Although you can catch a cold all year round, most people have a higher risk of catching a cold in the winter and spring months.1 One of the most common symptoms is sore throat. The Guardian characterizes the common cold as having “the double distinction of being both the world’s most widespread infectious disease and one of the most elusive.”2
According to data collected from 142,377 participants in the Rochester Epidemiology Project, upper respiratory diseases, excluding asthma, were one of the top five reasons why this population sought medical attention.3
Sore throat, also called pharyngitis,4 is often triggered by a viral infection, including influenza, colds and COVID-19. As these are viruses, antibiotics are not effective against the infection.5 However, there are natural remedies you can use to shorten the length of a viral infection, as well as relieve the symptoms of pharyngitis.
Many of the pharmaceutical drugs sold today are the result of isolating plant compounds and replicating them in the laboratory.6 Through many years of fighting disease and illness, people from all over the world have learned to rely on medicinal plants for healing. They have been a part of human history since the beginning of the recorded time.
The World Health Organization reports that many nations continue to rely on herbal treatments to meet their health needs.7 In a study of 133 nations, 110 reported using herbal remedies. Another study from 20078 in the United States found that nearly 4 out of 10 adults used complementary and alternative medicine treatments, including herbal treatments.
The resurgence of herbal medicine treatments may be driven in part by the significant death rate from all viruses, including influenza9 and SARS-CoV-2.10 Two pleasant ingredients in herbal tea can help relieve your sore throat, making it easier to swallow, stay hydrated and eat.
Should you drink your herbal remedy hot or cold?
While some health experts advise you to drink fluids at a temperature that feels best for you,11 others have studied the effect of a hot beverage on colds. Ron Eccles, a professor emeritus at Cardiff University, for example, has spent his professional life analyzing and examining human diseases of the upper respiratory tract.12
His research includes a published study on the effects of hot drinks on the symptoms of the common cold and flu. His goal was to obtain subjective and objective measurements of the airflow. In his 30 subjects, the data showed that although there was no objective change in the measurement of nasal airflow, participants reported that a hot beverage:13
“… gave immediate and lasting relief of symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, coldness and fatigue, whereas the same drink at room temperature only gave relief of symptoms of runny nose, cough and sneezing … Finally supports The results folklore that a hot tasty drink is a beneficial treatment for relieving most symptoms of the common cold and flu. ”
The Mayo Clinic adds that warm liquids can help relieve congestion by stimulating mucus flow.14 ENT and allergy expert Dr. Shawn Nasseri agrees and tells Well and Good: “Hot teas cause the throat vessels and muscles to open up and relax more, thereby relieving the sore throat. Ice-cold drinks can sometimes cause throat spasms, which certainly do not feel comforting.”15
This may explain how January 11 became National Hot Toddy Day.16 According to a source, in the 18th century, Scottish doctors created the drink as a treatment for their patients suffering from sore throats and congestion.
A traditional hot toddy contains a shot of whiskey, honey, fresh lemon and boiling water. Personal preference dictates whether you add fresh ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks or cloves.17 Although the hot beverage is effective, it is not the alcohol that provides the benefits as it has negative effects on your immune system.18 As Eccles explained:
“A hot toddy is similar to any kind of hot beverage. The more it promotes salivation, the more it promotes mucus secretion, and mucus is our first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. That’s why it contains honey and lemon – it stimulates both sweet and Sour.”
Smooth elm and licorice root tea soothes sore throat
Herbal teas can help reduce the pain of pharyngitis as they have a soothing effect on the mucous membranes. In a double-blind, randomized controlled trial,19 Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of herbal teas containing marshmallow root, licorice root and inner bark of elm.
They engaged 60 outpatients with acute pharyngitis and randomly selected them to ingest herbal teas or placebo teas with the same taste and smell. Participants drank tea four to six times daily as long as they had symptoms. The researchers asked the individuals not to use other treatment for their sore throat.
Pain relief was assessed after one minute and then every five minutes for the first 30 minutes after drinking the tea. Participants then assessed their pain three hours and 24 hours after the initial dose. The data revealed that the herbal tea was more effective than placebo for short-term relief, but the effect lasted less than 30 minutes.20
Other health benefits of licorice root and smooth elm
The study evaluated the sedative effect the teen may have on acute pharyngitis, but did not address other health benefits associated with the herbs. According to Mount Sinai Hospital,21 Smooth elm has been used in North America for centuries to treat wounds, ulcers, burns and abscesses. Native Americans took it internally to relieve coughs and sore throats.
The herb has antioxidant activities and causes stimulation in the gastrointestinal tract to increase mucus secretion, which can help protect against ulcers and excess acid. It is often suggested in the treatment of sore throat and cough.22
One of the most important active ingredients in licorice root is glycyrrhizin.23 Much like anything else, excessive intake can result in adverse health effects, including primary pseudohyperaldosteronism,24 triggers high blood pressure, muscle weakness and headaches.
It suppresses plasma renin activity and aldosterone levels through prolonged and excessive intake of licorice. If you enjoy the taste of licorice, you can get it in sweets, drinks and extracts. One of the side effects is a significant decrease in plasma potassium levels, which an article suggests may have clinical use in people on chronic dialysis and at risk of hyperkalaemia.
Licorice is a commonly prescribed herb in Chinese medicine for the treatment of several ailments, including stomach ulcers25 and stomach ulcers. In Japan, doctors administer glycyrrhizin intravenously to patients with chronic hepatitis B to improve liver function and suppress the secretion of hepatitis B surface antigen.26
Licorice has been used in combination with spironolactone to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).27 A study has suggested that licorice root can reduce body fat28 and was shown to reduce testosterone in healthy women,29 which may be a way it helps women with PCOS.30
Studies have also shown a dose-dependent effect in animal studies on cell and tumor proliferation and apoptosis.31 A study32 published in the Lancet found that the compound also demonstrates an antiviral effect against SARS-CoV-1 by stopping reproduction of the virus.
Another study33 showed that glycyrrhizin had antiviral activity against coxsackievirus A16 and enterovirus 71, which is responsible for hand, foot and mouth disease, a contagious childhood virus infection.
More remedies to relieve sore throat and shorten a cold
Although there are several reasons why you may experience a sore throat, the most common cause is a cold. The following are some natural remedies to help relieve the sore throat. Following these are natural strategies that can shorten the length of your cold and subsequently shorten the time you have a sore throat.
- Herbal remedies – Herbal teas made with eucalyptus, peppermint or licorice can help relieve cold symptoms and relieve your sore throat.34
- Gargle with salt water – Gargling with a quarter to a half teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water can help relieve the pain and discomfort from a sore throat.35
- Steam – Adding moisture36 to the air using a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier can help loosen congestion and reduce post-nasal drip, which irritates your pharyngeal tissue.
Zinc lozenges – Zinc is an effective natural remedy. As far back as 1984, results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial37 showed that zinc lozenges shortened the cold, and further study showed that it could reduce the length of your cold by an average of 33%.38 Zinc lozenges are most effective when started in the first 24 hours you experience symptoms.39
Citric acid, tartaric acid and mannitol / sorbitol sweeteners should not be taken with zinc as they interfere with the release of the nutrient in your body.40 Recent research has shown that both zinc acetate and zinc gluconate are effective.41
Hydrogen peroxide – One of my favorite treatments for upper respiratory tract viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is nebulized hydrogen peroxide. The treatment is simple and helps effectively kill the virus in your airways. This video shows how to administer the treatment, which should use food-grade hydrogen peroxide and not the product you buy at the grocery store.
Apple cider vinegar – This has antibacterial properties and is very acidic, so it can be used to create an inhospitable environment for a virus. Consider gargling with a glass of warm water and 2 tablespoons of salt to help fight sore throat.42 Do not use it in full force as it may damage your esophagus and stomach lining.
Garlic – Although there is mixed evidence,43 the allicin in raw garlic is antimicrobial and can affect the length or severity of your cold. Crush the cloves before eating to release the active properties.
Raw honey – While raw honey has antibacterial and antiviral properties, they are not strong enough in reasonable amounts to fight your virus. However, raw honey is just as effective as cough syrup or cough drops for your cough.44 Remember that honey is a natural sugar, so in large quantities it can adversely affect your immune system and will affect your insulin and leptin levels.
Chicken Soup – Homemade chicken soup is soothing when you are sick and it contains the amino acid cysteine45 which can dilute the mucus in your lungs so that it disappears more easily.46
Vitamin C – Eating foods high in vitamin C can shorten the duration of your cold.47 Foods high in vitamin C include red peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kiwi and citrus fruits.
Echinacea te – Echinacea is one of the more popular Native American medicinal plants that can help shorten your cold when you start drinking tea on the first or second day. Researchers have found that it will reduce the recurrence of a viral infection.48 Drinking two or three cups of hot tea a day can also help relieve your sore throat.
Propolis – This material is collected from trees by bees to maintain the hive. One study showed that a propolis nasal spray improved children’s recovery from the common cold.49
Read the original article here