Also known as “sweet root,” this perennial herb, commonly grown in southern Europe and Asia, has been used in medicine for thousands of years. Licorice is known to soothe and coat sore throats, and helps eliminate phlegm and mucous in the nose, throat and lungs. A 2009 study found that gargling with a licorice and water mixture gave patients with postoperative tracheal tubes less-severe sore throats than those that gargled with just water.
But licorice is not without its side effects. Dr. Benjamin Asher, a New York City-based ear, nose and throat specialist who is also an expert in integrative health, warns its active ingredient glycyrrhizin can increase blood pressure if ingested in high quantities. Luckily, there is a version of the herb without the harmful component, known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), available in many forms, from chewable tablets to powder.
Chicken soup is a staple food when it comes to being sick, but it turns out it is good for more than its comforting taste. Research suggests the chicken and vegetable combo helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms, including soothing sore throats.
In 2000, researchers at the Nebraska Medical Center found that ingesting chicken soup inhibits the movement of neutrophils, the white blood cells that defend against infection, thereby reducing inflammation. While the researchers couldn’t pinpoint the exact ingredient that stalled the neutrophils, they found that store-bought soups varied widely in their effectiveness, meaning a wholesome, homemade soup might be the best way to go.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This brown liquid is thought to have antibacterial properties that can help fight the infection causing sore throats. The acidity of the vinegar decreases the pH of tissue, which helps prevent bacteria from growing on its surface. Raw apple cider vinegar also has the prebiotic inulin, which may increase your number of white blood cells and T cells and boosts your immune system.
However, despite being used to fight infections since around 400 BC, its effectiveness for directly treating or soothing sore throats has yet to be scientifically proven.
Mixing warm water, honey and lemon is a time-honored tradition to treat aching throats in many households. A 2007 study from Penn State University found that honey was as effective as dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in over-the-counter cold medicines, at relieving cough symptoms, and was rated more favorably for symptom relief during sleep.
Honey has also been shown to have antibacterial properties. However, it is important to note that honey should not be given to any child younger than age one due to the risk of infant botulism, a rare but dangerous type of food poisoning.
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