The sore throat. Whether it’s brought on by the change in seasons, a case of Strep, or a particularly enthusiastic karaoke night, virtually every adult has found themselves battling a nagging one at some point or another.
And while your local CVS or Walgreens has practically all of the medicinal sore throat remedies known to man—from lozenges to syrups to Tylenol PM—there’s no need to drudge through crowded aisles in search of a cure. Often, it’s right in front of you at home.
For those who prefer an all-natural approach, there are a wealth of simple ways to feel better fast. In fact, we’ve compiled them all right here. So, before you waste your cash on another bottle of cough medicine, try these sore throat remedies that you can make right in the privacy of your own home instead.
Gargle salt water.
Want to nix that pain in your throat in no time? Try out a salt water gargle. “Dissolve 1 teaspoon in a big glass of water. Gargle every three hours to reduce mucus,” says Ariane Hundt, M.S., a New York City-based clinical nutritionist.
Add some oregano oil to your water.
The oils from this culinarily versatile spice might be the solution to your sore throat woes once and for all. One of the easiest sore throat remedies out there, oregano oil, according to research published in Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, has potent antimicrobial properties, making it easy to cure what ails you in a hurry. Hundt recommends drinking two or three drops diluted in water every three hours for maximum results.
Use a humidifier.
One of the most effective sore throat remedies out there doesn’t go anywhere near your throat at all. Sore throats are often caused dryness due to a sudden drop in temperature, but the solution isn’t always as simple as staying warm. Instead, running a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep can help boost the moisture content in the air, keeping those uncomfortably dry sinuses at bay.
Invest in a Neti pot.
While the thought of pouring water up your nose may be a bit frightening at first, it’s also one of the easiest sore throat remedies available and a lifesaver during cold and flu season—once you get the hang of it, of course. “Nasal congestion is also often to blame [for sore throats], so a Neti Pot to remove the allergens in the sinuses can reduce and stop post-nasal drip (which is linked to sore throat and respiratory infections),” says Hundt.
Drink mineral water.
Sip your sore throat away in a hurry with one of the few sore throat remedies you can get as easily at a drugstore as you can at your local supermarket: mineral water. “GERD can cause a sore throat too, due to stomach acid entering the esophagus,” says Hundt. “Drinking mineral water (such as Gerolsteiner) can reduce stomach acid with its high bicarbonate content.”
Pop some antacids.
If mineral water isn’t your drink of choice, you can always reduce the sore throat sting caused by GERD by popping some antacids instead. Antacids can help neutralize the stomach acid that causes a sore throat when it moves past your esophageal sphincter.
Steam your face with thyme oil.
Want to help those nasal passages clear up and reduce the pain in your throat? Add some thyme oil to a bowl of hot water and put your face over it, covering the top of your head with a towel. “It’s antimicrobial and high in antioxidants, so it’s beneficial in boosting the immune system and fighting bacteria,” says Hundt. “Add three to four drops to a bowl of hot water and do an inhalation treatment.” Think that sounds too good to be true? Researchers at Democritus University of Thrace and the Anticancer Hospital of Piraeus found that, among the essential oils studied, thyme was the most effective at killing bacteria.
Enjoy some honey.
A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down (and instantly cure a bad case of hiccups), but honey is a sweet treat that’s medicine in and of itself. In addition to helping coat your sore throat, making it feel less inflamed, honey also packs antibacterial properties that can potentially help kill the bacteria keeping you sick. It also happens to be a pretty great way to indulge your sweet tooth without turning to treats loaded up of refined sugar.
Sip some marshmallow root tea.
Stop into your local health food store for one of the most effective sore throat remedies out there: marshmallow root. “A small, well-conducted study looking at an herbal tea containing licorice root, elm inner bark, and marshmallow root diminished throat pain compared to placebo, within 30 minutes of drinking it,” says Dr. Tania Elliott, MD, a Manhattan-based internal medicine doctor.
Make some hot lemon water.
Warm drinks can help soothe a sore throat, even when it feels too painful to actually eat anything. Not only can a warm, soothing drink help keep you hydrated, keeping dehydration from making you feel worse, when you add lemon to your warm water, you can actually kill off some of the bacteria keeping you sick, according to research published in Advances in Biotechnology & Microbiology.
Gargle with apple cider vinegar.
Is there anything miracle healing food apple cider vinegar isn’t good for? Apple cider vinegar’s antibacterial properties make it one of the more popular non-medicinal sore throat remedies out there. For the best results, gargle with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every few hours. And don’t believe your friends who think this sore throat remedy is just hocus pocus: researchers at London’s Middlesex University have found apple cider vinegar effective at killing a wide variety of tough-to-beat bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella.
Add some heat to your food.
One of the most effective sore throat remedies is also the most delicious: the humble chili pepper. The capsaicin that gives spicy peppers their trademark heat has both antibacterial and antiviral properties, making it a great choice to add to your sore-throat-fighting regimen.
Make a sage tincture.
If you need to ditch that sore throat ASAP, a sage spray is one of the best sore throat remedies for achieving fast results. According to research published in the Iranian Journal of Microbiology, using sage mouthwash significantly reduced the number of streptococcus mutans bacteria in patients’ mouths, and has been shown to kill a wealth of other potential pathogens, as well.
Brew some ginger root tea.
A little ginger can go a long way when it comes to fighting sore throats. In addition to its antibacterial properties, ginger can help relieve some of the nausea that often accompanies sinus infections, keeping your stomach acid from bubbling up and making your sore throat worse.
Make a batch of clove tea.
At-home sore throat remedies don’t all require fancy ingredients. Case in point: a cup of clove tea can help relieve your sore throat pain in a hurry. “Warm foods such as teas and soups may be better than foods that can irritate the throat, such as rough-textured foods or spicy foods,” says Dr. Elliott.
Add garlic to your favorite foods.
This pungent bulb might just become one of your go-to sore throat remedies. Garlic packs a one-two punch of antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, making it easy to fend off those nasty colds in a hurry.
Supplement with echinacea.
A staple among herbalists and naturopaths alike, echinacea can help you fight that sore throat in no time. Whether taken in pill form or brewed in a tea, echinacea is an easy way to reduce your sore throat symptoms; in fact, researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, in Vancouver, deemed it a potent antiviral for respiratory infections.
Gargle with coconut oil.
Your favorite fat for cooking just so happens to be a great sore throat remedy, as well. Simply gargle with a spoonful of coconut oil a few times a day—its antibacterial properties can help kill off some of the unwanted bacteria making you sick, while the oil itself can help soothe your sore throat. Better yet, coconut oil can help whiten teeth and kill bad breath germs when used as part of an oil-pulling routine.
Sip some peppermint tea.
A little peppermint tea goes a long way when it comes to fighting your sore throat. One of the most popular sore throat remedies out there, peppermint tea can not only kill bothersome bacteria, drinking it warm can help relieve some of the pain accompanying your illness.
Add some turmeric to your meals.
Is there anything turmeric can’t do? A popular medicine in holistic and homeopathic communities, turmeric packs antibacterial and antiviral properties, helping you fight that bug keeping you sick. Brushing your teeth with it is also a proven method for getting a whiter smiler. But best of all, it’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory, allowing you to ease those painful symptoms in a hurry.
Sit in a steamed-up bathroom.
If you want to enjoy the results achieved by a humidifier in a hurry, try steaming up your bathroom with a hot shower. Not only will this help lubricate your irritated throat, you can also add some antibacterial essential oils to your treatment to help speed your recovery along.
Brew a batch of raspberry leaf tea.
A little raspberry leaf tea could provide you a whole lot of sore throat relief. According to research out of the University of Michigan, raspberry leaf is loaded with tannins that help soothe sore throats fast.
Spice things up with some cinnamon.
A little sprinkle of cinnamon on your coffee or in your favorite dish could be the key to curing those persistent sore throats for good. Cinnamon’s phytochemicals, like cinnamaldehyde, have antibacterial and antiviral properties that can kill bad bacteria and have you feeling like yourself again fast.
Make some licorice root tea.
Recommended by Dr. Elliott, licorice root tea is one of those sore throat remedies you can’t afford to sleep on. Licorice root’s antibacterial and antiviral properties can help relieve your sore throat pain and make it easier to get back to normal fast.
And for the coldest of sore throat remedies: Make a batch of ice pops.
When all else fails, don’t be afraid to turn to some of your favorite sore throat remedies from childhood to nix that nagging pain. “Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do to combat an infection. And when you have a sore throat, hydration with ice or popsicles can have a numbing-like effect that reduces the pain of swallowing,” says Elliott. “Ice cream and frozen yogurt also provide caloric intake—oftentimes, when we have a sore throat or feel sick, we don’t want to eat, even though our body needs to calories to help fight off infection.”