Article by Dr Renita D’Souza
Sore throat is the set of symptoms causing irritation and pain in throat. It makes the swallowing difficult and painful. It usually heals by itself but Ayurveda therapies can heal them faster. It sometimes it recurs frequently or persists for long making it a sign of cancer.
In Ayurveda, sore throat usually occurs due to imbalance of Pitta and Kapha dosha in throat region.
Causes for Sore throat
- Infections – Viral infections like measles, chickenpox, common cold, influenza, mumps
Bacterial infections commonly cause strep throat but can also cause sore throat.
- Dry air – it removes moisture from nasal and oral cavity making it to feel dry and scratchy. This usually occurs in winter season.
- Cigarette, tobacco smoke, air pollution, chemicals and other substances in environment cause irritation in throat.
- Straining vocal cords and muscles in the throat due to talking loudly, yelling or singing for long time. Cut or injury to the neck can also cause sore throat.
- Allergies – allergens like pollen, grass and pet dander causes release of chemicals resulting throat irritation.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – acid back up from stomach into oesophagus cause heartburn and throat irritation.
- Tumor, cyst or follicle in throat, tongue or voice box can also cause sore throat. Sore throat persisting for long time can be a sign of cancer.
Importance of Dosha involvement in Sore throat:
Knowledge of dosha involvement in sore throat is important as symptoms and treatment is based on dosha involved.
Mainly pitta and kapha doshas are involved in sore throat
Signs and Symptoms of Sore throat Based on Dosha :
Due to pitta –
- Burning sensation
Due to kapha –
- whitish patches over tonsils
- Hoarseness of voice
Other symptoms – Anorexia, fever, nasal congestion, running nose, headache, chills, sneezing, cough, body aches, difficult swallowing.
Types based on part of throat involved
- Pharyngitis – affects the area behind throat
- Laryngitis – affects voice box
- Tonsillitis – cause swelling and redness of tonsils
Read related – Ayurvedic Remedy For Common Cold And Allergy
Ayurveda treatment for Sore throat
Ayurveda therapies in sore throat – Gurgling (kavala and gandusha), paste applications (pratisarana), steam inhalation, chewing medicines
Gargling (Gandusha/kavala) – Gargling with medicinal oil, decoctions or liquid. It helps reducing redness, swelling, fowl smell, itching, relives dryness etc depending on the properties of medicine used.
Read related – How To Do Oil Pulling In Genuine Ayurvedic Way?
- Take 1 tablespoon of triphala powder in 2 cups of water, boil for 5 minutes. Luke warm decoction can be used to gurgle or hold inside the mouth.
- 1 glass of warm water with salt and turmeric can be used to reduce pain, swelling in tonsils
- Yastimadhau roots (licorice) boiled in 2 cups of water can be used soothe the throat and reduce cough.
- Drinking juice of ginger with honey is used to loosen phlegm in throat
- Gurgling with luke warm water boiled with triphala powder, turmeric and neem leaves.
- Can also use milk, surgar cane juice, ghee, honey
- Oils used for gargling – Sesame oil, Irimedadi oil, Khadiradi oil, Haridradi oil.
Steam inhalation – steam inhaled will soothe the airways, reduce infection, loosens phlegm in throat.
Steam inhalation from two glass of water added with turmeric
Paste application (pratisarana) – Below herbs are made into paste and applied locally to relieve pain, swelling and inflammation.
- Powder of amla (gooseberry) applied with water
- Turmeric applied with honey.
- Paste of neem leaves with honey.
- Paste of ginger with ghee.
- Salt mixed with honey
- Laksha powder
- Triphala powder, Bakula bark – Mimusops elengi, Trikatu powder(dry ginger, pepper, long pepper). Paste of these drugs can also be used for application.
- Tablets – Khadiradi vati, Lavangadi vati, Eladi vati, Trijathakadi vati.
- Small pieces of licorice root, dalchini, clove, dry ginger, pepper
Ayurvedic medicines for sore throat –
(Do not try them by yourself. Consult your doctor)
- Lavangadi vati – used in throat infections.
- Talisadi Churna, Sitopaladi Churna
- Laxmi Vilas Ras – commonly used in the treatment of throat infection, cold, cough, skin diseases etc.
- kamadugha rasa, Shankha Bhasma, Pravala Vati, Pravala Panchamrit Rasa – these are useful to balance down Pitta dosha, to reduce swelling, burning sensation.
- Laghu Sutshekhar Ras – used in the Ayurvedic treatment of headache, migraine, gastritis, dyspepsia, sinusitis, burning sensation, nasal bleeding, stomatitis.
- Gorochanadi Gulika
- Gandhaka Rasayana – used in skin disorders and infectious conditions
- Kanchanara guggulu – to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Arogyavardini Vati – used for treating liver and digestion related disorders
- Sarivadi Vati – used in ear disorders, diseases of nose and throat.
A research found out that about 10-30% of patients in primary healthcare services complain of sore throat. GRADE evaluation was done on the findings. (1)
Using survey data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Boston researchers found that out of all sore throat patients, 60 % were given antibiotics but only 10 % of them actually needed them. (2)