Did you know that essential oils can actually help make a sore throat go away quicker or avoid one all together? Sore throats can happen anytime of the year for a variety of reasons. A sore throat is an irritation, scratchiness or pain of the throat that often worsens when swallowing. (1)
Your throat or pharynx, by definition, is the tube that carries food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe and larynx (your voice box). A common sore throat is caused by a viral infection while a strep throat is a bacterial infection, which can be from a number of different strains of bacteria. Unfortunately, both are quite contagious and can be passed from person to person with close contact.
The most common cause of a sore throat is a cold or the flu. You often first realize a cold or the flu is coming on when you get that first bit of pain and scratchiness in your throat. A sore throat can also be caused by allergies, strep throat, mononucleosis, tonsillitis, smoking or acid reflux.
Aside from the typically recommended rest, proper nutrition, plenty of liquids, hot teas and gargling, sore throat remedies include tapping into the natural power of essential oils for sore throat pain!
Top Essential Oils for Sore Throat
The uses for essential oils truly are endless and if you have read any of my other essential oil articles, you’re probably not even that surprised that they can be used for sore throats, too.
The following essential oils for sore throat pain will kill germs, ease inflammation and speed healing of this annoying and painful malady:
Peppermint oil is commonly used for treatment of the common cold, cough, sinus infections, respiratory infections, and inflammation of the mouth and throat, including sore throats. It’s also used for digestive problems, including heartburn, nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cramps of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract and bile ducts, upset stomach, diarrhea, bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine, and gas.
Peppermint essential oil contains menthol, which provides a cooling sensation and a calming effect to the body. Research indicates that the antioxidant, antimicrobial and decongestant properties of peppermint essential oil can help alleviate your sore throat. Menthol also helps to sooth and calm sore throats as well as thin mucus and break up coughs. (2) (3)
Lemon essential oil is known for its ability to cleanse toxins from any part of the body and is widely used to stimulate lymph drainage, to rejuvenate energy and purify skin.
Lemon oil is derived from the skin of the lemon and is excellent for sore throats since it is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, high in vitamin C, increases salivation and helps keep the throat moist.
Today, oil from the eucalyptus tree appears in many over-the-counter cough and cold products to relieve congestion. The health benefits of eucalyptus oil are due to its ability to stimulate immunity, provide antioxidant protection and improve respiratory circulation.
Originally referred to as “eucalyptol” by the scientific community, the health benefits of eucalyptus oil come from a chemical now known as cineole, which is an organic compound shown to hold astounding, widespread medicinal effects — including everything from reducing inflammation and pain to killing leukemia cells! It’s no wonder it can be one of the steps to beat a cold and sore throat. (4)
This well-known herb in oil form is a smart choice for defense against a sore throat. There is evidence that the essential oil of oregano has antifungal and antiviral properties. One study even showed that treatment with oregano oil may be useful for parasite infections. (5)
If you have any doubts that oregano oil can prevent and treat a sore throat, it has even been shown to kill the superbug MRSA both as a liquid and as a vapor — and its antimicrobial activity is not diminished by heating it in boiling water. (6)
Clove essential oil is useful for boosting the immune system, so it is extremely useful at discouraging and relieving a sore throat. The sore throat benefits of clove oil can be attributed to its antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and stimulating properties. Chewing on a clove bud can help a sore throat (as well as a toothache).
A study published in Phytotherapy Research found that clove essential oil shows antimicrobial activity against a large number of multi-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis. (7) Its antiviral properties and ability to purify blood increases resistance to a multitude of diseases, including sore throats. (8)
Hyssop was used in ancient times as a cleansing herb for temples and other sacred places. In ancient Greece, the physicians Galen and Hippocrates valued hyssop for inflammation of the throat and chest, pleurisy and other bronchial complaints.
It’s not surprising that hyssop has a long history of medicinal use. The antiseptic properties of hyssop oil make it a powerful substance for fighting infections and killing bacteria. Whether your sore throat is viral or bacterial, hyssop is an excellent choice for a sore throat as well as lung inflammation.
Thyme oil is one of the strongest antioxidants and antimicrobials known, and it has been used as a medicinal herb since ancient times. Thyme supports the immune, respiratory, digestive, nervous and other body systems.
A 2011 study tested thyme oil’s response to 120 strains of bacteria isolated from patients with infections of oral cavity, respiratory and genitourinary tracts. The results of experiments showed that the oil from the thyme plant exhibited extremely strong activity against all of the clinical strains. Thyme oil even demonstrated a good efficacy against antibiotic-resistant strains. What a sure bet for that scratchy throat! (9)
8. Juniper Berry
With a sweet, woodsy smell, juniper berry essential oil is a popular ingredient in many household cleaning products, aromatherapy blends and fragrance sprays. Today, juniper berry essential oil is also commonly used as one of the best natural remedies for sore throat as well as respiratory infections, fatigue, muscle aches and arthritis.
Juniper berry’s use for sore throat is validated by research that shows juniper berry essential oil actually contains over 87 different active constituent compounds, including strong antioxidants, antibacterials and antifungals. (10)
How to Use Essential Oils for Sore Throat
Essential oils can be used for a sore throat in three different ways: by inhalation, topical application or internal consumption.
Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of plant-derived, aromatic essential oils to promote physical and psychological well-being. One main way to use essential oils for aromatherapy is to inhale the smell or aroma of an essential oil.
When the scent of an essential oil is inhaled, molecules enter the nasal cavities and stimulate a firing of mental response in the limbic system of the brain, including the regulation of stress or calming responses such as heart rate, breathing patterns, production of hormones and blood pressure. Aromatherapy can be obtained by using essential oils as direct inhalations, in a bath, in a vaporizer or humidifier, fan, vent, perfume, cologne, or through aromatherapy diffusers.
An easy way to regularly practice direct inhalation is to add one to two drops of an essential oil into the palms of your hands and rub them together to spread the oil. Next, cup your hands over your nose and take 5–10 deep and slow breaths. You can also add two to three drops of an essential oil to a cotton ball and place it inside your pillow or in any place that will be easy to smell it.
Another excellent way to soothe a sore throat is by inhaling the steam of boiling water containing a few drops of some of the essential oils I just mentioned. Simply fill a big bowl with hot water and drape a towel over your head to create a tent and breathe in the steam. Of course, be careful not to burn yourself.
Many essential oils can be ingested by the mouth; however, it is critical to make sure that the oils you use are safe and pure. Many oils on the market may be diluted or blended with synthetics that are unsafe for ingesting. The FDA has approved some essential oils generically for internal use and given them the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) designation for human consumption. (11)
By using essential oils in a gargle, you can directly have the essential oils come into contact with the problematic area. Simply add one to two drops of essential oil to half a glass of mildly warm water and gargle for a minute or two. Do not swallow the mixture after gargling.
A safe and effective way to consume essential oils according to The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy, is to add one drop of oil to a glass of water or in a teaspoon of honey. Other oral application options include using capsules, making a tea, and cooking with essential oils. (12)
Topical application of an essential oil involves placing an essential oil on the skin, hair, mouth, teeth, nails or mucous membranes of the body. When the oils touch the body, they penetrate rapidly.
Since pure essential oils are so potent, it’s important to dilute them before using them on your body. You can dilute an essential oil by blending it with a carrier oil (such as olive, jojoba, sweet almond, or coconut oil) or a natural unscented lotion. Add 5–10 drops of essential oil to to two tablespoons of carrier oil or natural unscented lotion. You can then apply the blended oil or lotion directly to an area of the body that will benefit the throat like the neck, chest, behind the ears, or bottoms of the feet.
Recipes Using Essential Oils for Sore Throat
Easy, Anti Sore Throat Steam Inhalation
- 3 drops clove essential oil
- 3 drops juniper berry essential oil
- large bowl of boiling hot water
- Add the clove and juniper berry oils to a large bowl of boiled water.
- Drape a towel over your head to create a tent over and around the bowl.
- Relax and breathe in the fragrant steam for 5 minutes. Of course, be careful not to burn yourself.
You can also add 3 drops of lemon oil and 1 drop of eucalyptus oil to your water, gargle for 10 seconds and then drink.
Risks of Essential Oils for Sore Throat
Make sure you are using therapeutic grade essential oils for sore throat pain. Inhaled or topical use of essential oils is generally safer than oral use. Never ingest any essential oils or apply undiluted essential oils to the skin without proper training or medical supervision. It is critical to understand how best to use essential oils.
Always consult a specialist and conduct a patch test before proceeding with caution as essential oils may react differently for different individuals. Infants, children, pregnant women, seniors and people with severe illnesses should not use essential oils internally except under the supervision of a physician. If pregnant, check with a professional before using essential oils externally on your body as well.
If your sore throat is severe or lasts longer than one week, seek medical attention.