As I watch another wave of Winter sickness hit people around me, I am reminded of a favorite natural remedy that helps fight a sore throat. It almost seems too easy and simple to actually work, but it can make a big difference. If you catch a sore throat at the very first signs of coming on, you can significantly reduce or even prevent further progression. If you don’t catch it early enough, you can still be benefitted by this treatment.
So, what is this fantastic remedy? Salt.
I want to mention a couple of other options before explaining the salt remedy. Years ago, at the first signs of a scratchy or sore throat, I would take a couple of zinc and Echinacea supplements, and maybe a few vitamin C. Those seemed to help reduce the effect and prevent a full-blown sore throat. Of course lots of water is a good help in fighting sickness too.
Before I was married I had a nurse roommate. One time she suggested a saltwater gargle for an ear infection, which followed the logic that the germs don’t like the salt environment and wouldn’t continue their infection down the ear passages into the throat. I tried it and quickly realized the benefits. I do believe that logic is true, but I am not a scientist and don’t make any scientific claims. My personal experience using salt water, and some verification from family members who have also tried it is enough testimony for me to continue the remedy.
I normally choose a time when I won’t be eating or drinking for at least a half hour. I want to give the salt time to do it’s work on the germs.
Salt Water Gargle
1 cup water
½ teaspoon non-iodized salt (sea salt optional)
1. It seems best to me to boil the water first to kill any existing bacteria, since you will be putting that water into the sensitive areas of your throat and lower nose. After all, you are trying to prevent germs and infections. But if I don’t have a lot of time I just use warm water from the tap, or warm up some filtered water.
If you boil the water: bring it to a boil for a couple of minutes, then allow it to cool enough to not burn your mouth and throat. It just needs to be a little warm to help dissolve the salt and soothe your throat.
2. Add salt and stir until completely dissolved. I once read something about not putting iodized salt in salt water treatments. It was for the neti pot (nasal treatment) I believe. Neti pot salt is non-iodized, so I recommend using non-iodized for a gargle. You can buy non-iodized salt at some grocery stores.
The amount of salt is not critical. I usually don’t measure it exactly. I just go by taste. The salt water needs to taste definitely salty when you put a drop on your tongue.
3. Take a mouthful of salt water at a time and gargle for 5-10 seconds. Spit. Repeat until the water is gone. Repeat the treatment according to your needs. I usually do it 2-3 times a day at the beginning of the symptoms until I feel that the germs are under control.
1. Salt water will feel soothing if you already have a sore throat. It is not long lasting relief, but it should help to prevent worsening of symptoms.
2. It is a good preventative treatment. When a family member gets a sore throat, I also do this treatment a few times to help prevent getting it too.
3. It is a very non-toxic, natural help, even for children. You can do it as often or as little as you need. But don’t swallow the salt water.
4. It is a very inexpensive treatment.
5. It is really simple.