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Herbs for Sore Throats

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Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
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Herbs for Sore Throats

From Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People:

At first glance, you may not consider a sore throat an emergency or first aid type of condition.  However, a sore throat can be deadly.  Whether viral or bacterial, or even caused by severe allergies, if a sore throat is ignored and allowed to go on too long, the tissue can become "boggy".  That means the inflammation has been in place long enough that the tissue is swollen, filled with fluid and has lost its elasticity.  This condition is often evidenced by a purple tinge to the tissue.  When this happens, a simple sore throat can quickly become a condition that cuts off one's ability to breathe.  Infection in the throat can become an emergency even more quickly.

There are two priorities in treating a sore throat, preventing infection and reducing inflammation.  In treating the throat using such herbs, the pain and discomfort will also be addressed.  What is not a good idea is the very thing promoted by many Over The Counter (OTC), officially approved remedies, simply numbing the throat for the sake of comfort.

The primary home remedy that my mother and grandmother always recommended was gargling with hot salted water.  This simple remedy was often quite effective.  The strong salt solution was both anti-bacterial and astringent.  It was just hot water, in which as much salt had been stirred in until no more would dissolve, then cooled enough to be tolerable.  Iodized table salt has an additional antiseptic component.  This is especially effective early on, at the first sign of the sore throat.

The primary herbs I use for sore throat begin with the trees, especially Pine and Oak.  And that, is exactly where Fr. Kneipp began in his classic work, "My Water Cure:

Young bark of oak, boiled for about half an hour, gives a sanative decoction. A small towel is dipped into it and tied as a bandage round the neck; such bandages give great help to people afflicted with thick throats, and even with a wen on the throat, if it has not yet grown too large and firm, this decoction operates as a most effective and harmless remedy. Complaints of the glands are removed just as thoroughly by these bandages.

Fr. Kniepp is referring to the use of the bark decoction as a poultice or wash.  It is even more effective as a gargle, being astringent and antiseptic.

Fr. Kniepp recommended several other herbs for sore throat:

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)

On the inside it works as a cooling remedy in fever. In throat complaints with great heat in the throat, the tea affords a good gargle. A teaspoonful of the powder is sufficient for a middle-sized cup of tea, which is either drunk or used as gargle during the day (every hour or oftener, one tablespoonful.)

Mallow (Althea) is very soothing to the throat, as it is for most any condition.

Mallow -blossoms, especially those of the black mallow prepared as tea, cure throat infirmities, and loosen the phlegm on the chest. These blossoms are generally mixed with those of the mullein.

Mullein (Verbascum densiflorum)

The blossoms of the mullein, or wool-flower are carefully gathered by country people. They know that they are very effective in wintertime as a gargle, and produce a still more effective tea for complaints of the throat, catarrhs, phlegm on the chest, and for difficult breathing.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage-tea will remove phlegm from the palate, throat, or stomach.

Violet (Viola)

For a swollen throat this tea is a tested gargle; at the same time the throat bandage may be applied, dipped in the decoction instead of pure water.

Those who suffer from difficulty in breathing, which, however, is more the result of gathered gases and morbid matters in the stomach and bowels, should undertake a little course of violet-tea, i.e. they should drink daily for some time two larger or smaller cups of this tea.

Father Künzle recommended several herbs for sore throat, including Crane's Bill and other Geraniums that we discussed previously.

Goldenrod (Solidago virga aurea)

You will find this perennial, often a meter-high plant, with yellow flowers in deforested places, berry places, along roadsides. It rightly deserves the name goldenrod.  Internally one uses the tea for croup, sore throat, bladder ailments, light diarrhea, sleeplessness, but for the internal use one should always add the same amount of juniper berries or common centaury; take half a cup three to five times a day. The soaked dry herb is also used as poultices for the same diseases externally.

Chickweed (Stellaria Media)

Externally, the crushed herb is applied as poultice for pneumonia, liver inflammation, throat swelling, inflamed feet, rectum, etc

Other herbs mentioned by Father Künzle that are useful for sore throat include Pimpinella root, Saint Benedict's Herb/Wood Avens, Plantain, Ground Elder, Poplar and Linden.

Maria Treben recommended:

Agrimony (Agrimonia odorata) - Agrimony has great healing properties for inflammation of the throat and mouth. Remember this in cases of tonsillitis, throat disorders, thrush or inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth. Gargling with this tea clears the voice for singers and public speakers.

Mallow (Althaea officinalis) - Our good Mallow not only takes away inflammation of the larynx, but also malignant larynx disorders. In such cases, use 21/z litres as the daily ration steeped overnight (one heaped teaspoon of herbs per ¼ litre). In the morning, warm slightly and the prescribed quantity is kept in a thermos flask, rinsed with hot water. Throughout the day, 4 cups are sipped; the rest is used for gargling. For dryness in the mouth, throat and nose, which often makes the patients very nervous, Mallow tea is used frequently as a gargle and rinse throughout the day.

Walnut (Juglans) - Baths and washings enriched with this decoction are used for acne, festering eczema, sweaty feet and leucorrhoea ("whites"). As a mouthwash it is used for steatites, inflamed gums, throat and larynx.

Swedish Bitters, of course! If the throat is hotter inflamed, so that food is only swallowed with difficulty, these drops were swallowed slowly, morning, noon and evening they take away the heat and heal the throat.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) - Sage tea is used for ulcerated throat and mouth, inflammation of the tooth pulp, tonsillitis and throat disorders. Many children and grown-ups could have saved themselves a tonsillectomy had they taken Sage tea in time. When the tonsils, which are the policemen of the body for toxic substances, are missing, the toxic substances go directly to the kidneys. A decoction of Sage is a useful gargle for loose and bleeding teeth and ulcerated or receding gums. A small piece of cotton saturated with Sage tea can be applied.

Bedstraw - (Galium)- Gargle with Bedstraw Tea several times a day,

Many other herbs have been found to be useful for sore throats.

False Lily of The Valley (Canada Mayflower) - Note: DO NOT CONFUSE with Lily of the Valley or Canada Moonseed, which are both poisonous if misused.  Native Americans used a tea of False Lily of The Valley as a gargle for sore throats.

Toothwort (Dentaria diphylla) root tea used as gargle for sore throat.

Common Strawberry, Indian Strawberry, etc... Strawberries in general  Astringent leaves used as tea for sore throat.

Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica) leaf tea gargled for sore throat

Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) root tea gargled for sore throat.

Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii) Native Americans chewed the root or used a root tea as gargle for sore throat.

Mint (Mentha) - most all the mints, especially if not grown in the garden; wild mints tend to have stronger properties. Mint is antiseptic and also soothing to a sore throat.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza) has long folk use for coughs and sore throats.  It is very good for the lungs, throat and kidneys, but should be used with caution by those who have high blood pressure.  Although a mild herb, it strengthens the ability of the kidney which may lead to fluid retention.

Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) is an astringent herb that is also slightly sedative.  It can be good, used as a tea, for sore throat, as an expectorant and for calming coughs.

Sweet Everlasting or "Rabbit Tobacco" (Gnaphalium obtusifolium) has a long folk use for asthma and as an alternative or addition to tobacco, smoked.  It may also be chewed or used in tea for sore throat.  It is mildly sedative, antispasmodic, astringent, soothing, expectorant and may have some antiviral properties.

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis) folk use for sore throat, likely because of the astringent properties associated with the sourness. The fresh plant is simply chewed, and the juice swallowed.

Cinquefoil (potentilla) tea is astringent.

Frostweed (Helianthemum canadensis) strong tea used for sore throat, swollen glands and throat infection

Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata) Native Americans used root tea for sore throat

Wild Oats (Uvularia sessilifolia) Root tea folk use for sore throat.

Golden Corydalis (Corydalis aurea) although toxic in even moderate doses, has been used for sore throat and is used for many conditions in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Echincea of course!  Echinacea is good for most anything that requires and immune response and also helps with inflammation.

Common Polypody Fern has folk use for sore throat.

Venus Maidenhair Fern also has folk use for sore throat.

Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis) leaf tea, gargled, has been used for both sore throat and tonsilitis

Alumroot (Huehera americana) is very astringent and has been used as a gargle for sore throat.

Ditch Stonecrop (Penthorum sedoides) plant tincture used for tonsilitis.

Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum) Berry teas used for sore throat and tonsilitis.

The above article is an excerpt from my new book Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People

You can read about and purchase Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People here: southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/10/herbal-medicine-for-preppers.html

Also available on Amazon: Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People: Carroll, Judson: 9798491252923: Amazon.com: Books


The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
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I found this in our zero replies though it is such good information that I wanted to share a way to use these herbs for sore throats.

Wellness mama suggests making these lozenges with slippery elm, coltsfoot, cinnamon, elderberry, and chamomile

Judson, Which of the herbs you mention would be good to use in the lozenges?

I am guessing any of the ones used for making tea though what combination would be good?


Judson Carroll
author & pollinator
Posts: 1120
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead
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I think Licorice, Mallow, Violet and Mint would be a nice combo!
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