Seven natural ways to soothe a sore throat

With The Herbal Clinic, Swansea

Burning pain, swollen tonsils, difficulty swallowing; a sore throat can make life a misery. The most common cause of a sore throat is bacterial or viral infection but catch it early and it needn’t be something that lingers


Sage is a wonderful aromatic antimicrobial herb which helps clear the mind and reduce the fuzzy thinking that can come with infections. Frequent sips of a strong infusion made with sage and honey act directly on the microbes at the back of the throat making their life (and replication) difficult. Once absorbed into the bloodstream the essential oils and active plant compounds support the immune system in resisting infection.

Directions: Use 1 tablespoon of dried sage leaves (2 tablespoons of fresh) to one cup of boiling water. Pour the water over the sage and cover. (Covering the infusion helps prevent the evaporation of medicinal substances). If you are making it directly into the cup you can use a small saucer to act as a lid.

Allow to infuse for 10 -15 minutes then strain and stir in one teaspoon of raw honey. Sip frequently. Drink up to 4 cups daily.

WARNING: Sage should not be drunk during pregnancy and is consumed medicinally for short term use only.

Top tip: FRESH IS BEST! Try to get hold of top quality herbs for a more potent effect. Herbs from the supermarket or those that come ready packaged in tea bags have often been sitting in storage for some time and may not be as effective.


Most people have heard of the traditional hot honey and lemon for a sore throat, but why not add extra potency by combining these with green tea? Green tea is rich in compounds that have antiviral activity and enhance immunity, preventing the replication of viruses. In one recent study the compound theaflavin foundin green tea was shown to strongly inhibit theswine flu virus.


Tinctures of thyme, myrrh and oregano can be combined or used individually to spray directly onto the back of the throat as a topical antibacterial spray. Using a small glass atomiser bottle (available widely online), spray the throat 3-6 times daily.


Herbs such as marshmallow root, liquorice and chamomile are soothing and healing, providing a protective coating for a sore throat.


Propolis is a resinous, waxy substance produced by bees for sealing cracks in the hive. Once in place this sticky material keeps out foreign invaders including diseases and parasites, it also prevents fungal and bacterial growth.

At least 180 different compounds have been identified in propolis and antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects have been repeatedly confirmed. It has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of chronic tonsillitis.

Whilst visiting Portugal a local beekeeper advised that the best way to use propolis is to chew on the raw resin. This method is very effective as a small amount of the active ingredients are continuously released, with a slight numbing effect. It does however stick in the teeth, so best for use at home where the occasional probing to release stuck resin will go unnoticed!


Apple cider vinegar contains tannins which tone the inflamed membranes of the throat, creating a surface which is temporarily tougher and therefore harder for microbes to penetrate (think of the process of tanning leather – providing a tough, protective outer surface!)

To make a gargle: In a small glass dilute 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with some warm water. Take a mouthful and gargle for up to 1 minute, then spit. Take another mouthful and swallow.


If sore throat is a regular occurrence for you, consider whether there is a deeper reason behind the blockage of energy in the region of the throat. Is there something you are burning to say but feel you can’t open up? Ask yourself in which relationship are you not speaking up. Our thoughts and mindset play a significant role in health and disease; where necessary, changing our outlook on the world is key to healing and release.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have a medical condition or are taking medications please consult a practitioner for advice on which herbs are suitable for you.

The Herbal Clinic 32 King Edward Road, Swansea SA1 4LL Tel: 01792 474356

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