Whether you have a cough or just that awful scratchy feeling in your throat, a sore throat can have you feeling quite miserable. If you're wondering whether you should be drinking ginger tea for a sore throat, here's what you need to know.
Warm liquids, like ginger tea, can help soothe a sore throat.
Read more: 10 Everyday Ailments Soothed by Tea
Ginger, a Powerful Herb
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) explains that ginger, or Zingiber officinale as it is known in Latin, is a tropical plant that has purplish flowers and an aromatic underground stem. This stem, known as the rhizome, is most likely what you're picturing when you think of ginger.
The Ohio State University notes that ginger originated in Southeast Asia and is quite popular in Asian cuisines. The ancient Romans started importing it, and it eventually became popular among Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines as well.
In fact, the NCCIH states that ginger also has a long history of use as a medicinal herb by these ancient civilizations. A June 2013 study published in the journal Food & Function says that these traditional medicine systems have used ginger to treat various ailments, including fever, sore throat, rheumatism, arthritis, muscle pain, sprains, cramps, toothaches, dementia, gingivitis, infectious diseases, asthma, diabetes, hypertension and stroke.
According to a study published in the January 2019 issue of the journal Food Science & Nutrition, ginger's health benefits stem from phenolic compounds, one of which is known as gingerol. These compounds give ginger its characteristic odor and are also responsible for its powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and even anti-tumor properties.
Read more: How Much Raw Ginger Can You Eat?
Ginger Tea for Sore Throat
So, should you be drinking ginger tea for a sore throat? According to the Flushing Hospital Medical Center, ginger tea is one of the most common and effective remedies for a cough.
You can make ginger tea by slicing up some fresh ginger, crushing it slightly and boiling it in water. You can also add honey and lemon to the tea, if you like. The Flushing Hospital Medical Center recommends drinking this tea three or four times a day to soothe your throat, reduce coughing and relieve congestion.
The NCCIH says ginger is generally believed to be safe; however it could cause stomach pain, gas, heartburn and diarrhea in some people. If you have gallstone disease, your doctor may recommend that you avoid ginger, since it can result in an increased flow of bile. There is no evidence that ginger interferes with any medications; however there is concern that it could interact with certain blood thinners.
If you're not particularly fond of ginger tea, you can opt for other liquids instead. Harvard Health Publishing says that apart from plenty of rest, any warm liquid, like tea or broth, can help soothe your throat. Other sore throat remedies include gargling with warm salty water and sucking on throat lozenges.
The Mayo Clinic notes that most cases of sore throat are caused by bacterial or viral infections and are usually resolved within a week. However, a sore throat can sometimes be a sign of other health conditions, like HIV, oral cancer or throat cancer. While drinking homemade tea for sore throat can help relieve some of your discomfort, it may not be able to address the underlying cause of your illness. You should see your doctor if your sore throat lasts longer than a week.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Ginger”
- Food & Function: “A Review of the Gastroprotective Effects of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe)”
- Food Science & Nutrition: “Ginger in Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials”
- Flushing Hospital Medical Center: “Treating a Cough Naturally”
- Ohio State University: “Ginger”
- Mayo Clinic: “Sore Throat”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)”