By Heidi Baldwin, MS, Holistic Health Coach
It’s that time of year… we all know that feeling… waking up to a sore throat, and realizing you are getting sick. There are definitely better ways to start your day, but it's essential to have your wellness arsenal ready for when sore throats strike. Luckily, the ingredients you need to help you feel better might already be in your kitchen. Here are a few natural remedies for a sore throat, so you can relieve some of that swelling and pain.
A Spoonful of Honey
Honey is naturally antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, making it the perfect remedy for a sore throat. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it tastes delicious. Any raw honey works, but certain types of honey, such as manuka honey, contain a higher percentage of antimicrobial properties. Local honey is always your best option, especially when your sore throat is a result of seasonal allergies. Swallow a teaspoon of honey or mix it in some warm water or tea, and drink.
Gargle Warm Salt Water
Mix a teaspoon of salt with warm water and gargle it at the back of your throat. It isn't pleasant, but it will alleviate some of your symptoms. The salt draws out the water from your throat cells, which reduces swelling. Saltwater may also kill some bacteria and viruses.
Get Lots of Rest
Rest is essential when you're sick. Your body needs extra time to recover and regain energy. If you try to ignore your sore throat and carry on with your day as normal, you may worsen your symptoms, and it could take longer to get better. Take a few days for yourself, and care for your body. Your immune system needs as much energy as it can get to fight off your sickness, so don't waste your energy elsewhere. The body also knows that resting trumps eating, so if you are not feeling hungry, don’t force yourself to eat. Sometimes your body simply needs rest to heal – just be sure to stay hydrated.
Steam your Face (and Body)
If you have a stuffy nose and a sore throat, try a facial steamer or steam room if you have access to one. You can also go old school and use a towel over your head over a steaming sink filled with hot water. Be sure to let it cool down a bit if you boiled the water to create enough steam before hovering over the sink with your delicate facial skin and your towel. A hot shower often works just as well. The steam will help empty the mucous from your sinuses and hydrate your sinus linings, soothing irritation, and dryness. You can also add a few drops of eucalyptus oil or peppermint oil to your shower to further clear up your sinuses and help you breathe better.
Chicken soup is a traditional remedy for sickness and sore throats, and it's more than just comfort food. If your throat is sore and scratchy, coughing may further irritate it and make symptoms worse. Warm liquids such as soup keep the throat lining hydrated and less irritated. Vegetable broth can provide relief as well if you are vegetarian or vegan.
We know drinking and eating can feel uncomfortable with a sore throat, but it's important to stay hydrated if you want to feel better. Drink warm liquids if they are more soothing, such as warm lemon water or tea. Traditional Medicinals makes some great tea options for times when you are feeling poorly – Gypsy Cold Care and Throat Coat are two of my favorites. When your throat is dry, it feels further irritated and inflamed. Staying hydrated will soothe your throat, and help your body fight off the sickness quicker.
Natural Throat Sprays
Sometimes spraying something on your inflamed throat can provide the relief you’re looking for, and can help the body combat whatever is causing your sore throat in the first place. We carry my two favorite throat sprays in our IM of CNY dispensary – Energetix Throat Spray, and Biocidin Throat Spray.
While a sore throat can range anywhere from annoying to unbearable, remember it is your body’s way of letting you know it is fighting off something. Usually getting rest and trying some of the remedies above will help you to feel better in no time, but look for signs of spots on your throat or other unusual symptoms that persist that may warrant visiting your health care practitioner for a throat culture. Prevention is good medicine, as they say, so many folks enjoy tea with honey and lemon, or a daily dose of elderberry syrup all winter to keep sore throats at bay! Whether you wait until that first tickle or scratch or prefer preventative measures, be prepared and have the supplies you need on hand.