As far as respiratory symptoms go, there is not much worse than a bad sore throat. You breathe so timidly; as if every breath could send you into a coughing fit. Talking is a chore, and it even hurts to swallow. All you can think is “How can I get rid of this?!”
You could use over the counter cough syrups-at your own risk. Thankfully, there are many natural alternatives to cough medicine, and none more scientifically backed than the use of pure essential oils for sore throat. Let’s take a look at what a sore throat is, and what steps you can take towards natural sore throat relief right now.
What Causes Sore Throat?
A sore throat is known scientifically as Pharyngitis- inflammation of the pharynx.
Generally caused by a virus like the common cold or influenza, sore throats can also be caused by bacterial infections-as in the case of strep throat. As the germs take over, your body’s natural response is to cause inflammation, bringing more white blood cells to the area and stopping up the flow of germs to the rest of your body. It’s a great action for your immune system-but it can make you feel like you’ve swallowed a glass balloon.
Many reasons for sore throat exist. It could be an early sign of common illnesses, such as:
- Measles/ chickenpox
- Strep throat
At times, a sore throat has nothing to do with germs at all. Common causes that are not related to sickness are:
- Eating extremely spicy foods
- Post nasal drip
- Poor air quality
- Hot, dry air.
If you are reading this, chances are you already know how to get a sore throat. So, more important than what it is- how to get rid of it!?
How Is A Sore Throat Usually Treated?
Generally speaking, the sore throat is a symptom of the issue at large-whether viral or bacterial. Standard treatment for viruses such as the common cold and influenza is focused around symptom management. Therefore, often one or more over the counter medicines is used to control symptoms such as a sore throat. A walk down the local pharmacy will show you countless syrups, sprays, lozenges and drinks all designed to relieve you of that itchy, painful throat.
These treatments can be hit or miss. Often those fruity throat drops simply change the taste of your pain rather than relieve it. Add to that the fact that most contain inactive chemicals, dies, fragrances, and flavorings, and they may be doing more harm than good. Your body has to process everything you put into it-and it would much rather process natural cures.
Natural Remedies For sore Throat
Luckily, many natural cures for sore throat exist. Some are just a few steps away.
Gargling warm saltwater is a great practice when you have a sore throat. Doing so multiple times a day can reduce pain and irritation and help kill the germs in your throat, thus speeding the healing process.
A very common natural tonic for sore throat is warm water and raw honey. Raw honey is antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial-perfect for killing off the germs causing inflammation in the area. Adding it to warm (not hot) water brings more fresh blood to your throat and provides a soothing effect.
These methods are best when used in conjunction with the most studied of the natural sore throat remedies-the use of essential oils.
Essential Oils for Sore Throat
There are many beneficial oils for sore throat; which focus on eliminating bacteria and reducing the pain associated with the sore throat. For that reason, let’s just focus on the 7 best essential oils for sore throat relief.
1. Oregano Essential Oil
Let’s start off with a heavy hitter- oregano essential oil. Pure oregano essential oil has enjoyed quite the reputation as of late-boasting a long list of issues which people claim it helps. But does it deserve all the hype?
The short answer: YES. Oregano essential oil is full of antioxidants and strong antibacterial compounds. This review highlights the main constituents- carvacrol and thymol. One study links the abilities of the two compounds, found in oregano essential oil, to boosting the immune system response of subjects.
A potent gargle can be made with two drops of oregano essential oil and warm water. Mix well, gargle for 30 seconds, and then spit the mixture out. Repeating this process twice daily can bring about relief quicker than you ever thought possible.
2. Clove Bud Essential Oil
While it may not be the first oil you think to reach for when dealing with a sore throat-think again! Pure clove essential oil is an analgesic. The folk remedy of biting a clove to cure a toothache has great scientific backing. A recent study showed clove oil is a strong analgesic, reducing the feeling of pain. With a sore throat scratching at every break-this means relief.
Also, the many polyphenols present in pure clove bud oil make it a potent anti-inflammatory compound. As much of the irritation of a sore throat is caused by swelling and inflammation, a gargle made with clove bud oil can make all the difference in your day.
3. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
When bacteria take hold of your throat, as is the case of strep throat-reach for pure eucalyptus essential oil. There are two reasons eucalyptus oil is perfect for a sore throat. Firstly, Eucalytpus oil kills bacteria. When gargled, eucalyptus oil can help remove the residual bacteria from your throat, and prevent recontamination as you recover.
Secondly, eucalyptus essential oil is an analgesic. A compound called 1,8 cineole, highly present in eucalyptus oil, reduces how much test subjects notice pain stimuli. While this feature may not cure the sore, painful throat-it will help you get relief from the constant irritation.
If you have not read about the many benefits of eucalyptus essential oil, it is worth the read. Eucalyptus essential oil is full of beneficial compounds; it is definitely one for the medicine cabinet.
4. Tea Tree Essential Oil
The oil from the Maleluca alternifolia tree has burst its way into medical science recently. Though used for centuries, it is only recently getting the respect it deserves. This is due in no small part to tea tree essential oil’s amazing antimicrobial properties. Time kill studies have shown that tea tree oil effectively kills germs; including antibiotic resistant strains like MRSA.
Putting a few drops of Tea tree oil in your aromatherapy diffusor can kill the bacteria in the air and help speed up the healing process from your sore throat.
5. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint oil works immediately, penetrating the tissues when inhaled. It is no wonder the scent makes its way into many throat lozenges and over the counter syrups as well.
As seen in this review, Peppermint oil is a natural antimicrobial. Diffusing it in the air can help eliminate the germs causing the sore throat; and a simple gargle can be made to kill germs with 2 drops of peppermint oil in a glass of warm water.
Peppermint essential oil also contains the analgesic menthol. Synthetic versions of menthol can be created, and are found in nearly every over the counter medicine for sore throat. Why not go directly to the source?
In a study on the effects of cigarette smoke, menthol lowers the pain responses in the respiratory tract of subjects who were exposed smoke irritants. If it can handle the cocktail of irritants in cigarette smoke, chances are peppermint oil can help soothe your sore throat.
If your sore throat is due to cold and flu symptoms, using pure peppermint essential oil can provide relief in multiple ways. In addition to its use for sore throat, Peppermint oil is one of the best essential oils for cold and flu symptoms.
6. Lemon Essential Oil
The refreshing scent of lemon oil has graced numerous foods and fragrances; but who knew it had so much medicinal benefit? One study showed lemon essential oil is antibacterial. The study focused on the effects of many essential oils on common strains of bacteria. Lemon essential oil was one of the most effective oils tested at killing the various strains of bacteria.
The delicious scent of lemon essential oil is also known to make you salivate-thus keeping the throat moist and less likely to become irritated. Pure lemon essential oil also stimulates drainage of the lymp nodes and provides much needed relief from inflammation.
Adding lemon essential oil to other beneficial oils in your diffuser can produce a synergistic effect, as the components in each compound onto the other. The fresh smell can keep you relaxed, while enhancing the action of other oils like tea tree oil.
7. Thyme Essential Oil
A cousin to the potent oregano essential oil, pure thyme essential oil is no less powerful. In fact, according to many studies, thyme essential oil is a strong antimicrobial. When used in conjunction with other carvacrol containing oils- such as oregano essential oil- a synergistic effect is produced-reducing swelling and pain while eliminating bacteria.
In fact, a recent study showed thyme oil is highly antibacterial on its own. The study focused on over 100 different strains of common bacteria affecting the oral cavity, respiratory tract, and hospital environment. They found that thyme oil was effective against every single one of them. This is promising news in the realm of natural cures for sore throat.
Choose Natural Remedies
When most of the over the counter medications are made using the active ingredients found in pure essential oils-the choice is clear. Choose the unadulterated versions of healing compounds; directly from the source.
Keep in mind that most studies to date are related to topical use and inhalation of essential oils. There has been little formal research into pure essential oil consumption. Though most people experience no adverse side effects when consuming essential oil in low doses you would want to minimize the consumption of pure oil, as the high potency of antioxidants can cause digestive and systematic upset. This can be ensured by simple spitting out your gargle after every time you use it.
In the twenty-first century, it is becoming increasingly easier to choose pure, natural solutions at every stage of our lives. Choosing the purest essential oils ensures you have the highest potential for healing from all of life’s little ailments.