When you have a sore throat, just swallowing can be painful. A sore throat often accompanies a viral infection, like a cold or the flu, although other viruses, such as chickenpox or the measles may also produce a sore throat. While most people have heard that honey is a natural treatment for a sore throat, many don’t know that cayenne pepper may also be effective. If a sore throat persists, or if you have additional symptoms, see your doctor to rule out an underlying disorder before using herbal remedies to treat the condition.
Cayenne comes from a hot pepper in the Capsicum family of peppers, and it’s best known for seasoning spicy foods. Cayenne is also a pain modulator that works by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. Maximum pain relief usually comes after three to seven days of treatment, according to University of Maryland Medical Center. Perhaps the biggest drawback to using cayenne for sore throats is the immediate burning sensation when the cayenne makes contact with the irritated throat tissues. Do not take cayenne if your throat has open sores.
Honey, a natural product of honeybees, also has a place in treating colds, and according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a spoonful of honey may be more beneficial than a spoonful of some over-the-counter cough syrups. Honey is soothing to sore and inflamed throat tissues.
The “Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine” suggests making cayenne tea by mixing 1/4 tsp. of cayenne powder into 1 cup of warm or cold water. Add 2 tsp. honey to sweeten the tea. Alternately, thoroughly mix one drop of cayenne oil into 1 tsp. of honey and swallow.
To soothe a sore throat without using cayenne, you may swallow a spoonful of honey by itself.
Do not give cayenne to children, due to a risk of respiratory distress, and do not give honey to infants under one year of age, due to a risk of botulism. Both honey and cayenne are generally safe for most people, but people with allergies to bananas, avocados, latex or kiwi, should not take cayenne. In some cases, raw honey may contain traces of pesticides or other chemicals, depending upon where the bees harvest the pollen.
Natural and herbal remedies may be beneficial, but they can’t replace professional medical advice. See your doctor before treating any serious condition with a natural remedy.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cayenne
- “Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, Volume 2”; Jacqueline L. Longe; 2005
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cold Treatments for Kids