We all know the feeling: that stabbing pain when you swallow is a harbinger of illness. It happens all too often during cold and flu season when contagious bugs are flying around the school, office, shopping mall and public transit.
Although we recommend avoiding illness in the first place by strengthening your immune system with a pantry well stocked with superfoods, there are ways to meet a sore throat head-on when it does take hold.
Why not just take antibiotics?
More often than not, if you go to see a conventional doctor when you have a sore throat, you will be prescribed antibiotics. Oftentimes a swab will be taken and sent for analysis, but antibiotics will be prescribed anyway, “just in case.” While some may think this is the smart thing to do to cover all the bases, many experts are now warning against the precautionary use of antibiotics.
These broad-spectrum drugs have caused major alterations in the microbiomes of many of us modern Westernized folk, and definitely not for the better. The overprescription of antibiotics has resulted in the breeding of drug-resistant strains of bacteria, like MRSA.
While taking antibiotics in the right situation can certainly be a lifesaver (literally), erring on the side of caution and only taking them when absolutely necessary is a wiser decision for your overall health.
Try these natural solutions first to see if you can beat that sore throat!
Natural gargle remedies for a sore throat
This is the classic sore throat remedy: the warm salt-water gargle. While you might already be familiar with this one, may we point out that it can be majorly upgraded through the use of a high-quality natural salt, such as Celtic Grey or Himalayan Pink. These salts contain many times more minerals than the average refined table salt and can therefore kick that sore throat in the proverbial butt much more effectively.
To try the remedy, simply mix half a teaspoon of salt with about a quarter of a cup of very warm water. Ensure the water is not so hot as to burn your mouth. Dissolve the salt completely, then use the mixture to gargle for 30 seconds. Repeat several times daily. An alternative is to use baking soda in place of salt.
Garlic is an age-old antibacterial and antiviral agent that provides powerful support to the immune system. You can make your own garlic oil by flattening three or four cloves with a knife to bruise and release the juices (but leave the cloves intact). Put the cloves in a small bottle with half a cup of olive oil and let it infuse for a few days. Store the oil in the fridge.
When you have a sore throat, simply blend a quarter of a teaspoon of garlic oil with a quarter of a cup of warm water. Use a whisk or shake it in a bottle to combine well, then use the mixture to gargle.
Sage is a potent antiviral which will help fight off a sore throat. Make a tea by mixing one teaspoon of fresh or dried sage leaves in one cup of boiling water. Cover the mixture and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain out the leaves and add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of honey. Use this mixture to gargle four times per day.
Ginger has antiseptic and pain-relieving properties which are sure to soothe a sore throat. Make a potent gargle mixture by grating a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root and squeezing the juice from the pulp into a small bowl. Add this to a little hot water and mix in one teaspoon of raw honey. You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper, if you’re brave! Then gargle for as long as you can stand it. Phew!
Turmeric is one of the most valuable all-around medicinal spices and has amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. To make a turmeric gargle, mix half a teaspoon of turmeric powder with half a teaspoon of salt and one cup of hot water. Use the mixture twice per day for a 30-second gargle. Be careful not to get any of the bright yellow spice on your clothes!
Other ways to support your immune system
We also recommend bolstering your immune system with good food and preventative remedies. Try drinking these health-giving teas on a regular basis, and keep your natural medicine cabinet well-stocked with these must-have items.
Next time you feel a sore throat coming on, you’ll know what to do! Meet it head-on with these simple, affordable gargles that are known for their powerful healing abilities.
What else do you use to take care of yourself naturally during cold and flu season?
Liivi is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and is training to become a doula. She inspires women to find peace and personal power by taking control of health and fertility naturally. Liivi‘s passion is ancestral nutrition and primal lifestyle design. She and her partner Will live between Toronto, Canada and Queenstown, New Zealand.