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How to soothe a sore throat or dry, irritating cough, naturally.


With all this cold, wet weather there are a lot of viruses going round, many accompanied with sore throats and coughs. So let's take a closer look at how we can work with, not against our bodies to heal faster, naturally.

Picking herbs from the garden

How to treat a sore throat naturally

When caused by an infection a sore throat can feel swollen and painful to swallow. In this case we want to decrease the swelling, numb the pain and stop the infection from worsening. To decrease swelling, we use 'astringent' herbs. These herbs work to tighten and tone the mucosal membranes of the throat, keeping the swelling in check and reducing the pain. Tightening the mucosal membranes also helps to prevent further infection.  

Sage is my go-to herb for all the above, and the best thing is you can easily grow it yourself. You can simply chop it up and add it to hot water to sip as a tea. 

Rosemary is also wonderful at reducing the swelling and pain of a sore throat. Sage and Rosemary are also antimicrobial - which simply means they have broad spectrum abilities to fight off different pathogens whether that’s bacterial, viral or fungal

Thyme is usually only thought of as a culinary herb but like Rosemary and Sage, it too is antimicrobial and helps to soothe a sore throat. What's more, it's brilliant for congestion and bronchial complaints. You can enjoy it chopped up and added to hot water for a tea, or infuse it in honey. You can also use it in a facial steam to clear blocked airways. 

There are many other herbs I could list here, but these three really do the job well and the best thing is they are easy to grow in your garden. These herbs can be chopped up and added to hot water for a simple but effective tea. You only need about 3-6 grams of herbs per cup and you can simply infuse them for a few minutes then sip and enjoy. 

Making herbal tea

Ginger, honey and lemon are also great at providing pain relief and work beautifully together as a tea.

Honey is not to be underestimated for its healing potential. It's antimicrobial, great at soothing a sore throat and also helps ease a cough too. Make sure to get a raw, organic honey, locally if possible. Commercial (grocery store) honey has usually undergone heating which gets rid of the really beneficial enzymes. (Also remember not to give raw honey to children under 2 years old). 

Ginger is a potent antimicrobial and has many helpful applications for colds and the flu. Ginger’s volatile oils stimulate the immune system to fight both bacterial and viral infections. It’s wonderful for upper respiratory infections. Ginger (especially dried ginger) is very warming, so this is a great spice to use if you’re experiencing coldness or the shivers.

Lemons are packed with vitamin C which can help to boost the immune system and give it more power to fight off your infection. I have a great recipe for you which is both wonderful at soothing a sore throat and fighting off an infection (link at the bottom of this post). What's more, it tastes delicious!

Scratchy throats and dry coughs: how to treat them naturally.

For a scratchy throat and dry cough (irritation but no mucus present) we use 'demulcent' herbs which help by soothing irritated mucus membranes.  

Marshmallow, Mullein and Licorice Root will all help to moisten your throat and ease irritation and coughing, providing you with some extra relief. They can be taken as a cold infusion which is particularly soothing if your throat feels hot, or as a warm tea. 

Mullein and Echinacea are helpful at relieving congestion and swelling of the lymph glands - another common symptom when you have a sore throat.  

Marshmallow, Mullein, Echinacea, Licorice Root and Sage can all be found in Throat + Cough Tea. I created this herbal blend during one of my own periods of relentless coughing and throat irritation and it was wonderfully soothing. It also contains Echinacea which helps to ease pain, reduce  and prevent further infection.

The combination of Sage and Licorice Root is quite delicious and has since become my family's favourite tea during these past few weeks of cold weather. Here's is the link if you would like some more information or if you would like to purchase some for yourself. 

Just a word of caution, sore throats should only ever last a few days, so if your sore throat lasts longer than a week you need to seek medical assistance. 

 Throat & Cough Tea

Dry, Spasmodic coughs

Usually in herbal medicine we promote the idea of supporting our immune system so that it can fulfil its purpose, not quell symptoms. However when a symptom like a spasmodic cough stops us from receiving adequate rest and sleep, it's time to take a different approach! 

Coughing can be pretty tough and painful on our bodies, so rest is critical for recovery. Valerian Root is wonderful at relaxing tense muscles and quelling the coughing reflex. It is also a great sedative, so this is my 'go-to' herb for times where a cough just won't let up! You will find Valerian Root in my Blissful Slumber tea. This tea helps to ease muscle cramps and spasms (helpful when you've been coughing all day), it contains Licorice Root which will soothe and coat your throat (easing irritation), and help you get to sleep. Like Throat + Cough tea, it's slightly sweetened by Licorice Root and tastes delicious. Both teas offer support and relief during times of illness.

Valerian Root can also be taken as a tincture. Consult with your local herbalist or health food shop to find out more. Note, Valerian Root can have the opposite effect for a small percentage of people. Most find it calming and soothing, however some can feel wired. 


The information above is a general guide and not to be taken as personal advice. If you have any health concerns, always seek the advice of a general practitioner before consuming herbal medicine.  


Recipe download: Lemon & Ginger tea with a twist