We’re all familiar with that scratchy, itchy, painful-to-swallow feeling we call a sore throat. Some episodes of pharyngitis (the more technical term for the miserable condition) come with colds or the flu, while others stand alone to create your misery. No matter what the cause, these time-tested natural remedies served up by top doctors will have you feeling better in no time.
The best part? You probably have most of them in your kitchen already to save you a trip to the drug store.
Turmeric is touted as having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to an active ingredient called curcumin. Incorporate grated turmeric root or powder into your smoothies, teas and soups for a healthy (and colourful) boost.
“This is your excuse to have vegan ice cream,” says Joseph Ladapo, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Anything that’s frozen — ice itself, Popsicles, frozen yogurt — numbs the tissue and nerves and reduces pain.” Plus, who wouldn’t feel a little better after indulging in a treat?
Back in the day, a folk remedy for a sore throat involved wrapping a cabbage leaf around one’s neck. These days, we know that simply eating cabbage can provide the same health benefits, since cabbage is loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, sulphur and other essential nutrients that can help reduce the inflammation of a sore throat.
Sage not only adds delicious flavour to a recipe, but also boasts astringent, antiseptic, and antibacterial qualities, which is why this fragrant herb has long been used as a folk treatment for sore throats.
Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties, making it a necessary pantry staple during cold and flu season. Gargle it with water or add it to a salad.
A simple tea made from cloves can be quite effective when suffering from throat soreness, since cloves are anti-fungal and also have anesthetic properties that can provide relief from the scratchiness and pain.
Ginger is one of the most powerful weapons in your kitchen’s arsenal when it comes to battling a sore throat, as it opens up sinuses and helps to clear mucous from the nose and throat. In addition, ginger also boasts anti-inflammatory properties.
“Warm drinks can be soothing for the throat,” says Dana Neutze, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at UNC Family Medicine. “There is a small amount of evidence that herbal teas, including marshmallow root, licorice root, and elm inner bark help with pain, but the reason is not known.”A popular research-backed one that combines all three is Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat. Ginger, sage, thyme, and chamomile teas may be worth a shot too.
There’s a reason your mom or grandma probably told you to do this. “A saltwater gargle helps with swelling and keeping the mouth clean,” says Monika Jindal, M.D., a physician at Denver Health. “Most recipes suggest ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt per cup of warm water.” It’s totally safe (and easy on the wallet) to try several times a day while you’re in pain.
Don’t knock this until you try it. “Cook potatoes and mash them, carefully wrap them in a cloth while they’re hot, then cover with a second cloth,” advises Andreas Michalsen, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Nature Cure. “Apply to your neck and leave for a few hours.” It works like a heating pad, stimulating circulation to the area.
“This is my personal remedy of choice, though it’s not a popular one,” says Dr. Neutze. ” The allicin in garlic has antimicrobial properties.”
You should probably have a chat with your doc before you start taking random supplements, but Dr. Roberts says there’s research supporting the use of zinc or elderberry to lessen symptoms. “Another natural remedy which has data showing good benefit in treating sore throat, especially in children less than 6 years old, is Pelargonium sidoides root extract,” she says. “This is also called South African geranium, and it has been found to reduce both the severity and duration of a sore throat in kids.”
While anecdotal evidence abounds, there isn’t a whole lot of hard evidence to show a humidifier can actually relieve a sore throat. However, it probably won’t hurt to try. The thinking is that dry air can exacerbate throat irritation, but a humidifier adds moisture to the air, making you feel more comfortable.
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