If you feel like you spend half of winter with a sore throat, you’ll try anything to be able to swallow without cringing. No matter how torturous your sore throat may be, though, there’s only so much cherry-red syrup you can chug.
Luckily, there are a number of natural foods and drinks that can soothe your soreness. The next time your throat is a fiery tube of anger, keep these five throat-savers in mind.
A Twizzler has never (ever) cured a sore throat, but actual licorice root might be able to help. The sweet root has been traditionally used for its soothing, coating properties and can benefit your everyday sore throat, says Kelly Jones, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D.N.
You can find licorice in supplements, candies, and teas—just be careful to only use regular licorice when needed, since over-consumption can increase sodium levels and affect blood pressure, Jones says. If choosing a supplement, look for ‘deglycyrhizinated licorice’ (DGL), which doesn’t affect sodium levels.
Need a break from your same old throat drops? Try ginger candies instead. Not only are they deliciously warm and spicy, but ginger is packed with antioxidant compounds called ‘gingerols’ and ‘shogaols’ that can help your immune system pull through.
Research suggests that through its interaction with our immune systems, ginger has a calming, soothing effect throughout the body. In addition to candies, it’s also popular in teas and capsule supplements.
This delicious herb—a staple of Mediterranean diets and Eastern schools of medicine alike—is revered for its potent antioxidant activity, making it a helpful immune system-booster when you’re feeling under the weather. In fact, one study found that throat spray made from sage and Echinacea (another herb known for its immune benefits) can soothe a sore throat.
Incorporate more sage into your routine by sprinkling it into warm soups or sipping on sage tea.
4. Tea & Honey
Speaking of tea… “The warmth of tea alone can work wonders on a sore throat, but certain ingredients, like honey, ginger, and slippery elm bark can add extra benefit to your mug,” says Jones. Raw local honey has long been thought to support the immune system, thanks to its polyphenol and antioxidant content, but honey’s thick consistency also provides some relief by coating the throat. You can add it to your tea or eat it straight out of the spoon.
Like honey, slippery elm bark also coats the throat, Jones says. Its moistening effect makes it able to relieve dryness and itchiness.
If your sore throat has left you with a hot or burning sensation, integrative medicine expert Elizabeth Trattner, A.P., recommends eating cool, smooth foods like applesauce for relief.