Table of Contents
- Strep Throat vs. Sore Throat
- Causes of Strep Throat
- Symptoms of Strep Throat
- Conventional Strep Throat Treatment
- Strep Throat Home Remedies
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Raw Honey
- Herbal Tea
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Himalayan Salt
- Bone Broth
- Cayenne Pepper and Black Pepper
- Garlic and Onions
- Marshmallow Sap or Marshmallow Root
- Slippery Elm
- Cinnamon and Cinnamon Oil
- Essential Oils
- Indian Gooseberry
- Oil Pulling
- When to See a Doctor
There are many aspects of life that we take for granted, and a healthy throat is one of them.
It isn’t until we are reduced to rasping painfully with a throat that feels like sandpaper that we yearn to get it back to its normal state.
This article will help you do just that.
Afflicted with an uncomfortable case of strep throat?
We have solutions! Better yet, all of our solutions are simple home remedies.
They consist of ingredients that are easy to find and steps that are easy to follow.
And most importantly, our solutions help you avoid the unpleasant side effects that often come hand-in-hand with pharmaceutical drugs.
But before we get to our natural treatments, let’s take a look at what strep throat actually is.
Strep Throat vs. Sore Throat
These are not interchangeable terms.
Sure, strep throat features soreness of the throat.
But a sore throat could occur for a variety of reasons, of which strep throat is only one.
For instance, your sore throat could merely be caused by environmental irritants.
You may notice hoarseness after a concert or a night out that consisted of a lot of yelling.
Or it might be due to air pollution, or smoking.
Transitioning to a low-humidity climate might cause dryness leading to a sore throat.
So can breathing through your mouth, as many are wont to do while suffering from allergies or a nose-blocking cold.
And these are merely one subset of reasons.
You might get a sore throat as a result of injuries or illness.
It is a symptom — sometimes presenting itself singularly — of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, since stomach acid can reach the area and make it sore.
It is also commonly present in those with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Sometimes a direct injury to the throat, as with a sharp object or puncture, can do this, too.
Perhaps more relevant for most people than these reasons are viral and bacterial infections, under which strep throat falls.
Nevertheless, there are also other strains or types of viruses and bacteria that affect the throat.
A rhinovirus infection, also known as the “common cold,” is — like its name suggests — the most common reason for a sore throat.
Another virus that does the same is the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis or “mono,” infamously known as the “kissing disease,” as it occurs through saliva transmissions.
Mumps, laryngitis, influenza, herpagina — these are some other viral infections that cause a sore throat.
When it comes to bacterial infections, a possibility might be sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
It could also be due to an inflammation or infection of the tonsils (tonsillitis), the adenoids (adenoiditis), the epiglottis (epiglottitis), the uvula (uvulitis), or the tissues that surround your tonsils (peritonsillar abscess).
So if your sore throat isn’t because of any of these reasons, it might be due to strep throat.
It is mostly children who are at high risk for acquiring strep throat, but adults can be affected, too.
You might lean toward the conclusion that you or your child are suffering from strep throat and not any other cause if it is strep throat season: since it is a bacterial infection, it tends to show up in bursts, or at certain points during the year.
The weeks just before the start of winter and just after its end are usually the peak seasons of vulnerability.
As it is a contagious disease, those frequenting packed spaces such as schools or crowded stores are more affected.
There are also other symptoms that can help you pinpoint whether or not you are dealing with strep throat.
You can learn more about them later on in the article.
You should check with your doctor to make this determination if you are unsure.
However, if it is a mild form of strep throat or even one of the other causes that are not directly perilous to your overall health, our natural remedies can go a long way toward relieving symptoms.
Causes of Strep Throat
Strep throat is a highly-contagious bacterial infection.
The bacteria responsible for it, Streptococcus pyogenes or Group A Streptococcus, are transmitted mostly through airborne droplets.
Being in close proximity to someone with strep throat when they sneeze or a cough might deposit the infection on you.
Similarly, sharing food and/or drinks, or picking up the bacteria from surfaces such as doorknobs and transmitting them from your hands to your mouth, eyes, or nose, could lead to you acquiring a strep infection.
Knowing this, you should ideally take preventive measures to avoid getting strep throat.
Cleaning your hands regularly using soap or sanitizer, avoiding sharing personal items such as utensils or food and drinks from the same container, and other similar simple steps will definitely save you a lot of trouble.
Of course, this might not be possible year-round but do ensure you follow these steps when you know the strep bacteria is going around.
If already infected, be courteous and help keep your and your children’s acquaintances safe.
You can do this by covering your nose and mouth area with a handkerchief while sneezing or coughing (it is important to teach your kids to do so!), sanitizing your hands before shaking or making other physical contact, and letting others know that it isn’t in their best interest to take a bite or sip of your food and drink.
Also, remember to prevent re-infecting yourself by replacing your toothbrush — once when you first see signs of strep, and again when you are well once more.
It is also a good idea thoroughly to wash and scrub all utensils and dishes with a powerful soap and hot water, as well as countertops and other kitchen/dining surfaces.
Symptoms of Strep Throat
Viruses are the biggest culprits when it comes to sore throats.
In fact, viruses account for up to 95 percent of throat infections both in children younger than five years of age and in adults.
Even in children aged 5 to 15, viruses account for the majority — 70 percent — of cases of a sore throat.
So how do you know if you have strep throat? A big indicator is an absence of cold and virus symptoms.
If you also have symptoms such as a runny/blocked nose, cough, redness in the eyes, muscle aches, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, and bouts of sneezing, it is likely that you have a viral infection and not strep throat.
There are a number of symptoms that present themselves in the case of strep throat of which you have to be conscious.
That is not to say that these symptoms are exclusive to strep throat, but if they appear together you can dismiss some of the other possibilities.
Other than a sore, dry throat, you will also have difficulty swallowing.
Your tonsils may be red and swollen, or even have a streak of pus or white patches.
Your lymph nodes, located on the sides of your upper neck, might also become swollen and tender.
If you check your oral cavity, you might find tiny red spots dotting the roof of your mouth.
Similarly, your throat and tonsils might be covered with a whitish, yellowish layer.
You are also likely to experience headaches, as well as soreness or aches in different parts of your body.
Because of your body’s natural reaction to a bacterial infection, you will also probably experience a high fever — often above 101 degrees.
Some people also report experiencing nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, general discomfort, and a loss of appetite.
Conventional Strep Throat Treatment
Most doctors will immediately prescribe you antibiotics for strep throat.
Penicillin and amoxicillin are the most commonly-used antibiotics for strep throat treatment.
Because strep throat is often painful, you may also be prescribed ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain relief.
Before you take antibiotics, do ensure that it is strep throat that you have.
You should not prescribe yourself these drugs just based on assumption, since antibiotics have no effect on viral infections and may have uncomfortable side effects, from diarrhea and vomiting to watery genital discharge.
A better plan, especially if your symptoms are still mild, is to try out the home remedies below.
Strep Throat Home Remedies
As research indicates, Vitamin D has a significant impact on your throat.
A study by M.K. and Vivek Taneja set out to observe the prevalence of deficiency of vitamin D in patients of an otolaryngology clinic at the Indian Institute of Ear Diseases.
Out of the total of 86 patients who were examined, most were in the seven to 15 age range, and most complained of sore throats.
In 83 patients or 96.51 percent, either a vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency was uncovered (1).
Even stronger evidence can be found in a study published by the Internal Review of Infectious Diseases: when compared with controls, those with Group A streptococcal (GAS) tonsillopharyngitis (the medical term for strep throat) tended to have significantly low vitamin D levels (2).
The primary source of Vitamin D is the sun.
So force yourself to go out in the sun and soak in some rays, ideally between 11 am to 1 pm.
This is because the wavelength of ultraviolet B (UVB) rays is 290-320nm during this period, which is essential for skin to make vitamin D.
Once absorbed, vitamin D3 will take around two days to make it to your bloodstream.
If you’re fair-skinned, around ten minutes with lots of skin exposure without sunscreen should be enough per day.
If you are already tan or darker-skinned, you should aim for from around 15 minutes to an hour.
At other times, do remember to wear sunscreen, and protect yourself from other dangerous complications.
Since direct sunlight exposure on skin also has downfalls, complement it with minor changes in your diet.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include fish liver, the flesh of fatty fish, beef, cheese, and egg yolks.
Vitamin C is really useful in treating strep throat because it does wonders for your immunity — and that is exactly what you need when facing a bacterial infection.
Several immune system cells, particularly phagocytes and t-cells, need vitamin C to perform their functions.
Therefore, a deficiency results in a reduced resistance against certain pathogens, while a larger supply enhances several immune system parameters (3).
When your body recognizes that the Group A Strep bacteria — a foreign body — has infected it, it deploys these immune measures to fight it that utilize vitamin C.
Ensuring that your immune system is vigorous will help you get healthy faster, naturally.
During strep season, up your vitamin C intake to around one gram each day.
If you already have strep throat, increase it further, up to four grams per day.
You may also want to invest in Vitamin C supplements to fulfill this requirement, since going over the Recommended Daily Allowance does not present complications (4).
But in general, you can find lots of natural ingredients — generally fruits and vegetables — rich in Vitamin C.
Some of these sources include: citrus fruits, papaya, kiwi, strawberries, guava, bell pepper, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach.
These, and the many other ingredients that contain Vitamin C, are foods that can be eaten and prepared in so many different ways, no matter the occasion or time of day.
Therefore it shouldn’t be hard to increase intake when suffering from strep throat.
Honey isn’t just for flavor but is packed with wonderful medicinal and antibacterial properties.
Since ancient times, honey has been known to be useful in treating many health problems.
Even today, when contemporary medicine has come into fashion, its powers remain just as strong.
The antimicrobial activity in most kinds of honey is due to the enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide.
Honey can thus help your strep throat immensely by tackling the bacteria that cause it.
Note that not all honey is created the same: your best bet is buying Manuka honey, a known “superfood” with awesome bacteria-fighting properties.
This medical-grade honey is standardized through gamma irradiation, filtration, and lab-controlled conditions, ensuring it’s free from contaminants (6).
You can use it as you would regular honey by sweetening your beverages with it, using it as syrup, or however, you want.
A great way to soothe your symptoms is just to eat a few spoonfuls of honey a day, and hold it for a few seconds in your throat before swallowing.
You could also mix it with some black pepper, or dilute it in hot water.
There are few things as relaxing as the taste of rich tea, and the warmth of the beverage coursing through your body.
And there is no guilt associated with it: this low-calorie, dairy-free drink will do your body nothing but good.
Particularly in a time of ill health, such as when you have strep throat, herbal tea can help you overcome some of the discomforts of soothing symptoms.
You can go for the tea of your choice, but we have some suggestions.
The first is green tea, which is a famed health tonic.
Green tea is about 30 percent polyphenols by weight, including large amounts of a catechin called EGCG.
Since it is chock-full of antioxidants, it helps suppress inflammation and strengthens the immune system.
These properties help you recover faster from your strep throat, while its soothing nature also helps you overcome throat soreness.
In addition to drinking green tea, you might also consider gargling with it.
A study published in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine investigated the effect of green tea gargling on sore throat after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).
The experimenters found that gargling with green tea could significantly reduce throat soreness when compared to gargling just warm water (7).
Remember to let your green tea cool down to a comfortable temperature before gargling.
Another effective herbal tea is chamomile.
It too can help repair tissues and reduce swelling and redness.
Furthermore, it helps moisten your throat and endotracheal tube, reducing soreness (8).
Other herbal teas, from licorice root to Tulsi, can also carry out similar roles.
Do make sure you purchase these teas from a reliable seller that guarantees non-contaminated products.
Certain herbal teas might not work well for you, in which case you should quit drinking it.
Some, like licorice-root tea, might be toxic if you consume it in large quantities.
If you don’t enjoy drinking herbal tea, you can also make the tea in a large container and inhale its steam for ten minutes several times a day.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is extremely versatile.
From surface cleaning to skincare, apple cider vinegar can make your life a lot easier.
And when strep throat season rolls around, it can be useful in a major way once again.
The reason why apple cider vinegar is a potent home treatment for strep throat is that it contains acetic acid.
This acid only accounts for 5 to 6 percent of the vinegar, but it is still enough to kill the dangerous streptococcus bacteria.
This will hinder bacterial growth, preventing your symptoms from getting worse, and is why it is a natural antibiotic (9).
There is also some promising new research that suggests that apple cider vinegar has a role in enhancing immune function.
A study for Fish & Shellfish Immunology tested this by measuring the expression of immune-related genes and growth performance in white shrimp.
Overall, the results provided evidence that apple cider vinegar could be used as a natural immunostimulant for shrimp in order to adjust and enhance expression of its immune-related genes (10).
Although more research is required, it follows that apple cider vinegar in adequate quantities could promote the same response in humans.
You can sip on small amounts of apple cider vinegar throughout the day.
If the taste isn’t to your liking, you can dilute it by mixing it with warm water.
If you cannot find Himalayan salt, regular salt also works.
The point is that sodium chloride will get the job done.
Mixing half a tablespoon into a glass of warm water, and gargling with it for a few minutes three times a day, will definitely help ease your strep throat symptoms.
This is thanks to salt’s mild antiseptic properties, which helps ward off infection.
The gargle will also dispel any mucus lodged in your throat.
That is important because mucus typically contains much of the pathogens that are behind your strep throat.
This will make it easier for your body to fight naturally the remaining bacteria.
In fact, a salt water gargle is linked to a 40 percent decrease in upper respiratory tract infections (11).
However, if possible, we recommend you use rock salt.
Extracted from the Himalayan mountain ranges, often in Pakistan, rock salt is considered the cleanest salt available on Earth.
Mined by hand, it avoids the chemical interference that occurs in the processing of salt, such as health-hazardous anti-clumping agents like yellow prussiate of soda.
Furthermore, it derives its beautiful rosy color from over 84 minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron.
Not only will Himalayan rock salt have higher antiseptic properties, the minerals will help you gain back overall health, too.
A mineral-rich infusion made by boiling bones with vegetables, herbs, and spices, bone broth is just what you need to nourish you back to health from strep throat.
Not only is bone broth rich in calcium, magnesium, silicon, and phosphorus, it is also a great source of collagen.
It will be much easier than solid foods to swallow and will hydrate your throat so that it loses its soreness.
It will also help clear the mucus lodged in your throat, sweeping away the bacteria contained there.
A 1978 study published in Chest measured nasal mucus velocity and nasal airflow resistance in 15 healthy subjects before and at 5 and 30 minutes after drinking hot water, hot chicken soup, and cold water.
They concluded that hot chicken soup, either through the aroma sensed at the posterior nares or through a mechanism related to taste, appears to possess an additional substance for increasing nasal mucus velocity (12).
Another study published in 2000 in the same journal suggests that chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity.
A mild anti-inflammatory effect could be one mechanism by which the soup could cause the mitigation of symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections (13).
There is thus no reason why you should not treat yourself to some yummy broth for strep throat.
You could buy pre-made organic broth online or from a store, but the best broth you can get is the one you make at home.
To do this, buy healthy bones from the butcher’s, or just save some from your meat-based meals at home.
Aim for around two pounds of bones for around a gallon of water for the best taste, and roast the bones (especially if raw) in a pan for around 30 minutes.
Add some organic vegetables of your choosing, as well as an onion, a couple of chopped carrots, and a couple of chopped celery stalks to the stock pot, along with the bones and some vinegar.
Then add the amounts of salt, pepper, spices, and herbs that you need, and bring the broth to a boil.
Once that’s done, lower temperature and just simmer.
Check in every half hour during the first few hours to scoop out the impurities that rise to the top.
Add in parsley and garlic at the last half hour.
After it’s done, strain the broth, let it cool and store it in the fridge.
Heat and drink a portion about three times each day that you have strep throat.
A member of the pea family, fenugreek is an herb with light green leaves and small white flowers.
Known as methi in India, it is widely used in curries.
The fenugreek seeds are the part of the plant with the highest medicinal quality, although they have a rather bitter taste.
But they can be cooked to make the taste more pleasant.
Fenugreek is full of a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6.
It helps treat strep throat by dislodging and expelling the mucus in your throat.
It also has antibacterial properties, so it can soothe painful inflammation and swelling (14).
You can purchase fenugreek seed and make yourself warm curries to enjoy.
However, an easier and more effective option is to drink fenugreek tea.
You can also just boil some fenugreek seed in water, and drink or gargle with the water several times a day.
Cayenne Pepper and Black Pepper
Often when you are sick it is the spiciest ingredients that are the best for your health.
That is why we recommend pepper and cayenne for when you have strep throat.
From Dr. Patrick Quillin, author of The Healing Power of Cayenne Pepper: “Folklore from around the world recounts amazing results using cayenne pepper in simple healing and in baffling health problems.
But cayenne pepper is not just a healer from ancient history.
Recent clinical studies have been conducted on many of the old-time health applications for this miracle herb.
Again and again, the therapeutic value of cayenne pepper has been medically validated.”
For instance, a study conducted by the Makerere Medical School found that capsaicin has both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties (15).
This means that much of the strep throat symptoms, including the pain, can be alleviated by cayenne pepper.
Black pepper too has noteworthy antimicrobial and anti-inflammation properties, which is why it can be a formidable opponent of strep throat (16).
You can make drinks or gargles with both cayenne and black pepper and use these several times a day.
However, in order to prevent burning, it is a good idea to add other ingredients to this list.
For example, you can mix cayenne pepper and some raw honey.
Or you can add cayenne pepper to hot water, along with cinnamon and honey.
As one of the most commonly-consumed dietary condiments in the world, ginger is probably at your nearest grocery store, if not already in your kitchen.
And that’s a great thing because of it the perfect addition to your drink when your body feels down because of strep throat.
This high antioxidant content helps remove the free radicals that hinder your performance and helps you maintain a vigorous immune system.
A study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology has determined that gingerol, the pungent constituent of ginger, also possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties (18).
So crush up some ginger, and add it to a warm beverage several times a day.
You can also try adding ginger to different dishes and condiments, such as sauces and gingerbread.
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onion are probably already in your kitchen and provide many amazing health benefits.
Garlic has long been known to fight bacteria.
Because of this, people from the soldiers of ancient Rome to the soldiers of World War II would make poultices with garlic to treat wounds and infections.
In World War II, it was actually called Russian Penicillin because the Russian government used it extensively to treat its soldiers.
Similarly, onion too has a slightly acidic nature that has led to its being used as a home remedy for infections.
In fact, a slice of onion left in a room will absorb everything from paint fumes to musty smells.
One of the first people to conduct research on the medicinal properties of garlic and onion was none other than French microbiologist and chemist Louis Pasteur.
Later research has fully backed his findings.
For example, a study from the journal Die Pharmazie tested aqueous extracts of garlic and onion for activity against microbes and bacteria.
Both were found significantly to inhibit their growth, although garlic performed better than onion (19).
Another study from the University of Colorado found that both garlic and onions have their effects on human health in a variety of ways, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial.
The organosulphur compounds in garlic and onion scavenge oxidizing agents.
This prevents the fatty acid from oxidizing and thereby inhibits bacterial growth via interaction with sulfur-containing enzymes (20).
Although it may not be the best, taste-wise, a great way to take in all the benefits of garlic and onions is to eat them raw.
You can peel a garlic clove, cut it in half, and suck on it while occasionally biting to release juices.
And with onions, you can just cut up and munch some.
If you cannot bear to do this, grate the garlic and onions and boil in water with other ingredients such as cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
Strain the water and drink several cups throughout the day.
Sage is an herb that comes from the mint family and is used in various cuisines across the world.
For instance, it often flavors Italian veal, French sausages and pate, and American Thanksgiving turkey dressing.
Sage has been known since the days of Roman antiquity as an ingredient with impressive health potential.
In fact, called “salvia salvatrix,” or “Sage the savior,” it was reputed for its healing powers.
In 1555 Hieronymus Bock wrote: “Of all the bushes, there is scarcely a bush like Sage, as it can be used in medicine, for culinary purposes, cellars, for the rich and poor.”
Modern research agrees with these old beliefs.
A study in Food Chemistry tested sage essential oil and found that it exhibited remarkable bacteriostatic and bactericidal activity against several microbial strains (21).
This is because sage contains phenolic acid. It is quite easy to use sage.
One simple and highly-effective way is to add almost boiling water over sage leaves.
Use two tablespoons of sage if it is fresh, or one tablespoon if it is dry.
You could also just buy sage essential oil and drip in a few drops into the water with honey and cinnamon.
And sage goes excellently with fatty meat, bone broth, or pasta and gnocchi.
Cloves are the aromatic flower buds that are a popular spice, used widely in drinks, savory dishes, and desserts alike.
They are useful against strep throat because of their demonstrated antimicrobial properties.
To illustrate, one study published in the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology found that clove essential oil was effective at killing off three common types of bacteria (22).
Another study conducted in Iraq tested the antimicrobial activity of clove bud oil and rosemary oil via the agar well diffusion method against four multidrug-resistant strains.
Both essential oils exhibited inhibitory effects toward all the test organisms, but clove essential oil had antibacterial activity slightly higher than that of rosemary (23).
There are plenty of ways to consume cloves while suffering from strep throat.
If you enjoy their strong taste, you can just take two to three cloves at a time and chew them slowly while going about your regular activities.
Or you can boil around three cloves per cup of water, and enjoy it as a soothing tea.
Another idea is to add cloves to hot water, let the water soak through, then use it to gargle.
Or just mix a clove with a tablespoon of honey and ginger, cinnamon, or black pepper, remove after a few hours, and sip just the honey.
Honeysuckle leaves and flowers are great for helping to stave off strep throat.
Luckily, honeysuckle harvest season and springtime strep throat season often coincide.
If possible, you should definitely keep some fresh honeysuckle flowers and leaves handy in your kitchen during that time.
In a study by AM Sandigawad, a phytochemical analysis was done on the ethanolic extract from honeysuckle leaves.
It was found that honeysuckle does have significant antibacterial properties, and can inhibit the growth of even multi-resistant strains of bacteria (24).
The best way to consume honeysuckle is to make a tasty syrup.
Bring one quart of water to a boil and add two cups of honeysuckle leaves.
Gently simmer for ten minutes, and strain.
Then add the mix back to the pot, add a cup of honey, and bring to a boil again.
You can also add other flavors, such as cinnamon or peppermint, at this point.
Drink a bit of the syrup in small amounts throughout the day.
Marshmallow Sap or Marshmallow Root
Don’t worry that marshmallows may be unhealthy; you should eat them to help treat strep throat — the gelatin in marshmallow helps lubricate and soothe throat soreness.
But even better than modern-day marshmallow is the leaves, sap, and root of the plant from which marshmallows originally derived their name.
The marshmallow plant contains polysaccharides that have antitussive, mucilaginous, and antibacterial properties.
The gelatinous substance in parts of the marshmallow plant, known as mucilage, especially helps by coating and soothing the throat.
In a study by the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, lozenges containing marshmallow root extract were tested on rats.
They were found to be effective and safe at relieving symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, particularly sore throat (25).
You can get marshmallow tea on the market, which you can drink several times a day.
However, the best way to extract all the mucilage from marshmallow is to make a cold infusion.
Use around an ounce of dried marshmallow root to a quart of cold water.
Wrap the marshmallow root in a loose-woven gauze-like carded cotton cloth, such as cheesecloth.
Then submerge the bundle and shut the lid.
Leave it overnight, and you will find that the marshmallow has sufficiently infused.
Throughout the duration of your strep throat illness, pour the liquid into a glass and sip a few times a day.
Slippery elm, or red elm, is a plant native to North America.
It has long been used as an herbal remedy, especially for digestive issues.
However, it is an effective partial treatment for strep throat, too, because, like marshmallow, it contains a lot of mucilage.
Therefore it helps ease one of the most significant symptoms of strep throat — soreness.
A study from Texas Christian University finds promising evidence for slippery elm being helpful for upper-airway inflammatory conditions, such as laryngitis and strep throat (26).
You can get slippery elm tea, tincture, lozenges, tablets, capsules, and powder.
Any of those forms can be used, as long as it’s effective.
We would recommend a powdered bark since it can be mixed easily with water and other ingredients such as cinnamon and ginger to make a delicious tea.
Not only will you get through one strep season, but continuing to drink this tea regularly might help you prevent strep infections in the future, as well.
However, since it is generally a good idea to use several of these home remedies at once for the best results, you may want to buy the bark in pill form to limit the number of liquid-based remedies.
Either way, you will likely find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Turmeric is the luxurious yellow spice that enriches the look and flavor of curries.
Acting as a natural anti-inflammatory agent, it possesses tremendous medicinal properties.
The great feature of turmeric is that, although it isn’t a big part of western cuisine preparation, it can still be incorporated into many dishes.
But for best results, we suggest that you boil a tablespoonful of turmeric with milk, and drink around three or four glasses each day once you start presenting with the symptoms of strep throat.
You can also mix a little bit of the colorful rhizome with honey and ginger, and just take a few spoonfuls throughout the day.
The taste might take some getting used to, but its potent benefits are worth it.
If you are wondering why turmeric is bright yellow, it is due to a compound called curcumin, which is what makes turmeric such a wonderful option.
In one study by the researchers Mohammed Najah and Habil Neama, the effects of turmeric on bacterial growth were observed.
It was found that curcumin exhibited very strong antibacterial activities against Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus mutans (27).
Therefore, it is a highly effective, but also highly affordable, treatment option for you or your children against strep throat.
Cinnamon and Cinnamon Oil
The bark of the cinnamon plant is another great ingredient to have in your kitchen.
Less common, but just as amazing, is cinnamon oil.
In a 2013 study, the antibacterial activities of 18 essential oil chemotypes from aromatic medicinal plants were evaluated against the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria.
Among all the oils, cinnamon oil’s effect was shown to be the strongest; based on the experimenters’ set measurements, cinnamon oil was thought to be as effective as the pharmaceutical antibiotic amoxicillin (28).
So choosing between a medical drug and a home ingredient equally as effective, why would you not choose the cheaper, more natural alternative?
When buying cinnamon oil, try to find the organic, therapeutic-grade variety.
You can then mix the few drops with a tablespoonful of raw honey, and eat the mixture several times a day.
Whenever you make a beverage, you can also add a couple drops of cinnamon oil.
As for cinnamon itself, you can munch on a stick a few times a day.
If you do not like doing that, just shave some onto a drink or salad, or find recipes that involve cinnamon.
Another great oil adept at battling Group A Strep bacteria is lemon oil.
Lemon itself is also a great item to have while experiencing strep throat, because of its high Vitamin C content.
But lemon essential oil too is great for this purpose. And right on par with lemon oil is thyme oil.
The European Association for Cranio-Maxillo Facial Surgery conducted a study on the efficacy of certain essential oils against bacteria and multi-resistant strains.
Large prevailing effective zones of inhibition were observed for thyme white, lemon, lemongrass, and cinnamon oil (29).
Another study conducted by researchers from the United Arab Emirates reiterated the findings: one hundred twenty strains of bacteria isolated from patients with infections of the oral cavity, or respiratory and genitourinary tracts and from hospital environment were investigated, and thyme oil demonstrated a good efficacy against antibiotic-resistant strains of the tested bacteria (30).
A third essential oil that is very effective against strep throat is peppermint oil.
A study in the Arabian Journal of Chemistry found that the distilled concentrations of essential oils inhibited the growth of microorganisms, and the results were comparable with those of antibiotic gentamycin (31).
Follow the same steps with these essential oils as you would with cinnamon oil.
If you do not have the time or ability to purchase these oils, you can also try and increase your intake of the fruit or herb that the oils are derived from — lemon, thyme, and peppermint.
These are all common household items that are easy to incorporate into different dishes, so it shouldn’t be that difficult.
Indian gooseberry, better known as “amla” in India, is a green sour fruit.
Packed into a single small round fruit are a lot of vitamins and nutrients.
Amla is so wonderful for health that there are actual Hindu festivals — Amalaka Ekadashi and Amla Navami — with it in its name.
Indian gooseberries are great to have during strep throat season because they are replete with phytochemicals such as furosin, gallic acid, corilagin, and quercetin.
These phytochemicals, which have the anti-oxidative power to fight free radicals, prevent inflammation from strep bacteria.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition tested consumption of amla extract and examined its effects on pro-inflammatory markers in human endothelial cells.
It found that the extract was associated with significantly lower pro-inflammatory cytokines (32).
It is also a rich source of Vitamin C, which increases white blood cells, the main line of defense for the immune system since they attack and eliminate foreign toxins and substances in the bloodstream throughout the body (33).
If you like sour-tasting fruits, you can just munch on amlas throughout the day.
Drinking some water right after will also add a specific sweetness.
Otherwise, you can grate the flesh of the berry into the water with ginger, and drink the mixture.
A blue-black berry that has a long history as a folk cure for a variety of ailments, elderberry can help fight your strep throat due to its strong antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Because of its strengthening effect on the immune system, it has been used for centuries to treat everything from constipation to cancer to influenza, and a multitude of other health issues in between.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial followed 312 airplane passengers to investigate if a standardized membrane-filtered elderberry extract had beneficial effects on physical, especially respiratory, health, and mental health.
Travelers using elderberry from 10 days before travel until 4–5 days after arriving overseas on average experienced a 2-day shorter cold duration and also noticed a reduction in cold symptoms (34).
Another study observed similar results, and emphasized the safety and efficacy of elderberries over antiviral and antibacterial medication (35).
There are a lot of ways to consume elderberry: tea, wine juice, jelly, jam, juice, syrup, ointment, astringent, infusion, spray, lozenges, pills, powder, and capsules.
In which form you purchase it should depend on your personal tastes and product availability.
You may also just buy elderberries and make your own syrups and juices, mixing in what you want for taste.
Echinacea is an herb grown originally in areas east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States, as well as in several regions of Canada and Europe.
It may be tougher to find than some of these other ingredients, but you will not regret putting in a little extra effort to do so.
The Great Plains Indian tribes made extensive use of Echinacea leaves, flowers, and root for treating various health problems, mainly to fight infections (especially the common cold, the flu, and other upper respiratory infections, but also many other infections including urinary tract, herpes, vaginal yeast, HIV/AIDS, human papillomavirus (HPV), and much more.
This ability to fight infections is that with which we are concerned, despite Echinacea’s having many other meaningful health benefits.
The settlers who took over that region also realized that and used Echinacea to make medicine from the time they settled up until when antibiotics were made.
But now we understand the downside of antibiotics, and how they don’t always work, so going back to Echinacea has become a popular health decision.
You can find Echinacea products in many forms, such as tea, spray, juice, or tablet.
When buying such products, verify the quality and authenticity, and ensure that it is not contaminated by lead, arsenic, or selenium.
If you find such an Echinacea product, consume it in the specified amounts several times a day to improve your strep symptoms.
It will likely be a very effective treatment, since it is known to combat the common symptoms of upper respiratory infections, such as a sore throat and inflammation.
A study in Phytogenes found that standardized Echinacea readily inactivated Group A Strep, and also completely reversed the cellular proinflammatory response (36).
Sometimes also called oil swishing (or “gundusha” in Hindi), oil pulling involves holding some oil in your mouth and moving it around for up to 20 minutes.
This practice is generally to support oral health since the oil helps get rid of bacteria in the mouth.
This then allows for pleasant breath, strong and cavity-free teeth, and healthy gums that are less sensitive.
The hope with oil pulling when it comes to strep throat is that it will also kill some of the strep bacteria in your mouth and throat.
For that reason, you may also gargle with the oil.
However, make sure that you don’t then swallow it, as the bacteria now in the oil will spread to other parts of the body.
This is a good remedy to try since research has shown that similar bacteria in the streptococcus family were successfully fought off through oil pulling.
For example, a study published in the Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry evaluated the effect of oil pulling with sesame oil on the count of Streptococcus mutans in plaque and saliva of children, using the Dentocult SM Strip mutans test, and compared its efficacy with that of chlorhexidine mouthwash.
They found that the reduction in the S. mutans count in the plaque of the study group was statistically significant (37).
The best oil to use is a couple tablespoons of a vegetable-based oil, such as coconut oil, sesame oil, or olive oil.
Since your objective is to maximize its antibacterial properties, feel free to add in some of the ingredients mentioned above.
An example is two tablespoons of coconut oil mixed with cinnamon leaf, peppermint, and Manuka honey.
When to See a Doctor
Despite knowing the symptoms of strep throat, you may have trouble evaluating by yourself whether or not that is what you have.
Try the natural remedies above for around a week to let their benefits appear.
If the symptoms have not significantly lessened, book an appointment with a doctor.
A second reason to visit the doctor, even if a week hasn’t passed, is if the symptoms get too painful to bear, or are rapidly worsening.
Severe throat pain, severe difficulty in swallowing food or saliva, swelling and redness in the neck, labored breathing, inability to open the mouth, bleeding in the throat — these are all symptoms that warrant a rush to the emergency unit.
Even if conditions aren’t as bad but are steadily deteriorating, you should go and get a lab test immediately so that you can receive a more formal treatment plan.
The test will involve a cotton swab at the back of the throat and a brief test to identify the bacteria.
Rapid antigen detection tests do have up to a 30 percent chance of being wrong, so a negative might not rule out strep throat.
In that case, if your symptoms seem consistent with strep throat, your doctor may order a throat culture — which can take up to two days — to make sure.
If it is the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, it will be confirmed that it is a case of strep throat, and your doctor will tell you what medications should be taken in what doses and for how long.
If it is some other infection, whether viral or bacterial, your doctor can still advise you how best to treat it.
Although we recommend that you try our home remedies first, do keep in mind that you should visit a doctor if they don’t appear to be benefiting you even after a week.
This is the wisest course of action because sometimes strep throat can be such a severe illness that it requires medical intervention.
For example, untreated strep throat could also develop into scarlet fever, since both are caused by the same bacterium.
Scarlet fever is characterized by rough and blotchy pink-red rashes that normally do not itch, accompanied by very high fever and sore throat.
It might also lead to a peritonsillar abscess, which is a pus-filled infection that develops in the back of the tonsils and which needs to be removed by a medical professional.
Other complications include: ear infections, sinusitis, rheumatic fever (an inflammatory disease that affects the joints, the heart, and the skin), post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (an inflammation of the kidneys), guttate psoriasis (small, red teardrop-shaped spots appearing on the body), and mastoiditis (an infection of the mastoid bone in the skull).
That said, we definitely do not suggest taking antibiotics right away.
Doing so can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and can also fatigue your body and cause side effects.
Strep throat is, unfortunately, an illness that we have to face now and again.
Especially for those of us who work in the closed confines of office spaces and have children at school, it is a frequent visitor.
But with the knowledge that you now have about strep throat and how to treat it — naturally at home! — you can fight it with ease.
So the next time you start seeing the painful symptoms, you know what ingredients to whip up to nip this nuisance in the bud!