A sore throat usually goes away without treatment. However, over-the-counter medications are not always effective in treating sore throats, and it can take several days for a sore throat to improve. Essential oils are an alternative approach that can relieve a sore throat.
Essential oils are made from the leaves, flowers or roots of certain plants. Through a process known as distillation, essential oils are extracted in a highly concentrated form from the plant. They contain many original medicinal properties of the plant. Essential oils have long been used in alternative medicine to treat conditions as diverse as skin problems or depression. This article looks at 10 essential oils that might be useful for treating a sore throat.
Ten essential oils for sore throat
The following essential oils can help treat a sore throat:
Peppermint has antimicrobial properties that help treat a sore throat. Peppermint is one of the most popular essential oils for treating a sore throat. A 2013 study found that peppermint oil had antimicrobial properties against pathogens that enter the body through the mouth. A more recent study suggested that peppermint oil also acts as an antibacterial agent, meaning it can help fight bacteria. Peppermint also contains menthol, which is the base ingredient in many sore throat medications, such as lozenges.
A 2005 study suggests that lavender has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. These properties could support lavender as a sore throat treatment.
A 2007 review claimed that certain parts of the Echinacea plant may help treat cold symptoms. The essential oil is derived from the Echinacea plant and may have similar benefits.
Eucalyptus has been widely used in cosmetics, cleansing, and alternative medicine. Studies have shown that eucalyptus leaf oil is antibacterial. Some studies have even suggested its use as a natural antibiotic to treat infections.
Ginger is a common ingredient in many different cuisines. It has also been widely used in alternative medicine, especially to treat gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea and vomiting. Research suggests that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, which could also be useful for treating a sore throat.
Many throat medications, including sore throat lozenges, are flavored with lemon. A 2017 study found that lemon essential oils have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, which may help treat a sore throat and prevent infections.
Studies from 2008 and 2014 found that thyme essential oils have strong antimicrobial properties, which can help fight harmful pathogens. Thyme might be helpful in treating sore throats caused by bacterial infections.
8. Bitter Orange
Bitter orange has already been used as a dietary supplement to promote weight loss. One study suggested that it may also have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, which could help relieve a sore throat.
9. The tea tree
Tea tree oil is most often used in skin products, but could also be useful for treating a sore throat. A 2013 study found that tea tree oils have antimicrobial properties that protect against pathogens that enter the body through the mouth.
The combination of echinacea and sage has been shown to ease the discomfort of a sore throat. When used as an essential oil, they can have the same effect.
How to use essential oils
Essential oils can be used aromatically by diffusing them into the air or diluted in a carrier oil and applied topically, but they should never be ingested.
essential oils for sore throat can be diffused before inhaling.
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Essential oils can be diffused into the ambient air using a room diffuser.
Essential oils can be used aromatically, which means that a person inhales them. This can be done in several different ways, including:
Use a room diffuser to diffuse the essential oil into the ambient air.
Put up to 7 drops of essential oil per 2 cups of boiling water in a bowl, place a towel over your head and inhale the steam.
Add up to 3 drops of essential oil to a cotton ball or tissue and inhale the vapors.
Add essential oils to surface cleaners or a load of laundry.
Great care should be taken when using essential oils around children and pets. Many essential oils are toxic or fatal to pets, especially cats.
Mix a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil, such as warmed coconut or sweet almond oil, and apply directly to the outside of the throat. A gentle massage of the area will promote absorption. It is recommended to start with 1 or 2 drops before increasing the dose. This will prevent unwanted skin reactions, such as rashes or itching.
Always do a test before using the oils on the body, as they can cause an allergic reaction. To test, apply a coin-sized spot of the diluted oil to the inside of the arm. If there is no reaction after 24 hours, the oil is safe to use. Essential oils are very concentrated and should only be used in small amounts. Even in small doses, they are not completely safe and can cause unwanted side effects, including:
skin irritation (topically)
increased heart rate
shortness of breath
If a person experiences any unwanted side effects, they should stop using essential oils and talk to a doctor. Anyone taking medication should also talk to their doctor to check if the essential oils are reacting with the medication.
Essential oils are a promising alternative to over-the-counter medications for treating sore throats. However, more high-quality evidence is needed to support the use and effectiveness of essential oils. Essential oils are often mistakenly viewed as a risk-free form of therapy. It is important to remember that these are highly concentrated substances and can have unwanted side effects.