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Natural Sore Throat Remedies That Aren't Drops

Gargling Salt Water

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"The salt has enough grit to wash your pharynx and vocal chords of bacteria and allergens that can cause a sore throat," says Tania Elliot, M.D. medical director at Doctor On Demand, a service that allows you to see a doctor via phone. Dump half a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and gargle. When you spit, you're also getting rid of bacteria and allergens in the saliva that aggravate your immune system. (Check out The Latest in the Salt Controversy.) 

Honey

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One study found that consuming honey 30 minutes before bed mitigated coughing and throat pain in children. Honey coats the vocal chords, which helps soothe the throat when it's inflamed. Elliot recommends putting a spoonfull into warm water for a sweet tea.

Fresh Ginger

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"Ginger helps loosen and expel mucous from the respiratory system and boosts your immune system," says Elliot. Chew on it raw or slice it into hot water for an invigorating drink.

Echinacea

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Researchers at the University of Connecticut completed an analysis of four clinical trials and found that echinacea reduced the odds of developing a cold by 58 percent and the duration of a cold by as much as four days. The easiest way to get the throat-soothing benefits is with echinacea tea found at the grocery store, says Elliot.

Licorice Root

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Elliot recommends licorice because it has numbing potential that can help with pain sensitivity. Plus, "acid reflux can bring stomach acid into the esophagus and cause a sore throat, so consuming anything that can settle those stomach juices can help minimize pain," she says. Try licorice root in tea. (Sorry, Twizzlers don't count.)

Related: The Truth About Detox Teas

Steam Room

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There are other ways to help break up the mucous in the throat besides direct consumption. Elliot recommends going into a steam room or to make your own. "Put a pot of water and fresh ginger on your radiator," she says. "It'll heat it up and become airborne, kind of like a steam treatment in your room."

Nasal Irrigation

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Why drain your nose when it's your throat that hurts? Because your nasal and oral passages are connected. Elliot is a fan of the neti pot. "It's the equivalent of washing your hands," she says. "You're rinsing off the bacteria that's sitting in the back of your throat and causing post-nasal drainage." She stresses using twice a day with distilled water to make sure you're not introducing new bacteria into your nose.

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