and reduce inflammation.
- Bananas: A soft and healthful fruit, bananaswill be gentle on a sore throat.
- Chicken soup: Researchers have found that chicken soup may have anti-inflammatory properties and help clear the airways, which can reduce sore throat symptoms.
- Sage: This herb has been used for healing purposes for centuries, and it may be helpful for sore throats.
- Turmeric: Used as a tea or in milk-based herbal blends. This spice is thought to have healing, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Honey: Tasty and soothing, researchers have also found this natural sweetener is effective at fighting infection and healing wounds.
- Ginger: This multi-faceted spice can be used in many forms, including teas and powders. In addition to preventing nausea and addressing many other ailments, studies have found that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that may help sore throats by reducing swelling and pain.
- Tea: Drinking a wide variety of warm, nonalcoholic teas and other beverages can help people with sore throats feel better.
- Smoothies and yogurt: Soft, moist foods that people can drink through a straw can help people get the nutrition they need while soothing their throats.
- Well-cooked vegetables: Carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and other vegetables can be helpful for people with sore throats, as long as they are cooked until they are tender.
- Scrambled eggs: Eggs are a good source of protein. When scrambled, they are usually soft enough for an inflamed throat to tolerate.
Foods and drinks to avoid
Citrus juices should be avoided with a sore throat as the acidic juice may irritate the surface of the throat.
When a sore throat is making it difficult and painful to swallow, there are a number of foods and drinks to avoid. These include:
- Crunchy, hard foods: Foods that are likely to have a lot of sharp edges, such as crackers, dry toast, nuts, or raw vegetables, can make a sore throat more uncomfortable.
- Citrus fruits and juices: Even though many people turn to orange juice when they have a cold, doing so can actually make sore throats feel worse. Orange and other citrus juices and fruits are acidic, which means they can irritate the already tender surface of the throat.
- Sour, pickled, or brined foods: Foods made with vinegar or salt, such as pickles, can make the inflammation of a sore throat worse.
- Tomato juice and sauces: The acidic nature of tomatoes can make them a poor choice for people with sore throats.
- Irritating spices: While some spices may help a sore throat others, such as chilies, hot sauces, and nutmeg can make the inflammation worse.
- Alcohol: Drinks and mouthwashes that contain alcohol may cause stinging sensations in a sore throat. Alcohol is also dehydrating, which is not good for people with sore throats.
- Tobacco: Tobacco is hardly a food, but when suffering from a sore throat, it’s best to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible. People should also avoid smoking.
Home remedies for sore throat
A number of different remedies can help ease the symptoms of a sore throat. These include:
- Staying hydrated: Drinking lots of nonalcoholic liquids can keep the throat from drying out and hurting more.
- Gargling: Rinsing the throat with warm salt water can reduce inflammation. Individuals should add salt to warm water in a ratio that works best for them.
- Staying cool: Avoiding very hot foods and drinks can limit additional throat irritation.
- Throat lozenges: Cough drops and even hard candies may provide relief.
- Over-the-counter painkillers: Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen can reduce symptoms. Due to the danger of Reye’s syndrome, children under 18 should not take aspirin.
- Humidity: Dry air can make sore throats feel worse. Using a humidifier to keep the air moist can help.
When to see a doctor
Sore throats typically go away after a few days. If a person has a sore throat that lasts for 6 days or more, especially if it is accompanied by a fever, they are advised to see a doctor.
If a sore throat is caused by a virus, it can often be successfully treated with self-care and home remedies. The following symptoms are indications that a sore throat may be caused by a virus:
- runny nose
- raspy voice
- pink eye
Sore throats may also be caused by allergies and reactions to pollutants in the environment such as smoke.
When sore throats are caused by bacteria, they require medical treatment. Some adult cases of sore throat are due to strep throat, an infection caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria.
It can be difficult to tell whether a sore throat is dangerous or not. Due to the possibility of complications, strep throat requires swift diagnosis and treatment by a medical professional.
If a sore throat lasts for more than 6 days and a fever is present, a doctor should be consulted.
The following are common symptoms of strep throat. The more of them that an individual has, the more likely it is they have strep throat and need prompt medical care:
- a painful sore throat
- difficulty swallowing
- absence of a cough
- swollen lymph nodes
- inflamed tonsils, with white patches or pus
- small red spots on the roof of the mouth
Learn more about the causes of a sore throat.