Friday, February 24, 2017

Natural Remedies to Ease a Sore Throat

Sore throats abound this time of year. Some are severe and require antibiotics, like with Strep (you don't want to mess around with Strep). Most sore throats, however, are relatively benign and are really just a symptom that you are fighting some sort of bug.

When Chinese medicine was developed thousands of years ago, the concept of pathogens like viruses, bacteria and fungi had yet to be discovered; all doctors saw were the symptoms that these pathogens caused. Chinese doctors identified the different pathogens as invasions of the elements: Wind, Heat, Cold, Damp and Dry, and would treat each patient according to these "External Pathogenic Factors." Our immune system is called Wei Qi, a superficial layer of Qi that acts like a force field around us, protecting us from pathogenic invasions. When we get sick, it is a sign that our Wei Qi is battling some sort of pathogen and we see sypmtoms (headaches, runny nose, cough, sneeze, fever, chills, etc.) The symptoms of sore throat typically caused either by invasion of Wind or Heat, although Cold and Dry are also possible; dry, scratchy throats are often due to Wind and red, painful sore throats are due to Heat. You can also have sore throats that are due to physical irritation, like with a cough caused by post-nasal drip, but you would still categorize it according to quality, scratchy or raw. This type of illness would have a Damp (Phlegm) element to it, but the sore throat itself would be categorized according to Wind or Heat.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treat all sorts of illnesses, including sinusitis, rhinitis, sinus infections, coughs, post-nasal drip, bronchitis and others, and sore throat is definitely on that list as well. Acupuncture treats the body, so whether you are fighting a virus or bacterial infection, it doesn't matter, what matters is how the symptoms present. By boosting the immune system and helping the body fight off Heat, Wind, Damp, Cold and/or Dry, the body is able to recover more quickly from the illness and you feel better sooner.

When you can't get in for an acupuncture treatment, doing acupressure on LU 10 can be a temporary help. LU 10 is located on the hand, just above the heel along the inside of the first bone below the thumb joint (see the dot in the photo). The point is halfway between the heel of the hand and the base of the thumb. Massaging this point (which might be sore if you really need it) releases heat from the throat and can help ease the pain, making you feel more comfortable. It can also be helpful with a scratchy throat, but is most effective against heat.

My favorite home remedy for sore throat, or even hoarseness/loss of voice, is Hot water, 1/4 of a Lemon and a Tsp-Tbsp of Raw Honey. You can drink this beverage all day long and it helps soothe the throat. Plus the lemon has Vitamin C which will help you combat illness as well. Honey is a great benefit to sore throat due to cough as it can also help ease a cough. While I usually encourage coughing, since it is your body attempting to get rid of illness, at night when you are trying to sleep, coughing can interfere; in terms of healing, sleep is much more important. A Tbsp of raw honey before bed can help calm your cough and help you sleep better.

Watermelon Frost Spray can also be helpful, not only for sore throat but for canker sores as well. It has a cooling quality and also aids in healing of sore throat and mouth sores. Look for brands that are GMP certified to ensure higher quality.

Sleep is essential for preventing or fighting any type of illness, major or minor. Sleep is when your body heals itself and repairs any damage. If you chronically have trouble sleeping, click here for some tips on how to get better sleep.

Proper hydration is also important for healing, especially if there is a fever and sweating. Dehydration is a common cause of sore throat, and sometimes just drinking enough water can be the solution.

If your sore throat persists more than 3 or 4 days, see your doctor to check for Strep; as I said, you don't want to mess with Strep.

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