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Got a Sore Throat? Try These Natural Home Remedies

Having a hard time speaking or swallowing because of a sore throat? Try some of these TCM natural remedies to alleviate it.

A businessman holding his throat due to discomfort and pain.

We’ve all had a sore throat at some point and it’s an uncomfortable symptom which develops for many reasons. Dry air, allergies, acid reflux, a bacterial infection or tonsillitis can cause it, just to name a few.  

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), external pathogens or internal functional imbalances cause sore throats. They’re mostly related to accumulated body Heat.

A sore throat caused by external pathogens often is accompanied by symptoms such as a fever, an aversion to cold, a headache and sneezing. On the other hand, a sore throat caused by internal functional imbalances is often chronic and is associated with different symptoms, depending on its root cause.

Rather than fully relying on over-the-counter medicine, there are natural and TCM alternatives you can use to relieve your sore throat effectively without feeling drowsy. 

When easing sore throats, TCM focuses on relieving pain, clearing internal Heat and replenishing your body’s yin

Peppermint and Chrysanthemum

Peppermint tea in a cup with dried and fresh peppermint leaves on a saucer and surrounding it.
Peppermint tea is a popular drink that can soothe a sore throat and detox the body.

Tea-lovers surely have both peppermint (bo he, 薄荷) and chrysanthemum (ju hua, 菊花) in their kitchen pantry. However, you might not be aware that these two plants have been Chinese herbal remedies for centuries.

Peppermint tea is an anti-inflammatory agent and detoxifier with nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, magnesium, calcium, iron, dietary fibre, and folate. 

On the other hand, chrysanthemum is consumed to boost the immune system, clear the mind, and induce calmness. It’s rich in Vitamin A, B, and K, niacin, sodium, potassium, zinc, and amino acids.  

Together, the two plants are rich in Vitamin C, a vital element in treating colds, the flu, and a sore throat.

TCM herbal formulas

TCM practitioners will recommend classical herbal formulas such as Gan Lu Yin (甘露饮) and Yin Qiao San (银翘散) to relieve the common cold, fever, and a sore throat.

Honey

A man adding honey to his tea as a sore throat remedy
Honey has antibacterial properties to combat a sore throat.

Honey is another good alternative to soothe the discomfort that comes with a sore throat, and it tastes delicious too.

According to the Pacific College of Health and Science, the traditional Chinese use of raw, natural honey has powerful healing benefits by improving the immune system, restoring energy, and increasing stamina.

Their recommendation to alleviate a sore throat is to slice raw ginger, boil it in water, and add honey. HM Honey With Propolis can soothe your throat and is goof for general health.  

Adding a dash to your herbal tea is another option.

Cicada Slough 

When a cicada is fully grown, it emerges from its shell and leaves it behind. The shell is called the slough. While may not sound appetising, it tastes surprisingly sweet and cold. It’s used in TCM specifically for alleviating sore throats.  
 
Research published by the National Library of Medicine determined that cicada slough (chan tui, 蝉蜕,), along with other Chinese herbs like honeysuckle (shan yin hua, 山银花), Chinese skullcap (huang qin, 黄芩), and bupleurum (chai hu, 柴胡), is an effective agent for anti-inflammation in persistent sore throats. 

Additionally, a study in Phytomedicine showed that various TCM herbal preparations targeted the Lung meridian exhibited excellent relief of Lung congestion. 

Other TCM herbs to keep in mind are monk fruit (luo han guo, 罗汉果) and blackberry lily rhizome (she gan, 射干) when feeling ill. 

Do take note that it’s best to consult a board-certified TCM practitioner and inform them of any medications you’re taking or conditions you have before consuming any Chinese herbs.  

Acupuncture

An acupuncturist inserting needle to a woman’s shoulder during an acupuncture session.
Acupuncture treatment can be effective in relieving a sore throat

Popular in both Western and Asian cultures, acupuncture can relieve aches and pain associated with different conditions and diseases. You’ll need to step out of your house for this one, but the chances of you feeling better after a session are high. It not only stimulates your body’s healing abilities, but will give you a boost both physically and mentally. 

A study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that ear acupuncture reduced sore throat pain for 24 hours. It also lessened the need for medication for 48 hours, making it a great treatment option. 

Gua Sha 

Not only is gua sha a widely-known treatment in skin care, but it’s a natural remedy as well with the help of your TCM practitioner. Using a balm or massage oil, specific movements recommended by your TCM practitioner and the constant scraping of the affected areas will promote circulation to those areas and encourage healing.

While there are natural home remedies for a sore throat, you can follow these tips to keep symptoms at bay:  

  • Rest is key 
  • Maintain a healthy diet (with vegetables and fruits included) 
  • Take Vitamin C daily 

Keeping your immune system strong is important. If you feel like you’re coming down with something, try a few of these suggestions to ease a sore throat to get you back to your normal self.   

Did any of these remedies work for you? Tell us in the comments below. 

This is an adaptation of the article “Soothing a sore throat” which first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website.

References

  1. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2015. Ear Acupuncture for Acute Sore Throat: A Randomized Controlled Trial. [online] Available at: <https://www.jabfm.org/content/28/6/697> [Accessed 12 Jan 2023]
  2. National Library of Medicine. 2021. Mechanism of Yinqin Oral Liquid in the Treatment of Chronic Pharyngitis Based on Network Pharmacology. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8542895/> [Accessed 11 Jan 2023]
  3. Pacific College of Health and Science. Oriental Medicine & Prevention: Avoid Winter Sore Throats the Chinese Way. [online] Available at <https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/04/25/oriental-medicine-prevention-avoid-winter-sore-throats-the-chinese-way> [Accessed 11 Jan 2023]
  4. Phytomedicine. 2021. Traditional Chinese herbal medicine at the forefront battle against COVID-19: Clinical experience and scientific basis. [online] Available at <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0944711320301690> [Accessed 11 Jan 2023]

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