We often say that naturopathic medicine isn’t “cookbook medicine.” In any given condition, a variety of remedies may help – which one will be most effective? Before we can answer that question confidently, we need to understand the root origin of the problem.
Take, for example, the sudden onset of a severe sore throat.
- Slippery elm lozenges can soothe the throat.
- Licorice tea is soothing, too, and it’s an antiviral and an immune stimulant.
- Zinc lozenges support the immune system and are antiviral – as we all discovered during Covid.
- Xylitol is an antimicrobial; another is raw organic manuka honey.
- A thin cotton cloth, soaked in ice water and wrung out and wrapped around the neck, will often alleviate the pain of a sore throat.
- A saltwater gargle can reduce inflammation.
While these remedies can soothe the symptoms, it’s essential to look for the underlying cause.
For example, if the cause is environmental – say, irritating smoke particles from a nearby forest fire, or contaminants from the home heating or air conditioning system – an appropriate mask can help filter the smoke particles, and servicing the heating and cooling systems, or avoiding gas heating, may eliminate the problem.
Let’s consider some other possible root causes of a sudden-onset severe sore throat:
- Overly dry mucus membranes can inhibit the immune response and may be the result of dry weather, heating and air conditioning, dehydration, or autoimmune dysregulation, making us vulnerable and causing throat pain.
- Allergies and food sensitivities often cause throat dryness. The subsequent sore throats are usually due to congestion that results in postnasal drip.
- Gastro-esophageal (acid) reflux can also irritate the throat.
- To treat an severe sore throat, first find and eliminate any allergens or sensitivities.
- Treating a congestive sore throat will requires treating the congestion with an anti-inflammatory, as well as an immune-stimulating diet, avoiding mucus-producing foods, and taking mucolytic foods and supplements.
- Treatment of throat irritation due to acid reflux will requires strengthening the gastro-esophageal sphincter and preventing the reflux in the first place.
But wait, we aren’t done! A sore throat may be the result of an encounter with a microbial organism.
- A particularly virulent organism may require treatment with an antiviral or antibiotic. Many essential oils are both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.
- Our body’s reactive response to any organism will depend also on the receptivity of the host. In an immune-compromised person, even a mildly virulent organism may cause dramatic symptoms.
- However virulent the organism, though, addressing the patient’s immune status will be important to optimize their recovery. (Does the patient have low iron, low thyroid, stressed adrenal function, low vitamin D levels, low white count, compromised mucus membranes? Addressing any of these will help protect the patient.)
- Conditions that block or hinder a free flow of energy in the body can cause symptoms and impair recovery. These might be efficiently addressed by acupressure, acupuncture, and homeopathy, all of which can stimulate a free flow of energy.
- Home treatments might include breathing and movement exercises, such as restorative yoga, tai chi, or Chi Kung.
- Flower essences are another energy-based treatment that can address any emotional factors that are contributing to the symptoms. The energy center most intimately connected to the throat is the throat chakra. Emotional issues associated with the throat chakra include not feeling heard or not speaking our truth.
- Yoga asanas such as the Lion Pose and the Plough Pose direct cleansing energy through the throat chakra.
- Other energy-based approaches specific to the throat chakra include treatment with the color blue (as in a lapis lazuli necklace or a blue scarf wrapped around the throat) or chanting AUM in the throat chakra.
The ultimate root cause of illness is a lack of alignment with the Vis Medicatrix Naturae, the healing power of nature, prana, spirit, God, or whatever name you may choose for the all-pervading, perfect energy source that is within us and surrounds us. All effective healing methods help us align ourselves with that healing energy, including subtle approaches to accessing that higher power directly through meditation, chanting, prayer, and service.
While alleviating a sore throat can be simple, the sore throat is likely to return again and again unless we can address its underlying cause.
For information about the services we offer, we invite you to get in touch in any of these convenient ways: (1) give us a call at 650-961-1660, (2) use the Contact Form, or (3) follow the link to Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Thank you!