With cold season upon us, it can be useful to have a cadre of natural tools to help deal with the symptoms of colds and flus if they arise. One of the most egregious symptoms is a sore throat—the general ache and throbbing pain can ruin any meal, let alone an entire day, and make it difficult to fall asleep. Here are six time-tested and well-researched natural ways to treat a sore throat:
- Echinacea and Sage: Echinacea and sage, used together in a liquid spray, work to coat the throat with pathogen-fighting nutrients, and reduce swelling with continued use. In a 2009 study, 154 patients were given either an echinacea and sage spray or a pharmaceutical drug spray to treat sore throats. The former was proven to be just as effective as the drug spray, without any of the side effects of the drugs.
- Peppermint: It’s not just for good breath—peppermint has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral effects that fight off pathogens responsible for sore throats, and the menthol itself helps break up mucus. You can take peppermint oil, dilute it with water, and use the solution as a spray to coat the throat.
- Licorice Root: While it has numerous health benefits, one of licorice root’s lesser known properties is its ability to soothe sore throats. A study in 2009 found that it can lessen the severity of sore throats as well as coughing if gargled with water every one to two hours.
- Slippery Elm: Slippery elm has the ability to coat sore throats with the mucus-like physical structure it takes on when mixed with water, which thereby alleviates some pain and irritation. To use, mix boiling water with slippery elm bark powder in enough proportion to ensure the solution has the appearance of a thick mucus-like paste, and then drink slowly over the course of an hour. Slippery elm lozenges can also be used for similar effect.
- Horseradish and cloves: Horseradish and cloves are a traditional Russian remedy for sore throats. To use, mix a tablespoon of horseradish with a teaspoon of ground cloves, along with an appropriate amount of a sweetener for taste, in a cup of medium-hot water and sip over the course of half an hour.
- Sea Salt Gargle: Gargling with sea salt is a time-tested old wives’ remedy now medically validated to reduce the severity of sore throats, by killing local pathogens, drawing fluid out of swollen throats, and thinning mucus. Mix a half teaspoon in a glass of water and gargle until the liquid solution is gone, and repeat as needed each hour.