A ‘sore throat’ commonly refers to the discomfort associated with pain, dryness, or a scratchy sensation in the throat. Sore throats can be placed into several different types, namely pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis, based on the specific area of the throat that is affected. From a naturopathic nutrition perspective, there are several approaches you can take to support a sore throat and promote healing.
Excessive mucus from sinus infections, allergies, or colds dripping down the throat (postnasal drip) can cause throat irritation and soreness.
Tonsillitis, which is inflammation or infection of the tonsils, often caused by viral or bacterial infections, can result in a sore throat.
The most common reason for a sore throat is a viral infection, such as the common cold or flu. These infections cause inflammation and irritation in the throat.
Bacterial infections can also lead to a sore throat, with ‘strep throat’ being an incredibly common bacterial infection[i].
Allergies to substances such as pollen, dust mites, pet fur, or certain foods can irritate the throat and result in soreness[ii].
Environmental triggers such as dry air, pollutants, smoke, or chemicals can also cause throat irritation and soreness[iii].
Acid reflux is where stomach acid flows back into the throat, it can in some cases lead to a sore throat. It is worth discussing with your GP. There are plenty of natural options to consider which help to prevent reflux[iv]. See our entry on acid reflux here.
Irritants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, chemicals, or excessive strain on the vocal chords can also cause throat irritation and lead to a sore throat[v].
Please note: A persistent sore throat should be assessed by your health care provider. A persistent sore throat will extend beyond the normal healing time for most common causes of sore throat, such as viral infections or mild irritation.
Hydration: Ensure you drink ample amounts, particularly warm drinks like herbal teas, broths, and warm water with honey and lemon. This is because adequate hydration can help soothe the throat and promote overall health. Bone broths are also a great option and very soothing also[vi]. Try: Organic Bone Broth Collagen Protein - Herbal Defence.
Honey and lemon: This a famous favourite. To make it simply combine a tablespoon of raw honey with the juice of half a lemon in warm water. Sip on this mixture throughout the day. Both honey and lemon possess soothing properties that may aid in reducing inflammation[vii].
Herbal Teas: In addition to honey and lemon, there are many herbal teas which offer relief for a sore throat. Chamomile tea, liquorice root tea are known for their soothing effects[viii]. Most herbal teas will have soothing benefits and help to bolster immunity. You may consume these teas multiple times a day. Try: Pukka Herbal Collection.
Turmeric and ginger: Both herbs possess anti-inflammatory properties. You can prepare a tea by steeping fresh ginger root or adding turmeric powder to warm water. As another option, you can add a teaspoon of honey for additional soothing benefits[ix]. Try: Terranova Turmeric and Ginger.
Vitamin C-rich food: If you can, ensure you have food high in vitamin C into your diet, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, and bell peppers. Vitamin C supports the immune system and may help combat infections[x]. Try: Terranova Vitamin C 250mg Multi-Ascorbate Complex (Non Acidic).
Garlic: Garlic possesses antimicrobial properties and may help fight bacterial or viral infections. Include fresh garlic in your meals or consider garlic supplements. Try: Allicin Allicin Max - Allicin is a bioactive compound found in garlic (Allium sativum). It is responsible for many of the health benefits associated with garlic. When garlic is crushed or chopped, an enzyme called alliinase converts the precursor compound alliin into allicin[xi]. Allicin Max contains very concentrated amounts of allicin due to the unique extraction method used in production.
Avoid Irritants: Be mindful of foods and drink that can irritate your throat, such as spicy foods, acidic foods, and carbonated drinks. These can all exacerbate throat irritation and prolong the healing process.
Rest and Relaxation: Allow your body to rest and recover by ensuring adequate sleep and reducing stress levels. Sufficient rest supports the immune system and aids in the healing process[xii].
Erbenobili Protegol - Containing manuka honey, zinc and propolis[xiv][xv]. This throat spray is designed for coughs and colds and when you may be generally feeling under the weather, it supports immunity.
Natures Answer Sambucus Throat Spray - this Sambucus Throat Spray combines black elderberry extract, echinacea, propolis and astragalus for enhanced immune support. It comes as a throat spray which you spray directly on the back of your throat[xvi].
Haughton Honey ‘Raw English Honey’ - Raw Cheshire straight from the hive. It is an English Wildflower honey contains traces of dandelion, lime, chestnut, blackberry, clover and the nectar from other wildflowers collected throughout Spring and Summer[xviii].
Health Factory ENT Zinc & Silver Spray – ‘ENT’ stands for Eyes/Ears, Nose, Throat. This spray Throughout history, silver has been recognized for its powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties. Meanwhile, zinc is a vital mineral that plays a crucial role in maintaining a robust immune system, promoting healing processes, and reducing inflammation[xix].
Viridian Andrographis Complex - A combination of standardised Andrographis leaf extract, with vitamin C and zinc to provide support for the immune system. The natural Andrographis extract is grown in India, in its native environment where the ideal climate helps to produce a high potency extract[xx].
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[ii] Kim JH, Kim SA, Ku JY, Cho WK, Shin CH. Comparison of allergens and symptoms in patients with allergic rhinitis between 1990s and 2010s. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2020 Jul 1;16:58. doi: 10.1186/s13223-020-00455-9. PMID:
[iii] Renner B, Mueller CA, Shephard A. Environmental and non-infectious factors in the aetiology of pharyngitis (sore throat). Inflamm Res. 2012 Oct;61(10):1041-52. doi: 10.1007/s00011-012-0540-9. Epub 2012 Aug 14. PMID: 22890476; PMCID: PMC3439613.
[iv] Issing WJ, Karkos PD. Atypical manifestations of gastro-oesophageal reflux. J R Soc Med. 2003 Oct;96(10):477-80. doi: 10.1177/014107680309601002. PMID: 14519722; PMCID: PMC544625.
[v] Renner B, Mueller CA, Shephard A. Environmental and non-infectious factors in the aetiology of pharyngitis (sore throat). Inflamm Res. 2012 Oct;61(10):1041-52. doi: 10.1007/s00011-012-0540-9. Epub 2012 Aug 14. PMID: 22890476; PMCID: PMC3439613.
[vi] Rennard BO, Ertl RF, Gossman GL, Robbins RA, Rennard SI. Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest. 2000 Oct;118(4):1150-7. doi: 10.1378/chest.118.4.1150. PMID: 11035691.
[vii] Abuelgasim H, Albury C, Lee J. Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Evid Based Med. 2021 Apr;26(2):57-64. doi: 10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111336. Epub 2020 Aug 18. PMID: 32817011.
[viii] Agarwal A, Gupta D, Yadav G, Goyal P, Singh PK, Singh U. An evaluation of the efficacy of licorice gargle for attenuating postoperative sore throat: a prospective, randomized, single-blind study. Anesth Analg. 2009 Jul;109(1):77-81. doi: 10.1213/ane.0b013e3181a.
[ix] Naseem S, Gupta D, Koshyari H. Evaluation of the Efficacy of Turmeric-Based Lozenges for the Prevention of Postoperative Sore Throat in Surgeries Done Under Laryngeal Mask Airway Insertion. Anesth Essays Res. 2022 Apr-Jun;16(2):213-218. doi: 10.4103/aer.aer_56_22.
[x] Ran L, Zhao W, Wang J, Wang H, Zhao Y, Tseng Y, Bu H. Extra Dose of Vitamin C Based on a Daily Supplementation Shortens the Common Cold: A Meta-Analysis of 9 Randomized Controlled Trials. Biomed Res Int. 2018 Jul 5;2018:1837634. doi: 10.1155/2018/1837634.
[xi] Lissiman E, Bhasale AL, Cohen M. Garlic for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Nov 11;2014(11):CD006206. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006206.pub4. PMID: 25386977; PMCID: PMC6465033.
[xii] Ibarra-Coronado EG, Pantaleón-Martínez AM, Velazquéz-Moctezuma J, Prospéro-García O, Méndez-Díaz M, Pérez-Tapia M, Pavón L, Morales-Montor J. The Bidirectional Relationship between Sleep and Immunity against Infections. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:678164. doi: 10.1155/2015/678164
[xiii] Schapowal A, Berger D, Klein P, Suter A. Echinacea/sage or chlorhexidine/lidocaine for treating acute sore throats: a randomized double-blind trial. Eur J Med Res. 2009 Sep 1;14(9):406-12. doi: 10.1186/2047-783x-14-9-406. PMID: 19748859; PMCID: PMC3351972.
[xiv] Hemilä H, Chalker E. The effectiveness of high dose zinc acetate lozenges on various common cold symptoms: a meta-analysis. BMC Fam Pract. 2015 Feb 25;16:24. doi: 10.1186/s12875-01
[xvi] Mahboubi M. Sambucus nigra (black elder) as alternative treatment for cold and flu. ADV TRADIT MED (ADTM). 2021;21(3):405–14. doi: 10.1007/s13596-020-00469-z. Epub 2020 Jul 10. PMCID: PMC7347422.
[xvii] Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2016 Mar 24;8(4):182. doi: 10.3390/nu8040182. PMID: 27023596; PMCID: PMC4848651.
[xviii] Abuelgasim H, Albury C, Lee J. Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Evid Based Med. 2021 Apr;26(2):57-64. doi: 10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111336. Epub 2020 Aug 18. PMID: 32817011.
[xix] Hemilä H, Chalker E. The effectiveness of high dose zinc acetate lozenges on various common cold symptoms: a meta-analysis. BMC Fam Pract. 2015 Feb 25;16:24. doi: 10.1186/s12875-01
[xx] Hu XY, Wu RH, Logue M, Blondel C, Lai LYW, Stuart B, Flower A, Fei YT, Moore M, Shepherd J, Liu JP, Lewith G. Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017 Aug 4;12(8):e0181780.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.