Have you ever used essential oils before? Sore throats can be annoying and painful. If you’re looking for natural ways to cure this condition, essential oils are great options. In this article, you’ll discover the best essential oils for sore throat that you can safely use at home.
- 1 What Causes a Sore Throat
- 2 Best Essential Oils for Sore Throat Relief
- 3 Other Tips on How to Soothe a Sore Throat Naturally
- 3.1 Steam Treatment
- 3.2 Humidifiers
- 3.3 Warm Compress
- 3.4 Lozenges
- 3.5 Vapor Rub
- 3.6 Gargling Solutions
- 3.7 Over the Counter Medicines
- 3.8 Goldenseal Herb
- 3.9 Ginger Root
- 3.10 Marshmallow Root
- 3.11 Garlic and Onions
- 3.12 Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3.13 Licorice Root Tea
- 3.14 Baking Soda Tea
- 3.15 Hydrogen Peroxide
- 3.16 Pomegranate Tea
- 3.17 Slippery Elm Bark
- 3.18 Conclusion
What Causes a Sore Throat
Sore throats are generally caused by swelling, inflammation, dryness, irritation, and infection. So finding out what is causing your sore throat is the best way to figure out what your next course of action should be. If your throat is dry, then a moist environment or sipping hot tea will provide relief. If your sore throat stems from inflammation, then it needs to be coated and rested.
Sometimes, the irritation is a product of mucus production. The next course of action is to reduce mucus production and remove mucus already in the throat.
If the sore throat is found to be caused by bacteria such as streptococcal, then the next step would be to eliminate the infection. Some people chose to take antibiotics to wipe out the infection and others chose to fight the infection with natural remedies.
Sometimes the sore throat is actually caused by a virus such as the common cold, mononucleosis or influenza. In this case, antibiotics are useless against fighting the infection. So the next step is to boost the nutrients in the body to help your body fight the infection.
This includes drink lots of water, getting lots of rest, and getting the right amount of nutrients. This can include foods high in vitamin C or beta-carotene as well as foods high in antioxidants.
In a situation, where the tonsils are inflamed and swollen to the point of not being able to breathe or eat, the first step is to still eliminate the infection. But a tonsillectomy, the removal of the tonsils, may be considered to help reduce the frequency of contracting illnesses. Again, some people choose to visit the doctor for antibiotics while others employ home remedies.
Post-nasal drip is a common cause for sore throats that is often times overlooked. This can occur as a result of intense cold weather, mold, dust, inhaling smoke, alcohol, allergies, sinus irritants, or fumes that increase the amount of mucus produced. If you are absolutely positive that you haven’t contracted an illness but you still have a sore throat, then it’s possible that the cause is post-nasal drip.
Searching your house for any signs of mold, dusting surfaces and ceiling fans is a great start to eliminating the irritants causing your post-nasal drip.
Other proactive measures that you can take are staying away from smoking, smoky areas, places with fumes or drinking alcohol. In the case of allergies or sinuses, pollen in the air cannot be controlled.
However, there are some things you can do to minimize, or block all together, the effect of allergens. You can take antihistamines before you go outside to increase the effectiveness. You can stay indoors throughout the day when the pollen count is at its highest or if there are excessive wind speeds.
Pay attention to outside conditions before you step out. Breathing in these irritates will only serve to agitate your throat even more. Until the issue is resolved, making use of lozenges may help with the production of saliva. But, watch your sugar intake as this can stimulate mucus production.
Acid reflux disease can produce a sore throat from acid rising from the stomach back into the esophagus. While aggressive acid reflux disease is usually treated with surgery, less aggressive forms can be reduced and controlled with a change of lifestyle and diet.
Identifying which fruits, vegetables, foods and drinks produce a reaction out of your system will help you to know which foods to eliminate from your daily consumption. Common problem foods and drinks are carbonated or caffeinated drinks, spicy herbs and foods, and tomato-based products.
Best Essential Oils for Sore Throat Relief
Peppermint oil contains an active ingredient called menthol, which is responsible for its healing effects. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, menthol thins out thick mucus, so it’s easier to cough it up. It also has a soothing and numbing effect. A study shows this oil can fight off certain mouth germs, like Staphylococcus aureus, which ocassionally cause sore throats.
How to use:
- Put 2 to 5 drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball, small cloth, pillow, or tissue, which you could smell throughout the day.
- Gargle to relieve sore throat. Simply mix 4 drops of peppermint oil, 8 ounces of water, and 1 teaspoon of pure honey.
- Add 3 to 5 drops of peppermint oil to a bowl of hot water. Stir thoroughly, cover your head with a towel, lower your face (with eyes closed) around 10 inches near the bowl, and breathe in deeply. Repeat this process as necessary.
It’s generally safe in small amounts. However, it may cause the following side effects: heartburn, allergic reactions (flushing and headache), and essential oil-medicine negative interaction.
You can check out peppermint essential oil here on Amazon.
Aside from its calming and mood-boosting effects, lemon essential oil contains properties that help treat different health problems, like sore throat. It’s mostly composed of limonene (or d-limonene), which is responsible for its strong anti-inflammatory activity. It also supports your immune system, so you can better fight off respiratory infections (cough, sore throat, and bronchitis). Research shows it has antibacterial activity against sore throat-causing Staphylococcus aureus.
How to use:
- One of the best ways to use this essential to relieve a sore throat is by gargling. Just combine 2 to 3 drops of lemon essential oil to warm water with honey or tea.
- To make your own throat spray, combine 7 drops of lemon essential oil, 1 ½ ounces of distilled water (depending on the size of your bottle), 1 tablespoon of pure honey, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
If applied to the skin, it may increase the possibility of sunburn, especially if you have a fair complexion. Like other essential oils, children and pregnant women should avoid using lemon oil. Generally, it’s safe in small amounts.
Eucalyptus oil is a popular ingredient in many over-the-counter cough medicines to ease congestion. It helps by loosening the phlegm, so it’s easier for your lungs to expel it. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it may also contain properties that could kill certain fungi and viruses.
The healing benefits of eucalyptus essential oil is mostly due to its active compound called cineole, which is supposed to be effective in reducing swelling, inflammation, and pain.
In one study, researchers randomly assigned patients, who underwent a total knee replacement, to the “eucalyptus inhalation” group and the “almond inhalation” group. Participants of both groups had to inhale eucalyptus oil or almond oil for half an hour on 3 straight days. Results showed that eucalyptus oil was more effective in decreasing pain and blood pressure.
How to use:
- One way to take advantage of the healing properties of eucalyptus essential oil is through steam inhalation. Add a few drops of the essential oil on a cotton ball, handkerchief, or a bowl of hot water.
- Combine 2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil with 4 ounces of lukewarm water. Gargle for 60 seconds, and then spit it out.
Don’t apply it to your skin or take by mouth without diluting it first. It may cause extreme drowsiness, allergic reactions (asthma-like symptoms, breathing pauses, and wheezing), or even death if you take 3.5ml of undiluted eucalyptus essential oil. Never use this on babies and young children.
Check out this Eucalyptus essential oil on Amazon here.
Oregano oil has many health benefits, but it’s mostly associated with aiding the immune system and promoting respiratory health. Thymol and carvacrol are its two major phenols, which contain antioxidant properties. Thymol kills fungi and boosts the immune system, while carvacrol kills different strains of bacteria and possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t use oregano oil to treat health conditions, like sore throat, for prolonged periods. If you’re going to take it by mouth, make sure to use small doses (up to six drops) only for not more than a week, 10 days max.
How to use:
- At the first sign of a sore throat, drink a glass (8 ounces) of lemon juice with 3 to 4 drops of oregano essential oil for 5 to 7 days, or until the symptoms disappear. Alternatively, you can add a few drops to a glass of water (if you can tolerate the taste).
- Steam therapy is another option. Just add a few drops of the oil to a diffuser or a pot of steaming water. With your head covered with a towel, eyes closed, and face an arm’s length away from the water, breathe in the humidified air for 10 minutes.
Oregano essential oil is usually safe when you apply it to the skin or take it by mouth in food amounts. However, since it increases the risk of bleeding, people who have a bleeding disorder or are about to undergo surgery should avoid this essential oil. If you’re allergic to sage, mint, or basil, you’ll most likely be allergic to eucalyptus.
You can buy Oregano essential oil on Amazon.
Other essential oils for sore throat that you could use are thyme, hyssop, clove, and juniper berry.
Aside from the usual saltwater gargle, proper nutrition, rest, and increased fluid intake, essential oils are great options for treating pain and swelling associated with a sore throat. Just make sure to use them diluted to avoid triggering mild to severe allergic reactions. It’s best to consult with your doctor before starting to use any of the above mentioned essential oils.
Other Tips on How to Soothe a Sore Throat Naturally
You can use these methods for cause-specific symptoms or you can use all of these tips for treating sore throat in general. There are ways you can practice curing a sore throat that provide a less abrasive treatment. You can do steam treatment, use a humidifier, or use a warm compress. Other methods that provide relief include using lozenges, vapor rub and pain medicine.
This is an easy way to provide some relief.
First, get steaming hot water. Second, put it in a bowl. Third, place a towel over your head and put your head over the bowl of steaming hot water. Fourth, breathe deep.
The steam will flow through your mouth to your throat, providing moisture and soothing throat pain. The towel helps to lock in the steam so that you get as much as possible. You can even add herbs to the steaming hot water such as eucalyptus oil, lavender or peppermint oil to increase the effects of the steam. Steam treatment also works great with bowls of soup.
The humidifier works similar to steam treatment, it puts moisture in the air and in your lungs. This extra moisture will help to prevent your throat from drying out and causing more irritability. The extra moisture also helps to reduce inflammation as a result of the dryness. If you don’t have a humidifier and don’t see one in the immediate future, recreate this environment using shower. Run hot water and allow the bathroom to steam up, or take a hot shower and breathe in as much steam as you can.
The purpose of a warm compress on a sore throat is to provide relief by providing moisture to the throat. Again, this added moisture aids in soothing a sore throat by reducing inflammation. For added benefit, add Epsom salt or regular salt.
Salt is known for its ability to fight off pathogens by inhibiting its growth. The salt will also help to draw out bacteria infected moisture while the compress will prevent your throat from completely drying out.
Lozenges are a great way to provide extra nutrients between meals and cups of tea. You can use lozenges with anesthetics to provide extra comfort to your throat. Common types of anesthetics added to lozenges are benzocaine and eucalyptus oil, but aren’t limited to these. Using lozenges that contain menthol, spearmint, or peppermint oil can help you to have an easier time of breathing by opening your airways.
Other lozenges to use are Echinacea and Zinc. With Echinacea, the lozenges you want to use are ones that have been manufactured to retain echinacoside content. This is the content believed to cause the antibacterial and antiviral activity that makes Echinacea effective. Zinc lozenges have been shown to be effective in treating infections, even of the viral variety.
This is something that modern medicine still struggles with. But with zinc, caution must be exercised because your immune system can be damaged with too much zinc intake. Zinc lozenges can be used safely up to 5 days.
Who says that vapor rub is only for congestion? According to Robin at FlusterBuster, vapor rub works wonders on sore throats.
First, rub some on your throat. Secondly, with a tube sock, wrap your throat. The same activity that provides relief for congestion will be working on your throat to soothe the pain and make breathing easier.
Not any ole’ solution will do here. The most commonly used solution is the salt water gargle. But don’t overdo it with the salt. Over concentrating your gargle solution will cause your throat to dry out even more, doing more harm than good.
To avoid creating even more inflammation and still soothe that burning sensation, use the hottest water that your throat will allow and salt the water just until you can taste salt. You can even add a tablespoon of the germ-killing Listerine for extra potency. The gargling action helps to rinse away germs and render ineffective acids in the throat.
Also, always prepare fresh gargle solution to avoid re-contaminating your throat.
A salt water gargle isn’t your only option. You can take your salt water solution and add ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder. Turmeric has been shown to be a potent antimicrobial agent. Not only this, but it is also packed full of antioxidants help to boost your immune system.
Another spin on the salt water solution is to add apple cider vinegar. This solution will create an acidic atmosphere that will hinder the growth of germs. It will be bitter and harsh, but it will result in relief.
If this solution is too harsh, you can combine apple cider vinegar and honey in equal parts into a ½ cup. Use 1 tablespoon at a time every few hours.
A solution of a lemon juice and water will help to sooth your sore throat by providing an astringent atmosphere that hinders germs. An alternate lemon juice and water concoction is to also add a teaspoon of ginger and of honey.
Honey is known to soothe the throat by providing a coat of sorts. Honey and ginger are both known for their antibacterial activity. This concoction is effective and tasty. But remember, gargle solutions are for gargling. So don’t swallow the solution; spit it out.
Green tea in and of itself is known to for being a natural at fighting infections. It only makes sense that gargling it will help kill the germs in your throat and provide relief at the same time with the warmth of the liquid. You can brew green tea to drink and gargle the extra tea.
This next gargle solution is less kind than previous ones. Hot peppers are known to relieve inflammation and pain due to the capsicum within them. Prepare your gargle solution with about 5 shakes of cayenne pepper powder or a couple shakes less of hot sauce to a cup of hot water. Gargling this solution may burn initially before you experience overall relief for sore throat.
Over the Counter Medicines
Aside from this, if the pain doesn’t subside, you may consider over the counter medicines. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help take some of the bite and sting out of your sore throat. These can be administered by mouth in capsules or as liquid. To reduce inflammation, you may even consider using aspirin but use caution. Aspirin dilutes the blood.
For people with blood clotting issues, you may want to speak with a health care professional regarding aspirin. Also, aspirin is highly advised against in the treatment of influenza and other viral infections. Reye’s Syndrome has been shown to stem from the use of aspirin to treat viral infections, specifically the flu, and especially in children.
Goldenseal herb’s ability to fight infections makes it useful for many ailments. It can be used as a powder, in lozenges, in extract, in creams, in ointments, and as a daily supplement. Goldenseal herbal tincture can even be made into a tea or a gargle solution and is highly effective in treating sore throat.
Goldenseal herb combats the effects of an enzyme discharged by germs trying to invade the body. It is not recommended to use this herb for more than 3 weeks consecutively.
It’s been used for ages to cure various aliments around the body and it’s not done yet. Ginger root is antibacterial, antiviral, and an anesthetic. It can be drank as a tea and tastes great with some honey added. Honey is a known antimicrobial and can also soothe a sore throat with anti-inflammatory activity. Medicinal ginger root for pregnant women is cautioned and may need to be discussed with a health care professional.
Quite different from the squishy ball of sugar, Marshmallow is an herb that has been used in medicine for centuries. Some cultures used the leaves for inflammation simply by making a warm Marshmallow Root compress of a sort. Mucilage is the gum-like substance found in the roots and leaves of Marshmallow herb. This substance takes on a gel-like composition when mixed with water. It is this concoction that can be used to soothe the throat.
Marshmallow herb leaves are available in extracts and tinctures. You can also find marshmallow root in fluid, dried, unpeeled and peeled extract. Marshmallow herb may even lower blood sugar. For diabetics, consult a health care professional before using this herb.
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions will almost always make the list for effective antimicrobial action. These two foods are natural and can be added to soups or meals for that extra boost. Garlic is known for boosting antibodies and it’s this boost that makes garlic a potent side kick for fighting infection and helping to soothe sore throats. Garlic and onions are shown to be most effect with fresh and used raw. If you have to cook them, use as little water as necessary to preserve as much of the nutrients and potency as you can.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another natural remedy that is shown to produce measurable results. The acidic natural limits the growth of bacteria and draws them out of the tissue. Then it renders the pathogens ineffectual. Apple cider vinegar is not recommended undiluted because the acid may prove to irritate the throat more.
But, a concoction of water, honey, and apple cider vinegar will provide you a tasty gargle solution or can be added to a tea. Be advised that apple cider vinegar is acidic and may damage teeth without proper precaution. When using apple cider vinegar, some people will brush their teeth before and after consumption or gargle. Others, will simply rinse after using apple cider vinegar.
Licorice Root Tea
This herb works wonders on sore throats. It is an expectorant and a demulcent. The demulcent properties of licorice root are what causes it to soothe inflamed or even damaged tissue. The expectorant properties of this herb mean that it is proactive in loosening mucus camped out in the esophagus and lungs, and ousting it.
Be aware that many commercialized, manufactured licorice teas are actually just licorice flavored. When looking for licorice tea, make sure that active ingredients of licorice root are included in ingredients of the tea and that it’s not just flavoring. If you happen to find licorice root, you can prepare it using this recipe:
In 1 pint of water, boil the licorice root for 15 minutes. Also, note that using licorice root tea is ill-advised for longer than two weeks without medical supervision.
Baking Soda Tea
Baking soda is known for its many uses around the home from cleaning and preventing odors, to soothing nicks, cuts, scrapes, bug bites, and rashes. This same soothing action can be used on a swollen and inflamed sore throat.
To prepare a solution, prepare 1 cup of the hottest water you throat can stand. Add 1 tablespoon of ½ salt and ½ baking soda and gargle.
While definitely not anyone’s childhood favorite, hydrogen peroxide is a great treatment for sore throat. It’s antiseptic and antibacterial. These properties can be harnessed into a gargle that you can use to provide relief for sore throat.
To use, add a cap-full of hydrogen peroxide to 1 cup of warm, not hot, water. Thoroughly gargle and spit.
Pomegranate tea is packed tight with antioxidants that fight free radical molecules. These free radical molecules are released by the body in response to stress, poor diet, etc. The way that free radical molecules react in the body is that they create more free radical molecules, diminishing the effectiveness of the body’s immune system.
Antioxidants neutralize free radical molecules and as a result, boost the immune system. Pomegranate also causes tissue to shrink because it contains astringents. This shrinking action reduces swelling and inflammation and pain. You can gargle or drink the tea or juice.
To make fresh pomegranate tea, peel the pomegranate and boil the rinds in about 3 or 4 cups of water for 15 minutes. You can even collect the rinds prior to getting sick and store them in a dark cool place in an airtight container. If making the tea is too much, use pomegranate juice that is organic or at least contains a higher percentage of juice.
Slippery Elm Bark
Slippery Elm Bark can be used in powder form and steeped in hot water like tea. It is a thicker tea than most herbs, but drinking it coats the throat, protecting it from the acid, inflammation, and dryness that causes throat pain. Slippery Elm bark is free of allergens and is also an expectorant, meaning that it loosens and expels mucus.
Mix Slippery Elm bark powder with local, raw honey to create a thick paste. You can add a few drops of peppermint oil for taste. The peppermint oil will add flavor and will also help to open up your airways, making breathing a little easier. Store the concoction with a closed lid in the refrigerator for when you are ready for it. Eat between 2 and 4 spoons daily or until symptoms no longer call for it.
There are many different recipes that help relieve sore throat pain. You don’t have to wait until you need these ingredients. You can be proactive in your health by having several of these potent antimicrobial foods, herbs, and teas stored on hand. The best part of these remedies is that their beneficial properties don’t stop at fighting pathogens. Many of these foods offer the body nutrients that improve body function, reduce stress, and improve overall health.
Now, that you know how to soothe a sore throat, take the steps to help yourself heal faster. Stay hydrated with plenty of fluids. Eat foods high in Vitamin C and beta-carotene and up your antioxidant intake. While you are sick, never reuse the same cups to prevent recontamination and wash your hands often to prevent spread of infections.
Get an adequate amount of rest because that is when the body does most of its healing. And remember, you don’t have to suffer with a sore throat waiting on antibiotics to take effect or waiting for your body to fight the infection. With a few natural herbs, you can have relief for sore throat and boost your immune system at the same time.