Natural sore throat remedies

Old remedy — honey, ginger and lemon. Picture: SUPPLIED

Having lived under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic for more than seven months now, we are all more aware when someone coughs or sneezes near us.

The fear of getting sick has made many of us more paranoid and alert to even the slightest hint of sickness.

We are so thankful to our government and the medical professionals for helping prevent any further community spread of the virus.

So it is ironic that the recent lessons of COVID prevention should also help us in dealing with colds and flu.

Stay away from people who are sick, wear a mask if necessary, do not share drinks, cigarettes or yagona bowls, stop touching your face and constantly wash your hands.

With the season of cold and fl u now upon us, we must be more vigilant than ever before in not spreading this yearly infection to others.

It is about this time every year that we begin to see symptoms of headaches, cough and sniffles, thanks in large part to a dramatic change in weather patterns.

The constant change from cold to hot, and back to cold again wreaks havoc on our immune system.

And before you know it, someone you know is sick.

There are no cures for the common cold or flu, but there are some cheap home remedies that can help relieve the irritation of a sore throat.

And it should not come as a surprise that many of these natural remedies can be found in your kitchen cupboard and garden.

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.

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.

Signals from mother nature

In Fiji, the constant change between hot and cold weather has been the traditional sign of sickness to come. The second sign from Mother Nature to me is the recent abundance of high vitamin-C fruits including mango, pineapple and moli. Vitamin C is renowned for its healing and recovery powers, so now is the time to bulk up your dose. A sore throat is often the first sign of a cold caused by a viral or bacterial infection. You either developed it yourself or you picked up the germs
from other people. Drinking warm liquids, gargling with warm salt water, sucking on garlic or ginger, or taking an over-thecounter 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

If 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 throat hurts, 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 a stuffy nose 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 Fijian honey and the juice of half a lemon to a cup of warm water. Sip it throughout 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 remedy. Its high levels of acidity can kill bacteria quite efficiently, and when mixed with raw honey, it can soothe the soreness in your throat as well. ACV is available at most supermarkets and is also great in salad dressings and pickles.
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 it’s 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

Basil herb used to be hard to find in Fiji but it is now in abundance thanks to the drop in demand from our tourism industry. An infusion of basil leaves in warm water is said to help reduce cold symptoms such as cough and sore throat. Holy
basil is even more effective, but rather difficult to find in Fiji. Steep the basil 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 instinctively taught 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 three-five 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.

Spice things up

Hot spicy foods should be avoided when your throat hurts, but sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves have a long history to help relieve some of the pain of a sore throat from a cold. Both are extremely high in antioxidants, 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 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 a sore throat. And if there is one lesson we can learn from the ongoing pandemic, it is to stay away from others if you are not feeling well and go see a doctor if your symptoms persist.

  • Lance Seeto is the host of Exotic Delights:Fijian Superfoods, every Tuesday night 7.45pm only on FBC-TV.

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