So you’ve come down with a sore throat, and you’re probably thinking it’s strep and you need an antibiotic.
But the truth is it probably isn’t strep.
It’s true that strep (Group A Streptococcusbacteria) infections are more common during the winter. But the vast majority of sore throats are still caused by a virus.
In fact, of the 10 million Americans who are prescribed antibiotics for a sore throat each year, only about 2 million actually have a bacterial infection that can be cured with an antibiotic.
For the rest, the antibiotics are ineffective and they even could hamper your body’s ability to heal.
Start with the proper diagnosis
Bacterial throat infections typically show up suddenly and are often accompanied by a fever.
But the other typical upper respiratory symptoms such as runny nose and cough or mouth sores are absent.
Have your doctor confirm your diagnosis with tests. If left untreated, it is possible for bacterial infections to cause serious complications, especially in children or those with weak immune systems.
However, keep in mind that even with strep throat some health experts believe that antibiotics aren’t always necessary because your body can usually resolve the infection on its own within a week. Your doc might recommend rest and other healthy steps instead.
But regardless of whether you decide to take antibiotics for a bacterial infection—or your looking for some relief from a viral infections—there are a number of helpful natural remedies that can be taken alone or combined with antibiotics.
These healthy solutions help boost immunity, relieve symptoms and speed recovery.
8 natural remedies help soothe your sore throat fast
This potent antimicrobial can actively fight bacterial infections, boost immunity against viral infections and relieve symptoms.
Simmer four or five cloves of raw garlic in 8 to 12 ounces of water for five minutes to make a soothing, potent tea.
For flavor, you can also add raw honey, which has strong antibacterial and immune-boosting properties.
Echinacea root has antibacterial action against Streptococcus and other bacteria. It also boosts immunity, fights viruses and offers anti-inflammatory benefits in acute conditions.
It’s most commonly available commercially as a tea, liquid extract and herbal supplement.
3. Honokiol Extract:
Derived from magnolia bark, this potent natural extract offers powerful antibacterial and antiviral benefits. It also helps reduce inflammation and provides strong antioxidant support, among other important advantages such as protection against cancer.
Pure honokiol dosage for acute infection is 500 mg one to two times daily.
4. Tibetan Herbal Formula:
A combination of 19 herbs and botanical extracts, this ancient formula has more than 50 published clinical studies showing its powerful antibacterial, antiviral and immune-boosting properties.
It also helps reduce inflammation, boost antioxidant activity and improve circulation to help speed recovery.
5. Yin Qiao San Chinese Formula:
This traditional herbal immune formula can be found in health food stores and through Chinese herbal retailers.
The combination of Chinese herbs, including honeysuckle flower, forsythia fruit, reed rhizome and burdock seed, works to boost immunity against viruses, fight bacterial infections such as strep, soothe symptoms and support healing.
This formula works best when taken at the onset of illness. Dosages on the bottle can be doubled for acute symptoms.
Medicinal mushroom species such as reishi, cordyceps, maitake, coriolus, agaricus, umbellatus and others increase natural killer cell activity and support immunity against viruses, bacteria and other foreign invaders.
They also speed recovery by helping to strengthen areas of the body that are weak due to stress, injury or illness; improving digestion, circulation and vital energy; removing toxins; supporting healthy responses to inflammation; and increasing antioxidant activity.
For acute illness, take up to 4 grams two to four times daily.
The probiotic strain Streptococcus salivarius (also called BLIS K12) is part of the normal bacteria of the mouth and throat. When taken as a probiotic supplement, it helps to fight harmful strep bacteria and restore normal balance.
It also shows antiviral activity by increasing interferon production, a key antiviral protein that stimulates the immune system. Plus BLIS K12 has anti-inflammatory benefits and fights tooth decay. It’s available as a dietary supplement.
8. Vitamin C and zinc:
Don’t forget the traditional standbys: vitamin C and zinc.
Vitamin C helps reduce symptoms, soothes mucus membranes and boosts immunity against bacteria and viruses. I recommend 2 to 5 grams per day during acute illness.
Zinc lozenges are also very helpful. Look for a brand that’s sweetened naturally, with 10 to 15 grams of zinc per lozenge and containing other soothing herb extracts such as marshmallow root or cherry bark. These can help relieve sore throats while boosting immunity. Take every three to four hours as needed.
Sore throats can be painful and annoying, but they can also lead to more serious complications if not addressed properly.
Whatever your choice of treatment, get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and eat soothing, nutritious foods such as hot soups that are gentle on irritated tissues. You’ll be feeling better soon!
Dr. Isaac Eliaz, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980's, is a respected author, lecturer, researcher, product formulator and clinical practitioner.
Since 1991 Dr. Eliaz has maintained a busy private practice in northern California that focuses primarily on integrative, holistic protocols for cancer patients. He leads an integrative medical team at Amitabha Clinic in Sebastopol, California with focus on cancer and other chronic ailments.
To learn more, please visit www.dreliaz.org.
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