Ginger is a tasty herb that improves the flavor of many dishes. For thousands of years, people have used it to fight ailments, from headaches to stomach cramps.
This post explores whether patients can use it for sore throats, too. Can this humble root, available in every store, provide meaningful relief? Let’s find out.
Does ginger help with a sore throat?
Sore throats are usually a byproduct of the immune system’s response to an infection. When bacteria or viruses infect the upper respiratory tract, the body responds in a way that damages the surrounding tissue. Soreness is the result.
There is no direct evidence from randomized controlled trials that ginger is effective for sore throats. However, there is ample indirect evidence that it works, which we discuss below.
For the purposes of this discussion, we only consider ginger in relation to sore throats caused by germs, not other factors, such as smoking, mouth breathing at night, cancer, and allergies.
Why is ginger good for a sore throat?
Researchers believe that ginger helps with sore throats through several channels. The herb’s primary action is anti-inflammatory. That’s because it contains substances that block various proinflammatory signaling substances in the body known to cause itchiness and swelling. These, in turn, improve comfort.
Ginger also has antimicrobial action, meaning that it fights both viruses and bacteria, the two most common causes of temporary sore throats. Both in vitro and in vivo studies show that it inhibits germs.
Lastly, ginger is good for sore throats because of its high antioxidant capacity. The better a person’s antioxidant status is in general, the more resistant they are to disease.
How to use ginger for a sore throat?
There are several ways that you can take ginger for sore throat. Generally, researchers believe that the fresh root is better than the dry powder or other derivatives, but both work well.
People have been drinking ginger tea for centuries, not just for its medicinal properties, but also for its unique, spicy flavor.
Ginger tea is a popular remedy because it comes into contact with your throat when you swallow. It’s also easy to make. Either buy tea bags containing it, or steep fresh ginger in hot water yourself.
If you don’t like the taste of ginger, you can also take it in supplement form. Here, manufacturers take the desiccated powder and then place it inside a methylcellulose capsule that dissolves in stomach acid.
Supplements offer many of the benefits described above. However, they don’t come into direct contact with the sore area.
Eating raw ginger root by itself is a brave thing to do. Most people can’t stomach it. However, it can taste great when combined with other food.
The quickest way to get raw ginger into your diet is to put it in a smoothie with fruit and veggies. Another option is to include it in a recipe, though this takes more time.
Candies and lozenges
There are various ginger-containing candies and lozenges available on the market. These contain concentrated extracts of the root’s active ingredients. They also taste considerably better than raw ginger, like ginger ale.
Consuming dried ginger is just like taking a supplement, but without a capsule. Take approximately two teaspoons with a meal.
It works well in porridge and spicy peanut sauces. You can also mix dried ginger with warm water to make tea.
What other home remedies help with a sore throat?
If you don’t like the taste of ginger, there are plenty of other home remedies that you can try. These can reduce symptoms, whether you have the flu, a common cold, or strep throat.
Honey is a popular choice. This food, prized throughout human history, has natural antimicrobial properties shown to kill multi-drug-resistant bacteria and viruses.
Consuming honey is easy. Add it to breakfast cereals, porridge, desserts, and hot drinks.
You might also consider adding lemon to your diet. It contains a mild acid that breaks up mucus and provides some pain relief. Mixing honey and lemon together is delicious.
Gargling with salt water is another proven strategy. Salt is naturally antibacterial (which is one of the reasons manufacturers use it as a food preservative). Put a teaspoon in eight ounces of water and then gargle for around 30 seconds before spitting out. Make sure that you don’t swallow.
Some people have success with saunas or humidifiers. Extra moisture in the air helps to open up sinuses and airways.
As a final note, home remedies don’t “cure” throat infections. The immune system does that. However, they can speed them along, cutting the time you feel ill by a couple of days or more.
When to see a doctor about a sore throat?
Most sore throats are mild and go away by themselves. With that said, there are cases when it is prudent to get help. You should see a doctor if:
- You have a fever over 101°F that’s lasted for more than two days
- You can’t sleep because your sore throat is too painful
- You can see a red rash at the back of your throat
- Your sore throat doesn’t disappear after a couple of weeks
- Swollen tonsils or adenoids are making breathing labored
Get help from an online doctor
- Ginger may help sore throats by reducing inflammation and killing germs directly
- There are many ways to take ginger, including eating the raw root, consuming the dry powder, using it in ginger and honey tea, and taking various supplements
- You should seek medical attention for a sore throat if you have a fever, a red rash at the back of the throat, or can’t sleep
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