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Sore throats are quite common and almost always painful. While a sore throat that lasts more than a few days may require medical attention, many tried-and-true home remedies can help ease symptoms until the body has dealt with the allergies, infection, or other issue that is causing the pain.

Try Lemon, Ginger, and Honey in Water

An age-old home remedy for treating a sore throat is a tea mixture of lemon, ginger, and honey. The ginger helps loosen mucus from the respiratory tract, while honey and lemon soothe the throat. You will need:

  • 1 teaspoon of powdered or a 1/2" chunk of fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ squeezed lemon
  • ½ cup hot water

Mix the ginger and honey into the water and add the lemon juice. Allow to cool slightly, then sip for instant relief.

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Suck on Garlic

If you have garlic in your kitchen and enjoy its strong flavor, you may be in luck. Since time immemorial, garlic has been revered for its antibacterial properties and is popular in many homeopathic remedies. All you need is one fresh clove of garlic cut in half.

Simply place one half in each cheek, and suck on it as you would cough drops, for five to 10 minutes. If you can chew it, good for you, but if you can't, just crush it against your teeth to release its antibacterial allicin. Do this once a day to combat any infection that may be causing pain.

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Gargle with Salt Water

Gargling with salt water can ease pain immediately and even help cure a sore throat. Throat pain is often caused by inflamed mucous membranes, and salt lessens inflammation by pulling moisture from the swollen tissues; it also makes your throat less friendly to bad bacteria. You will need:

  • 1 cup of warm water (8 oz.)
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Warm the water—it should not be hot. Dissolve the salt into the water, then gargle with the mixture for five to seven minutes. Repeat this twice or three times a day as required.

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Make Baking Soda Tea

Baking soda changes the pH of the throat, making it more alkaline, which can help kill off bad bacteria. Most people have a box of baking soda in their cupboard, so this is a great option for treating a sore throat. You will need:

  • 1 cup water (warm, not hot)
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Heat the water so that it is warm but not boiling. Then, add the salt and baking soda. Gargle and spit out the mixture. Repeat this process about three times a day.

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Drink or Gargle Sage Tea

Sage has been used medicinally for centuries. It is an astringent herb that causes contraction of the throat tissues, relieving swelling and easing a sore throat. You will need:

  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • Little bit of honey (only if you prefer sweet tea)
  • 2 teaspoons sage leaves
  • ¼ ounce salt (if not adding honey)

Add the sage leaves to the boiling water and let them steep for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain out the leaves and drink the mixture. If you like sweet tea, mix in a little bit of honey.

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Steam It Out

Steam is a great solution for easing the soreness in your throat, especially when you're also plagued by congestion from a cold or other infection. You will need:

  • 1 big bowl
  • 1 large bath towel
  • Boiling water to fill the bowl halfway

Simply add boiling water to a large bowl and lean over the bowl, covering your head with a towel. Adding a bit of eucalyptus oil can help, too. Make sure to keep your face back from the water so as not to burn your skin.

woman leaning over a steaming bowl of water with a towel over her head

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Chew Some Cloves

Some people know about cloves as an ancient remedy for toothaches. This pungent herb works in this way because it contains eugenol, a natural anesthetic and effective painkiller that can also ease throat pain.

Chewing on a clove releases this eugenol and can numb the throat for a while. You may want to use water to rinse your mouth after the herb has done its job.

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Try Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another great option to alter the pH of the throat and take down germs. Its high acidity soothes pain and combats infection. When mixed with honey, it is even more effective. You will need

  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 cup of warm water

Mix the ingredients together and allow it to cool until it is still warm, but palatable. Drink it slowly.

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Prepare Chamomile Tea

Yet another natural remedy for treating a sore throat is chamomile tea. For a sound sleep, sip a cup an hour or so before bed—the flowers feature properties that go to work as natural pain-killing agents and also encourage relaxation. You will need

  • 1 sachet of chamomile tea
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • An empty mug

Add the tea bag to a mug of just-boiled water. Let the tea steep as long as you like, cool it a bit, then drink for fast relief.

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Hot Toddy

A hot toddy can take a sore throat down a notch. It warms the chest and helps soothe you off to sleep. This remedy, of course, is only for adults. You will need

  • 1 ounce of whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Hot water

Stir the ingredients into the hot water. Enjoy before bedtime for relief from pain and the often-related insomnia.

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Peppermint

Technically, peppermint has a minimal effect on the causes and symptoms of a sore throat, though some evidence does point to its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. What peppermint can offer is plenty of menthol, which is responsible for the plant's signature cooling effect.

This cooling sensation can provide some temporary relief of a sore throat. Avoid directly consuming peppermint leaves or oils, as these may aggravate the condition. Opt for peppermint teas or similar choices instead.

cups of tea with mint on wooden Maya23K/ Getty Images

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Fenugreek

Fenugreek is an herb that is available in many forms, such as seeds, oil, and even tea. Like peppermint, there is limited clinical evidence supporting any direct health effects. However, fenugreek teas may provide some pain and inflammation relief for a sore throat.

Doctors suggest avoiding large doses of fenugreek, as very high amounts are potentially dangerous.

Helba golden tea drink made of fenugreek annual plant served in glass cup with bowl of seeds and spoon on white wooden table Elena Kabenkina/ Getty Images

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Marshmallow Root

Though marshmallow root cannot directly treat a sore throat, it is rich in mucilage, a unique substance that is similar to mucus. Mucilage may coat the throat, alleviating general aches and pain and limiting coughing. Marshmallow products for use in desserts do not typically contain marshmallow root, but it's available as a tea, syrup, lozenge, and capsule.

Herbal tea from marshmallow svehlik/ Getty Images

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Licorice Root

For thousands of years, licorice root has been a popular remedy for sore throats and similar conditions. Though there is not enough high-quality evidence to support its use, some products that contain licorice root do provide relief for sore throats, especially after surgery.

Licorice gargles and lozenges are the most effective options for this use, though many forms of the root are available.

Licorice tea and a heap of roots PicturePartners/ getty Images

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Cayenne/Hot Sauce

While it may seem counterintuitive to fight a sore throat with something that could cause more pain, cayenne and other spicy products are some of the most popular sore throat remedies.

Capsaicin is the compound that gives peppers and their byproducts their fiery heat. Capsaicin also blocks pain receptors, and some health experts believe it can even limit inflammation. While more evidence is necessary to confirm these effects, a little bit of spiciness may be beneficial for a sore throat.

spicy chili sauce, ketchup YelenaYemchuk/ getty Images

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Rest

One of the best things anyone can do for an illness is to rest. Avoid talking or moving too much for a while and just relax. Remember that laying flat can sometimes make the swelling worse because it increases the pressure at the back of the throat. Try sitting up in bed using pillows to stay upright or rely on a comfortable chair, like a recliner.

Shot of a man having a warm drink while recovering from an illness on the sofa at home Charday Penn/ Getty Images

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.