We’ve all had them. And when we’ve had them, we’ve likely thought about the days we didn’t have them and how we took those days for granted. No, I’m not talking about in-laws, although there are many who this would apply to. I’m talking about sore throats. Those nuisances that come out of nowhere with no warning and can be quite difficult to get rid of.
We try everything: gargling with salt water, sucking on cough drops or throat lozenges, taking cold medicine, and even downing painkillers like Advil and Tylenol. Sometimes these things help and sometimes they don't. But if you want a natural remedy, using herbal teas for a sore throat may be your best bet. So, what’s the best tea for a sore throat? This guide will help you find the relief you seek quickly.
What Causes Sore Throats?
A sore throat can occur for a few different reasons. The two main causes are viral infections and bacterial infections. Of these two, viral infections such as a cold and the flu are the most common cause. The viral variety may have other symptoms that accompany them, such as a runny nose or a cough.
Next to viral infections, bacterial infections are the second most common cause of a sore throat. Examples of bacterial infections that cause a sore throat include:
- Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria (Strep throat)
- Whooping cough
While viral infections and bacterial infections are the two most common causes of a sore throat, there are also other factors. Environmental factors like allergies, dry air, smoking, and yelling too much can cause your throat to become scratchy, strained, inflamed, or irritated. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease causes stomach acid to flow into the esophagus, which can also cause discomfort in the throat.
Swelling and inflammation are often the chief cause of discomfort. As such, a great way to relieve your sore throat is to reduce inflammation. The best way to reduce inflammation is to increase your antioxidant ingestion.
Antioxidants help decrease the effects of oxidative stress, or free radicals, on your body and help remove them from the bloodstream. Free radicals can damage and kill cells, and if they are left unchecked, they can lead to a variety of illnesses and chronic diseases.
Our body naturally produces both substances, but our natural production of antioxidants is much less than that of free radicals. That is why we must eat and drink substances that are high in antioxidants: to even the playing field. Vegetables and fruits offer an excellent source of antioxidants, but teas—especially herbal teas—are also high in antioxidants, especially flavonoids, which help reduce inflammation.
Boosting Your Immune System
There are a lot of reasons you might get a sore throat, and there are even more options available to you when it comes to figuring out how to get rid of a sore throat when you do get one, but isn’t it just easier not to get one in the first place? There are many ways to boost your immune system to help prevent you from getting sick, but here are two of the biggest ones.
Getting adequate sleep is one way to boost your immune system. When you haven't gotten enough sleep, your mind and body can't function correctly. Inadequate sleep has long been linked to increased susceptibility to illness. In fact, a study showed that people who were exposed to rhinovirus and had less than 7 hours of sleep were three times more likely to develop a cold than those who had more than 7 hours of sleep.
Most viruses are spread through contact, meaning that if you sneeze or cough into your hand and then touch something or someone else without washing your hands first, that person or the next person who touches that object can be infected. The best way to prevent the spread of these germs is to wash your hands thoroughly throughout the day.
What Kind of Tea Can Soothe a Sore Throat?
When choosing a tea for a sore throat, there are quite a few options. At the most basic level, drinking lots of fluids keeps your throat moist, which may help reduce the pain and irritation. Not to mention, it also keeps you hydrated. Drinking hot teas for a sore throat is even better than just drinking any fluid, however, because warm liquids can help soothe a sore throat.
Many teas are also high in antioxidants, which help boost your immune system and promote healing. Certain herbal teas contain compounds that are antiviral and anti-bacterial in nature; still, others contain ingredients that help protect your throat by producing protective mucous.
What kind of tea for sore throats is most effective? The answer is herbal teas. But there are many herbal teas out there, how do you know which one is the best? Or the best tea for a cold? Or the best tea when you’re sick in general? Many people use green tea for their sore throat, but there are many other options. Below we have put together a list of 5 of the best herbal teas for a sore throat. This guide will help you decide which tea is best for you
Peppermint is one of many herbal teas you can use for sore throats. This peppermint herb has anti-microbial properties, which means it can help fight off bacteria and viruses. This makes it an herbal tea that is good for sore throats caused by viral infections and bacterial infections.
Peppermint also has menthol, which can help cool inflammation. As an anti-inflammatory agent, peppermint helps reduce the swelling that often accompanies sore throats.
To make peppermint tea, you will need one of the following options:
- One tablespoon of crushed, fresh peppermint leaves
- One teaspoon of dried leaves
- One teabag of dried leaves
The recommended way to make peppermint tea is to take one teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves and add it to a cup of boiling water. After giving it anywhere between 5 and 12 minutes to steep, strain it and let it cool before drinking it. It is not recommended that you drink peppermint tea more than five times per day.
Ginger is a good herb tea for sore throats because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It kills bacteria, flushes out toxins, and boosts circulation. Because a cup of tea made from ginger plant roots leaves a pungent taste in the mouth, it activates the release of secretions that help clear the throat.
Ginger may also have antimicrobial components. This means that it may help block the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungus, which can be contributors to the overall discomfort. So, ginger may not only relieve the pain by reducing inflammation, but it may also help kill the germs that are causing the issue in the first place.
There are many recipes online on how to make ginger tea, but if you are looking for the simplest, all you need to do is pour a cup of boiling water over either one teaspoon of powdered ginger or one to two teaspoons of fresh ginger root. Alternatively, you can pour the hot water and ginger in a cup and let it soak for at least five minutes. The last step is to enjoy your tea and sore throat relief.
Chamomile has long been used as an herbal remedy and is still one of the most widely-used and widely-available of herbal teas. According to a study found in Molecular Medicine Reports, Chamomile can lubricate your throat, which may help reduce pain and hoarseness. This is one of the better teas for sore throat and coughing.
Chamomile also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. These two agents together help reduce swelling and repair tissue. Chamomile tea is one of the best teas for sore throats and coughing since its antispasmodic properties help reduce coughing, but it is also a tea good for colds in general because other ingredients in it might also contribute to relieving your other cold symptoms.
To make Chamomile tea, you will need three main things:
- A bag of chamomile tea
- A mug or cup to put the tea in
- A pan to boil water in
The first thing you do is boil the water. After the water is done boiling, pour it into your mug or cup and set the bag of Chamomile tea inside it. Cover it and let it soak for about ten minutes, then drink it as you need it.
Licorice Root Tea
Licorice is another sore throat tea. It is known as a “coat the throat” herb, meaning it coats the mucous membranes in the throat to protect it and help it heal. It also has antiviral and anti-bacterial properties that not only inhibit viruses from replicating but also stimulates the immune system so that it more effectively kills viruses.
To make licorice root tea, follow the steps listed below:
- Boil water
- Put one tablespoon of licorice root per cup of water into teapot
- Pour water into teapot and place a lid on it
- Let it steep for three to five minutes
- Pour tea through a strainer and into your mug
In the distant past, dentists used this herb as an anesthetic to reduce pain from toothaches. The substance that gave them this anesthetic ability is called eugenol. Eugenol also makes clove a tea good for sore throats. It acts as a pain killer, so it is a great natural way to find some relief.
Cloves are also antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory by nature. They assist in eliminating many forms of infection by attacking the source, removing toxins from the body, and giving your immunity a boost. They also protect, soothe, and accelerate the healing process.
Chewing and sucking on the cloves will do the trick on its own, but if you want to make tea out of them, all you do is steep the cloves (in a tea bag) in boiling water and then strain the tea before drinking it.
Other Natural Ways to Relieve Sore Throats
If herbal teas are “not your cup of tea,” don't worry. There are a lot of people who aren't tea drinkers. Fortunately, many other natural remedies can help. Only a few of them are listed here.
Honey can help heal wounds, which means it may help heal the tissues affected by sore throats and may also speed up the healing process. It coats the throat, protecting it from getting further inflamed, and it also has mild anti-bacterial properties.
Marshmallow Root and Slippery Elm
Marshmallow root and Slippery Elm both have a component called mucilage. Mucilage is a mucus-like substance that, when combined with water, forms a gel that coats the mucous membranes in the throat and helps soothe it.
Cayenne Pepper or Hot Sauce
You might think that putting cayenne peppers or hot sauce mixed with water down your throat that is already inflamed will do nothing but make it worse. On the contrary, hot peppers contain capsaicin, which temporarily relieves pain by inhibiting the pain signals sent to your brain. Gargle with a mixture of cayenne pepper and water for 10 seconds and then spit it out.
Lemon water is another remedy for sore throat relief. Lemon juice helps to shrink swollen throat tissue. Lemon also serves as a natural antiseptic which helps kill bacteria and viruses in the throat. Follow this simple recipe for sore throat relief. Mix 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in 1 cup of warm or cold water.
Gargling with Salt Water
Gargling with salt water can help with sore throat pain. When you gargle with salt water you pull fluids from the tissues in the throat area. Essentially you wash the virus out of your throat. Add ½ teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water. Make sure the salt is fully dissolved before gargling.
Essential oils can be extremely helpful for making sore throat pain go away and avoiding them all together. Peppermint oil, lemon oil, eucalyptus oil, and clove oil are just a few essential oils that are sore throat remedies.
When to See a Doctor
Most sore throats will go away on their own by using any of these mentioned remedies. If it's caused by a viral infection, letting it run its course will usually clear it up. While it is important to know these remedies to save yourself a possibly unnecessary trip to the doctor, you also need to know when to go to the doctor instead of using or continuing to use home remedies. You should see your doctor if:
- Your sore throat persists for more than a week
- You're having difficulty breathing or swallowing
- You develop a rash or a fever
- You're having trouble sleeping because of swollen tonsils or adenoids
- You are hoarse for more than two weeks
- You develop weakness, joint pain, and shortness of breath
These are signs and symptoms of more serious medical conditions such as strep throat, scarlet fever, and rheumatic fever, all of which are contagious and need to be treated with antibiotics. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you use tea for sore throat symptoms, as they may cause complications if you have certain underlying medical conditions and they may not play nice with certain medications.