Sore throats can be the worst. It starts with that scratchy irritation, and before you know it you’re cringing with every painful swallow. (Insert frowny-face emoji here.) They can come from viral infections, bacterial infections, allergies, and even muscle strains. So unless you’re a superhero, there’s a good chance you’ve had one before.
But you don’t need a cape—or even OTC medicine—to get some relief. Try these science-backed strategies—including dessert!—to feel better fast without leaving the house (OK you might need to make a quick trip to the grocery store)
Think of sage as a super multitasker: It’s been used as an herbal remedy for many ailments (even infertility in ancient Egypt). And while we’re not sure it’ll help in the baby-making department, it can soothe that nasty sore throat thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Try using it as a tea; the warm liquids will help too (win-win!).
2. Licorice Root
While Twizzlers and Red Vines may not keep the pain away, the root of the licorice shrub has been known to alleviate pain and even treat health issues like heartburn, cough, and infections caused by viruses. There are a ton of recipes for licorice root tea worth sipping on, and it’s been proven effective. One study even found that it soothed the throats of patients after surgery if they gargled with it before going under .
This sore throat remedy has been in rotation since ancient times and with good reason. Adding bee’s honey to warm water or tea is considered a steadfast treatment for a sore throat. Even better, you probably already have a jar kicking around in your kitchen. So dig out that squeezy bear bottle and add a dollop to your mug, as science supports the use of this throat coat .
There’s a reason echinacea is all over the pharmacy in multiple forms, including extracts, tinctures, tablets, capsules, and ointments: A variety of studies have shown it boosts the immune system and relieves inflammation. Herbalists recommend echinacea to shorten the duration of the common cold, including easing symptoms like cough, fever, and, you guessed it—sore throats.
5. Marshmallow Root
While not exactly a prescription for s’mores—we wish!—the mucilage in marshmallow root has been a proven remedy for sore throats. In fact, it’s been soothing sore throats for thousands of years. There are few studies conducted on marshmallow root’s effect on humans, but years of history and traditional medicine say it’s worth trying this remedy, according to the Mayo Clinic. And in addition to being a sore throat champ and in our favorite campfire food, the herb has been reported to help everything from asthma to skin inflammation. Kumbaya, indeed!
6. Slippery Elm
The bark of the elm tree has been used as an herbal medicine in North American culture for hundreds of years. It’s especially helpful when it comes to soothing the throat because it also contains mucilage, a substance that becomes gel-like when mixed with water. You probably won’t have slippery elm lying around the house, but it’s worth hitting a health or convenience store to keep a supply handy when a scratchy throat persists.
Liz Lemon knew the virtue of a humidifier, and experts agree: It helps add moisture to the air, which can soothe a swollen nose and throat tissue that often accompanies a cold. No humidifier nearby? Close the bathroom door and take a long steam shower—make sure you breathe in deeply.