Soothe Your Sore Throat with These 7 Natural Remedies

Think colds are just reserved for the wintertime? Think again. And no matter the weather outside, a scratchy, red, irritated throat is never welcome. Sore throats can cause pain when swallowing, or even talking. An inflamed throat, or pharynx, is sometimes referred to as pharyngitis. Sore throats are often accompanied by other symptoms of an illness, such as a runny nose or cough.

What is Causing Your Sore Throat?

It’s important to know why your throat is sore in order to properly treat it. Viruses, including the common cold, often cause throat soreness. Sore throats can also be caused by bacteria, as is the case with strep throat. Some additional causes of sore throat include allergies, smoking, or tonsillitis.

When to See a Doctor

If your sore throat is strep throat, you’ll need antibiotics to recover. Signs of strep throat include white patches inside the throat, severe pain in the throat, swollen glands, an upset stomach, and a high fever. 1 If you experience any of these symptoms along with a sore throat, it’s time to visit your doctor.

Viral sore throats will not benefit from antibiotics. They normally go away on their own within one to two weeks. 2 In the meantime, try these seven tips to help you feel better.

1. Keep Your Throat Moist

When your throat is sore, dryness can irritate it further. This is why you feel the effects the most when you wake up, as you breathe heavily while you sleep without drinking a single drop of water. Keep your throat moist by drinking hot fluids, such as broth and tea. Stay away from excessive caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate your body. Lozenges can help your throat stay moist when you’re not drinking liquids.

2. Gargle With Salt Water

Gargling with warm salt water has been used as a sore throat remedy for hundreds of years. It’s also recommended by doctors, because it is convenient and can temporarily ease throat pain. Mix ¼ -½ teaspoon of salt into an eight-ounce glass of warm water, then use this mixture to gargle. Repeat as often as you like for relief.

Sore throat | Probiotic America

3. Soothe With Honey

Honey is a popular folk remedy that has been proven to work. A study by Pennsylvania State University found that honey before bedtime was an effective cough suppressant in children. 4 Drinking tea with honey is a great way to soothe your throat. It’s important to note that honey should never be given to infants under one year of age because of the risk of botulism.

4. Herbal Help: Geranium Root Extract

An extract from South African geranium root, pelargonium sidoides, has been shown to effectively treat the common cold. In a 2007 study, 103 people with cold symptoms took liquid preparations of pelargonium sidoides three times per day.The herbal treatment significantly reduced the severity and symptoms of the common cold, including sore throats. 5 Pelargonium sidoides is an ingredient in some over-the-counter cold medicines.

5. Ease Soreness with Licorice Root

Licorice root is an herbal remedy with a long history of use in folk remedies, particularly traditional Chinese medicine. A 2009 study examined the effects of licorice root on patients with postoperative sore throat associated with endotracheal tube use. The study found that gargling with licorice water before surgery led to less incidence of sore throat after surgery. 6

Note that some medications can negatively interact with licorice root. Consult your doctor if you are taking prescription medicines or have a health condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease.7

Sore Throat | Probiotic America

6. Garlic: Yes, Garlic

If your sore throat is caused by a cold, garlic may help you get better faster. A 2001 study of 146 volunteers found that taking a garlic supplement daily for 12 weeks reduced both the number and duration of colds. 8 Garlic contains allicin, an organic compound which has been found to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. 9

Raw garlic is best for sore throats. To try this remedy, peel a clove of garlic and cut it in half. Put half in each side of your mouth and suck on the clove pieces, swallowing the juices. The garlic will taste spicy, but many people report that this method effectively treats sore throat pain. Raw garlic added to food or taken as a supplement may also help to soothe your sore throat.

7. Spray the Pain Away: Sage and Echinacea

Sage and echinacea are both common medicinal herbs. A study conducted in Switzerland found that a throat spray made from sage and echinacea effectively treated sore throats for study participants. 10

Commercial sprays containing sage and echinacea are available in health food stores. You can also make your own by adding dried sage leaves and echinacea roots to boiling water. Allow the mixture to steep for about 30 minutes, then strain. After the mixture has cooled down, you can add it to a small spray bottle, or use it to gargle.

The Takeaway

Sore throats are no fun. While they usually aren’t serious, having a sore throat can ruin your day. Try these seven tips to soothe your throat and get back to your life.

For more health tips and delicious recipes, keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame



Get Better Abs… By Doing Less, More Effectively (4 tips!)

If you’re into fitness, then better abs are probably one of your continual goals, right? So, you do sit-up after sit-up, plank after plank, but your abs aren’t quite as tight and toned as you’d like them to be. Sometimes, traditional ab workouts just aren’t enough. You may need a little something extra to transform typical ab exercises into that coveted six-pack and a stronger body overall.

Your core muscles go far beyond simply your abdominals, and include all the muscles besides the ones in your arms and legs. They offer support, initiate movement, stabilize the body, and make it easier to do a variety of physical activities. The core muscles include deeper muscles that are not visible when performing typical workouts, including the transverse abdominis and the pelvic floor. These are also the muscles that ought to be utilized when working towards a more efficient exercise plan.

There are other ways to work your abs than doing rep after rep of crunches or sit-ups. Some of them may even seem counterintuitive, but they are great ways of engaging and activating your ab muscles, which, in turn, make them more toned and defined. Incorporate these tips into your daily ab regimen for a better, more effective workout.

1. Work Your Glutes

Though it may seem odd, flexing your glutes during ab exercises can give you that extra edge to really hone your stomach muscles. Working your glutes has two functions that work your abs. First, it causes hip extension, which helps activate your ab muscles. Second, it causes your pelvis to do a posterior tilt that further activates those same muscles. All this ab activation allows you to get a better, more efficient workout.3

How To Do It: When doing a plank, squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. You will feel your abs tightening and becoming extra tense. This tension will work your abs like nothing else. Strengthening your glutes by doing exercises like squats and lunges will also help to strengthen your core.

2. Focus On Breathing

Simply exhaling – yes exhaling – can have a profound effect on your ab exercises. When you exhale completely and fully before each ab rep, you set your rib cage down, and this helps to effectively activate your ab muscles.4

Breathing deeply each time also helps activate your abs and provides stability. This stability allows all of your muscles to work at their maximum capacity. When doing a plank or crunches, for example, take the deepest breath you can, then blow it out completely. Count each breath as you would count a rep, and focus on making each breath as efficient as it can be.5

3. Engage Your Pelvic Floor

When you engage your pelvic floor, you better work your transverse abdominis. These muscles are at the front and sides of your abdominal wall, layered underneath your obliques, and they are considered an important part of your core. They act as a girdle for your frame and provide excellent stability for your spine. You will generally feel them contracting every time you cough.

How To Do It: To engage your pelvic floor, as funny as it sounds, act like you’re trying to hold in your pee. Maintain this tension as you do sit-ups and other ab exercises.7

4. Build And Maintain Tension

Developing tension throughout your entire core is essential in building strong muscles and also protecting your lower back. Additionally, it helps build muscles in places that aren’t immediately visible when you look in the mirror, but that are necessary in getting the rest of your abs to get that desired taut and defined look.

How To Do It: Sitting up straight and tall, put your hands on either side of your waist near your lower back and flex the muscles around your waist so that you feel your ribs pull into your center and your shoulders pull back a little. You should also feel a contraction under your hands. It’s important to maintain this tension as you breathe, because flexing can sometimes restrict breathing. This action of flexing and breathing is also known as bracing. Practice bracing as you do your ab exercises to get in a better workout.8

Another way to build tension is simply to flex your abs (like you’re bracing yourself for a punch) while doing your sit-ups and crunches.9

Better abs | Probiotic America

Make The Most Of Your Workout

Small adjustments can help take your standard ab routine to the next level. Try to change things up every once in awhile by incorporating a different tip on alternate days of exercising. But remember, any type of physical activity can potentially cause injury. If you feel excessive pain or discomfort during a workout, stop doing the activity. If pain persists or gets worse, you might want to contact a professional.

Want more useful health tips? Keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics
Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame



10 Canker Sore Remedies to Make Them Disappear…Fast!

If you’ve ever had a canker sore, you know how painful they can be. Canker sores are a type of mouth ulcer also called an aphthous ulcer. An estimated 25 percent of Americans have recurring canker sores. While canker sores can be annoying, they are not serious and usually go away on their own within two weeks. 1

What Causes Canker Sores?

The good news is that canker sores are not contagious. The not-so-great news is that researchers are unsure of the exact cause of canker sores. 2 Family history, as well as nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, food allergies and stress are often associated with mouth ulcers. Mouth injuries, usually due to dental work, may also cause canker sores.

What Do Canker Sores Look Like?

Canker sores are usually small and either oval or round. They often have a white or yellowish center. They occur inside the lips, cheeks, or other soft tissues of the mouth. Some people confuse canker sores with cold sores, but the two are different. Cold sores are blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores can appear outside of the mouth; canker sores cannot. Cold sores are usually smaller than canker sores, and they also tend to heal faster. 3

When you’ve got a canker sore, you want to feel better fast. Here are 10 canker sore remedies to ease your pain and help your mouth heal.

1. Swish with Baking Soda

Household baking soda and water can make an effective mouth rinse for dealing with canker sores. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with ½ cup warm water. Swish this mixture around in your mouth for a few minutes, then spit it out. Some people also experience good results by dabbing baking soda directly onto canker sores several times per day.

2. Try Vitamin B12

Many people are deficient in vitamin B12. Since nutrition deficiencies are a possible cause of canker sores, it stands to reason that meeting these deficiencies can help cure them. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that taking a vitamin B12 supplement effectively treated repeat canker sore outbreaks. Study participants who suffered from recurrent canker sores took 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 at bedtime for six months. Participants reported fewer canker sore outbreaks, outbreaks of shorter duration, and less pain. 5

3. Zinc Up!

Zinc is an essential mineral your body needs for good health. Research has shown that patients with recurrent canker sores may have low levels of zinc. For these patients, zinc supplements have been found to decrease canker sores in clinical trials.6 Women need 8 grams of zinc daily; men need 11 grams.7 Many people prefer to take zinc supplements in lozenge form.

canker sore | Probiotic America

4. Chill Out

Just like you’d ice up an injury to help alleviate pain and inflammation, ice can help your canker sore as well. Hold an ice cube on the canker sore until it becomes numb. Popsicles and cold drinks may also help to decrease the inflammation and pain of canker sores.8

5. Pump Iron

Iron is a mineral your body needs to make hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells. 9 Iron deficiency can cause anemia and other symptoms of poor health. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research showed that iron deficiency may cause oral ulcers. 10 How much iron is enough? Men ages 19 to 64 and women ages 50 to 64 need 8.7 mg of iron daily. Women ages 19 to 50 need 14.8 mg. 11 If you’re not getting enough iron in your diet, you may need to take an oral supplement.

6. Reduce Stress

Stress can cause canker sores to flare up, especially in people who are prone to them. A 2009 study showed that psychological stress may be a trigger for canker sores.12 Ways to reduce stress include exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and getting enough sleep.13 Do what you can to alleviate daily stress, and you may have fewer canker sore outbreaks.

7. Mix It Up

When it comes to quick relief, a combination of over-the-counter medications may help ease the pain of canker sores and help them heal more quickly. Some experts recommend a mixture of 50 percent hydrogen peroxide and 50 percent liquid Benadryl as a mouth rinse. Swish the mixture around in the mouth for approximately one minute before spitting out. Take care not to swallow the liquid. Additionally, you can apply a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide directly on the canker sore with a cotton swab several times daily. Follow up by dabbing a small amount of Milk of Magnesia on the sore. Following this regimen should take away some of the pain, allowing the canker sore to heal faster. 14

8. Go SLS-Free

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a cleaning agent found in many toothpaste brands. There is some evidence that SLS can cause or exacerbate canker sores in people prone to them. 15 Try using a toothpaste free of SLS, such as a natural brand.

9. Patch It Up with Licorice Root

Licorice root, a common herbal remedy often used in traditional Chinese medicine, may help heal your canker sore, or at least lessen the discomfort. Scientists at the University of Washington found that an oral licorice root patch alleviated canker sore pain within three days. 16 The patch also caused canker sores to shrink within seven days. Chewable licorice root supplements may also help.

Canker Sores | Probiotic America

10. Snooze Away

There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that getting plenty of quality sleep can help your canker sore disappear. Sure, it’s nice to slumber so you don’t feel the pain, but since stress may trigger these painful sores, and we know getting rest can help alleviate stress, it makes sense to get your ZZZs on. Many parents tell their children that canker sores are your body’s way of telling you to slow down and rest. Seems to make sense!

Having a canker sore can make it painful to eat, drink, and talk. It may help to remember that, even without treatment, your canker sore will likely go away in one to two weeks. In the meantime, try these remedies for less canker sore pain and a quicker recovery.

For more helpful health news, keep reading:

How to Achieve a Healthy Immune System (all-natural hacks!)

The Dangers of Hidden Sugar in Breakfast Foods (6 ‘healthy’ foods to avoid)