Having a sore throat can be very uncomfortable and is often a first sign of an infection coming your way.
Besides the pain and irritation, it may be accompanied by other symptoms like a dry cough, congestion, problem swallowing food and drinks, hard to expel phlegm, loss of voice and much more, depending on what it’s being caused by.
Of course, if you experience severe pain, or it doesn’t go away within a few days, it’s recommended to go and see your health care professional.
However, if you have a mild sore throat or your symptoms have just started, there are natural remedies you can make at home to ease your discomfort and potentially address the underlying problem.
In this article, you’ll learn some simple but targeted holistic remedies that can help ease your symptoms and fast track you on the road to recovery.
Natural Remedies for a Red Swollen Throat (Strep Throat)
For most of us, having a red swollen throat is an experience all-too familiar. The most common cause is called pharyngitis or tonsillitis, which can be caused by Streptococcal bacterial infection.
If you suffered from conditions like tonsillitis or pharyngitis as a child, and now have an often recurring sore throat, there is a possibility that the Strep infections that caused it have not been completely cleared from the past.
This can lead to other issues, related to your thyroid gland, heart or kidney problems. The good news is that it’s not too late to use some natural remedies for a couple of weeks at a time, to see if other related issues ease off.
Sage Gargle or Tea
Sage is an old remedy for tonsillitis and bacterial throat infection. It is used for mouth washes, gargles and as a tea with honey and lemon.
To make the gargle, steep 1 teaspoon or 3-4 fresh or dry sage leaves for approximately 3 minutes in boiled water, strain and gargle 3-4 times a day. You can also add some lemon and honey to the left over tea, and enjoy sipping.
This gargle and tea are suitable for children from 4 years of age.
Colloidal silver is a powerful remedy with antibiotic properties that has multiple uses and no known side effects if used in short intervals. It is an effective gargle for killing bacteria, and can stop the spread if used with first symptoms. It is not recommended as a prevention, but strictly as an acute treatment of infections.
Put a tablespoon of colloidal silver in 1/4 cup of water and gargle 3-5 times a day.
Bee propolis is a resinous mixture produced by honeybees. Mainly compounded from resin oil, wax and pollen, it is also rich in other chemical compounds including amino acids, minerals, sugars, vitamins B, C and E flavonoids, phenol, as well as aromatic compounds, that have a strong immune stimulating and antimicrobial properties.
Use 10 drops of natural propolis from a verified sustainable source on a teaspoon of honey or brown sugar and slowly melt it in your mouth. This has been used by all traditionally known cultures for thousand of years with great results.
Avoid using it if you are allergic to pollen or any bee products.
You probably know that garlic is an antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral bulb.
But did you know, in many cases it can also quickly resolve your sore throat?
Crush a clove of organic garlic and mix it with a teaspoon of good quality honey or Manuka honey if you have it on hand. Let it slowly slide down your throat 3 times a day on the onset of the sore throat or tonsillitis.
This is a remedy that my children remember all too well!
Soups and Soft Cooked Foods
If you’re experiencing a swollen, sore throat in the lead up to a common cold, it’s important to stay warm and well nourished.
Homemade soups, broths, and cooked vegetables with plenty of onions and garlic, spices like ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper will provide the nutrients your body needs to help fight off infection. Drink plenty of herbal teas, freshly squeezed pineapple, grapefruit and carrot juices.
Carrots contain beta-carotene that your body converts to Vitamin A, which is needed for tissue repair and fighting off infections.
Fresh carrot juice, as well as pineapple juice with some lemon are a wonderful and tasty booster for you and your children’s immune system. If juicing is not available (ideally cold-pressed), you can finely grate the carrot, add some lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey to make a nice and healthy snack.
Natural Remedies for a Dry, Scratchy Throat
If you feel your throat is scratchy and it’s getting hard to swallow, then you may be experiencing symptoms of a dry, red and scratchy throat.
If you are prone to allergies, your itchy throat may be related to increased histamine, and you might need to try an antihistamine diet in addition to remedies to reduce symptoms (though this is a different topic altogether).
For a cold-related dry and scratchy throat, you can soothe with below mentioned demulcent remedies. Those remedies help sooth and heal inflamed mucous membranes.
Slippery elm is a powdered herb which when mixed with water creates a gel-like substance that can soothe sore throat symptoms.
Mix 1 teaspoon of slippery elm powder in warm or hot water until smooth, add a teaspoon of honey and sip. You can have three cups a day. I recommend you look for a product that is organic and good quality.
To prevent any drug interactions, make sure to consume slippery elm at least one hour before taking any other oral medications.
Similar to slippery elm, marshmallow root powder creates a smooth substance when mixed with water, making it a natural remedy that has been traditionally used for maintaining respiratory health for centuries.
Easier to source is marshmallow root in a tea form. To make the remedy simply mix two heaped teaspoons of marshmallow root with one cup of cold water. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 4 hours (or even overnight), before straining out the roots. You can warm it up to 40 degrees Celsius and sip one to two cups a day. It’s also suitable for children of all ages.
The history of liquorice root as a treatment for sore throats extends back for centuries.
More recently, evidence has shown that liquorice root is effective at inhibiting Streptococcus pyogenes, the bacteria that causes strep throat.
To use at home, steep a teaspoon of loose liquorice root in a cup of boiling water, simmer for 10 minutes and strain. It is recommended not to use more than a cup or two a day, especially if you have high blood pressure.
Mullein is a flowering plant native to Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Used for thousands of years to treat respiratory infections, mullein has been found to reduce inflammation, as well as possess powerful antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
To use mullein as a natural remedy, you can make mullein tea. It is available in the form of extracts, tinctures, and dried leaves.
If using dried leaves, add 1-2 teaspoons to 240ml (1 cup) of boiling water, then let them soak for 10-15 minutes. Strain the liquid to remove the leaves, add some lemon or honey, and enjoy.
You can drink this tea three to four times a day. Mullein tea is suitable for children.
Natural Remedies for a Sore Throat with Phlegm
If you’re experiencing a sore throat accompanied by a nasal drip and a lot of mucous, you’re likely to have a sore throat with phlegm.
For this type of sore throat you can try home and herbal remedies for two-three days, but if your symptoms are not getting any better, please seek medical advice.
Nevertheless, the majority of people will have at least some relief from the following protocols which thin the mucous and help to expel it more easily.
Onion Tea or Syrup
A staple ingredient in the home apothecary and kitchen, onions contain sulphur and quercetin compounds that help break down and dispel mucous. If you have red onions available, these are slightly better, but brown or white will help too.
Their high levels of vitamin C also make them a great natural option for boosting immunity and fighting off infections.
Onion tea recipe:
- Boil 1 red onion (with skin) in 1 and 1/2 cup of water
- Reduce and simmer for 15 minutes
- Add 1-2 cloves of garlic if you like
- Add 1 teaspoon of honey, along with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
Sip slowly over the day. It is wonderful remedy for children from 18 months.
Onion syrup recipe:
- Make a cone shape hole (like a funnel) in the onion and place it over the cup
- Pour honey in and let it drip through overnight
- Consume one teaspoon a few times a day
An even easier option is to slice an onion and cover it with honey in a jar, leave it to sit for 12-16 hours, strain and consume in a couple of days. Store in the fridge.
Fire Tonic with Immune Punch
Organic powders of garlic, horseradish, turmeric, ginger, and cayenne pepper form a combination that will help decongest your sinuses and help you expel phlegm quickly.
We have made a remedy like that at Mura (which you can buy here), and have it handy when you need it.
You may have heard of Fire Tonic before, and there are options to make your own cheaper version. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with 1/2 teaspoon of Immune Punch Powder. If you can tolerate very strong spicy substances, you can try taking it straight, but mixing it in an adequate amount of water is recommended.
You can also mix Immune Punch Powder in your healing juice, as well as any soup or casserole. The benefits of the ingredients will not be destroyed by cooking.
I’m sure we’ve all heard Hippocrates’ famous lines, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
What we put into our body has a profound impact on our health, and just in the same way there are foods that can make us feel unwell, there are certain foods which can make us feel better.
For a mucosal sore throat, eating anti-inflammatory foods rich in quercetin and bromelain, like pineapple, grapefruit, dark berries, onions and garlic, as well as carrots, lemons, oranges, kiwis, and a variety of green vegetables can speed up the healing process.
For extra benefits, also be sure to exclude dairy, sugar and starchy foods.
Mullein Flower Oil
Having a mucosal sore throat often leads to kids, and even adults, having blocked or sore ears.
Mullein leaf helps the body to get rid of any excess mucous, as well as sooth the mucous membranes.
For sore throat symptoms accompanied by ear pain, it’s recommended to use mullein flower ear oil drops, which can be bought here.
Typically, for children aged 1-10 you can use one drop in the ear daily. For those over 10 years old, you can increase this to two drops, however always be sure to check the instructions for your specific product.
Some More Natural Remedies That You Might Have at Home
Sometimes if you’re in the early stages of a sore throat, you may not have developed enough symptoms to know which of the sore throat archetypes you’re experiencing.
In this case, trying any of the following simple remedies might help.
Iodine or Saltwater Gargle
Still recommended in clinical settings for sore throats, an iodine or saltwater gargle is one of the easiest ways you can relieve mild symptoms.
To make, mix half a teaspoon of a quality sea salt with a full glass of warm water, and gargle every hour.
If you’d like to substitute the salt for iodine, simply add 1-3 drops of iodine (strength of 1-3%) to the lukewarm water instead. This can be used between 3 and 4 times a day.
Honey is a natural home remedy for sore throats due to its inherently microbial properties.
Adding propolis if you have it, or opting for a high grade Manuka honey, can inhibit the microbial development as well as soothe your symptoms.
The human body consists of twelve vital mineral (tissue) salts, and their balance is necessary for optimal cell function. We will just mention the two that most often are utilised in the onset of a cold or a sore throat.
Ferrum phosphoricum is considered beneficial for the early stages of a cold or flu. When involvement of mucous membranes is already present, you should add kali mur (potassium chloride) as well. Tissue salts are very valuable treatment and prevention remedy from infancy to old age.
As always, make sure to check in with your health professional about the dosage and brands that might work best for you based on your symptoms. Some tissue salts also contain dairy, so if you are dairy free, you may want to try the liquid form.
Other Herbs for Sore Throat
Just as there are more general sore throat remedies, there are also herbs that can be applied no matter the type of symptoms you may be experiencing.
Echinacea is a North American native traditional medicinal herb. It's used for immune enhancing and modulating actions, helping acute and chronic infections, whether they be viral, bacterial or parasitic.
It is especially beneficial in upper and lower respiratory conditions and their prevention, as well as other inflammatory conditions or systemic infections, chronic fatigue and a generally poor immune system.
You can find our Immunity Tea containing Echinacea here.
Andrographis (Green Chiretta)
Traditionally used in Indian and Chinese traditional medicine, andrographis is a plant commonly used to treat common colds, as well as infections of the throat and tonsils.
Evidence has been found to support this application, with one study showing that andrographis shortened the duration of coughs, sore throats and healing time when compared to usual care.
It is most popularly sold in capsule form, however is also available as a bitter tincture.
As with all medications, be sure to read the recommended dosage and instructions for use for your specific product.
Plantain leaves have many uses, including treating common colds.
The plant contains tannins and mucous-like substances that may help soothe irritation in the throat. It has also been speculated that it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
To use plantain, you can make a throat gargle. Simply boil one cup of water, adding 10g of plantain leaves and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Once cool, gargle 3-5 times a day, making sure to spit out the liquid.
Plantain is one of the most abundant healing plants, growing in every paddock, backyard and park. You can pick your own from any clean environments near you.
Pine needles have high levels of vitamins C and A, making them great natural remedies for fighting throat and upper respiratory infections.
They also have antimicrobial properties which can help to break down mucous, especially when taken in conjunction with honey.
Elderberries are a sweet, dark purple berry, native to Europe. Rich in antioxidants and minerals, these berries have immune-enhancing, antiviral and histamine-calming properties.
They can be taken in a form of tea, syrup, juice, tincture or a tablet. Elderberry syrup, tea or juice are some of children’s favourites.
Natural Sore Throat Remedies to Use While Pregnant
As with children, there are certain considerations that need to be made if you’re looking to use natural remedies while pregnant.
Some of the best remedies include warm sea saltwater gargles (mentioned above), as well as herbal teas such as chamomile, lemon water or organic apple cider vinegar with honey and cinnamon.
You can also make a homemade batch of ginger and honey tea. Simply boil 1 cup of water and add a few centimetres of sliced peeled ginger. Don’t drink ginger tea in excess, two cups are plenty during pregnancy.
You can also use the above-mentioned tissue salts safely, with guidance from your healthcare practitioner.
Type of sore throat
Red and swollen
Painful swallowing, redness, and swelling
- Sage gargle
- Sage tea
- Hot soups
Adults and kids
Dry and scratchy
Dryness, scratchy, and scratchiness
- Slippery elm
- Marshmallow root
- Liquorice Root
Mucousal or sore throat with phlegm
Excessive mucus, coughing, sinus drip and congestion
- Immune Punch
- Mucous-thinning foods
Adults and kids
- Iodine / saltwater gargle
- Onion syrup / tea
- Tissue Salts
- Pine needles
- Colloidal silver
Gargles, honey, onion syrup and tissue salts are suitable for anyone. Herbs are best suited for the treatment of adults
The Bottom Line
Though a sore throat can be incredibly disruptive to our lives, there are natural remedies you can turn to at home in order to accelerate your recovery.
Sometimes by taking some time off to heal, our sore throat can help give us the space we need to rest and reflect, asking ourselves what is it that we’re afraid to say?
Be sure to bookmark this page or share it with your loved ones to help share the wisdom of these ancient remedies ahead of the winter season.
How long can I expect my sore throat to last?
Sore throats don’t go away overnight, however a sore throat should go away within 5-7 days. If treated early and properly, it should not last more than 3-5 days.
If you notice that the pain is getting worse, the throat pain is persisting longer than a week or you’re experiencing additional symptoms, make sure to see your health care practitioner.
How do I get rid of a sore throat quickly?
Though you can’t get rid of a sore throat overnight, you can manage the pain with the above remedies. Rest always helps the body recover, so the more you rest, the quicker you’ll be able to bounce back.
What do I eat and drink if I have a sore throat?
Having a sore throat can be difficult in its impact on our day to day functionality. When eating, be sure to avoid crunchy or hard foods that may cause you additional pain when swallowing. Stick to softer foods like warming soups and broths, freshly made juices and dairy free smoothies. Introduce new foods as the throat heals.