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Alternative Medicine that Works for Regular Folks





Sore Throat Remedy
by Brian B. Carter, MS, LAc

Brian is the founder of the Pulse of Oriental Medicine, medical professor at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and author of Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and Acupressure.

Brian Carter, acupuncturist, herbalist, and author

As you probably know, pain is your body telling your brain something is wrong.

If you have a sore throat, something is harming the tissue of your throat. A comprehensive sore throat remedy will soothe the pain, heal your throat tissue, and fight off whatever's hurting your throat.

So, there's not just one way to cure a sore throat. Well, not one good way. You could, of course, keep spraying your throat with something like Chloraseptic... and that might be ok if you just want to wait for your sore throat to go away, and maybe it would, but not necessarily.

The summer before I moved out to San Diego to start the Masters program in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, I got a horrible sore throat, the worst I'd ever had- (and I'd had strep throat as a kid about 7 times- they took out my tonsils because they didn't know even in the early 80's that they were an important part of the immune system. That stopped it though.) - it wouldn't go away. The chloraseptic kept wearing off. I needed a real sore throat remedy. But first I wanted to find out what was wrong.

Being a budding medical professional, I got a flashlight out and looked at my throat in the mirror, then go on the internet and looked for sore throat pictures. I found out I had apthous ulcerations. I have no idea why I got them- I'm basically 100% healthy, still. But I also found out that one good sore throat remedy, especially for these apthous ulcerations, was burdock root.

So, my mom and I were off to the natural foods store in Dayton, Ohio (She likes that natural stuff, too, and she was going to spend as much time with me as she could before I moved 3000 miles away). We got the burdock root, went home, and I made a tea. It tasted pretty good, and it cured the sore throat. I was relieved of the pain and proud of my research... and encouraged about my new natural health career.

Later, I found out that Chinese medicine also uses burdock for the throat (for 'heat' in the throat, which would be inflamed throat, or pharyngitis - and Brazilian folk medicine uses it, too (2)). One of our two most common cold/flu herbal remedies, the one that's more of a sore throat remedy, includes burdock (arctium in latin, niu bang zi in pinyin) to 'benefit the throat'.

So how does it work? Does it just clear away inflammation? Does it just deaden the pain? Does it fight bacteria and viruses?

  • Burdock (arctium) has an antimicrobial action (that means it kills microbes, small living creatures including bacteria and fungi) which has been attributed to the polyacetylenes in the plant.(1)
  • More than one study has shown that it has antibacterial effects (2)
  • Anti-inflammatory effects have also been measured, and it's possible that it's a free radical scavenger (3)

Pretty amazing. And this is just one herb.

There are many more sore throat remedies in Western herbal medicine, and in Chinese medicine.


  1. Kardosova A, Ebringerova A, Alfoldi J, Nosal'ova G, Franova S, Hribalova V. A biologically active fructan from the roots of Arctium lappa L., var. Herkules. Int J Biol Macromol. 2003 Nov;33(1-3):135-40.
  2. Holetz FB, Pessini GL, Sanches NR, Cortez DA, Nakamura CV, Filho BP. Screening of some plants used in the Brazilian folk medicine for the treatment of infectious diseases. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2002 Oct;97(7):1027-31.
  3. Lin CC, Lu JM, Yang JJ, Chuang SC, Ujiie T. Anti-inflammatory and radical scavenge effects of Arctium lappa. Am J Chin Med. 1996;24(2):127-37.

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About The PULSE
All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.

Copyright 1999-2074, Pulse Media International, Brian Carter, MSci, LAc, Editor