Ginger is a spicy, pungent herb that’s used for cooking and healing. One medicinal use of ginger, supported by both scientific studies and tradition, is for the treatment of sore throats.
Ginger may help sore throats in several ways. For example, it may provide some pain relief as an anti-inflammatory. It also boosts immunity to help fight infections that cause sore throats.
There’s even more ginger can do to help sore throats. This article explains the benefits of ginger for treating and relieving a sore throat, and how to take ginger.
Ginger contains bioactive compounds. Bioactive compounds are phytonutrients found in certain foods that have beneficial effects on your health. The most notable bioactive compounds in ginger are gingerols and shogaols (, ).
Studies show these compounds have anti-inflammatory properties that may help manage or reduce your risk for many conditions, including sore throats. However, more controlled, scientific research is needed to fully understand the role ginger plays in treating and soothing sore throats. ().
Ginger is also believed to have antimicrobial properties that may help fight infections (bacterial or viral), including those that cause sore throats (, ).
In one in vitro (test tube) study, a solution with 10 percent ginger extract was found to inhibit Streptococcus mutans, Candida albicans, and Enterococcus faecalis. These three microorganisms are commonly responsible for oral infections. More research is needed to specifically look at the effects of ginger on bacteria and viruses known to cause sore throats ().
Lastly, ginger has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants may provide protective and healing benefits against disease. In one study, fresh ginger was found to provide more antioxidative benefits than dried ginger (7, 8, ).
Summary Ginger has many health properties that provide a multifaceted natural approach to treating sore throats. It may help relieve and fight infection, while also boosting immunity to get rid of sore throat causes.
The pain you experience with a sore throat comes from the inflammation and itchiness in your throat. This inflammation can be the result of your body’s immune response to an infection, or due to an irritant, like postnasal drip.
The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger can help soothe a sore throat by relieving inflammation. Research suggests that ginger may do this by blocking pro-inflammatory proteins in the body. These proteins cause inflammatory pain and itchiness ().
Additionally, research in two different studies shows ginger helped tonsillitis and pharyngitis pain in combination with other herbs. In one study, 7 out of 10 participants with chronic tonsillitis saw a reduction in symptoms of acute tonsillitis. The other study was done in test tubes in a lab, but showed promising results (, ).
Summary A sore throat is an immune response to infection. Ginger may help reduce the pain it causes by reducing painful inflammatory responses to fighting infection.
Ginger may help soothe throat pain and improve your recovery time. The reason: Ginger’s compounds may enhance immunity ().
One laboratory study showed ginger stimulated the immune system to kill viruses. These results suggest that ginger has the potential to reduce incidences of sore throat, provide quicker symptom relief, and improve recovery time. Tests in humans are needed to confirm these results ().
Summary Ginger promotes immune responses to kill viruses. Many sore throats are caused by viral infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics. Ginger may provide sore throat relief and speed up recovery time.
Ginger may help sore throats by protecting against bacteria, pathogens, and toxins. These are known as microbes ().
Some of these microbes cause sore throat. This includes strep throat, which is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria.
One study compared the effectiveness of ginger extract versus antibiotics on strep-causing bacteria. As part of the study, ginger was extracted in various amounts from the root and leaves of the plant, and diluted with water or ethanol (14).
Solvents made from the leaves and root were equally effective at inhibiting the bacteria, and were comparable to the antibiotics. The ethanol-based solvents were more effective than the water-based solvents. This research was all done in test tubes. More research is needed to understand the antimicrobial effects of ginger in people (14).
Summary Ginger has antimicrobial properties. It may help inhibit pathogens that cause sore throats, and may be an alternative to antibiotics for treating some bacterial infections.
To treat sore throat, you can take ginger in a few ways.
Raw ginger root
Raw ginger root can be found in the produce section at some grocery stores. It looks like a pale brown root, and can be purchased in various sizes.
To use, start by removing the exterior, bark-like surface. You can do this by gently rubbing a spoon along the surface of the root.
Then, slice off a 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh raw ginger root, and chew on it. It’s ok to swallow the root as it turns to pulp, or you can spit it out if the pulp irritates you.
Chew on a piece of ginger root two to three times per day for relief.
This is the most intense way to take ginger due to the herb’s spicy heat. It may not be for everyone.
Ginger candy, chew, or lozenge
A less intense way to consume ginger is to suck on a ginger lozenge. You can purchase these from your local grocery store or pharmacy. They’re also available online from Amazon.
Read the directions and warnings on the package closely, and follow the directions regarding serving size.
Also, make sure the product you purchase contains real ginger. Raw ginger is best.
Sipping hot ginger tea is a popular and effective sore throat home remedy. The warm liquid may be soothing to an inflamed throat, and the tea is an easy way to consume ginger and allow it to come into contact with your throat.
Ginger tea is easy to make. You can also purchase prepackaged ginger tea bags.
To make ginger tea at home, combine 2 teaspoons (9.8 ml) fresh or dried ginger in 1 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for five minutes, then strain the liquid to remove the ginger before drinking. Drink ginger tea up to three times per day for relief.
Ginger powder or seasoning
You can use powdered ginger to season your meals. Powdered ginger is available from the spice section at many grocery stores.
To use, add about two teaspoons (9.8 ml) per meal. You can add more if you enjoy the flavor. You can also take 2 teaspoons of powder (9.8 ml) without food up to three times per day. Mixing it with warm water makes it easier to swallow.
You can also replace ginger powder with chopped raw root if you like.
Ginger powder supplement
Ginger is available as supplement pills or capsules. Ginger supplements are made using ginger powder.
Read the label directions closely. Dosage recommendations on the label may not be based on human trials. The optimal dose for supplements is often unknown and varies depending on the product used in trials. Talk to a physician or pharmacist to determine the best dosage for you.
Summary There are many ways to take ginger for sore throat. Choose the method that best suits your lifestyle and needs. Some methods may be more effective than others.
Many studies have explored the antimicrobial benefits of honey, and it has shown promise in inhibiting a range of bacteria and virus. However, most studies have been in vitro studies. More research is needed to support the use of honey as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial (15).
One study found some evidence to suggest that the antimicrobial effects of ginger and honey may be enhanced when used together. The study looked at the effects of ginger and honey on cavity causing bacteria in teeth. Results were mixed, but showed promise for enhanced effects on inhibiting some bacteria (16).
Take ginger and honey together in juices, cold infusions, or other recipes. You can also add 1 tablespoon (5 ml) of honey to hot ginger tea.
Summary Ginger and honey are more effective together than ginger alone. Honey also helps ginger taste better.
Ginger is considered safe for most people, but it’s possible to have a ginger allergy. It’s also important to note that ginger should not be used as a replacement for doctor-recommended or prescribed cold, flu, or antibiotic medications.
Be cautious when using teas and supplements regularly if you’re pregnant. Sometimes, ginger causes gastric discomfort. Discontinue use if this happens (, 18).
Ginger products are not reviewed by the FDA. Their safety, quality, and purity are not evaluated.
For this reason, source ginger products only from trustworthy companies. Look for quality certification seals from the USP (United States Pharmacopeia), NSF International, or Consumer Lab. These seals indicate that the products have met third-party quality standards. (19).
You can also stick to brands that your doctor or pharmacist recommend. Make sure the products you choose contain real ginger. (20).
If you take medications, always talk to your doctor before using ginger or other supplements. Interactions are possible (18).
Summary Ginger for sore throat is generally a safe home remedy. If you’re pregnant or taking medication, always talk with your doctor before consuming ginger or other supplements.
Ginger may provide some relief for sore throats. It may also help prevent sore throats because of the antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Clinical studies are limited, but in vitro studies show a lot of promise for the medicinal use of this herb. Ginger should not be used as a substitute for doctor recommended or prescribed medications, but it can help support a holistic treatment plan.
There are many ways to consume ginger. Experiment with different methods to find what works best for you.