Strep throat is an infective condition characterized by inflammation, pain and soreness in the throat due to the Group A Streptococcus bacteria. However, Strep throat accounts only for a small percentage of the sore throat cases. Though the condition can affect the people of all age groups, it is more common in the children between the ages of 5 and 15. This infection is highly contagious and can spread from one person to another easily through sneezing and coughing.
The common symptoms of strep throat include sore throat, congestion of the throat with white patches, fever, difficulty in swallowing, headache, loss of appetite, swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, and difficulty in swallowing. The symptoms of strep throat usually develop within four to five days of the exposure to the organism. When left untreated, patients may develop complications including inflammation of the kidney, inflamed joints, and rheumatic fever.
Natural Home Remedies for Strep Throat
Here are some home remedies that can provide relief from these symptoms, prevent the complications, and help to get rid of the infection:
Salt Water Gargle
Salt-water gargle is the best remedy to get instant relief from the strep throat symptoms. Gargling with warm salt water several times a day can reduce the swelling in the throat and loosen the mucus, thus helping to flush out the irritants and bacteria. The warmth of the water creates an unfavorable environment for the bacteria to survive. It can also cause dilation of the blood vessels resulting in an increased flow of blood and infection-fighting cells into the affected site thereby enhancing the ability of the immune system to get rid of the infection.
Salt acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and reduces pain, swelling and congestion in the throat. The hygroscopic nature of salt further helps to reduce swelling by pulling water. It also shrinks the swollen cells and eases the pain. Salt water gargling can provide relief from the congestion in the throat.
How to use
- Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water. Warm the water is sufficient to provide warmth to the throat without causing discomfort or scalds.
- Gargle with the water as many times as possible every day until the symptoms subside completely.
- Remember to spit out the water after gargling, instead of swallowing.
If the taste of salt is unpleasant for you, you may add a half teaspoon of honey to sweeten it. The honey will provide an added advantage with its soothing action and offer relief from the sore throat.
Steam with Hot Water
If you are not comfortable with taking salt-water gargles, you can also take a steam with hot water. The steam can ease the symptoms of strep throat, particularly when there is intense irritation due to the dryness. It shortens the duration of the illness and makes it easier to breathe by reducing congestion. You may add a few drops of Eucalyptus oil to the water for better effects. Eucalyptus oil can soothe the throat and dilate the blood vessels. It also provides relief from redness, pain, and swelling.
Alcohol with honey
Though alcohol is extremely harmful for the health of a person, it does provide a few benefits when used in very small quantities and in the right way. A combination of whiskey and honey can be highly soothing for the throat, particularly when the symptoms are accompanied by fever and cold. It can be coupled with lemon for better results. The honey possesses antibacterial properties that help to clear up the infection. Lemon too is soothing for the throat, while alcohol helps by inducing sleep. Most people with strep throat are unable to get sound sleep due to the constant irritation and pain. Lack of sleep also affects the repair processes of the body and delays the recovery. It also makes the person feel weaker and un-refreshed thus increasing the discomfort. Alcohol can help in preventing this by allowing the person to sleep well.
How to use
- Pour about 60 ml of bourbon or whiskey into a large mug.
- Then, add to it one or two teaspoonfuls of honey, and mix well.
- Then, pour about 120 ml of hot water into the mug.
- Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon into this mixture and stir well.
- Keep the mug in the microwave until it becomes hot enough to provide warmth to the throat. Make sure it does not reach the boiling point. Keeping it in the microwave for about a minute is usually enough to attain the desired temperature.
- Then, sip this liquid slowly and feel the warmth in the throat. You can drink this liquid two to three times a day.
Since alcohol can make you feel sleepy and affect your mental acuity, it is advisable not to use this remedy during working hours when a high level of alertness is needed.
It should be noted that the use of alcohol is optional. You may skip it and add just the remaining ingredients in the same way, especially when it is meant for children or when you are not comfortable with using alcohol.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is a perfect home remedy for most respiratory disorders. It possesses strong medicinal properties that help in managing infections and other conditions affecting the throat and other parts of the respiratory tract. It creates a high level of acidity in the throat, which ensures elimination of the germs. When mixed with honey, apple cider vinegar can soothe the throat and provide relief from pain and irritation.
How to use
- Mix one tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, and one tablespoon of honey in one cup of warm water. Drink it with small sips while it is still warm.
- In case, you do not like the strong taste of apple cider vinegar; you can use it for gargling. Just mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of honey in half a cup of warm water. Use this to gargle as many times as possible.
Garlic is one of the most effective herbs that has been used for the prevention and treatment of several disorders since centuries. It possesses strong antibacterial and antiviral properties. Hence, it can be effective in treating not just strep throat but also the sore throat caused by viral infections. Garlic also contains a compound called allicin, which directly attacks the bacteria and destroys them. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and reduces swelling, pain, and redness in the throat. It possesses decongestive properties, which help to reduce congestion in the throat.
How to use
- Take one clove of garlic and cut it into 2 vertical halves.
- Place each piece of garlic in both the cheeks, and suck on them just like a cough drop.
- You may crush your teeth against the garlic pieces once in a while to allow the allicin to release. However, avoid biting on it. Keep it in the mouth for about 10 minutes.
- You can use this remedy once a day till the infection subsides.
- Since garlic has a very strong odor, it can leave bad breath. Hence, make sure to eat peppermint or any mouth freshener to avoid being repulsive to others due to the odor.
- The pungent nature of garlic can cause irritation in the mouth. Remove the garlic pieces if you find the irritation to be unbearable. Also, avoid keeping it in the mouth for longer than 10 minutes as it may damage the delicate mucosa of the oral cavity and result in ulceration.
Marshmallow Root possesses medicinal properties that can help in the treatment of strep throat. It acts as a soothing agent and reduces pain and redness in the throat. It also contains mucilage that creates a coating on the mucus membranes of the throat thus relieving irritation and pain. It also helps to reduce swelling in the throat. It produces a mild antibacterial action, which can help in the elimination of bacteria.
How to use
- Add one tablespoon of dried Marshmallow root to one cup of water and boil this mixture.
- Keep it covered and allow steeping for at least 30 minutes. Then, strain the mixture and drink it.
People suffering from diabetes should avoid using Marshmallow Root, as it can lower the blood sugar level. This may add to the blood sugar lowering effect of the oral antidiabetic drugs and insulin the patient may be using resulting in severe hypoglycemia.
Cayenne has soothing properties, which can help in reducing pain and irritation in the throat. Drinking warm water with cayenne or any other hot pepper can reduce inflammation in the throat. Cayenne has a chemical compound known as capsaicin, which acts as a pain reliever, just like aspirin or the other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, it is safer than the NSAIDs as it does not cause any side effects. It works by inhibiting the prostaglandins that transmit the pain signals to the brain thus reducing the discomfort associated with strep throat.
How to use
- Add half a teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper to one cup of water and boil it.
- Add two to three tablespoonfuls of honey.
- Let the mixture cool down to a temperature that is not too hot to drink.
- Take sips of this mixture throughout the day as many times as needed to obtain relief from the pain.
- Make sure to stir it each time before consuming, as Cayenne has a tendency to settle.
- You may reduce the amount of pepper added to this drink if you are sensitive to spices.
This home remedy helps to provide temporary relief from the throat pain caused by streptococcal infection. However, it may not be effective in eliminating the bacteria. Hence, it is advisable to use this remedy only to obtain quick relief from the symptoms and couple it with other remedies to control the infection.
Licorice Root Tea
Licorice Root (Mulethi) contains potent antibacterial properties and works by destroying the bacteria responsible for the infection. It is effective in the management of a wide range of infective organisms including streptococci. It can also be used to treat sore throat caused by viral infections. It possesses strong antiviral properties that help in tackling these infections. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and thus, reduces pain, swelling, and irritation in the throat. It soothes the mucus membranes and eases breathing and swallowing.
How to use
- Take one cup of finely chopped dry licorice root and add to it half a cup of cinnamon chips and two tablespoonfuls of whole cloves.
- Mix these ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle half a cup of chamomile flowers on it.
- This mixture can be used to make licorice root tea as and when needed.
- Store this mixture in a glass jar and place it away from heat and light.
How to Make Licorice Tea
- To prepare the tea, add 3 tablespoons of this tea mix in two and a half cups of water in a tea pan.
- Bring it to boil and then, allow it to brew for at least 10 minutes over low to medium flame.
- This allows the beneficial compounds in licorice root and other ingredients to seep into the water.
- Simmer it for 10 minutes or till the quantity is reduced to half. Strain the liquid and drink it in small sips.
Baking Soda Tea
Baking soda tea is an easy-to-prepare, effective home remedy for streptococcal sore throats. It produces a strong antibacterial action and destroys the bacteria. Baking soda is slightly alkaline in nature. This helps to soothe the irritated mucus membranes of the throat. It also tackles the swollen tissues in the throat and reduces congestion.
How to use
- Heat 1 cup of water until it becomes warm, and not too hot to drink.
- Add to it half a teaspoon each of baking soda and salt. Stir it well.
- Take a sip of this liquid and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds by tilting your head up so that the warm liquid comes in contact with the swollen tissues of the throat.
- Then, gargle with it. Do this two to three times a day for best results.
Honeysuckle is an effective herbal medicine used for centuries in the traditional Chinese medicine. It is blessed with strong medicinal properties that help in reducing the symptoms of strep throat. It can also reduce cough, and difficulty in swallowing caused due to strep throat. Its bacteria-fighting properties are effective against a wide range of organisms. It is also a strong antioxidant and helps to protect the throat and other tissues in the body against any form of damage thereby strengthening the natural defense mechanisms of the body to overcome the infection. It also flushes out the toxins from the bloodstream, and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent thus reducing pain, congestion, and swelling in the throat.
How to use
- Take two cups of fresh Honeysuckle flowers and leaves and simmer them in 2 cups of boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
- Allow it to brew till the quantity is reduced to half. Close it and let it stay for a few minutes to allow the ingredients in the Honeysuckle flowers and leaves to seep into the liquid.
- Then, strain the liquid and drink it as and when needed.
You may add one teaspoon of honey or lemon juice for an added flavor. These ingredients also enhance the medicinal powers of Honeysuckle and provide better results.
Cloves contain substances that help to ease pain. It blocks the action of prostaglandins and thus, reduces the transmission of pain signals to the brain. The pain-relieving action of clove is so strong that it actually anesthetizes the area. Its pain-relieving action can be attributed to a substance called eugenol. Eugenol is a natural painkiller, which is released when the cloves are slowly chewed. It numbs the pain in the throat and reduces difficulty in swallowing and breathing. Eugenol also acts as an antibacterial agent and helps to clear the infection.
How to use
Clove is the most readily available home remedy for strep throat, as you just need to pop one or two in the mouth and suck on them until they become soft. Though swallowing the cloves does not cause any harm, it is advisable to avoid doing so as it may cause mild irritation of the stomach mucosa.
The use of cloves is not recommended for the people who suffer from severe gastric disturbances. It can increase the irritation of the stomach and may aggravate peptic ulcers.
Not all strep throats need treatment with antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics has contributed to the emergence of resistant strains of bacteria. Given the fact that there is a substantial rise in the cases of bacterial resistance, it is advisable to limit the use of antibiotics only to the severe cases. The home remedies given above are highly effective in managing strep throat. They can help in clearing the infection while also providing relief from the disturbing symptoms.