sore throat naturopathy nutrition immune health

Natural remedies for a sore throat

feamle-sore-throat Natural remedies for a sore throat

Winter has made its presence felt, which means the cold and flu season will start to take a hold. Often, we get a few niggling signs of a cold or flu a few days before they really strike. A scratchy, sore throat is usually the first to appear and this is the time to take action.

Why do we get a scratchy or a sore throat before a cold or flu?

First things first, let’s start with why you get a sore throat before coming down with a full-blown cold or flu.

Viral infections are the culprit in cases of cold and flu, and these viruses invade the body via mucosal surfaces in the nasal passage, sinuses, mouth and eyes. Once the virus breaks through these membrane barriers, they don’t get far before being detected by the immune cells on patrol in the lymphatic glands located at the back of the throat and under the jawline. These immune cells raise the alarm, creating a localised response to invading virus that results in inflammation, swelling and some discomfort or pain — all of which can cause that scratchy “feels like I have swallowed razor blades” sore throat.

A sore throat is your first indication to take action — nip it in the bud

It is during the very early stage of infection (when you get that initial niggle in your throat) that you can really nip that cold or flu in the bud. There are a few key things you can do to support your immune system in fighting off the infection and prevent it progressing to a nasty cold or flu.

1. Rest

Your immune system is working overtime to quash this infection and this takes energy. So, one of the most supportive things you can do is rest. Skip the high-intensity gym session and opt for a restorative yoga class or a gentle stroll along the beach. Head to bed early with a good book and cup of herbal tea. Carve out some time during your day for restful breaks — do a meditation, sit outside in the sun or even a quick lie down under the desk if you can’t escape the office. Resting doesn’t always equate to sleep, you just need to take things down a notch or two.

2. Nourish

Your hard-working immune system needs nourishment, so it’s time to dig out mum’s chicken soup recipe. Soups and slow-cooker meals are really nourishing foods that provide nutrients and energy to keep your immune system going. If you don’t have a go-to soup recipe, this immune-boosting chicken soup is delicious and packed with medicinal foods. Make up a batch and keep and emergency stash in the freezer.

3. Hydrate

Inadequate hydration can impact our health in a number of ways, including immune function. Healthy mucous membranes are normally coated with a thin layer of mucous, which traps particles such as dust or pollen and microbes such as viruses, bacteria and fungi. Small finger-like projections in the mucous membranes (known as cilia) beat simultaneously to sweep the mucous out of the body. With dehydration, mucous membranes tend to be drier and stickier, making it difficult for the cilia to sweep out the mucous and debris it has accumulated, and much easier for pathogens to take up residence and cause infection.

As humidity levels are often lower in the winter months, we can lose more water via our skin without really noticing. Keep up your fluid intake with lots of warming herbal teas, soups and bone broths.

4. Soothe

Soothing your sore throat and preventing a full-blown infection is likely to be the main priority at the moment. So, here is a simple naturopathic remedy you can brew up at home with infection-fighting properties and a soothing, anti-inflammatory action.

feamle-sore-throat Natural remedies for a sore throat

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory herb, traditionally used for infections, head colds, aching joints and sore throats. Sage is also has astringent properties, making it ideal for strengthening the integrity of mucosal tissues.

organic green tea (either bags or loose leaf)
4-5 sage leaves
1 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoons of Manuka honey

Combine the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and honey, then add the sage leaves to soak for an hour. You can also leave it to soak overnight to get a stronger, more potent mixture. Brew up a pot of green tea and add in your sage, honey and lemon juice mixture. Sip on tea throughout the day to soothe that scratchy, sore throat.

Author — Sarah Woolner, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist at Total Health Brookvale. Read more about Sarah

hay fever; allergy; spring

Hay fever & allergy fighting foods

Fruits-and-vege Hay fever & allergy fighting foods

Spring has definitely sprung here in Sydney. It is a gorgeous time of year, with the days getting longer and the sun shining a little stronger. For those with hay fever and seasonal allergies, however, spring can be quite a miserable time. Sneezing, itchiness, scratchy throats, and dripping noses do not make for an enjoyable spring.

What causes hay fever and allergies?

Hayfever and other allergies occur when the immune system becomes highly reactive to substances known as allergens. Some common allergens include pollens, dust mites, cockroaches, animals (saliva), moulds and cigarette smoke. Reactions to allergens vary greatly from person to person and the severity of allergies depends on a number of factors such as genetics, antibiotic use, and dietary. While there is not much we can do to change our genetics and previous exposure to antibiotics, there is a lot we can change about the food we eat.

Allergy-fighting foods

Generally speaking, increasing your intake fruits and vegetables will go a long way in supporting a healthy immune system. There are, however, some foods with specific anti-allergic properties that you may want to add to your diet — especially if you suffer from hay fever.

Kiwifruit, pineapple, and papaya

Loaded with vitamin C and bioflavonoids, these fruits are a fantastic immune food. Vitamin C and bioflavonoids help to prevent the release of histamine from immune cells. Histamine is a chemical that is released in response to allergens and contributes to allergy symptoms.

An added benefit of these lovely tropical fruits is that they naturally contain enzymes that aid in the digestion of foods we eat.

Ginger and turmeric

These spices pack a big anti-inflammatory punch. Reducing inflammation can help relieve congestion symptoms in hay fever, as well as skin irritation and welts that can occur with contact allergies.

Try adding a little fresh ginger and turmeric to your salad dressing or juice/smoothie. You could also try a soothing ginger, turmeric, and honey tea — perfect for that scratchy throat.

Brazil nuts

The humble brazil nut is one of the richest sources of the mineral and antioxidant, selenium. Adequate intake of selenium is essential for a healthy immune system. Unfortunately, our Australian soils are somewhat deficient in selenium, which means our produce will be typically lower in selenium too. So, when buying brazil nuts look for South American origin brazil nuts as they are likely to contain more selenium.

Eating 4-6 brazil nuts per day will provide a healthy daily dose of selenium and keep your immune system in check.


Lentils, legumes, and beans provide prebiotic fibres that feed our gut bacteria, known our microbiota. Why is feeding our gut bugs important? Because our microbiota makes up a significant part of our immune system and can help in controlling the allergic response. If you are new to trying legumes, introduce them slowly — they have a tendency to create a bit of wind.

To help reduce the wind-producing factor, soak dried legumes/lentils for 24 hours in cold water and rinse thoroughly before cooking.

Naturopathic care for hay fever and allergies

While a diet full of healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds will provide a solid foundation for balancing an overreactive immune system, sometimes a little herbal intervention is required to help ease acute symptoms. There may also be other environmental or dietary factors contributing to your hay fever symptoms, which can be assessed in a naturopathic consultation.

Sarah Woolner
Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist

If you are in need of support for hay fever, allergies or allergic asthma, I would love to help you. You can book in a naturopathic appointment to see me in clinic or phone us on (02) 9907 3339.