One of the least pleasant phenomenons of the winter season is a sore throat. It is usually not fatal, but also not something you are comfortable walking around with all day.
The instinctive reaction of many of us is to immediately boil water and make tea or something else hot to drink, and for good reason. Tea helps relieve sore throats on several levels.
First, one problem with throat pain is that people eat and drink less and therefore tend to dry out. Drinking beverages such as tea helps prevent dehydration. Also, many types of tea contain compounds that soothe the throat and make it feel better.
In fact, any hot drink will increase blood flow to the area and speed up the recovery process. This can happen with drinking tea or gargling a solution that contains certain compounds.
For example, a study that tested the effect of gargling a green tea solution every six hours found that within a day, symptoms associated with a sore throat decreased.
Yet it’s much nicer to drink tea than to gargle it, so these three types of tea have other benefits that can help relieve a sore throat.
There are studies that have shown that licorice can reduce phlegm and runny nose and serve as a buffering agent that coats the throat and relieves pain.
Three main ingredients in licorice root can help relieve a sore throat:
Liquilitin and liquiritigenin are two expectorants that release phlegm and allow us to cough it out.
A third ingredient called glycyrrhizin provides a layer of protection around the throat tissues that reduce the feeling of irritation when swallowing.
In a 2021 study, patients who underwent surgery were given anesthesia in which a breathing tube was inserted down their throat. When they woke up, they gargled a licorice or green tea solution. Both reduced the throat pain from the tube much more than patients who didn’t gargle a solution.
Green tea contains compounds of particularly strong antioxidants called polyphenols. These antioxidants strengthen the immune system and help it fight the bacterial or viral infection that causes a sore throat.
Also, green tea has another natural compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate with anti-inflammatory properties that fight inflammatory proteins. This reduces throat inflammation and pain.
Like licorice tea, you can get relief by drinking the tea or by gargling. If you’re not into drinking it, gargle the tea for 30 seconds so that it thoroughly rinses the back of the throat. Make sure that the temperature of the drink isn’t too hot since boiling tea will only increase the local irritation and not relieve pain.
Ginger root contains plant compounds that have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to pain relief, there is also some scientific evidence that ginger can shorten the time one has flu or a cold.
According to some studies, ginger has antimicrobial properties that help the body fight both bacterial and viral infections which can cause sore throat. It’s important to note that in these studies, the effect of ginger extracts was tested, which is more concentrated in relation to ginger tea. So it’s definitely possible that this effect will be less when you drink ginger tea.