Sore throats are incredibly common, but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with once you get one.
You can develop a sore throat for many reasons, including dry mouth, illness, allergies, or oral surgery.
The main cause of a sore throat is a bacterial or viral illness, which takes time to recover from.
In the meantime, there are several home remedies for a sore throat you can try to make yourself more comfortable as you heal.
15 Home Remedies For A Sore Throat
Honey is one of the most well-known home remedies for soothing a sore throat. Honey has antibacterial and wound-healing properties and adds natural sweetness to teas or other warm drinks to help soothe your sore throat.
According to a small study of 105 children aged 2-18 with upper respiratory tract infections, parents preferred honey over a cough medicine to help treat nighttime cough symptoms (1).
A review of 14 studies concluded that using honey is superior to “usual care” of upper respiratory tract infections, which can cause a sore throat (2). Furthermore, the use of honey instead of medications like antibiotics can reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance and side effects from medications.
Warm tea is a natural soother for sore throats. Chamomile tea is popular for treating a sore throat because it’s caffeine-free and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
There are many store-bought teas marketed for easing a sore throat. These teas typically contain a blend of beneficial essential oils and ingredients like slippery elm and marshmallow root.
To further boost its soothing effects, try adding honey to the hot water while steeping your tea. Or, simply drink warm honey water without tea.
3) Licorice root
A study was done on using teas to manage strep throat from S. pyogenes, a type of bacteria. The study concluded that licorice root tea showed antibacterial effects sooner than other types of teas (within 12 hours versus 24 hours) when exposed to the strep throat-causing bacteria (3).
Licorice root is popular for soothing sore throats in the form of lozenges or gargles. While there aren’t many studies on its efficacy for treating sore throats, this ingredient has been used in alternative medicine for years.
However, beware of imitation products that don’t include real licorice root. Anise is often used because it has a similar taste and smell. So you should check the ingredients label to ensure you’re getting true licorice root.
4) Marshmallow root
Marshmallow root can help ease your sore throat because it has a gelatinous texture. Marshmallow root’s unique texture can help coat your throat and make you more comfortable while dealing with a sore throat. When your throat is coated with the lubricative marshmallow root, it might be less painful to swallow.
Marshmallow root may also ease the inflammation associated with a sore throat by acting as an antioxidant (4).
5) Salt water gargles
Gargling with salt water can help kill bacteria in your throat and may also help reduce inflammation. Saltwater rinses can also break down mucus that accumulates in your throat and causes you to cough, which can worsen sore throat symptoms.
To make a saltwater rinse, simply add a ¼-½ teaspoon of salt (it can be iodized, sea salt, or any type of salt) to warm water and gargle for as long as you’d like, preferably at least 30 seconds to allow the salt to rinse your throat. Be sure to spit out the mixture and don’t swallow it.
Fenugreek can help soothe inflammation and promote healing, helping to end your sore throat sooner than if you didn’t treat it. Fenugreek has properties that can help ease pain, reduce inflammation, and kill bacteria (5).
7) Baking soda gargle
You can mix baking soda with warm water to make a gargle/rinse, similar to salt rinses. Baking soda can help ease a sore throat and reduce the acidity in your throat, such as in the case of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).
Baking soda may be especially beneficial if you have a sore throat from vomiting or reflux since it can combat the acidity of stomach acid irritating your esophagus.
Peppermint oil contains menthol, the active ingredient in many over-the-counter throat lozenges. Peppermint oil also has antibacterial properties, which can help sore throats associated with bacterial illnesses.
Since peppermint oil is very strong, dilute it with a carrier oil to avoid burning your mouth and throat. Alternatively, you can add a drop of peppermint oil to tea as long as it’s mixed with fat (like cream) first. Otherwise, it will sit on top of the water and won’t mix in.
You can also make throat spray using peppermint oil or choose an over-the-counter throat spray containing menthol.
9) Cold liquids
While it’s one of the simpler home remedies, cold liquids can help ease inflammation causing a sore throat. Popsicles are a popular home remedy for this reason.
Cold, especially frozen, foods and drinks temporarily numb your throat, which can give you relief from sore throat symptoms.
If you’d rather make your own healthy popsicles to ease a sore throat, simply blend fruit and some juice and freeze them into popsicle molds. This also won’t contain added sugar like many store-bought popsicles.
10) Facial steam
If your sore throat is from a common cold, using the power of steam might help alleviate your symptoms. If you’re suffering from nasal congestion and breathing out of your mouth as a result, that can cause a sore throat.
Steam can help clear out mucus from your sinuses and open your airways. This allows you to breathe better (preferably through your nose).
Boil water and put it in a plastic or Pyrex bowl (not glass, which could shatter when exposed to boiling liquid). Put your face over the bowl at a comfortable distance (you don’t want to burn your face) and cover your head with a towel to help trap the steam. Breathe deeply until the steam dissipates.
11) Slippery elm
Like marshmallow root, slippery elm has a gelatinous texture that can help coat your throat and reduce pain. Slippery elm might also help fight coughs, which can worsen sore throats.
Slippery elm is a popular ingredient in teas meant to ease sore throats. You can also use slippery elm lozenges to fight dry mouth while soothing a sore throat.
12) Over-the-counter lozenges
If your sore throat is from a dry mouth, sucking on lozenges can promote saliva production and lubricate your throat. Try to choose lozenges low in added sugar or those sweetened naturally with honey.
13) Vocal rest
When your throat is sore, it can make it difficult to speak normally. Using your voice when you have a sore throat is not only painful, but it may prolong healing. If you can, try to avoid using your voice while recovering from your sore throat.
Over-using your voice can make it more likely that you “lose your voice,” which is when your voice box (larynx) becomes inflamed, which is called acute laryngitis.
14) Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties, which may help ease your sore throat from a bacterial infection.
Apple cider vinegar is acidic and can irritate your throat if it’s used at full strength. Therefore, be sure to dilute it with water and do a rinse/gargle, similar to salt and baking soda rinses.
15) Pain relievers
If the above options don’t provide enough pain relief, you can always resort to short-term use of over-the-counter pain relievers. Aceitomimopen, ibuprofen, and naproxen are all suitable to treat the pain associated with a sore throat.
Most sore throats can only be healed with time and home remedies. Therefore, it’s helpful to stock your pantry with some of the ingredients mentioned above to help you fight a sore throat faster.
Home remedies are cost-effective, convenient, and don’t come with side effects that can be associated with medications like antibiotics and certain medications.