‘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Complications from strep are outdated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:
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.
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 herbal formulas tend to contain quite a few herbs that work synergistically to treat both the symptoms of an illness and its 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.
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?