Scratchy irritation of the throat with pain when swallowing is technically called pharyngitis, and most often called a plain old sore throat. The most common cause is a viral infection like the cold or flu, but bacterial infections like strep can cause a sore throat, or physical strain like singing or excessive talking can also cause a sore throat. In the case of viral infection or physical strain a sore throat will resolve over time and these home remedies for sore throat can bring relief. In the case of strep infections home remedies can bring relief, but they must be paired with antibiotic treatment to resolve the infection and keep it from getting worse.

In the excerpt from Secret Food Cures below Joan and Lydia Wile discuss a variety of home remedies for sore throat to relieve the pain and help you through the day.

Sore Throats

The trouble with sore throats is that each swallow tends to be a painful reminder that you have a sore throat.

Some sore throats are caused by allergies, smoking, postnasal drip, yeast overgrowth and varying severities of bacterial invasion into your throat tissues. Many sore throats are caused by a mild viral infection that attacks when your resistance is low. You may need a health professional to help you determine the cause.

If you have a sore throat right now, think about your schedule. Chances are, you’ve been pushing yourself like crazy, running around and keeping later hours than usual.

If you take it easy, get a lot of rest, flush your system by drinking nondairy liquids and stay away from “heavy” foods, the remedies we suggest will be much more effective.

WARNING: Chronic or persistent sore throat pain should be checked by a health professional. Severe sore throats need immediate treatment and possibly antibiotics.

Natural Remedies

Add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm water.

Dose: Gargle a mouthful, spit it out, then swallow a mouthful. Gargle a mouthful, spit it out, then swallow a mouthful. Keep this up until the liquid is all gone. An hour later, start all over.

• Mix one teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1⁄2 cup of pineapple juice and drink it.

Dose: Repeat every half-hour until there’s a marked improvement.

• A singer we know says this works for her every time—steep three non-herbal tea bags in a cup of just-boiled water. Leave them there until the water is as dark as it can get—almost black. Dose: While the water is still quite hot but bearable, gargle with the tea. Do not swallow any of it. (No one needs all that caffeine.) Repeat every hour until you feel relief.

Salty Soother

• Warm 1 ⁄2 cup of kosher (coarse) salt in a frying pan. Then pour the warm salt in a large, clean, white handkerchief and fold it over and over so that none of the salt can ooze out. Wrap the salted hanky around your neck and wear it that way for an hour.

This was one of our great-aunt’s favorite remedies. The only problem was she would get laryngitis explaining to everyone why she was wearing that salty poultice around her neck!

Be a Sage

• Next time you wake up with that sore throat feeling, add one teaspoon of sage to one cup of boiling water. Steep for three to five minutes and strain.

Dose: Gargle in the morning and at bedtime. It would be wise to swallow the sage tea.

• Relief from a sore throat can come from inhaling the steam of hot vinegar. Take special care while inhaling vinegar vapors or any other kind for that matter. You don’t have to get too close to the source of the steam for it to be effective.

• What’s a sore throat without honey and lemon? Every family has their own variation on the combination. Take the juice of a nice lemon (our family prefaces every noun with the word nice) and mix it with one nice teaspoon of some nice honey.

Dose: Take it every two hours.

• Add the juice from one lemon to a glass of hot water (our family drinks everything from a glass) and sweeten to taste with honey—about 11 ⁄2 tablespoons.

Dose: Drink one glass every four hours.

• Grate one teaspoon of horseradish and one piece of lemon peel. To that, add 1 ⁄8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and two tablespoons of honey. Dose: Take one tablespoon every hour.

WARNING: Infants, diabetics and people with honey allergies should not use honey.

Act Like a Brat

We came across a beneficial exercise to do when you have a sore throat. Stick out your tongue for 30 seconds, put it back in and relax for a couple of seconds.

Then stick out your tongue again for another 30 seconds. Do it five times in a row and it will increase blood circulation, help the healing process, and make you the center of attention at the next executive board meeting.

Make a Tea Towel

Prepare chamomile tea. As soon as it cools enough for you to handle, soak a towel (preferably white) in the tea, wring it out and apply it to the neck. As soon as it gets cold, reheat the tea, re-dip the towel and reapply it. The chamomile will help draw out the soreness, and the heat will relax some of the tension built up in that area.

• According to a gem therapist, yellow amber worn around the neck will protect against sore throats. If you already have a sore throat, it is said that the electric powers of this fossilized, golden resin will help cure it.

• Prepare a carrot poultice with a large, grated carrot. Put the poultice around your throat. On top of the poultice, apply a washcloth that has been dipped in hot water and wrung out. To keep the heat in, cover it all with a towel or wide elastic bandage. If it seems to soothe your throat, re-dip the washcloth in hot water as soon as it gets cold.


The trouble with laryngitis is that you have to wait until you don’t have it before you can tell anyone you had it.

Rest your vocal cords as much as possible. If you must talk, speak in a normal voice, letting the sound come from your diaphragm instead of your throat. Don’t whisper! Whispering tightens the muscles of your voice box, and puts more stress on your vocal cords than does talking in your normal voice.

• Drink a mixture of two teaspoons of onion juice and one teaspoon of honey.

Dose: Take three teaspoons every three hours.

• Drink a cup of hot peppermint tea with a teaspoon of honey. After a hard day at the office, it’s very relaxing for the entire body as well as the throat. • If your cold seemed to settle in your throat in the form of hoarseness and congestion, peel and mince an entire bulb of garlic. Cover all the little pieces with raw honey and let it stand for two hours. Take a teaspoon of the honey/ garlic mixture every hour. Just swallow it down without chewing the garlic. That way you won’t have garlic on your breath.

WARNING: Infants, diabetics and people with honey allergies should not use honey.

Buddhist’s Secret

• In one cup of water, simmer 1 ⁄2 cup of raisins for 20 minutes. Let it cool, then eat it all. This is a Tibetan remedy. It must work because we’ve never met anyone from Tibet with laryngitis.

• Boil one pound of black beans in one gallon of water for one hour. Strain.

Dose: Take six ounces of bean water an hour before each meal. The beans can be eaten during mealtime.

• When you’re hoarse and hungry, eat baked apples. To prepare them, core four apples and peel them about halfway down from the top. Place them in a greased dish with about 1 ⁄2 inch of water. Drop a teaspoon of raisins into each apple core, then drizzle a teaspoon of honey into each core and over the tops of the apples. Cover and bake in a 350° F oven for 40 minutes. Baste a few times with pan juices during the cooking time.

Dose: Eat the apples warm or at room temperature. As they say, an apple a day… you know the rest.

• See the apple cider vinegar remedy under natural remedies. After seven hours and seven doses of the vinegar and water, plus a good night’s sleep, there should be a major improvement.

• Grate radishes and squeeze them through cheesecloth to get radish juice. Let a teaspoon of the juice slide down your throat every half-hour.

Singer’s Solution

• This is a popular Russian remedy for what they call “singer’s sore throat.” It promises to restore the singer’s voice to normal in a single day. Incidentally, you don’t have to be a singer to try this formula.

Take 1 ⁄2 cup of anise seeds and one cup of water and boil them slowly for 50 minutes. Strain out the seeds, then stir ¼ cup of raw honey into the anise-seed water and add one tablespoon of cognac.

Dose: Take one tablespoon every half-hour

WARNING: Infants, diabetics and people with honey allergies should not use honey.

Strep Throat

This illness is caused by Group A streptococci bacteria. If you have an extremely sore throat, fever, chills and ache all over, then you might have strep.

CAUTION: Strep throat is a serious illness. If left untreated, it can lead to rheumatic fever. See a physician to diagnose and treat this condition.

• Do you have a dog or a cat? If you do and you’re troubled by frequent bouts of strep throat, have a veterinarian examine the animal for streptococci. Once your pet is free of the bacteria, chances are you will be, too, after treatment by your health professional.


Tonsils are those two little bumps at the back of your throat. They are part of the lymph system and may help fend off respiratory infections. When they swell up for long periods time—yet you don’t feel any better—you probably have tonsillitis.

CAUTION: If you have tonsillitis, your immune system needs to be evaluated and treated by a physician. Be aware that untreated bacterial tonsillitis may have serious consequences, including rheumatic fever, scarlet fever or even kidney disease (nephritis).

• Bake a medium-sized banana in its skin for 30 minutes at 350° F. Peel and mash the juicy banana, adding one tablespoon of extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil. Spread the mush on a clean white cloth and apply it to the neck. Leave it on for a half-hour in the morning and a half-hour in the evening.

• Juice garlic cloves (see “Preparation Guide” on page 250) so that you have one tablespoon of fresh juice. Add the juice and two ounces of dried sage to one quart of water in a glass or enamel pot. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, turn off the heat and let it stand until it’s lukewarm. Strain the solution.

Dose: Drink 1 ⁄2 cup of this sage-garlic tea every two hours. Gargle 1 ⁄2 cup every hour until the condition is better.

NOTE: The holistic health professionals we talked to believe that tonsils should not be removed unless it’s absolutely necessary. They function as armed guards, destroying harmful bacteria that enter through the mouth. Asian medicine practitioners believe that when tonsils are unable to fulfill this function, the body’s immune system needs to be strengthened—but the tonsils should not be removed.

To find more home remedies for common ailments purchase a copy of Secret Food Cures from

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