Had it with medicine-flavored lozenges? Thanks to these natural sore throat remedies, you can ditch them for good. Take a look at one pro's list in order of effectiveness (from most effective, down).
Gargling Salt Water
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This might just be the best natural sore throat remedy because you definitely already have all everything you need. "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.)
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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. For an easy natural sore throat remedy, Elliot recommends putting a spoonful into warm water for a sweet tea.
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"Ginger helps loosen and expel mucus from the respiratory system and boosts your immune system," says Elliot. Chew on it raw or slice it into hot water for an invigorating, sore-throat-eliminating drink. (Great news: Ginger has a bunch of other health benefits too.)
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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. Get these benefits and naturally soothe your sore throat by with echinacea tea found at the grocery store, says Elliot. (Here are other steps to take to get rid of a cold fast.)
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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 for a natural sore-throat remedy. (And, sorry, Twizzlers don't count.)
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There are other ways to help break up the mucus in the throat besides direct consumption. This may be the most surprising natural sore throat remedy: 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." (Just make sure you're drinking plenty of water, so the steam room doesn't leave you dehydrated too.)
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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 as a natural sore throat remedy and way to clear out your nasal passages. "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.