by Andrew Pacholyk MS  L, Ac. ~

Most sore throats are caused by viral or bacteria infections. Allergies, asthma, cigarette smoke, and pollutants are some other culprits. Sore throats respond well to bed rest, gargling with warm salt water 3-4 times a day, Vitamin A, C, bioflavinoids, and zinc.

A sore throat is sometimes a symptom of a more serious condition distinct from the common cold (such as strep throat) that may require medical diagnosis and treatment with appropriate antibiotics. If you do take antibiotics, remember to take acidophilus along with them or after your complete course to maintain normal intestinal flora.

Best Remedies

Add a teaspoon of sea salt (non-idoized salt) to 8 ounces of warm water. Stir it well to dissolve and then gargle and spit the water out.
Gargle untill all the water is gone. Do this 3-4 times per day.

Drinking warm liquids (such as caffeine-free tea, water with honey, or warm soup broth).

Using a humidifier to moisten dry air is important.

If the sore throat is caused by infection, it is important to drink plenty of fluids and to rest in order to prevent dehydration and to allow your body to properly recover.

Baking Soda and Sea Salt: The National Cancer Institute recommends gargling and gently swishing a combination of 1 cup warm water, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. They recommend using the rinse every three hours as needed.

Marshmallow root contains a mucus-like substance that coats and soothes a sore throat. Simply add some of the dried root to a cup of boiling water to make tea. Sipping the tea two to three times a day may help ease throat pain.

Licorice root has long been used to treat sore throats. Recent research shows it’s effective when mixed with water to create a solution for gargling. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid this remedy, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Apple cider vinegar has many natural antibacterial uses. Numerous studies show its antimicrobial effects in fighting infections. Because of its acidic nature, it can be used to help break down mucus in the throat and stop bacteria from spreading. If you sense a sore throat coming on, try diluting 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in one cup of water and gargle with it. Then take a small sip of the mixture, and repeat the whole process one to two times per hour. Make sure to drink lots of water in between the gargling sessions.

Herbal Tea Recipes

In a stainless steel pot, boil desired amount of distilled water. The moment it boils turn the heat off. Add the following herbs in an infuser, muslin bag or tea ball for a single cup or add one-three teaspoons of herbs per cup for larger amounts. Allow the herbs to infuse for up to 5 minutes. Drink 3-4 cups a day. For flavor-add lemon and sweeten with Stevia or organic honey.

Cough/Cold Tea – Blended to feed and nourish the body during cold and flu season. This healing tea cleanses with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties. Add a teaspoon each of two to four herbs such as Echinacea Purpurea, Echinacea Angustiotia, Mullen, Catnip, Goldenseal Leaf, Parsely, Fo-Ti, Comfrey, Spearmint, Uta Seed.

Calm Tea – Reduces stress and helps to relax you. Improves circulation and acts as a sedative. Reduces mucous from colds, muscle and menstrual cramps and helps with anxiety and stress. Add a teaspoon each of two to four herbs such as Chamomile, Rosehips, Catnip, Alfalfa, Skullcap, Fo-Ti, Hops, Vervain, Wild Lettuce, Passion Flower, Lemon Verbena.

Lemon Tea – This tea helps fight infection, cools fever, tones tissue, softens and soothes skin. Promotes bowel movements and increases urination. Lowers both blood sugar and blood pressure. Stimulates immunity. Add a teaspoon each of two to four herbs such as Lemon peel, Lemon Grass, Ginger Oil, Shavegrass, Osawatamie, Sweetleaf.

Herbal Tinctures

Herbal tinctures are concentrated liquid extracts of the medicinal properties of herbs. Tinctures represent one of many different ways to prepare and use herbs. The terms tincture and extract are often used interchangeably. Technically these terms are an indication of strength used by manufactures.

We make most tinctures in an alcohol base as this makes them the most long lasting, but tinctures can also be made with glycerine, vinegar or even with honey to make a syrup!

To make a tincture, you will need the following supplies:

~ A clean glass jar (at least pint size) with lid and (preferrably dark glass bottle)

~ Consumable alcohol like vodka or rum – at least 80 proof (or apple cider vinegar or food grade vegetable glycerine)

~ Herbs of choice

Herbs can play a role in long-term attempts to strengthen the immune system and fight infections. Adaptogens, which include eleuthero (Siberian ginseng), Asian ginseng, Astragalus, Echinacea/Goldenseal, Garlic Slippery Elm Bark  and Schizandra are thought to help keep various body systems, including the immune system, functioning optimally. Another immune stimulant, Boneset, helps fight off minor viral infections, such as the common cold.

Fill the jar 1/3 to 1/2 full with dried herbs. Filling half full will make a stronger tincture. Do not pack down.

Pour boiling water to just dampen all of the herbs. (This step is optional but helps to draw out the beneficial properties of the herbs)

Fill the rest of the jar (or the entire jar if not using hot water too) with alcohol and stir with a clean spoon.

Put the lid on the jar. Store the jar in a cool/dry place, shaking daily, for at least three weeks and up to six months. (I usually leave herbs for six weeks)

Strain through cheesecloth and compost the herbs. Store the tincture in colored dropper bottles or clean glass jars.

Shake the tincture bottle well. As a dietary supplement, place 1/3 of a dropper (6-12 drops) under the tongue, or in juice or water as needed, 3-4 times a day.

Aromtherapy Remedies

Essential oils can soothe a sore throat, ease pain and inflammation. A gargle of warm water and 4-6 drops of tea tree oil help fight infection. You can benefit from essential oils such as Tea Tree, Lavender, Bergamot, Geranium, Eucalyptus and Clary Sage.

Utilize these blends of essential oils 3 times a day, morning, afternoon and night.

Homeopthic Remedies

This medical system uses infinitesimal doses of natural substances to stimulate a person’s immune system and body’s natural defenses. Homeopathic remedies are named for the plant or animal ingredients they are made from. Homeopathy not only offers relief from temporary disorders but, can provide long term healing of a person due to its individual and “holistic” approach. This often leads to a complete recovery from the dis-ease, as well as, providing an improved understanding of the patient’s situation. This type of healing makes it easier and possible to avoid recurrence or relapses in the future and, homeopathy stimulates the body’s natural defense system by reestablishing normal immune system and cell functioning.

Arsenicum album: A person who has frequent colds, sore throats, and chest problems with burning pain and feelings of weakness, restlessness, and anxiety may benefit from this remedy. The person’s head may feel hot while the rest of the body is cold, and problems can be worse near midnight. The nose often feels stopped up, and the person may sneeze repeatedly, without relief. White, think, burning mucus may be produced.

Nux vomica: Colds with a stuffy head at night and runny nose in the daytime, rough throat, harsh cough, and chilliness suggest a need for this remedy. A person who needs Nux vomica is usually very irritable, impatient, and sensitive to odors, sounds, and light.

Rhus toxicodendron: If a cold begins with stiffness and body aches, especially during cool damp weather or weather changes, and leads to nasal congestion or sore throat, this remedy should come to mind. The person feels extremely restless and often paces or fidget. Warmth and motion bring relief, both physically and mentally.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

This is probably the FIRST remedy I reach for when I have a sore throat! “Yin Chiao” is my favorite pick for cold and flu symptoms! A great natural alternative for temporary cold and flu symptoms such as minor aches and pains, headache, runny nose and sneezing. This ancient Chinese classic formula helps with acute sore throat from cold or flu. Helps with frontal headaches from a common cold and helps cough with yellow sputum. A wonderful remedy to always have in your herbal medicine cabinet.

Use for the first day or two of a wind-heat attack (cold, esp with a sore throat), exhibiting toxic heat symptoms (flu). The main discomforts are swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, aching body, fever with chills, headache, sore shoulders, stiff neck. Promotes sweating. Excellent when taken immediately. Also useful for skin itching due to wind-heat, and allergenic skin reactions (hives).

In traditional Chinese medicine, the loquat leaf has been used to help keep lungs clear. Loquat and slippery elm bark syrup are a fantastic combination of two very effective herbs blended in a honey base that is extremely good at treating sore throats.

The loquat tree produces the loquat leaf and the loquat fruit, both known by their Latin name Eriobotrya japonica. Standard viruses are subject to the power of the loquat leaf. Evidence suggests that the loquat leaf produces a variety of acids that have an antiviral effect. These acids produce antigens, which are antiviral agents. Two of these chemicals are called megastigmane glycosides and polyphenolic constituents, both of which are known to produce viral antigens. Furthermore, the triterpene chemicals may help reduce rhinovirus, or the common cold.

Slippery Elm Bark, or Ulmus rubra, is known for its dark brown to reddish brown bark. When peeled off, its slimy, red inner bark from twigs and branches are use as a remedy for many common ailments like fevers, wounds, and sore throats. When the bark is mixed with water, it becomes this sticky material known as mucilage, which is therapeutic and soothing to anything it touches.

When To See A Doctor

If there is suspicion of strep throat, for example, most often your health care professional will perform a throat swab in order to run a rapid antigen detection test (rapid strep test). Results for this test take only minutes and can generally be obtained during your visit. A throat culture may be sent to the lab for definitive evaluation of strep throat if the initial rapid strep test is negative, and these results are typically available within 24 to 48 hours.

Usually no further testing is necessary but depending on the details of your history and the findings on your physical exam, your health care professional may need to obtain further testing to help determine the cause of your sore throat. Blood tests may be ordered, and radiologic imaging (a CT scan, for example) of the throat and neck area may also be necessary to evaluate for other various causes of sore throat (abscess, trauma/injury, tumor, STD). In certain cases, you may be referred to a specialist depending on your symptoms and presumptive diagnosis.


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