Essential Oils for a Sore Throat
As common as they are, sore throats still have the ability to completely ruin my day. A few years ago, after I had decided to take a more holistic approach to my health and well-being, I began to experiment with the healing properties of essential oils. I lived in a big city at the time, and the pollution in the air resulted in my throat being almost constantly irritated. With the help or aromatherapy and certain essential oils, I was able to say goodbye to sore throats quickly, easily, and without the use of any harmful chemicals or traditional medicines. Below, I have shared with you the best essential oils for sore throats and how to use them safely and effectively.
What Causes Sore Throats?
Sore throats are usually caused by some type of viral or bacterial infection, which is why you most commonly experience them alongside other symptoms. If you have been around an infected person it’s possible that you will develop similar symptoms. This can be the result of ailments such as the common cold, flu, and strep throat just to name a few. The coughing associated with some of these ailments can make a sore throat more severe.
Irritants in the air can also cause sore throats. If you have allergies to irritants like dust or mold, then you probably find that sore throats develop easily when your allergies are acting up. In some people, even just the air being too dry can cause throat irritation. While these sore throats don’t come with any illness or other symptoms, they can be extremely uncomfortable and leave you desperately seeking relief.
If you have overexerted your voice in any way, then it’s possible that you could develop a sore throat without the presence of irritants, pollutants in the air, or viral and bacterial infections. For example, screaming, singing, or cheering for extended periods of time may cause sore throats to develop.
What Essential Oils are Good for Bacterial and Viral Sore Throats?
Lavender essential oil is most commonly used for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. These properties make it an amazing and all-natural remedy for a sore throat that’s been caused by some type of infection. What makes lavender essential oil so great is its ability to not just soothe your sore throat but also help your body fight the initial infection if caught early enough. It also has analgesic (pain relieving) properties and may stimulate the immune system. It is one of the safest essential oils and can be used on children and adults alike.
Tea tree oil is a fabulous oil to have in your first aid kit because it is thought to be antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal (Source). This means that no matter whether your sore throat is from bacterial or viral causes, tea tree can help your body start defending itself.
Chamomile is a soothing oil and can help calm your sore throat . It is both cooling and analgesic. Both Roman and German Chamomile would work, but Roman Chamomile tends to be a little less expensive.
Thyme is both antiseptic and anti-spasmodic. If you have a cough associated with your sore throat, thyme can help. There are a few chemotypes of Thyme. Thyme ct geraniol is one of the gentler thyme oils yet is anti-viral, analgesic, and cooling.
The two best ways to use essential oils for a sore throat are to do a steam inhalation or to massage a dilution into your throat.
To make a steam inhalation, add 2-3 drops of essential oil or of your blend to a bowl of hot, but not boiling, water. Tent a towel over your head and inhale the steam for 5-10 minutes (or less if it becomes uncomfortable). If you are making a blend of oils, you may need to make a master blend first and then add 2-3 drops of your blend to the hot water. You can save the rest of your master blend for your next treatment.
To make a massage oil, dilute 2 drops of essential oils into a teaspoon (5ml) of a carrier oil such as olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil. Massage the blend into your throat area. Applying a warm washcloth over your neck for a few minutes will warm up the skin, open up your capillaries, and help your body absorb the oil better. Again, when working with small blends, you may need to make master blend first, and then add a couple drops of that to your carrier. If you are making a massage oil for a child, use 1 drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
A few blends to try include:
3 drops lavender
1 drop chamomile (this blend is suitable for children)
2 drops lavender
1 drop thyme ct geraniol
2 drops lavender
1 drop tea tree
Should you gargle essential oils?
Some sources may recommend gargling essential oils diluted in water. You can achieve similar effects of bringing the oil in direct contact with your throat tissues by inhaling the vapors as described above. I do not recommend that anyone ingest essential oils without qualified medical supervision. Even though when you are gargling, you spit out the oils, many oils are contra-indicated for use on mucosal tissue. The insides of your mouth are mucosal tissue. Since essential oils do not disperse evenly in water (in other words oil and water don’t mix) even if you stir the oil into the water, it will quickly coagulate on the surface. This means your whole drop of essential oil could contact the lining of your mouth or throat causing a burning or stinging sensation. If you insist on gargling an essential oil (which I don’t recommend) you should dilute it in a carrier oil. Fractionated coconut oil is thin enough to gargle.
A better choice is to gargle with lavender or tea tree hydrosol. Hydrosols are the water byproduct of steam distillation and have many of the therapeutic properties of their essential oils counterparts. They also contain water soluble molecules from the plant parts that don’t make it into the essential oil. Hydrosols are much gentler than essential oils and do not need to be diluted, making them safer to use. Gargle for 30 seconds and spit. Repeat every few hours as needed.
What Essential Oils are Good for Sore Throats Caused by Irritants?
If your sore throat was caused by irritants in the air or by overexerting your voice, then peppermint essential oil could give you some relief. Because of its analgesic and cooling properties, peppermint oil can provide almost immediate relief from throat irritation and pain.
Inhalation is the best way to soothe a sore throat with peppermint oil. For the quickest and most immediate way to find relief, dilute a drop or two of peppermint essential oil in your hand with a teaspoon of a carrier oil. Rub the mixture into your palms, and place them over your nose and mouth to breath in. Your throat should immediately feel cooler, and after a few minutes you should find relief from your sore throat. This can be repeated as needed throughout the day until symptoms completely disappear. This should not be used for children under 10 as peppermint may slow down the respiratory systems of young children when used around the face and nose.
Sore throats are extremely common due to both infection and irritants in the air, but you don’t need to use traditional medicines or chemicals to treat them. Essential oils for sore throats have been used for many years due to their healing capabilities, soothing effects, and antibacterial and antiviral properties. Next time you feel a sore throat coming on, try essential oils to ease your symptoms and get rid of it in a safe and all-natural way.