The average sore throat can be related to a common cold, the flu, a bacterial infection, allergies, environmental irritants, or acid reflux. My goal is to discuss natural treatments for these common sore throat symptoms. Most sore throats clear up naturally with simple, yet effective macrobiotic home remedies. However, there are also other more serious throat issues that may not respond to these natural remedies and practices that may require medical attention. In circumstances where the pain is too intolerable, or it worsens from these remedies, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Natural Sore Throat Remedies
First, it is important to remember that all sore throats are worsened by extremes in diets. Some examples would be the consumption of animal foods, processed meats and cheese, refined sugars, too much salt, and eating hard, dry, baked, or fried foods. On the other hand, sore throats can be helped by meals with a variety of grains, beans, vegetables, and soups. Let’s look at some specific things we can do naturally to treat a sore throat.
For people that are familiar with macrobiotic ingredients, ume-sho-kuzu is the most commonly used remedy to treat colds and sore throats. The name ume-sho-kuzu is a combination of three separate parts: umeboshi (naturally pickled plum), shoyu (naturally fermented soy sauce), and kuzu (a mountain-grown root starch from Japan). In macrobiotic practice, and oriential medicine, sore throats are considered to have stemmed from imbalances in the stomach, intestines, or lymph system.
Kuzu naturally strengthens and activates the digestive system, lymph system, and kidneys to help them to neutralize and eliminate any irritants or infections and promote healing.
Shoyu also strengthens digestion, alkalizes the blood, and helps counter bacterial infections. It preserves food quality and nutrition when used sparingly in cooking as well.
Umeboshi plums are a natural antibiotic that are very effective against any bacterial infection. They are also one of the most alkalizing foods that help to strengthen the blood and digestive quality. Infections do not thrive in an alkaline environment. It is the interaction of all three of these ingredients that helps to create a unique, strengthening and alkalizing remedy to promote healing.
A saltwater gargle is exactly what it sounds like: water with salt that can be gargled a few times per day. The saltwater can lessen the irritation and eliminate mucus in the throat and sinuses to promote healing. When making this remedy, it is important to use high quality sea salt. The ratio of ingredients should be about ¼-½ teaspoon of salt to one cup of warm water. Each gargle should last for 15-30 seconds and should be repeated several times. It is important to spit out the saltwater as well after gargling it.
Common Herbal Teas
Many teas are anti-inflammatory and traditionally have been used to help sore throats. Sipping warm bancha, green, black, or oolong tea can be very helpful to soothe the throat. Licorice, ginger, peppermint, and other herbal teas are also helpful.
Some people have found that mildly sweetening their tea with honey or brown rice syrup (preferred in macrobiotic practice) makes it more soothing. If you add too much sweetener, it can counteract the soothing effect.
An Extra Remedy That’s Not So Well-known
If you still want additional soothing and you have laryngitis, a warm compress can actually provide significant relief as an external remedy. You take a cotton dish towel, pour on some honey brandy, and apply it directly to the outside of your throat. Although this compress doesn’t require any heat, you are certain to feel heat that comes from the alcohol in the honey brandy. Leave that on the skin for a couple of minutes and repeat a few times until you experience some relief. It’s not necessary to drink the brandy!