Prescription 2016: Natural Sore Throat RemediesJanuary 25, 2016 Written by JP [Font too small?]
Pharyngitis is the technical name for a sore throat. In most cases viral infections, such as the common cold or influenza, are responsible for the characteristic inflammation and swelling in the back of the throat or pharynx. Thankfully, there are some evidence-based alternatives that address sore throat prevention, recovery time and symptom severity.
Holistic sore throat remedies tend to fall into three categories. The first emphasizes supplements that promote resistance to infection and/or hasten recovery. When prevention isn’t successful, the next logical step is to use herbal decoctions to minimize symptoms. If additional relief is needed, the ancient practice of acupuncture can act as a last-ditch, soothing adjunct.
Tier One: Immunity and Onset - Many supplements claim to protect against colds and flu. However, most haven’t been scientifically tested in humans. Three exceptions can be found in Panax quinquefolius aka American ginseng, Andrographis paniculata and zinc acetate lozenges. Cold-fX, a patented American ginseng extract, enhances immune function (antibody response) and significantly reduces sore throat associated with acute respiratory illness. KalmCold, a standardized Andrographis paniculata extract, speeds along uncomplicated respiratory tract infections as compared to placebo. High dosages of zinc acetate lozenges (80-92 mg/day), taken within 24 hours of cold onset, alleviate several throat-related symptoms: cough, hoarseness, scratchiness and soreness. Please note that such large amounts of zinc are generally recommended for two-weeks of use or less.
Bonus Tip: The efficacy and reliability of Echinacea for cold and flu prevention is decidedly mixed. Even so, according to a recent review in Advances in Therapy, some echinacea products do, in fact, modulate immunity and possess antiviral activity. In turn, this “lowers the risk of recurrent respiratory infections and complications” in “susceptible individuals”. If you plan to try Echinacea, it’s essential to look for concentrated extracts with some degree of clinical validation. A few examples are A. Vogel’s Echinaforce and Echinamide by Natural Factors. Lastly, for pharyngitis symptoms in particular, a throat spray compromised of Echinacea and sage appears more effective than Echinacea alone.
Tier Two: Symptom Management - Tea is a great place to start. Hot beverages are documented relievers of various cold and flu symptoms. In this case, one of the best hot beverages you can have is Throat Coat – an herbal blend consisting of licorice, marshmallow root, slippery elm bark and more. One study found that 4 – 6 cups/day of Throat Coat tea quickly decreased sore throat pain in patients with acute pharyngitis. Also, adding honey to the mix is advisable as it suppresses coughing while alleviating throat irritation.
Bonus Tip: Licorice is one of the key ingredients in Throat Coat. At least three experiments report that gargles and lozenges made of licorice reduce symptoms in a related condition known as post-operative sore throat. Therefore, perhaps gargling with Throat Coat or adding some other form of licorice to your treatment plan may be helpful. Hypertensives should use licorice carefully as it contains glycyrrhizin, a chemical which can elevate blood pressure. Licorice use doing pregnancy is also discouraged as it may increase the risk of pre-eclampsia and stillbirth.
Tier Three: Adjunctive Care - For most, the first two tiers will likely to be enough. If not, acupuncture is yet another option. A study in the November-December 2015 issue of the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine describes how ear acupuncture safely lowers pain and medication use in patients with acute sore throat. Previous research indicates that other forms of acupuncture present similar effects. Best of all, acupuncture for acute conditions such as pharyngitis is usually brief and not very costly.
Bonus Tip: Massages are often relegated to times of good health and leisure. But, why not have a massage when your body needs it most? A few trials have determined that massage benefits compromised immunity in cancer patients and premature infants. What’s more, massage therapy positively affects immune-related gene expression in healthy adults as well. Practically speaking, this provides an incentive to get more massages when cold and flu season comes around.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 - Randomized Double Blind Placebo Controlled Clinical Evaluation … (link)
Study 2 - Randomized, Controlled Trial of Panax Quinquefolius Extract … (link)
Study 3 – Efficacy and Safety of CVT-E002, a Proprietary Extract of Panax … (link)
Study 4 - Efficacy of COLD-fX in the Prevention of Respiratory Symptoms … (link)
Study 5 - The Effectiveness of High Dose Zinc Acetate Lozenges on Various … (link)
Study 6 - Echinacea Reduces the Risk of Recurrent Respiratory Tract … (link)
Study 7 - Efficacy and Tolerability of a Spray with Salvia Officinalis in the … (link)
Study 8 - Echinacea/Sage or Chlorhexidine/Lidocaine for Treating Acute … (link)
Study 9 - Effects of a Hot Drink on Nasal Airflow and Symptoms of Common … (link)
Study 10 - Safety and Efficacy of a Traditional herbal medicine (Throat Coat) … (link)
Study 11 - Effect of Tualang Honey in Enhancing Post Tonsillectomy Healing … (link)
Study 12 - Honey and Beehive Products in Otorhinolaryngology: A Narrative … (link)
Study 13 - Effect of Preoperative Licorice Lozenges on Incidence of … (link)
Study 14 - A Randomized, Double-Blind Comparison of Licorice Versus Sugar- … (link)
Study 15 - An Evaluation of the Efficacy of Licorice Gargle for Attenuating … (link)
Study 16 - The Pharmacological Activities of Licorice … (link)
Study 17 - Severe, Very Early Onset Pre-Eclampsia Associated with Licorice … (link)
Study 18 - Fetal & Neonatal Outcomes in Women Reporting Ingestion of Licorice … (link)
Study 19 - Ear Acupuncture for Acute Sore Throat: A Randomized Controlled … (link)
Study 20 - Acupuncture in Preventing Postoperative Anaesthesia-Related Sore … (link)
Study 21 - An Instant Pain-Relief Effect of Balance Acupuncture for Relieving Sore … (link)
Study 22 - Effectiveness of Aromatherapy with Light Thai Massage for Cellular … (link)
Study 23 - Effect of Massage on Immune Function and Stress in Women w/ Breast … (link)
Study 24 - Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of Massage Therapy on Immune … (link)
Study 25 - Effects of Traditional Japanese Massage Therapy on Gene Expression … (link)
Brief Acupuncture Treatment Reduces Sore Throat Pain
Source: J Am Board Fam Med. 2015 Nov-Dec;28(6):697-705. (link)
Tags: Echinacea, Licorice, Zinc
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements