Throat irritation and throat aches are among the most common illnesses suffered by people across the globe. A sore throat is often painful and uncomfortable, and in the United States alone, there are over 2.4 million emergency room visits for throat-related complaints each year. However, here is some good news: while a persistent sore throat could be an indication of an underlying illness, in most cases, sore throats are not indicative of anything serious and go away on their own.
Most sore throats are often caused by bacterial infections or by environmental factors, and here are a few natural remedies you can attempt at home to soothe throat irritation and throat ache:
1. Salt Water
Gargling with warm salt water to improve a sore throat is an age-old remedy that’s also inexpensive and easy. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt with a glass of warm water and gargle with the solution. You could also add a bit of baking soda to the warm salt water if desired. Repeat as often as you like.
According to Sam Huh, MD, chief of otolaryngology at Mount Sinai Brooklyn, “Salt water is hypertonic.” Swishing warm salt water inside your mouth helps to draw out the germs in your throat and clear the mucus. It is important to then spit out the germ-laden water.
An important spice in many Asian kitchens, cloves have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. They have been used as part of traditional Chinese medicine to soothe throat pain for centuries.
According to Neil Schachter, MD, a professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, “Cloves work as an expectorant, loosening mucus in the throat and esophagus so you can cough it up.” He recommends preparing a tea with two crushed cloves, a cinnamon stick, and two crushed cardamom pods in a cup of water in an infuser. Drink this concoction for instant relief from throat pain.
Ginger, a spicy ingredient found in most kitchens, is widely used in cooking and folk medicine. It is rich in gingerol, a bioactive compound that has beneficial effects on your health. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties help fight infections and aid in faster healing. Fresh ginger is believed to be more beneficial than dried ginger.
There are various ways you can use ginger to soothe a sore throat. Chew on a small piece of raw ginger root two to three times a day for relief. You can also make ginger tea at home by steeping two teaspoons of fresh or dried ginger in one cup of boiling water for five minutes. Strain the liquid and drink. You can also add grated ginger or ginger powder to your soups and broth.
Often, a throat ache is accompanied by other symptoms of a common cold. In this case, you can use garlic in many ways to heal yourself. Garlic has powerful antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. Chew on a clove of raw garlic for a few minutes or add crushed garlic to your soups and stews.
One of the strongest natural and easily available decongestants, garlic, can also make decongestant steam. Bring a pot of water to boil and add three to five crushed cloves of garlic. Turn off the heat. Wrap a towel around your head and this pot to stop the steam from escaping. Inhale the garlic steam by taking deep, long breaths for a few minutes. Doing this helps clear your nasal passages and reduce inflammation.
A brightly colored spice commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, turmeric is a popular ingredient in traditional medicine. Rich in curcumin, a compound that’s known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it is unarguably the best pain medicine you can find in your kitchen.
There are several ways to incorporate turmeric in your diet to help comfort a throat ache. You can make a healing turmeric tea by brewing a few pieces of fresh turmeric, crushed ginger, and a small stick of cinnamon in a cup of hot water for five minutes. If you prefer a milder flavor, add 1/3 cup of coconut milk and a teaspoon or two of raw cane sugar to your turmeric tea just before serving. You can also use grated fresh turmeric or turmeric powder as a spice to season your curries, stews, and soups.
6. Hot Herbal Teas
Sipping on hot drinks while nursing a sore or an irritable throat helps in many ways. Many floral and herbal teas are rich in antioxidants that help your body fight off illnesses and aid in healing. Drinking warm fluids also soothes your throat and keeps you hydrated. Some herbal tea blends are especially good for throat pain.
One of the oldest herbal remedies for a sore throat is chamomile tea. It is readily available and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antispasmodic properties. Green tea is also rich in antioxidants and is known for its healing effects. Ginger tea, turmeric tea, lemon tea, and peppermint tea are other popular teas that are good for soothing a throat ache.
This could come across as a surprise, but here you go: cooked carrots are among the best foods to eat when nursing a sore throat. Carrots are loaded with Vitamin C, folates, and Vitamin K1 and are a rich beta-carotene source. They are full of antioxidants as well, which makes them a very healthy food source.
While raw carrots can irritate a sore throat, cooked carrots tend to soothe throat pain. Make a creamy, delicately flavored soup with steamed carrots and coconut milk or a lightly spiced carrot and ginger soup – your throat will thank you either way!
While most people suffering from sore throats experience relief after trying out natural remedies, more severe cases, especially when accompanied by a high fever or earache, require a visit to the doctor. However, there’s no need to worry since most sore throats and throat infections respond well to home remedies, and the chances of your healing without having to schedule a doctor’s visit are pretty high. Drink lots of warm fluids and include various cooked vegetables like carrot, broccoli, cabbage, and sweet potato in your diet. Ensure to take adequate rest, and you will be fine in no time!