A sore throat, also known as pharyngitis can cause difficulty swallowing, breathing, and severe pain. The pain typically occurs as the result of a viral infection, bacterial infection, or irritation such as that caused after the use of a breathing tube during surgery. Whatever the cause of your sore throat pain, irritated tonsils and throat tissue can be debilitating and uncomfortable.
While many people reach for antibiotics when they get sick, these medications do little to nothing to treat a sore throat. That’s because viral infections rather than bacteria cause 90 percent of sore throats. Instead of reaching for medications to treat your symptoms, try natural remedies to soothe a sore throat. Here are the best home remedies for soothing a sore throat.
Soothe Sore Throat Pain With These Home Remedies
Gargle With Salt Water
Gargling with warm salt water can help to soothe throat pain by decreasing inflammation. Salt also boasts antibacterial properties that can help to remove bacteria that is causing the sore throat to begin with (1). Add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water. Fill your mouth with the liquid and gargle for 30 seconds. You can repeat the saltwater gargle as needed throughout the day without negative side effects.
Use a Humidifier
Another popular home remedy for sore throat is using a humidifier. Dry air can aggravate a sore throat and make pain symptoms worse. Using a humidifier adds moisture to the air; making it easier to breathe and helping to soothe sore throat pain (2). You can also add essential oils — like peppermint oil and echinacea — to the humidifier to help open up your airways (3).
Suck on Lozenges
Throat lozenges can help to soothe throat pain by lubricating tissue that is inflamed or irritated. Many lozenges also contain powerful botanicals including peppermint that offer a cooling effect to decrease pain. Some over-the-counter lozenges also contain local anesthetics such as clove oil, which can help to decrease pain (4).
Drink Lots of Fluids
Staying hydrated is an important factor in fighting off a viral infection or bacterial infection. By keeping your body hydrated, your immune system can focus on fighting off pathogens that are making you sick and causing throat pain. To stay hydrated, you can eat chicken soup or drink warm liquids including tea, juice, and water. Here are some of our favorite herbal teas that can help you feel better faster.
Chamomile tea is a popular herbal blend thanks to its soothing and calming properties. The tea boasts anti-inflammatory properties that help to decrease swelling and reduce throat pain. The tea doesn’t contain any caffeine and research shows it has been beneficial in improving sleep — something that can be difficult to get when you’re suffering from a sore throat or strep throat (5). This home remedy for sore throat is one of the tastiest options around.
Licorice Root Tea
Licorice root tea offers a bitter flavor but is incredibly effective in soothing sore throat pain. A study published in Anesthesia and Analgesia found that a licorice gargle was effective in soothing post-operative sore throat pain (6). You can add a small piece of licorice root to a cup of warm water and gargle for 30 minutes or place it in boiling water and brew it as an herbal tea. Add a dash of lemon juice to increase your vitamin C intake and mellow out the flavor of this potent tea.
Echinacea has long been used in alternative medicine to treat the common cold and sore throat symptoms. Research published in the European Journal of medical research examined 154 participants and found a blend of echinacea and sage was as effective as lidocaine throat spray — a popular numbing medication — in soothing sore throat pain (7).
Marshmallow Root Tea
Marshmallow roots contain mucilage — a thick, gel-like substance — that helps to coat the throat and decrease pain by increasing lubrication. This root is also particularly useful for helping to control dry cough (8). You can brew marshmallow root into a tea by steeping it in hot water or look for cough drops containing marshmallow root as the active ingredient.
Slippery Elm Tea
Like marshmallow root tea, slippery elm tea also contains mucilage that helps to increase lubrication and offer pain relief for soreness. Pilot studies show it may be an effective sore throat remedy, though more research is needed to confirm early results (9). This botanical root may also interfere with certain medications so talk to a doctor if you have a health condition or take medications before using this home remedy for sore throat.
Peppermint is a wildly popular ingredient in many sore throat remedies and for treating cold symptoms. The herb is particularly useful for treating respiratory tract infections thanks to its high concentration of menthol (10). The menthol helps to open up airways by decreasing inflammation, thus easing cold symptoms including difficulty breathing.
Research shows that peppermint boasts anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce pain (11). Look for lozenges and hard candies that contain peppermint to help soothe a sore throat. You can also drink peppermint tea or add peppermint oil to a humidifier to help ease breathing problems associated with a cold.
Honey is a thick, syrupy substance that can help increase throat lubrication to decrease pain. In addition, honey contains powerful antioxidants that work to boost immunity to fight off viruses that make you sick. Research shows that honey is also an effective tool in treating cough caused by the common cold (12). Eat a teaspoon of honey first thing in the morning to ease throat pain or add a spoonful to your tea. You can also combine it with cayenne pepper and lemon juice to boost immunity and fight colds fast.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an acidic liquid that can help to break down mucus that causes a sore throat. It’s also a popular home remedy for sore throat pain as well as digestive ailments. You can drink apple cider vinegar on its own, though it may cause some stomach discomfort. Alternatively, mix the apple cider vinegar in equal parts water or simply add a splash to one of the teas above.
Eat A Popsicle
Popsicles can help to decrease sore throat pain by numbing the irritated tissue. It works just like placing ice on sore muscles. You can find specialty popsicles with ingredients like peppermint to soothe pain or opt for whatever you have in the freezer. Just try to avoid dairy-based popsicles as they can increase mucus, which may lead to increased throat irritation and coughing.
Take Pain Relievers
For moderate to severe throat pain, take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Ibuprofen or Tylenol (acetaminophen). Also known as NSAIDs, these medications decrease inflammation to help ease the pain. Make sure to follow proper dosage amounts, especially when giving them to young children.
Get Pain Relief Fast With Natural Remedies
Whether your sore throat is caused by a viral infection or the symptom of a postoperative condition, getting relief doesn’t have to mean taking powerful medications with serious side effects. Instead, use this list of the best home remedies for a sore throat to help reduce pain. From drinking tea to using a throat spray or sucking on lozenges, these remedies are easy to do and pack a punch when it comes to pain relief.