Rid yourself of that sore throat

With the recent tropical depressions and cyclones, it seems the weather has also brought something else with it, sore throats.

Whether it is the change in weather or picking up germs from others, it’s that time of the year to protect ourselves from sickness. The constant itch caused by a sore throat is often agitating, especially if it hinders your productivity at work and home.

Contagious in nature, a sore throat is often the first signal our body gives in reaction to an infection which has entered our body. A sore throat can be a royal pain in the uh…throat. Like blinking, we never notice how much we swallow until we start paying attention to it, and when it hurts, it’s kind of difficult not to pay attention. It starts with a tickling of the throat and before you know it you can be bed ridden with a full-blown cold.

Before it gets to that stage there are many known natural remedies to help sooth and heal, but understand that once you have a bacterial infection – there is no cure. If the people around you are showing signs of a sore throat, now is the time to ensure your body’s own immune system is fully armed with viral-fighting super powers. And it should not come as a surprise that many of these natural remedies can be found in your kitchen cupboard.

Common cause

of sore throats

A sore throat is often the first sign of a cold caused by a viral or bacterial infection.

You can pick up germs from other people pretty easily, especially if you share a bowl of yaqona or a cigarette with someone already sick. If you are one of the lucky ones who isn’t yet sick, then it’s probably a good time to do everything to prevent germs invading your healthy body.

Although there is no cure for a sore throat caused by a cold virus, there are ways to help you feel more comfortable. Drinking warm liquids, gargling with warm salt water, sucking on garlic or ginger, or taking an over-the-counter medicine may relieve symptoms of pain or fever.

When you are sick with a cold, it is also important to get enough rest, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of fluids.

Gargle with

warm salt water

When your grandmother told you to gargle with salt water, she knew what she was talking about. Gargling with salt water isn’t an old wives tale — it’s about one of the oldest home remedies for a sore throat.

When our throats hurt, regardless of what causes it, it’s because the cells in the mucous membranes have become swollen and inflamed. By gargling with salt water you decrease the swelling, as salts primary function is to draw out water, which in turn shrinks the swollen cell and eases the pain. It also helps wash away the excess mucous and allows your stuffy nose (if you have one) to drain properly. Add half a teaspoon of sea salt to one cup of warm water, mix, then gargle in the morning and night.

Honey and lemon

This age-old formula to ease nighttime coughing can soothe your sore throat when taken throughout the day. Add a tablespoon of raw honey (straight from the bees) and the juice of half a lemon to a cup of warm water. Sip it as you plod through the day. The lemon changes the pH balance of the throat temporarily.

Since disease-causing microbes are sensitive to their environmental conditions, small, but frequent doses may help reduce the microbial load. Honey, being hypertonic, draws out excess fluid from the inflamed tissues.

Mix up an ACV drink

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is probably right up there with garlic as a curing but some people swear by it. Its high levels of acidity can kill bacteria quite efficiently, and when mixed with pure honey, it can soothe the soreness in your throat as well.

ACV is available at most supermarkets and is also great in salad dressings. I usually mix one tablespoon of honey, one tablespoon of ACV and a cup of warm water. Like all vinegars it is quite acidic so if you don’t want to swallow it, try two tablespoons of ACV and mix with ½ cup warm water and gargle once a day.

Suck on garlic

Yep, it sounds repulsive, and you probably don’t want to go on a dinner date right afterwards, but garlic is a natural remedy that is known to kick a sore throat right in its painfully swollen tush.

The reason lies in the garlic’s allicin, a compound that is effective at killing bacteria and fights the germs causing pain and irritation. Place one piece of garlic in each cheek, and suck on it like a cough drop. Occasionally crush your teeth against it to release the allicin, and there’s no need to actually bite it.

Basil leaves

An infusion of the culinary basil leaves in warm water can reduce cold symptoms such as cough and sore throat. Holy basil is even more effective, but rather difficult to source. Steep the leaves in warm water for 30 minutes and drink the infusion.

Chamomile tea

This soothing herbal tea is known to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Chamomile is a white and yellow daisy flower found in Europe. It is particularly useful in relieving throat pain due to laryngitis. Chamomile tea will not only give you relief from a sore throat, but make you feel less irritable. Tea bags are easily found in most supermarkets that stock overseas teas.

Drink that ginger

My Chinese ancestry has trained me to turn to ginger whenever sickness rears its ugly head – sore throats included.

It just so happens that ginger is packed with properties that will chase away the pain. It works brilliantly as a cold remedy as it helps clear extra mucus in your throat. It also boosts your circulation, increasing oxygen to your cells, flushing out toxins, and speeding up the healing process. To top it off it acts as an anti-inflammatory, and fights off bad bacteria too.

If you don’t want to bother crushing, you can slice it into very small chunks after peeling. Boil your water over medium heat and then add the ginger. Let it boil for 3-5 minutes, then take a cup and enjoy it piping hot and add some honey if you like.

You can strain it before drinking if you don’t want little bits of ginger at the bottom of your cup. Just make sure you enjoy it while it’s nice and warm.

Gargle sage

Sage herb was used medicinally in Europe for a long, long, time well before it entered the culinary scene.

Sage is an astringent, meaning it causes body tissues to contract, which means that it can help with swelling. Since the tissues at the back of your throat get swollen when you’re ill, you can see why sage could be of use. The acids in sage are also known to fight and kill off the bad bacteria that could be the culprit or a contributor to your symptoms.

I’ve seen sage in supermarket vegetable fridges and like ginger, you just need to steep the leaves in boiling hot water like you would make tea.

Spice things up

Truly spicy foods should be avoided when your throat hurts, but two sweet spiced home remedies that help relieve some of the pain of a sore throat from a cold are cinnamon and cloves.

Both are extremely high in anti-oxidants, and their aroma often times helps to open up the sinuses, which lessens the production of mucus and helps you breathe a little easier. You can drink them boiled in water or get more creative and combine say chamomile tea, cinnamon or clove water and honey for a powerhouse combo to beat off the sickness.

The next time you feel your throat starting to get painful, use any of the above as soon as possible. Gargling is a simple and remarkably effective way to kill germs and soothe a sore throat.

In the middle of the worst sore throat you’ve ever had, drinking tea and gargling herbal water probably won’t feel like much in comparison to the effect of over-the counter pain medication, but home remedies can stop it before it has much chance to get worse. While there is no miracle cure, natural home remedies can lessen the severity of the symptoms throughout the time you’re ill. But go see your doctor if symptoms worsen.

* Lance Seeto is the executive chef at Fiji’s first island beach club, Malamala Beach Club. www.malamalabeachclub.com