Natural Remedies for Strep Throat (And Why to Just Say No to Antibiotics)

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Natural Remedies For Strep Throat (Antibiotics Are NOT the Answer) - Holistic Squid

‘Tis the season for sniffles, sore throat, and flu. Do you have natural remedies for strep throat and other winter infections on hand?

We all know that strep throat requires antibiotics, right? So widely prescribed for Streptococcus, the first sign of a sore throat can send a suffering patient to the doctor’s office demanding a prescription for this assumed ‘cure.’

So you may be surprised to learn that antibiotics are rarely necessary, and there are plenty of natural remedies for strep throat that can speed recover and ease symptoms.

Why are antibiotics over-prescribed for strep throat?

Complications from strep are outdated

In the past, strep throat often led to rheumatic fever, which is a serious disease and should be treated with medical intervention. In modern times, rheumatic fever has all but disappeared, which means the danger of complications from strep throat are minimal in otherwise healthy individuals.

Throat cultures create false alarms

It is standard procedure to get a throat culture when you visit the doctor for a sore throat. He or she will take a tiny swab of the tissues in the back of the throat which is evaluated for any signs of the bacteria responsible for strep throat. If strep is present, antibiotics are prescribed, generally without question, even if other signs of infection are not present.

The problem is that it is normal to have a small amount of the Streptococcus bacteria in the throat at any given time. Throat cultures may show a presence of bacteria, even if there is no current infection, which leads to unnecessary routine prescription of antibiotics. (source)

Children’s health expert Dr. Randall Neustaedter, OMD agrees that discovering the presence of strep bacteria is not an immediate cause for prescription medication – “The hazards of treatment outweigh the remote possibility that your child will suffer any lasting effects even if he has a strep infection.” (source)

 Antibiotics for strep throat may cause more harm than good

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to get sick over and over again despite taking antibiotics? There certainly is a place for the miracles of medical science, but our obsession with eradicating germs may by making us more susceptible to future illness.

Over-prescribing antibiotics can actually cause harmful bacteria to develop their resistance to antibiotics, making infection more difficult to treat and often resulting in recurrence of the infection and slower recovery due to weakened immune function.

The National Institute of Health reports that “A study of patients with tonsillitis in 17 countries found that the mean duration of fever was 2 to 3 days, regardless of whether or not patients took penicillin. (source)

Perhaps it’s wise to start seeking natural remedies for strep throat, and stop setting off atomic antibiotic bombs in our bodies, eh?

 Natural remedies for strep throat

Of course, it is good practice to cover your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and to wash your hands appropriately. Get plenty of rest and be sure to change your toothbrush immediately to reduce the chance of recurrence.

Beyond common sense measures, here are some natural remedies for strep throat that can help to speed recovery and reduce discomfort:

Bone broth

It turns out that grandma’s chicken soup actually is a panacea after all…

When made from scratch with the bones of pasture raised beef or chicken, wild caught fish or other healthy animals, broth is not only extremely easy to digest, it actually helps to strengthen the digestive system and immune system. (source) Bone broth delivers hydration and essential minerals that will help to recover from nearly any acute or chronic illness.

Follow these links to learn easy ways to make chicken broth or beef broth. Want the health benefits of bone broth, but don’t want to make your own? Buy bone broth online here. Freeze it to have on hand whenever you need it. At my house we like to stir in a bit of this delicious fish sauce for flavoring, but you can season it with a pinch of sea salt as well.

Marshmallow root tea & raw honey

To soothe the pain of strep throat and reduce swelling, sip warm marshmallow root tea and stir in raw, local honey for extra bacteria-fighting power.

Salt Water Gargle

Help your body create an inhospitable environment in your throat by gargling with salt water. The salt helps to break up mucus and reduce the swelling of delicate tissues by reducing water retention. Add one teaspoon of sea salt to an 8 oz glass of warm water and gargle for one to two minutes and then spit out.

Vitamin D

Since my family takes fermented cod liver oil on a regular basis and gets plenty of California sunshine, we don’t supplement with vitamin D daily. However, I keep a bottle of 2000 IU Vitamin D3 (like this one) on hand for the occasion when one of us starts to feel chills, fever, or sore throat.

A high dose of vitamin D3 for no more than three days, has been shown to actually halt or at least greatly reduce the symptoms of flu or stomach bug. The Vitamin D council recommends 900IU per pound of body weight (2000IU per kg) for therapeutic flu treatment. (source)

Boost your vitamin C

While food is our best medicine, when it comes to a full-blown infection, I prefer to use vitamins medicinally for a more effective punch. Additionally, the swollen and painful effects of strep throat may make eating citrus an unpleasant experience.

We love this non-GMO vitamin C supplement, but you can also pick up fizzy vitamin C at nearly every health food store.

Adults can take up to 4000mg of Vitamin C (kids 500-2000mg depending on their size) spread out throughout the day to boost natural immunity and help repair raw, damaged tissue in the throat.


If you aren’t afraid of having garlic breath for a few days, go ahead and give your body and throat the extra infection fighting power it needs by mixing some raw garlic in honey to make a paste, then slowly swallowing one teaspoon every three or four hours.


If you have ever taken antibiotics in the past, the ‘good’ bacteria in your digestive tract that are responsible for a large part of our immunity could be out of balance. In the day-to-day, I recommend consuming plenty of probiotic rich foods (like yogurt, kombucha, and naturally fermented sauerkraut and other fermented veggies).

To restore beneficial intestinal flora when the immune system is compromised (either from infection, digestive weakness, or after antibiotic use) I do recommend using a therapeutic probiotic supplement either short or long-term.

Click to find great probiotics for:

Chinese Herbs

Chinese herbal formulas tend to contain quite a few herbs that work synergistically to treat both the symptoms of an illness and it’s root cause. As natural remedies for strep throat, chinese herbs can really come to the rescue.

In the early onset of a sore throat, you can take the classic formula, Yin Qiao San. Personally, the formula I like to keep on hand is Cold Quell, which addresses the same things as Yin Qiao, but can often be effective further into the illness.  

If you have not caught your sore throat in the early stages and you have full-blown strep throat, call your Chinese herbalist to have a custom-made formula whipped up. This takes a bit more effort, but the payoff will be pain-relief and shorter time of suffering.

Colloidal Silver

Last but not least, colloidal silver is a powerful remedy that has antibiotic properties and no known side effects. It makes an effective gargle for killing bacteria in the throat.  However, it should only be used occasionally to boost immunity, rather than for everyday wellness. Read more about this colloidal silver here.

These safe, natural remedies for strep throat may help you recover faster, and prevent further infection because they help your body’s innate ability to heal itself and maintain resistance to the myriad of bacteria that we are exposed to every day.

Have you recovered from strep throat without antibiotics?

What natural remedies for strep throat worked best for you?


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    • Alicia says

      I’m going to gargle ACV, I like to take a shot of it during the mornings I’m feeling icky, gurgling should help, too, thanks!

  1. Maliya says

    I’ve never used antibiotics to treat any illness and unless there is literally no other option, I likely never will. Gargling with salt water has been my saving grace any time I’ve had strep throat or just a regular sore throat. Thanks for the info and for always stating your sources, it is very helpful!

  2. Annette says

    I give everyone in our family double doses of elderberry syrup and cod liver oil at the first sign of any infection. None of us has been sick for more than a day in a long time.

  3. Heather says

    Natural remedies are wonderful things, which I support using, and antibiotics can definitely be harmful when over-prescribed. That said…the family doctor always put my siblings and me on antibiotics when we got strep as kids. We invariably recovered within a couple of days, ate lots of yogurt to replenish “good bacteria,” and all survived just fine. My husband is almost completely sterile–a source of nearly two decades of heartache. The most likely culprit? Childhood rheumatic fever from an untreated case of strep. Natural remedies are a fantastic place to start. If they work for you, great! But if they’re not working for you, for goodness sake, get to a doctor before things get worse. Strep infections are serious!

    • Lydia says

      Yes! As a child I suffered from tonsil infections often, so when I had a sore throat at 15, I did the whole gargling thing and hoped it would go away. This simple step throat developed into Scarlet fever. Even with antibiotics it still took me 3 mos to recover. Without them I probably would have died.

      I recently got strep again and with a 2 mos old I was not gonna take any chances of passing something horrific to her. I got my shot of antibiotics (overdosed on probiotics) and was done with it!

      • Jen says

        Wow! We got lucky, I guess. A few weeks after we were married, my husband came down with a fever and no other symptoms. It would not go away, and we were mystified. Then the rash came. We took him to the doctor who said it was scarlet fever from untreated strep! Since he had no sore throat, we had no idea strep was even a possibility! The doctor gave him a z-pack (since he had a penicillin reaction as a baby) and he was better the next day. He said that most people run to the doctor as soon as they have a fever and sore throat so strep almost never goes untreated these days and as a result, hardly anyone gets scarlet fever anymore. He was kinda excited– called all the nurses in to look at my husband’s rash so that they could see what scarlet fever looks like. It was funny. We were glad, though, that we caught it in time before anything serious happened.

        My grandfather had strep settle in his heart. It’s serious business and is exactly what antibiotics are for.

    • Isabel says

      Yes. I am all for holistic medicine and I use natural remedies over pharmaceuticals most of the time. Antibiotics have been and still are being overused. That being said, it is completely irresponsible of the author to claim that since rheumatic fever isn’t common anymore that it isn’t a danger. This is completely false, as the *reason* rheumatic fever isn’t common is because of antibiotics! We haven’t evolved past developing it or something…people have the same amount of risk of developing it now as they ever had.

  4. Sara says

    We drink a tea (Throat coat tea with added lemon, raw honey, grated fresh ginger, ACV, and a dash of cayenne) then we eat half a clove of garlic (HORRIBLE but it works) I also swab my tonsils with tea tree oil..I dont do that for my kids, they would freak out! lol We sip that tea about 3 times a day and maybe take a tsp of ACV before bed. Totally works

  5. tesleyc says

    Adjunct holistic therapy is always a good thing in my opinion but I have a bone to pick with this article. Frankly, the statement that rheumatic fever and resulting heart valve damage is pretty much a non-concern is a misleading statement. Rheumatic fever was more common because the widespread use of antibiotics was not used. The use of antibiotics is an effort to not only fight strep throat but to prevent the development of rheumatic fever and its lifelong damaging impact. I also was not surprised that the statement was not sourced. So here is a link to the medical review to the contrary:

    I am not trying to discourage holistic therapy, I am just concerned that the statement I am referring to is misleading. If you don’t use antibiotics to directly interfere with the bacteria that may settle in your heart valve, you are running a risk and people should know that before making a decision.

    • sarah says

      Absolutely correct! Rheumatic fever can kill and it isn’t common anymore BECAUSE of the use of antibiotics! The author of the article clearly has NO idea what she/he is talking about and no real medical training to speak of! Parents not taking kids to the doctor with possible strep should be a CRIME because of the long term ravaging effects on the body!

  6. Jennifer says

    My daughter just had strep and I put her on antibiotics..first ever in her 6 years, because Strep CAN go to the heart. A 14 year old girl here in our city had open heart surgery last year because strep went untreated. It may be rare but it can happen! I am all for treating things naturally and I hated to put her on antibiotics, but Strep may be one thing not to mess with.

  7. Lyn R. says

    When my son was in the 5th grade, he couldn’t shake the strep throat he was suffering with. He was put on 3 rounds of antibiotics over the course of about 2 months. It would go away for a week or so after completing each round and then come right back. I went online to look for natural cures since the antibiotics clearly weren’t working. I decided to try Manuka honey and silver colloidal instead. And it worked- quite well. No more strep for my son since. This was about 5 years ago. When my daughter came down with strep a couple of years later, I turned to the Manuka honey and silver colloidal once again- as well as added a few more things: a warm cayenne pepper and acv gargle, wild oregano oil drops, and liposomal vitamin c. Once again it worked like a charm. It takes about 3-4 days, but it works and I can feel good that I’m giving my kids healthy, beneficial things for their bodies to heal- not toxic things like antibiotics and meds.

    • Carla M. says

      Hi Lyn,

      My girls are on their second set of antibiotics. How many times a day did you use the honey, silver and gargle? I just hate the fact that they have to go on the antibiotics again.

  8. says

    I’ve always been super susceptible to strep, and when I get it….it’s BAD. Huge swollen tonsils, fever, aches, terrible. This past winter I came down with strep, went to the doctor after it didn’t clear after a week (even with lots of tea, garlic, etc). Antibiotics were prescribed, but the first round didn’t help. So they put me on another round of more intense antibiotics, and I still didn’t get better.

    The doctor then suggested I needed to get my tonsils out since the first two rounds didn’t work. I chose to go home and self medicate instead, with plenty of rest. It took me a month to kick it, but I still have my tonsils!! Long story short, I definitely want to try the Colloidal Silver and some of these other remedies.

  9. Lori says

    My husband was having recurrent strep throat year after year. He was sick of taking antibiotics and we researched more natural approaches online. He did a cayenne pepper gargle twice a day for two days and it was gone. And hasn’t come back in over a year. Of course he swears by it and tells everyone who ever mentions a sore throat. If my child ever comes down with it thought I’m not sure we can get him to swallow the cayenne that’s why these other approaches above will be useful.

  10. Aliyanna says

    We always use manuka honey and lemon or herb tea for viruses and sore throats. But taking a spoonful several times a day did even more. It has been such a gift from God for us!!

  11. SoCalGT says

    For colds and flu especially with a sore throat my daughter and I have been opening up a Biokult capsule at night before bed and dumping it in our mouth. Let your saliva moisten it, swish it around for a minute or so and swallow. Don’t eat or drink anything after doing this. Through the night the good bacteria seems to work it’s way into your throat, sinuses and ear canals killing the bad bugs. We’ve never used this on a confirmed case of strep but it sure has helped with sore throats and itchy ears.

  12. MountainMama says

    At the first signs of any illness I take my elderberry syrup three times a day, change to a non-protein diet and with strep I gargle 3-4 times a day with warm water and a few drops of tea tree oil. That usually manages to kick it.

  13. says

    I love finding new sore throat remedies. I recently bought the Throat Soother Pastilles from Mountain Rose Herbs. Haven’t had the chance to use them yet, but your suggestions along with these should do the trick next time we need something! Thanks!

  14. Carrie says

    When my baby was about 3-4 weeks old my doctor put me on medicine for Mastitus. I had previously been on diflucan. They couldn’t decide if I had yeast or not but my baby did a small white spot on the gum (which they said could have just been a pearl) However, I had lactch issues and things look rough. My baby had digestive stress from the time I brought her home until I removed wheat and dairy from my diet. Anyway, I never gave my baby a probiotic because I couldn’t find one that didn’t have dairy. I did take a probiotic during the antibotic stage and have taken them for quite awhile after. She is 1 year now. She rarely has digestive issues but I wonder if it will help to go ahead and supplement now with a probiotic to give her a boost from what she lost. She does get the occasional diaper rash and she did have 1 reaction with food that left her with hives. I still nurse and drink kombochu, eat fermented foods, and occasionally will take a probiotic tablet. I have started giving her fermented foods also. Should I give her a probiotic? My natural doctor at the time said my milk would resupply her digestive system.

  15. WMSMom says

    I definitely prefer taking the natural approach before resorting to pharmaceutical solutions. However, I, like Tesleyc, have an issue with one of the comment made in the article. In my case the “danger of complications from strep throat are minimal in otherwise healthy individuals.” In addition to causing rheumatic fever which does still exist (although as Tesley says not as often as it used to), strep can also lead to PANDAS which causes sudden onset OCD, anxiety, and tics in (usually) children. It is sometimes described as rheumatic fever of the brain. Please refer to for more information. Regardless of which avenue you choose to treat strep, please make certain you limit your exposure to others until you (or your children) are completely well as what is a bad sore throat and fever for you may trigger neurological issues in someone else.

  16. Jenni says

    I do like the natural remedies but I think you still have to be careful with strep, watch it closely and get antibiotics if needed. My mom went without antibiotics. It turned into rheumatic fever and actually attacked her eyes. It resulted in scar tissue covering her corneas and two subsequent cornea transplants. I lawn towards trying natural remedies first, and if those don’t work, getting help from antibiotics.

  17. says

    I think if you are treating strep with natural antibiotic like oregano, garlic, manuka honey then you can hardly say it is going untreated. Everyone should go with their gut. My husband and I both had strep last year. We both kicked it with oregano, lemon, and OnGuard from doTERRA. If it had not gotten better, we would have used common sense and headed to a doc. But that is the last resort for us. But just because someone doesn’t treat a sickness with conventional anitbiotics does not mean they are not treating it.

  18. Karen says

    My daughter used to get strep every year. Now, when she complains of a sore throat, I have her gargle with hydrogen peroxide 3x day and she hasn’t had it since! Thanks for the great post!!

  19. David says

    I have to say, I have strep throat right now, my first time in all my 28 years. I, for whatever reason am a very healthy individual. I don’t eat like a health nut or anything, I’ve just always had a great resistance to illness, and so I was quite surprised to learn that my ‘sore throat’ may very well be strep throat.

    Let me say, I absolutely hate the hospital, and I refuse to go in almost every scenario. However, reading these comments, even more so than the article, made feel a lot better about all this. I started getting it Wednesday night, and it is now Saturday, and of course I’m missing work because of it (grr). It made me realize that, if it doesn’t subside by Monday/Tuesday, I should go to the walk-in and get some antibiotics. I don’t want to, as I also prefer a natural remedy, but it isn’t worth risking further damage in the future.

    Now, I just want to say thank you to each and everybody who has participated in this conversation. You have helped someone today, and you may not even know it. I’m the type of person who gets sick with worry when I catch a sniffle, call it a morbid fear of dying, thus, my resistance to go to a hospital where I may hear some dreaded news. I feel a lot better after reading everybodys comments, not only because I learned a thing or two, but it made feel confident about going and getting an antibiotic if necessary. Ironic though, how it’s kind of the opposite of the point of this article.

    Thank you everyone and take care!

  20. GC says

    I’m a PA and I just had a child come in last week with rheumatic fever. It is just bogus to say that complications from strep no longer exist. One fact is that most people with a sore throat (90%) don’t actually have strep; only 10% of sore throats are true strep infections. If your sore throat got better with natural remedies, it was most likely NOT a strep infection.

    • Mary says

      THANK YOU. I am an ARNP. I do a lot of natural things but I don’t mess with strep. I had scarlet fever 3 times as a kid and each time the strep was treated within 24 hours of onset. People without medical degrees should not be giving this advice. Natural remedies for viral pharyngitis? Great! Take antibiotics if you have strep. Your heart, your fertility, etc will thank you.

    • Michelle says

      Honest question though. As a PA. I had strep throat once as a child then again three months ago at age 35. I went through antibiotics which messed up my digestive system big time, then it recurred again around August 20th. I just finished my second course of amoxicillin 2 weeks ago today, which messed up my digestive tract further, and now I feel like I’m coming down with it again. Do I get checked and get the same antibiotics thrown at it a third time? It’s like the second course never killed it fully.

  21. Khaggard says

    My question is this – “how do you know you are treating strep if you have not gotten a strep test?” I am not a PA but I second what the above PA said. A sore throat is not necessarily strep, but the bacteria that causes strep is not to be taken lightly. Better to know for sure and if it is not strep and just something viral, then go for the natural remedies if they make you feel better.

  22. says

    theses are great ideas. they do work and should be tried if you have a sore throat. if after a day or two you aren’t finding relief. time to get checked. common sense approach

  23. Mia says

    You know you have Strep if you see white spots in the throat. Also, that unmistakable feeling that you are swallowing glass everytime you take a sip is my first clue.

  24. Laura says

    Complications from Strep are not outdated. I work on a cardiac unit at a hospital where we see older people having heart valves replaced because of damage from untreated strep infections they had long ago. It is much less common in younger people because now we see strep throat and treat it immediately. Please use natural remedies along with antibiotics. Don’t discount modern medicine!

  25. says

    The best ideas in this article, i really love these ideas and i’m glad follow these ideas to solve my problem with sore throat. Thanks for this post!

  26. Amanda says

    At the first signs of strep I take Quercetin 1 cap, 1 cap of L-glutamine 750mg, and 1 cap of probiotics all at the same time. I do this on am empty stomach twice a day with pure pineapple juice diluted with water.

    I also take elderberry caps 3 times a day with food. I gargle with salt water and other times with apple cider vinegar.

    I drink nettle leaf tea and chamomile tea with raw honey and plenty of room temp water. No sugar, white bread or grains. Lots of Chicken soup, steamed veggies, plums, almomds.

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