Ginger tops herbal ‘cures’ for sore throat
Can a combination of hot lemon drink with honey, bitter kola, onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric provide novel ‘cure’ for sore throat? CHUKWUMA MUANYA, Assistant Editor writes.
It is usually associated with dry and cold conditions. A sore throat is pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that often worsens when one swallows. The most common cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. A sore throat caused by a virus resolves on its own.
Strep throat (streptococcal infection), a less common type of sore throat caused by bacteria, requires treatment with antibiotics to prevent complications. Other less common causes of sore throat might require more complex treatment.
Researches have shown that sore throat (pharyngitis) accounts for 80 per cent of cases in children and young adults in developing countries. The causes of pharyngitis may be viral, bacterial or environmental causes but the most common cause is Streptococcus pyogenes. This condition is also known as Strep throat and antibiotics such as penicillin and erythromycin are used to prevent complications by S. pyogenes and to ensure speedy recovery.
Also, Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS), acetaminophen and corticosteroids like dexamethasone may be used to relieve pain and inflammation of the pharynx and swelling of lymph nodes.
While antibiotics are useful in pharyngitis relief, resistance to erythromycin has been reported. On the other hand penicillins possess side effects such as allergy and hypersensitivity, necessitating a search for alternative plant-based remedies.
Fragrances of essential oils of lavender (Lavandula officinalis) have been used to relieve the condition.
A study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Scientific Innovation recommends ginger (Zingiber officinale) for treatment of sore throat even as studies indicate that it possesses numerous biological activities including antibacterial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger has also been used in treatment of gastric ulcers and acts by chelating
The Ugandan researchers concluded: “The results of this study indicate that ginger is a potential source of a sore throat remedy, which validates its continued traditional use for this purpose in the community. Further fractionation of the extracts could lead to isolation of active constituents that may serve as leads for the development of new pharmaceuticals against streptococcal pharyngitis.”
Another study found that when ginger extract was applied to throat swabs from people with bacterial respiratory tract infections, it helped kill some of the bacteria responsible for the illness.
In one study, researchers used computer modeling to find out if ginger could prevent influenza infection — particularly the H1N1 strain that causes swine flu. The team found that the active ingredient in ginger prevents the virus from infecting human cells.
Natural health practitioners suggest gargling with a mixture of water, salt and turmeric (Curcuma longa) powder.
A review of pharmacological activities of turmeric (Curcuma longa) published in Journal of Traditional Medicine & Clinical Naturopathy indicates that the fresh juice of rhizome is given in bronchitis. In rhinitis and cough boil turmeric (Haridra) in milk and mixed with jiggery given internally. In catarrhal cough, sore throat, and throat infection the decoction of rhizome is used for gargle and also the piece of rhizome is slightly burnt and given for chewing. The chemical constituents of Curcuma longa like tumerones, curcuminoids, curcumin and tetrahydrocurcumin has an anti-asthmatic action.
Honey mixed in tea or taken on its own is a common household remedy for a sore throat. One study found that honey was even more effective at taming nighttime coughs than common cough suppressants. Other research shows that honey is an effective wound healer, which means it may help speed healing for sore throats.
According to the Mayo Clinic, mixing honey and lemon with water for a sore throat is a time-tested remedy. Honey can help to coat the throat, and lemon can help reduce mucus. For best results, boil the water first as if making a cup of tea. Then add the honey and lemon to taste and let the water cool as they dissolve. Drink the mixture when it is still slightly warm to help relax the throat muscles or drink it cold if feeling warm because of a fever. Because this mixture only relieves symptoms temporarily, it may be necessary to repeat it throughout the day.
Garcinia kola has been shown to be effective in soothing fever, sore throat, congestions and symptoms of cold and cough. The anti-bacterial properties of the plant help in relieving from worsening of such general but irksome problems.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has many natural antibacterial uses. Numerous studies show its antimicrobial effects in fighting infections. Because of its acidic nature, it can be used to help break down mucus in the throat and stop bacteria from spreading.
Garlic also has natural antibacterial properties. It contains allicin, an organosulpher compound known for its ability to fight off infections.
Studies have shown that taking a garlic supplement on a regular basis can help prevent the common cold virus. Adding fresh garlic to your diet is also a way of gaining its antimicrobial properties. Your grandmother might have told you to suck on a clove of garlic to sooth a sore throat. Because garlic has many healing actions, you might try this, though you may want to brush your teeth afterward to protect your teeth from enzymes and improve your breath.
Cayenne pepper or hot sauce
Often used as a pain reliever, cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a natural compound known for blocking pain receptors.
Although not scientifically proven, ingesting cayenne mixed with warm water and honey can help with pain relief for sore throats. Remember that an initial burning sensation is common. Cayenne should not be taken if you have open sores in your mouth. Start with just a few drops of hot sauce or a light sprinkle of cayenne, as both can be very hot.
Lemon water is a refreshing beverage that may also reduce the throat pain that occurs during a cold or the flu.
Lemon contains vitamin C and antioxidants. It also increases the amount of saliva produced, which can help keep the mucous membranes moist.
Combining lemon with warm water and a bit of honey or salt water may be the best way to maximize its benefits.
Coconut oil is a versatile food with several health benefits. Animal studies suggest that it may help fight infection, reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Coconut oil is also very soothing because it helps lubricate the mucous membranes in the throat.
Chicken soup is a well-known natural cold and sore throat remedy. It is also a comfort food that allows you to get more fluids when you are sick.
You may want to use garlic in it, because garlic contains bioactive compounds that can also provide benefits when you are sick.
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