©2007 Brandon Rogers Oregon grape can help calm a scratchy, sore throat.

You know the feeling: A dry itch. Or a scratchy soreness. Whatever the effect, sore throats can range from a mild irritant to a very painful situation.

A sore throat can accompany a cold or flu, or it can be the result of overuse of the voice or irritants such as cigarette smoke. No matter what its cause, a number of simple herbal remedies exist that may help ease the discomfort of a sore throat.

Herbal Remedies for Sore Throat

Herbs can reduce pain and inflammation, provide temporary relief, and help heal raw throat tissues. Typical immune boosters such as echinacea and goldenseal or Oregon grape root are good to take when you have a sore throat that is caused by a cold or flu.

Garlic can also be helpful when battling illiness because it will fight off offending bacteria or viruses. Try adding it raw to your salad and other dishes.

Mucilaginous herbs can ease any sore throat. Marshmallow and slippery elm do a great job. Gargling with astringent herbs will alleviate discomfort. Raspberry or blackberry leaves along with elder flowers are good for this purpose. Combine them with marshmallow and licorice for a soothing effect.

Cayenne pepper, believe it or not, helps to stop pain, so add it to your gargling mixture. It is crucial to gargle all these herbs before swallowing them.

Whatever remedy you pick, herbal options can help soothe and heal a sore throat, whether it is the result of a cold, voice overuse or another affliction.

Eric Yarnell, N.D., R.H. (A.H.G.) is a naturopathic physician and registered herbalist in private practice specializing in men's health and urology.  He is an assistant professor in the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University in Seattle and is president or the Botanical Medicine Academy.  He is the author of several textbooks including Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Naturopathic Urology and Men's Health, and Clinical Botanical Medicine; He writes a regular column on herbal medicine for Alternative and Complementary Therapies.  This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.