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There’s something soothing about the warmth, flavor, and aroma of tea and herbal infusions. Drinking fluids can keep your throat moist and reduce your risk of dehydration.

Reach for a cup of tea

When you have a sore throat, you might find yourself reaching for a steaming cup of tea. For many people, there’s something soothing about the warmth, flavor, and aroma of tea and herbal infusions. Some blends may be especially helpful for relieving your symptoms.

Even if you’re not typically a tea drinker, a warm cup of tea might make a comforting addition to your day when you have a sore throat. It has several potential benefits.

For example, many teas contain antioxidants. These compounds can help your body fight off illnesses, such as colds and other viruses. They may boost your immune system and promote healing. Antioxidants also help with healing tissue. Some teas and herbal blends provide anti-inflammatory effects that may help reduce pain and swelling.

Drinking fluids can keep your throat moist and reduce your risk of dehydration. This may help reduce irritation and pain in your throat. According to the Mayo Clinic, warm liquids in particular can help soothe a sore throat.

Tea also provides a perfect vehicle for honey, a natural antibacterial and soothing sore throat agent. According to information published in Canadian Family Physician, honey might help ease the symptoms of a cold. It might even work better than diphenhydramine (Benadryl), an antihistamine used to treat cold and allergy symptoms. Honey should not be given to children under a year because of the danger of infantile botulism.

What types of teas and herbal infusions are the best to drink when you’re trying to soothe that sore throat? There are many varieties that may provide relief and comfort. Consider trying one of these options.

1. Slippery elm tea

Slippery elm is an herb that’s been used as a natural remedy for centuries. It contains a substance called mucilage, which turns into a gel-like matter when mixed with water. When you drink slippery elm tea, that gel can help coat your throat, which may soothe and protect it when it’s sore. One small study reported in the Journal of Investigational Biochemistry found that participants rated slippery elm tea as more soothing than decaffeinated orange pekoe tea.

Read more: Slippery elm bark: Four surprising benefits »

2. Licorice root tea

Like slippery elm tea, licorice root tea is a common alternative remedy for sore throats, reports the Mayo Clinic. You can sip a cup or try gargling it. To gargle licorice tea, prepare a cup following the package directions. Let it cool to a comfortable temperature. Then gargle it for several seconds before spitting it out.

Licorice root can be dangerous in large quantities, especially if you have certain health conditions. Talk to your doctor before trying licorice root tea.

Read more: Health benefits of licorice root »

3. Horehound tea

Horehound is an antioxidant-rich herb with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s traditionally been used as a remedy for sore throats and colds. It also works like a mild cough expectorant, so if you’re having issues with mucus buildup, horehound tea might be helpful. Look for horehound tea at your local pharmacy or health food store. There are no current studies on the medicinal use of horehound.

Shop online for horehound tea.

4. Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is a fan favorite among many tea lovers. Not only is it one of the most widely available herbal teas, it’s also one of the oldest known herbal remedies.

Many studies have examined the potential benefits of chamomile for treating a variety of conditions. According to authors of a review article in Molecular Medicine Reports, evidence suggests it may help lubricate your throat, which may be useful in warding off hoarseness and pain. Chamomile tea is known to have anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling and redness. Chamomile also has antioxidant properties which are helpful for tissue repair and health. The antispasmodic action of chamomile might also reduce cough.

If your sore throat is caused by a cold, chamomile may relieve some of your other cold symptoms as well. Even if you’re not up for drinking it, inhaling chamomile steam might be helpful.

Shop for chamomile tea.

5. Turmeric tea

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. It’s often sold as a spice, dried and ground into a bright yellow powder. You can also prepare and drink it as a tea. Look for turmeric tea bags or add ground turmeric to boiling water, simmer it for several minutes, and strain it into a cup. Feel free to add honey to sweeten it.

According to research published in the Indian Journal of Research in Homoeopathy, turmeric has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. It might help provide relief from throat pain or irritation.

Learn more: Turmeric and curcumin: The antioxidant spice »

6. Green tea

Green tea is a rich source of antioxidants. It also has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Some believe that gargling green tea can help relieve a sore throat. In a study reported in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, scientists found that gargling green tea helped ward off sore throat symptoms in postoperative patients. Green tea has numerous other health benefits that may improve overall functioning and healing.

If you want to give this method a try, brew up a cup of green tea. Let it cool to a comfortable temperature. Then gargle it for several seconds before spitting it out. You can repeat this process 2–3 times as needed.

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7. Combination teas

There are several commercial products that mix many of the herbs specific for throat soothing and coating.

Before you try any type of herbal remedy, it’s best to check with your doctor. Some herbs can interact with medications that you might be taking. Some herbs can also be dangerous if you have certain health conditions or consume too much of them. For example, licorice root tea can be toxic if you drink too much of it. Herbs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and they can be contaminated or even have ingredients that differ from what’s on the label. If you choose herbs from reliable sources, it tends to be safer.

Your doctor can help you understand the potential risks of taking certain herbs, including possible drug interactions and other side effects.

You should also seek professional medical attention if your sore throat:

  • lasts more than a week
  • is getting worse
  • is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, chills, nausea, or vomiting

If you have a sore throat, sipping a warm cup of tea might help soothe it. In some cases, gargling cool tea may also help provide relief. Don’t forget to add a drizzle or two of honey to help make the tea even more comforting.

Want to give it a try? Shop for honey here.