Is Orange Juice Good for a Sore Throat?

While orange juice is a prime source for vitamin C, the nutrient frequently credited with reducing or eliminating everything from the common cold to strep throat, the connection between vitamin C and throat health may be an urban legend. And because orange juice and other citrus fruit juices are highly acidic and can further aggravate your sore throat, doctors don't recommend orange juice as a suitable remedy.

glass of orange juice with fresh fruits on wooden background
Orange juice and other citrus fruit juices are highly acidic. (Image: nitrub/iStock/Getty Images)

Vitamin C Battles Viruses That Cause Sore Throats

Vitamin C isn't the cure-all for the cold and flu, but it does have a noticeable effect on the frequency and duration of these illnesses. That makes orange juice a good tool for cold prevention – before your throat is sore, that is. "It's fair to say that vitamin C supplementation both shortens duration of cold and offers some protection against colds, though it's not very dramatic," Stephen Lawson, a researcher at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, told Live Science. Lawson said that while vitamin C may activate white blood cells, which attack virus cells, the mechanisms of vitamin C are not fully understood.

Frustrated young man touches his neck while holding a glass of water
To speed the healing of a sore throat, skip orange juice entirely. (Image: g-stockstudio/iStock/Getty Images)

Avoid Acidity While Your Throat Is Sore

To speed the healing time for your sore throat, skip the orange juice entirely. Orange juice may be packed with nutrients, but it's also highly acidic compared with throat-soothing beverages such as hot tea and soup. Nutrition expert and author Michael Klaper, M.D., wrote on his website that orange juice, pineapple juice and other citrus beverages may burn the already-inflamed membranes in your throat. Hot tea or soup acts to soothe these membranes, promoting quick healing to keep your cough and sore throat at bay.

The Science of a Sore Throat

When our bodies come in contact with a virus, our immune system goes into overdrive to eliminate the invading germs. Your throat is a first line of defense for the body; a mucus membrane coating your throat captures contaminants before they can cause illness. When something does get past our immune defense, such as the rhinovirus associated with the common cold, the body produces more mucus to flush the contaminants out of the body. This causes phlegm and the associated cough and inflammation, the hallmarks of a sore throat. Letting this immune response run its course is the only way to shorten your cold, so avoid antihistamines that might dry out your sinuses.

Salt. Coarse grained sea salt on granite - concrete  stone background with vintage spoon and woden bowl.Salt. Coarse grained sea salt on granite - concrete  stone background with vintage spoon and wooden bowl.
Gargle with salt water to help soothe inflammation. (Image: MarianVejcik/iStock/Getty Images)

Salt Water Remedy

The best remedies for a sore throat work to soothe inflammation and loosen phlegm, allowing your throat to heal the damage and flush any viruses. Gargling salt water is a tried-and-true method for healing a sore throat; salt water helps draw water out of the mucous membrane of your throat, reducing phlegm. You can gargle salt water up to four times a day.

Hot and soothing liquids such as tea and soup will soothe inflammation of a sore throat and reduce your tendency to cough and cause more damage. With time, your body will heal itself, and your sore throat will be history.

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