While antibiotics remain the proper medical treatment for bacterial throat infections, some natural remedies can provide temporary symptom relief when used under the guidance of a healthcare provider. However, it's important to note that while they might provide symptomatic relief, they are not cures for bacterial infections:
Gargling with warm salt water can temporarily relieve pain and reduce inflammation associated with sore throats. Dissolve 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of table salt or sea salt in an 8-ounce glass of clean, warm water (that equals 236 ml or simply one cup of water). Gargle the solution for 30-60 seconds, allowing it to reach the back of the throat, then spit it out. Repeat gargling every 2-3 hours as needed for pain relief. The salt concentration should be mild, similar to tears, as too much salt can irritate the throat.
Cough drops and throat lozenges containing numbing ingredients like phenol, menthol, or benzocaine can provide several hours of soothing, numb relief for throat pain when used as directed. Menthol also offers a cooling sensation. Look for lozenges formulated specifically for temporary throat pain relief and avoid excessive consumption.
Icing the throat with ice chips, popsicles, or cold drinks provides a numbing effect to reduce swelling and soreness. Additionally, specialised throat sprays applied to the back of the throat offer a cooling sensation, while gargling with very cold water can have a similar temporary soothing result. Apply cold remedies as needed for inflammation relief.
Warm teas containing ingredients like honey, lemon, liquorice root, marshmallow root, slippery elm, and others may temporarily help coat the throat and reduce painful swelling and inflammation. Honey and lemon provide extra antibacterial effects. Liquorice and marshmallow roots have special substances that form a soothing coating to help calm irritated tissues in the throat.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Diluting apple cider vinegar with warm water and gargling can help kill bacteria and temporarily reduce throat pain for some. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into 8 ounces warm water and gargle for 30-60 seconds before spitting out. Rinse with plain water afterwards. Do not swallow the vinegar.
Turmeric contains the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin. Mix 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder into warm milk and drink once or twice daily to reduce swelling and discomfort. Be careful with staining. Those with dairy allergies can make turmeric tea instead.
Cloves have pain-relieving and antibacterial properties. Place 1 whole clove in the mouth, gently biting to release oils, allowing it to sit near the sore throat area. Take care not to swallow. Repeat with new cloves as needed for numbing relief.
Sore throat - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Sore throat (pharyngitis) - symptoms, treatments and causes | healthdirect