Soothe Your Sore Throat With These Foods And Drinks

According to a 2016 study, 99% of people use a home remedy to combat cold symptoms. For many people, these remedies tackle a sore throat. You don’t just have to drink tea, though; you can eat certain herbs, suck on a popsicle, or cook scrambled eggs. Surprised? Here are even more foods and drinks that can alleviate a sore throat.

Honey Might Work Better Than Cough Suppressants

Honey drips off of a honeycomb into a glass jar.
Arwin Neil Baichoo/Unsplash
Arwin Neil Baichoo/Unsplash

As an antimicrobial, honey can soothe the inflammation in a sore throat. Research has found that honey alleviates upper respiratory infections, especially coughs. According to a study in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, honey eased children’s coughs better than some cough suppressants.

Scientists from the University of Oxford reported that most upper respiratory infections–which often cause sore throats and coughs–are viral. Antibiotics will not work, but antimicrobials like honey might. It is easy on the throat and can lower inflammation, especially if you drink it with tea or warm milk.

Popsicles: A Sweet, Pain-Relieving Treat

Different colored popsicles are on display with their wooden handles sticking out.
Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Paraiso Miami Beach
Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Paraiso Miami Beach

Sucking on a frozen treat can alleviate a sore throat. Dr. Ron Eccles, the former director of the Common Cold Centre at the University of Cardiff, says that cold helps. Frozen items can “have a local cooling effect on inflamed tissues and may have a specific inhibitory effect on pain-sensitive nerves in the throat,” he wrote in a 2013 article.

If you’re sick or feel nauseous, a popsicle can also help. In 2018, a study in The Indian Journal of Surgery found that eating a popsicle after surgery soothed nausea and increased feelings of comfort.

Scrambled Eggs Are Always Easy To Eat

A person eats from a plate of scrambled eggs with peppers and bread.
Gian Cescon/Unsplash
Gian Cescon/Unsplash

If your sore throat makes it hard to eat, get more protein through scrambled eggs. Not only are they easy on the throat, but they can also lower irritation. Dr. Dimitar Marinov of the Medical University of Varna says that an egg’s warm, non-acidic consistency can alleviate inflammation.

Eggs are also a healthy source of vitamin D. According to research in EvidenceBased Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vitamin D can prevent common colds. It boosts the immune system and helps the body recover faster, which is a blessing for anyone suffering from a cold or flu.

If You’re Feeling Stuffy, Try Warm Lemon Water

A full lemon drops into a glass of water.

Often, sore throats stem from excess mucus. According to Penn Medicine, lemon can break up the mucus with its acidity. Many people also credit its high vitamin C levels for fighting off colds and fevers.

In 2017, Medical News Today ran a survey to rank the most effective home remedies for a sore throat. Lemon and honey were number one, with 62% of respondents reporting that those ingredients helped. Dr. Pritish K. Tosh of Mayo Clinic recommends stirring lemon juice into warm water so that it feels less abrasive.

Yes, Chicken Soup Can Help A Cold!

A bowl contains chicken noodle soup next to dumping soup.
Karolina Kołodziejczak/Unsplash
Karolina Kołodziejczak/Unsplash

The old wives’ tale of eating chicken soup during a cold has some backing. Research from the American College Of Chest Physicians discovered that chicken soup has many ingredients that aid respiratory infections. For instance, the vegetables can provide nutrients to fight off mucus, and the broth is an anti-inflammatory that soothes the throat.

In the journal Chest, researchers compared hot water, cold water, and chicken soup. They found that chicken soup treats a stuffy nose and sore throat more effectively than water. Even five minutes after eating it, participants felt relief.

Gargle Baking Soda And Salt Water

A spoonful of baking soda sits next to a glass fo water and a slice of lemon.
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BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you don’t like gargling salt water, add baking soda to the mix. According to the American Cancer Society, baking soda neutralizes the acid and prevents yeast growth. Stir 1/8 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda into one cup of water. Gargle it, but don’t swallow; too much salt can upset your stomach.

Baking soda is ideal for inflammation and irritation, which causes sore throats. In 2018, research in the Journal of Immunology found that consuming baking soda relieves inflammation throughout the body, even in rheumatoid arthritis.

Eat Garlic, And You Might Stave Off A Cold

Chopped green onion and garlic bulbs are in a stainless steel bowl.
Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images
Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images

If your sore throat stems from a cold, eat more garlic. In 2014, researchers analyzed participants who ate garlic consistently for three months. These participants were 63% less likely to get a cold, and when they had one, it was 70% shorter than usual.

As for whether garlic directly helps a sore throat, the evidence is sparse. Garlic is an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, so it might lower inflammation in your throat. Chop garlic into some cooked veggies or soup to reap the benefits during your cold.

Feeling Stuffy? Add Some Heat With Cayenne

Cayenne chili peppers hang from the wall.

In some cases, spicy foods can give you relief that other foods can’t. In 2016, scientists discovered that cayenne has the ability to reduce pain. Cayenne gets its spice from capsaicin, which blocks a chemical called substance P. This chemical carries pain messages to the brain.

The University of Maryland Medical Center says that that the best pain relief comes from three to five days of eating cayenne. Beyond that, a bit of spicy food can dislodge phlegm in your throat. But don’t make it too spicy, or else the body will create more mucus to compensate.

Restore Your Voice With Slippery Elm Bark

A teaspoon of slippery elm bark powder sits next to the bag.
Marian Forbes/Pinterest
Marian Forbes/Pinterest

Slippery elm is the inner bark of a tree that is often used in herbal remedies, especially in tea. According to a 2012 study, the herb can coat the throat in a protective layer of sticky sugars. When participants drank slippery elm tea, they felt less throat pain and could even speak more clearly.

In 2017, another study in PeerJ analyzed 12 herbs and their impacts on inflammation. Slippery elm significantly reduced inflammation, especially in the tonsils, which is good news for those with a sore throat.

Fenugreek: A Seed That Heals A Cough

Fenugreek stalks and seeds are depicted against a black background.
Bildagentur-online/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Bildagentur-online/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Fenugreek is a seed that is often added to Indian cooking. Uncooked, it tastes bitter, but in a meal or tea, it is sweet. Fenugreek loosens mucus in the nose and throat. According to a 2018 study from the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences, the spice “acts as a throat cleanser and mucus solvent that also eases the urge to cough.”

In 2011, chef and nutritionist Gurpareet Bains also conducted a study on fenugreek. When sick participants ate curry with half a teaspoon of fenugreek, they had fewer symptoms. These included a runny nose, sneezing, cough, and sore throat.

Even Gargling Plain Water Will Help

In this 1951 photo, a man gargles water while holding a glass.
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Did you know that gargling plain water can also help a sore throat? In 2005, scientists had some participants gargle water three times a day. By the end of 60 days, their throats felt much better. You just need to gargle consistently.

Drinking water can also aid a sore throat. In 2019, a study in Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine found that dehydration makes sore throats worse. Water breaks up mucus and washes it away from your throat. If you’re sick, then hydration is especially important to keep your immune system fighting.

Brew Green Tea To Stop Coughing

A woman strains green tea leaves in Japan.

If you want a healing tea with a tiny bit of caffeine, try green tea. This tea is an anti-inflammatory that can reduce pain. In 2016, a study in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine found that drinking or gargling green tea can relieve a sore throat.

Dr. Edward Damrose, the chief of laryngology at Stanford Health Care, says that warm water, in general, might alleviate a sore throat. It divides phlegm and prevents coughing, which would otherwise irritate you more. Combine warm water with an anti-inflammatory, and you have green tea.

Marshmallow Root Protects The Throat

The texture of the herb marshmallow root is shown close-up.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Marshmallow root is one of the most popular herb treatments for respiratory ailments. In 2019, researchers found that marshmallow root coats the mouth in a protective lining. This can relieve the pain and lower swelling in a sore throat.

You can infuse the sweet, earthy herb into tea or let it dissolve on the tongue. In the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a 2003 study found that tea made with marshmallow root can stave off throat pain. It is only temporary relief, but so is everything else on this list.

Clear Your Throat With Chamomile Tea

A glass mug holds chamomile tea next to the herb's flowers.
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Chamomile is a flower that creates a sweet, non-caffeinated tea. Many people drink it while sick, and research shows that it can help a sore throat. In 2011, researchers found that chamomile tea alleviates symptoms of the common cold, including sore throats. Even breathing in the steam can break up mucus in the throat.

During an earlier study, the Medical Association of Thailand replaced nasal spray with chamomile extract spray. The chamomile improved sore throats and hoarseness in patients. However, you don’t need to spray chamomile tea; you can just drink it.

Ginger Might Help, Even When Sold As A Powder

Zingiberaceae ginger sits next to ginger powder.
DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

Like honey, ginger is an anti-inflammatory and immune-booster. In 2014, a study determined that ginger has several bioactive compounds that attack bacteria and inflammation. If ginger inhibits the inflammation in the throat, you might feel better.

During an interview with Eating Well, registered dietitian Maya Feller called ginger “a powerful antioxidant with a number of antimicrobial properties.” One of its phytochemicals, gingerol, is a potent anti-inflammatory. Eating it might make your throat feel less pained. According to the Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, you can even eat powdered ginger to get the effects.

Knock Down Bacteria With Licorice Root

A glass jar sitting on a mat holds licorice root.

Licorice root is another herb that can soothe sore throats. During a 2009 study, participants gargled licorice-infused water. This treatment alleviated a sore throat within only five minutes. Further research in Biomedicines found that licorice root can inhibit the growth of bacteria and help asthmatic people breathe easier.

Licorice root is also a prominent antibacterial that can prevent illness, according to WebMD. This herb has over 300 flavonoids, including vitamins A, C, and E, that can fight off the flu and colds. You can make licorice root tea the same way as any other herb, or take supplements.

How Yogurt Alleviates Cold Symptoms

Banana slices are in purple berry-flavored yogurt.
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Yogurt might not be most peoples’ first choice for a sore throat, but research indicates that it can eliminate cold symptoms. In 2013, scientists from the Iran University of Medical Sciences discovered that yogurt can soothe earaches, coughs, stuffy noses, and of course, sore throats.

How does yogurt accomplish this? It’s the probiotics, says Kristi L. King, a senior registered dietitian at the Texas Children’s Hospital. Studies suggest that probiotics can lower inflammation, healing colds more quickly and healing symptoms. Eat yogurt as a snack or make a smoothie with it.

Turmeric, The Ultimate Inflammation-Fighter

Women make a paste from powdered turmeric.

Some people drink turmeric tea or lattes to alleviate a sore throat. Turmeric “has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” says registered dietitian Kathy Siegel. “Because of these active ingredients, turmeric may help alleviate the pain and swelling of a sore throat by inhibiting inflammation.”

In the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a 2003 study confirmed that turmeric can calm inflammation. Its main ingredient, curcumin, inhibits molecules that cause inflammation. Use this to your advantage.

Try Apple Cider Vinegar For A Common Home Remedy

A person holds a bottle of apple cider vinegar.
Rajya Laxmi/Flickr
Rajya Laxmi/Flickr

Although no studies have linked apple cider vinegar to sore throats, it is still a popular home remedy. During a 2017 animal study, apple cider vinegar effectively lowered inflammation in obese rats. It can likely do the same for humans.

Norton Healthcare recommends mixing apple cider vinegar with warm water. Stir two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into one cup of warm water. If it tastes too strong, add some honey. This will clear your throat of phlegm and might make your throat feel better.

Peppermint Might Help People Swallow More Easily

Glasses are filled with mint leaves to make peppermint tea.
Massimo Adami/Unsplash
Massimo Adami/Unsplash

According to some research, peppermint can alleviate a sore throat; however, most was focused on the essential oil. For example, a 2015 study determined that peppermint oil fights against bacteria. In 2019, scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina reported that people with esophagus disorders could swallow better with peppermint oil.

Although peppermint oil can be ingested in small doses, most essential oils are not meant to be taken orally. Instead, you might want to try peppermint tea for a sore throat. It might soothe your throat and dislodge mucus.