Sore Throat Remedies That Work (and What Not to Do)

Sore Throat Remedies That Work (and What Not to Do)

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A sore throat is a condition characterized by pain, itching, or irritation in the throat. The most prominent symptom is soreness in the throat. When you try to swallow, the discomfort may become much more intense, making it impossible for you to take in any foods or beverages.

Even if your sore throat isn’t severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor, it can still be excruciatingly uncomfortable and make it difficult for you to enjoy a restful night’s sleep. You might find relief from the discomfort and irritation by making use of home remedies.

In general, the home treatments that will be presented below may be able to assist alleviate a mild or usual case of sore throat. If you have a severe sore throat, particularly if it is becoming worse or has lasted for several days, it is a good idea to make an appointment with a doctor to discuss your symptoms so that you can get a diagnosis and treatment plan.

1. Honey

Honey, either by itself or in combination with tea, is a traditional cure for the discomfort associated with a sore throat.

Honey is said to be just as effective as the cough suppressant dextromethorphan when it comes to taming coughs in youngsters, according to an article from the year 2021. Robitussin and Delsym both contain dextromethorphan as a primary component of their respective active ingredient lists.

A literature study conducted in 2021 investigated the effect that honey had on acute infections in the upper respiratory tract. The findings of the study led the researchers to the conclusion that honey was superior to other conventional treatments in its ability to alleviate symptoms. Antibiotics and the antihistamine diphenhydramine were some of the treatments that were offered.

On the honey

Honey should never be given to children who are less than one year old to eat because it poses a threat to baby botulism.

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2. Saltwater gargle

Gargling with warm salt water might help break up secretions and ease a sore throat by providing soothing relief. It is also known to assist in the killing of germs that are found in the throat.

To prepare a saltwater solution, combine one-half teaspoon of salt with one full glass of warm water in a glass measuring cup. Rinse your mouth and throat with it to help minimize swelling and maintain a clear throat.

People who are suffering from a sore throat are advised by the American Osteopathic Association to gargle with a mixture of saltwater and warm water at least once per hour.

3. Baking soda gargle

One of the most typical treatments for a sore throat is gargling with saltwater. However, gargling with a mixture of baking soda and salt water can also help soothe a painful throat. This topical remedy has the ability to eliminate bacteria and suppress the growth of fungi.

The National Cancer Institute is a reliable source that suggests gargling with and gently swishing around a combination of the following ingredients if you have a sore mouth:

1 standard cup of hot water

1/4 milligramme of sodium bicarbonate

a quarter of a teaspoon of salt

The National Cancer Institute recommends using the rinse three or four times a day and then rinsing your mouth out with plain water after each use.


The majority of sore throats are due to viral infections. Only a small portion of sore throats are caused by bacterial illnesses such as strep throat, whooping cough, and diphtheria. These conditions can also cause diphtheria.

4. Tea made with chamomile

Chamomile tea, which is naturally relaxing, has been used for therapeutic purposes for a very long time, including the treatment of sore throat. It reduces inflammation, protects cells from free radical damage, and acts as an astringent.

Inhaling chamomile steam can help reduce symptoms of a cold, including a sore throat, according to a literature review that was published in 2010 and based on research that was conducted in the 1990s.

It’s possible that drinking chamomile tea will have the same advantage. It is also possible that this will stimulate the immune system, which will assist your body in fighting off the infection that is the root cause of your sore throat.

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5. Peppermint

It is common knowledge that peppermint can be used to make one’s breath smell more pleasant. A literature evaluation from 2019 found that it possesses anti-inflammatory activities in addition to certain antibacterial and antiviral capabilities.

In addition, peppermint contains the chemical menthol, which is known for its ability to thin mucus, soothe sore throats, and suppress coughing.

You can prepare your own peppermint tea, in addition to purchasing any number of different peppermint teas. Mix some dried peppermint leaves with water that has been brought to a boil, then let the mixture settle for a few minutes. After a couple of minutes have gone, strain the tea, and then set it aside to gently cool down.

Sprays of peppermint oil that have been diluted can also provide relief for sore throats. To prepare a spray, combine one ounce of a plant-based oil with a few drops of food-grade peppermint oil. Some examples of plant-based oils include:

olive oil

almond oil

coconut oil that has been melted.

On oils

If you want to produce a peppermint oil spray, you need to make sure that you utilize peppermint oil that has been certified as being suitable for use internally and has received the food grade designation.

Essential oils should never be swallowed, and you should never apply them topically without first diluting them with a carrier oil that is derived from a plant. These oils derived from plants are referred to as carrier oils when they are applied topically, such as in aromatherapy.

6. Fenugreek

There are numerous different preparations of the fenugreek herb. You can consume fenugreek seeds, rub fenugreek oil onto your skin, or drink fenugreek tea to gain the health benefits of this herb. Tea made from fenugreek is a traditional treatment for throat irritation.

A literature study conducted in 2018 reveals that fenugreek has therapeutic properties. It is possible to help, amongst other things, with:

alleviate discomfort, such as that caused by menstrual cramps

exterminate the germs that are the source of the irritation or inflammation.

function as an efficient antifungal agent

stimulate lactation

People who are pregnant should avoid taking significant amounts of fenugreek, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which is a reliable source.

About the use of herbal treatments

Take precautions whenever you use natural medicines, and make it a point to purchase herbal products only from reliable vendors. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not conduct quality or safety checks on herbal remedies and dietary supplements.

Additionally, there may be variations in the supplements from one batch to the next. Due to the absence of control, many bottles may contain varying amounts of the same therapeutic substance.

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7. The origin of marshmallows

Mucilage is a material similar to mucus that covers and soothes a sore throat. Marshmallow root, which is a type of herb, contains this substance. According to a literature study published in 2019, marshmallow root may be beneficial for soothing irritations of the respiratory tract, one of the symptoms of which is a sore throat.

It is possible to obtain marshmallow root by:

as a herbal beverage or tea.

diluted into a tincture

dried and in the form of capsules

Remember that marshmallow goods, such as the kinds that are used in your favourite sweets, often do not contain marshmallow roots.

8. Licorice root

Since ancient times, people have used licorice root to soothe and heal sore throats. When licorice was combined with water to make a gargling solution, it was shown in an older study from 2009 on the postoperative sore throat that licorice was successful at relieving the symptoms of the condition.

In addition, a study that was conducted in 2019 discovered that, when compared to other herbal infusions, licorice root tea was the one that was most efficient at preventing the formation of Streptococcus pyogenes. Strep throat is an infection that is caused by this bacterium.

There is some evidence that licorice root therapies might not be safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

9. Slippery elm

Mucilage can also be found in slippery elm, just like it can in marshmallow root. The slippery elm bark, when combined with water, transforms into a slippery gel that covers and soothes the throat.

Pour boiling water over powdered slippery elm bark, give it a stir, and then drink it. This is how you utilize the herb. You could also discover that lozenges made of slippery elm are helpful.

Traditional medicine for sore throats includes the use of slippery elm, but there is still a need for additional study on the usefulness of this treatment.

It’s possible that slippery elm will make it take longer for your body to absorb certain oral drugs. At least one hour should pass between the consumption of slippery elm and the start of any oral medicine treatment in order to reduce the risk of adverse drug interactions.

10. Garlic

Garlic has natural antimicrobial properties as well. According to a literature analysis that was conducted in 2014 on the several therapeutic applications of garlic.

According to research published in 2018, taking garlic supplements on a regular basis as part of your daily routine can help prevent and treat infections of the upper respiratory tract. A sore throat is one of the symptoms that can be brought on by the same respiratory tract illnesses.

One strategy for making use of the antibacterial properties of garlic is to incorporate fresh garlic into one’s diet. You might try sucking on a garlic clove or chewing on one. After that, you should consider brushing your teeth to protect them from enzymes and to improve the smell of your breath.

11. Cayenne pepper or other fiery condiments

Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a naturally occurring chemical that is recognized for its ability to inhibit pain receptors and is therefore frequently used as a pain reliever.

There is anecdotal evidence that says that cayenne pepper in combination with warm water and honey will help relieve the pain of a sore throat; however, this has not been demonstrated by scientific research.

Both cayenne pepper and hot sauce can be rather fiery, so start with just a little dusting of one or a few drops of the other. Bear in mind that a scorching sensation upon first contact is not uncommon.

Cayenne should not be consumed by anyone who has mouth sores that are currently open.

12. Cold fluids

When you have a sore throat, drinking anything cold can help to numb the pain. You can also try sucking on an ice pop or an ice cube in addition to consuming cold liquids. [Case in point:]

An older 2012 survey

Trusted Source questioned individuals regarding their own experiences with and solutions for treating a sore throat. According to the findings, individuals drank cold beverages more frequently when they believed that their sore throat was caused by reasons that were not related to infections, such as physical or environmental factors.

Physical variables include things like heating and cooling systems, while environmental factors include things like secondhand smoke and pollution levels in the air.

13. Stock or liquid soup

It is commonly believed that chicken soup is an effective treatment for a variety of respiratory and throat ailments. You’ve undoubtedly already heard a number of anecdotes regarding this treatment, but an older study backs up its use as well.

Inflammation, such as that which causes a sore throat, can be caused by the activity of a number of different immune cells. In a controlled laboratory environment in the year 2000, researchers Trusted Source investigated whether or not chicken soup could inhibit the movement of certain immune cells known as neutrophils.

The researchers discovered that a dose-dependent relationship existed between the effectiveness of chicken soup at preventing the migration of these cells. The researchers also found that different brands of chicken soup had varying levels of inhibitory action against cancer cells.

14. Steam or the surrounding humidity

A sore throat can be made much more uncomfortable by dry air. Increasing the amount of moisture already present in the air can be of assistance. For instance, inhaling steam can assist to alleviate the discomfort associated with a sore throat.

To accomplish this, fill a basin with water that has just finished boiling. Wrap a towel around your head, and while you continue to breathe normally, let the steam enter your body through your mouth and nose. Continue doing this for ten to fifteen minutes. To maintain the steaminess of the bowl, you might need to pour in some additional water that has been brought to a boil.

You also have the choice of turning your shower up to a high temperature and then closing the door to the bathroom. As soon as the bathroom begins to steam up, you can start breathing in the warm, muggy air.

A humidifier is another option for increasing the amount of moisture in the air. A literature review that was conducted in 2017 found that heated and humidified air that was given by a humidifying device did not demonstrate any benefits or hazards for the treatment of the common cold.

15. Hot toddy


The hot toddy is an additional home cure for sore throats, and you may have heard of it before. This beverage is made out of honey, lemon juice, whiskey, and water that has been brought to a boil.

There isn’t a single study that backs up the claim that drinking a hot toddy will help soothe a sore throat. In contrast, a study that was conducted in 2008 indicated that drinking a hot fruit drink gave instant and long-lasting relief from cold symptoms, including a sore throat.

We have previously gone over the several advantages that honey possesses. A literature review conducted in the year 2020 found that lemon contains anti-inflammatory properties, which suggests that it could be beneficial for sore throats. The only component that needs to be watched out for is the whiskey because alcohol can cause dehydration and can aggravate throat irritation.

Check out this straightforward recipe for a hot toddy that was found on the blog of Cookie and Kate.


16. Rest

It’s possible that at the end of the day, all you need is a good night’s sleep. If you sense that you are developing a sore throat, you should attempt to take it easy and make sure that you are receiving enough sleep.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), not getting enough sleep can make you more likely to contract an infection. Even just one night of significant sleep loss can lead to an increase in inflammatory proteins called cytokines. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on your health.

It is recommended that you give your voice some time to relax as well. Your already sensitive throat may become much more inflamed if you engage in activities such as singing, shouting, or loud talking.

Treatments for children and babies who have a sore throat

The bad news is that sore throats in babies and young children almost never indicate a medical emergency on their own. The good news is that sore throats in infants and young children almost never signal a medical emergency on their own. Despite this, it’s possible that infants and children will need a different course of treatment than adults.

Here are some pointers to consider:

Install a humidifier that produces a chilly mist in your child’s bedroom. The discomfort of a sore throat may be alleviated by the presence of moisture in the air.

Encourage youngsters to consume as much liquid as they can to maintain their optimal level of hydration. Because of their high acid content, citrus juices and ice pops should be avoided because they have the potential to irritate the skin.

It is not safe to feed children younger than 5 years old hard lozenges or anything else that could potentially cause choking. When it comes to delivering lozenges to youngsters of primary school age, exercise extreme caution.

Children who have not yet reached their first birthday should not be given honey.

Traditional remedies available without a prescription

If you find that natural cures aren’t doing the trick, there are a number of therapies available over-the-counter (OTC) that you can try. They are as follows:

acetaminophen, which is sold under the brand name Tylenol and is perfectly OK for young children to take

ibuprofen, which is sold under the brand names Advil and Motrin and is available in paediatric formulations

lozenges for the throat

popsicles for sore throats, which are an alternative to throat lozenges for children younger than 5 years old

granules that must be mixed with hot water before use, such as those manufactured by Theraflu

sprays that numb the throat and have the potential to include the chemical phenol

eucalyptus, an ingredient that is most likely to be found in natural cough syrups and throat lozenges

What should be avoided

If you already have a sore throat, eating certain foods or being exposed to certain environmental variables can make your symptoms even worse. During the time that you are recuperating, you should make every effort to avoid the following things:

dry air

either smoking or breathing in secondhand smoke

air pollution

allergens that could potentially cause an allergic reaction, such as pollen, mold, or pet dander

vapors of chemicals, such as those produced by common household cleaners


foods and drinks that are high in acidities, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and carbonated beverages

items that are dry or have a gritty texture, such as popcorn, pretzels, and chips

meals with a strong flavor

Concerning sore throats, the most often asked questions are as follows:

The following is a list of additional queries that you could have regarding throat pain.

What factors contribute to the development of a painful throat?

There are many different factors that can contribute to a sore throat.

They consist of viruses, such as those that are responsible for the common cold, influenza, and COVID-19. A sore throat can also be caused by bacteria, more precisely the same bacteria that cause strep throat.

Pollen, mildew, or even hair from animals can trigger allergic reactions in certain people. This is another potential cause. Environmental irritants, such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, or chemical vapors, are another type of environmental irritant.

A sore throat may also be the result of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), as well as a tumor located in the throat.

A viral infection is the most prevalent cause of sore throat, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a reliable source.

How long does it take for a sore throat to go away?

The precise duration of a sore throat might vary widely depending on the underlying cause of the condition. The majority of sore throats get better on their own within seven days.

If after a week your sore throat has not improved, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician. If despite using home treatments or over-the-counter medicine, your sore throat continues to get worse, you should also contact a doctor.

What should I do to prevent a sore throat from developing?

It is not always easy to avoid getting a sore throat when one is on the way. On the other hand, if you feel the beginnings of a sore throat coming on, there are a few things you may do about it.

You should try to get some rest and minimize your exposure to anything that could make your throat even more uncomfortable. Also, make an effort to lower your stress levels, as having a high-stress level might have a bad impact on your immune system.

It may also be beneficial to sip on warm liquids and to keep oneself well-hydrated by consuming a lot of water. Dry air can have more moisture added to it if a humidifier is used.

How can I avoid getting a sore throat?

There are a few measures that you can take to lessen the likelihood of developing a sore throat.

Keep your distance from those who are ill with contagious diseases such as the common cold or strep throat. Always be sure to wash your hands.

It is best to steer clear of foods that are particularly spicy or acidic, as these might aggravate throat irritation. Also, stay away from smoke and chemicals because the vapors from either of these might induce inflammation.


The majority of medical professionals advise patients to seek medical attention only in extreme cases of throat pain. In most cases, this pertains to conditions in which a sore throat is accompanied by a fever or a rash (or when swollen tonsils block the throat).

It is possible that giving some of these natural cures a try will help you feel better and prevent you from having to go to the doctor.

In order to feel as good as possible, it is important that you not only get plenty of rest but also drink a lot of fluids. If your sore throat does not improve after using over-the-counter or home remedies, or if it begins to get worse, you should make an appointment with a medical professional.

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