Are you looking for relief from a sore throat? This time of year is the prime season for colds and flus, which can often be accompanied by sore throats. A sore throat may also be caused by environmental factors, such as excessive dryness or allergies. 1 2 The pain of a sore throat is usually caused by swelling of the tonsils, throat, or larynx. 3 Fortunately, there are a variety of simple steps you can take to reduce inflammation and alleviate throat pain.
Many people prefer to manage mild sore throats naturally. There are a number of gentle at-home remedies you can try that help to alleviate the discomfort of a scratchy, painful throat as well as aid the healing process. Next time you feel a sore throat coming on, try these natural, safe home remedies.
Note that some variants of COVID-19 can begin with a sore throat. If you have a sore throat, get tested, wear a mask, and follow the appropriate isolation procedures. Additionally, please seek prompt medical attention if symptoms persist or are accompanied by high fever, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or visualization of pus in the throat.
Honey is a popular sore throat remedy because it may help suppress coughs and reduce pain 4. It also has soothing properties which may help to relieve sore throat pain. 5 Because of its sweet, pleasant taste, honey is a preferred sore throat remedy for children*. Choose organic manuka honey for the most medicinal properties. 6 To use honey as a sore throat treatment, either take a spoonful as is or mix it into your favorite herbal tea.
*Honey should not be consumed by children under the age of two or in those with decreased immune systems.
Licorice root has been used medicinally by herbalists and practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. 7 Research shows that drinking or gargling with licorice root tea may help soothe sore throat pain. 8 Licorice root may help kill many bacteria and viruses and may also help to relieve a cough. 9 Additionally, studies show that licorice root may help to support liver and brain health. 10
Try sipping licorice root tea or sucking on a licorice root lozenge to reduce sore throat symptoms. Please note that those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid consuming licorice root. 11
Sipping any type of warm herbal tea can help to soothe a sore throat. 12 Chamomile tea is an especially good choice because it has anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antioxidant properties that make it an effective remedy for sore throats. Drinking chamomile tea or simply inhaling its steam may relieve sore throat symptoms and help stimulate the immune system, triggering the body’s natural healing response. 13 Try sipping chamomile tea on its own or with a spoonful of manuka honey mixed in to soothe a sore throat.
Salt Water Gargle
Gargling with a salt water solution is recommended by many healthcare professionals to ease sore throat symptoms. 14 Gargling with a salt water solution may also help prevent infections that cause sore throats. 15 To make a salt water solution, mix ¼ teaspoon of salt with 8 oz of filtered water, and gargle with it at the first sign of a sore throat – be sure to spit out the solution after gargling. Repeat two to four times per day until the sore throat has completely cleared up.
Garlic & Myrrh
Garlic and myrrh both have natural antibiotic properties, and have both been used historically as folk remedies for the common cold. 16 17 Studies show that myrrh is an effective anti-inflammatory agent, which is why it is sometimes recommended for sore-throat relief. 18 Consuming garlic on a regular basis may help to prevent sore throats caused by the common cold because of its antimicrobial properties. 19 You can add more garlic-containing foods to your diet or take garlic supplements, and myrrh is available in tinctures as well as mouthwashes.
Not only is lemon a good source of immune-strengthening vitamin C, it also helps to cut mucus and may help relieve sore throat symptoms. 20 For a soothing sore-throat remedy, add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of hot water and slowly stir in honey to taste. You can also add a squeeze of lemon to any herbal tea to give it a boost of vitamin C.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2022 and has been updated in December 2023 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.