Four home remedies that actually work for winter illnesses

If you wake up with a stabbing feeling in the throat, this might signal that a virus has reached your throat and will make its presence felt. Here are some remedies to try to relieve a sore throat:

A woman blowing her nose into a tissue, possibly after or sneeze or while sick (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A woman blowing her nose into a tissue, possibly after or sneeze or while sick
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The worst part of winter illnesses, more than a runny nose, cough, or fever with chills, is definitely a sore throat. There's nothing more maddening than a sharp, burning sensation that makes it difficult for one to swallow, talk and even sleep. 

If you wake up with a stabbing feeling in the throat, this might signal that a virus has reached your throat and will make its presence felt.

The reason for this preliminary tingling is that viruses cause inflammation in the body, and this tends to happen specifically in the tissues of the tonsils or on the sides of the throat. This burning sensation should pass soon, but even a few days of throat pain every time you try to swallow can cause one to suffer. 

So assuming that the cause of the infection is viral and not bacterial, antibiotics won't be useful. Here are some remedies to try to relieve a sore throat.

Honey

Honey is a standard ingredient in traditional and alternative medicine due to its antibacterial properties and its ability to reduce inflammation. Honey has a soothing effect on sore throats because it's sticky and thick. It coats the throat with a thin layer that reduces irritation every time you swallow.

 Child eating honey (Illustrative) (credit: PIXABAY) Child eating honey (Illustrative) (credit: PIXABAY)

Saltwater

It's less tasty than honey, but it's effective. Gargling salt water may help reduce the swelling of tissues in the throat and destroy any bacteria there. 

To make a saltwater solution, mix half a teaspoon of fine salt in a cup of warm water to dissolve. Gargle the solution for a minute or two and spit it out at the end, not swallow.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is known as a natural remedy for stomach aches, but studies have shown that the chamomile plant also has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in antioxidants and even hemostatic, or blood clotting, agents. 

It's recommended to start drinking it at the first signs of tickling or tingling in the throat, and it may be effective in stopping or reducing the pain. Chamomile is naturally caffeine-free so you can drink it before bed. If you add honey this will help heal the sore throat from several fronts at the same time.

Hot water with lemon

This yellow and sour citrus fruit contains a winning combination of antibacterial, antiviral and immune system-strengthening substances. Drinking it creates an acidic and very unfriendly environment for viruses and bacteria, which makes it hard for them to reproduce

Lemon contains a fair amount of vitamin C, which several studies have indicated can help the body fight off colds.