It’s been used for thousands of years in Asian medicine to treat stomachaches, diarrhea, and nausea, and studies show that it works for nausea and vomiting. There’s some evidence that it might help with menstrual cramps, too. But it’s not necessarily good for everyone. Some people get tummy trouble, heartburn, diarrhea, and gas because of it, and it may affect how some medications work. So talk to your doctor, and use it with care.
Airborne allergies, such as pollen, indoor molds, or dust mites, can cause chronic low-grade throat inflammation. “Allergies are a very common cause of postnasal drip which can lead to throat pain,” Dr. Abramowitz says. To start, try taking a non-drowsy over-the-counter allergy medication containing cetirizine hydrochloride, such as Zyrtec or Claritin. Even if that seems to help, “it’s a good idea to get your allergies checked so you know what you’re dealing with,” Dr. Abramowitz says.
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Just be sure to clean your humidifier before turning it on. Left neglected, a humidifier’s water tank can breed bacteria and fungi, which then get pumped into the air, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSP) safety alert. While this may not make your throat feel any worse, it could cause flu-like symptoms or exacerbate allergies or asthma.
While you may have heard that gargling with apple cider vinegar has a similar effect, you should probably steer clear of this tactic for now, says Dr. Comer. “There is little doubt that apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and possibly antifungal properties in lab studies, but whether or not this translates into helping viral or bacterial sore throats is unknown,” he explains. “Additionally, there are potential significant issues to extended use of vinegar with the tooth enamel—vinegar is acidic, and repeated use can damage tooth enamel.”
Believe it or not, your toothbrush may be perpetuating—or even causing—your sore throat. Bacteria collect on the bristles, and any injury to the gums during brushing injects these germs into your system. As soon as you start feeling ill, throw away your toothbrush. Often that’s enough to stop the illness in its tracks. “Changing your toothbrush is often recommended for patients with bacterial throat infections to eliminate the spread of infection,” Dr. Abramowitz says.
Salt water is a great home remedy for sore throat, as it can reduce swelling and calm inflammation and irritation. It may also help draw infections or irritants to the surface of your throat, where your body is better able to deal with them. Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water and gargle every hour or two, advises Mia Finkelston, MD, a Maryland-based family physician who also treats patients via LiveHealth Online.
But you should limit use to a day or two. When used too much, OTC nasal decongestants can lead to a complication called rhinitis medicamentosa (RM), also known as rebound rhinitis. This condition is characterized by nasal congestion that is triggered by the overuse of topical vasoconstrictive medications, especially intranasal decongestants, says Raj Dasgupta, MD, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
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Dry air can irritate a sore throat, prolonging your recovery time. Taking a steamy shower or using a humidifier can bring moisture back into the air, thus relieving any discomfort. “The mucus membranes of the nose and throat love moisture,” Dr. Abramowitz says. “Steam provides moisture and warmth, which helps the vocal cords calm down and decrease in swelling.” The moisture in your nose can also help clear out mucus and gunk, which can be part of the problem, he adds.
If you are interested in learning more about herbal medicines and natural remedies—either to grow and harvest your own herbs or solely to further your knowledge—we’ve put together a curated list of our favorite books currently on the market. Some include recipes, others contain information about identifying herbs in their natural environment, but they all are comprehensive, straight-forward, and written by experts in the field.
Crush a few fresh strawberries into a scrubbing pulp that you mix with a pinch of stain-removing baking soda and enough water to make a paste. Apply the mixture to a soft-bristled toothbrush and polish for a few minutes once every 3 or 4 months. (More often can erode tooth enamel.) The astringent malic acid in strawberries helps buff coffee and red-wine stains from teeth. (Here are 4 more foods that whiten teeth naturually.)
Black tea is chock-full of astringent compounds called tannins that can help deflate and tighten the bags under your eyes. (Not to mention black tea is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.) Activate the tannins in a tea bag by dipping in a cup of hot water for several minutes. Cool in the fridge, then apply the damp bag as a compress to the closed eye for 10 minutes.
Preventive health means practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors that help protect you against diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. "Natural Health, Natural Medicine" is a combination of preventive health tips and alternative medicine techniques. The book offers healthy, simple recipes and tips for using alternative healing. It also provides research about the link between diet and certain chronic conditions.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.