A sore throat can be caused by many different things. The most painful ones are usually due to either a viral infection or bacterial infection, but they can also be caused by allergies, smoke, and even talking too much. There are many remedies which help soothe a sore throat that we can buy from the store, but sometimes simple herbs in our kitchen like garlic may be able to prevent and treat a sore throat.
Hay fever season is upon us and many people are suffering. I know what it feels like because I also used to suffer from hay fever until I changed my diet. It can leave you with a very sore throat, and also put you at a great risk of developing infections due to the inflammation and mucous build up which traps bacteria and viruses.
Consuming raw garlic with your meals may be able to help reduce that inflammation and help stop a sore throat, but simply adding the ingredient to food might not be the most effective way to use garlic.
Best ways to use garlic for a sore throat
The problem with just adding garlic to our meals is the instability of the powerful organosulfur compound called allicin. When you crush the little cloves, you get a reaction between alliin and allinase, and this creates allicin.
This process can take several minutes, but because allicin is so unstable, you need to consume the garlic in a short period of time while it retains its potency. Of course, there are stabilized garlic supplements available which contain allisure (proven effective in preventing colds), but you also want the garlic to have direct contact with the bacteria or viruses.
Garlic can cause chemical burns, so it’s important that you avoid this because they can be quite painful. I’ve heard terrible stories about how some people used garlic on their skin and ended up with a serious burn.
Before looking at the many ways you can use garlic to get over a sore throat, look at the amazing results from a study done using garlic supplements containing allicin.
Results from a 2001 garlic supplement vs cold study :
- Garlic group developed 24 colds vs 65 colds for the placebo group.
- Garlic group was sick for 111 days vs 366 days for the placebo group.
- Garlic group recovered in 1.5 days vs 5 days for the placebo group.
1. Garlic and Manuka Honey Mix
Using garlic and honey is a powerful combination because they both possess antimicrobial properties, while the honey is able to coat the throat helping sooth the inflammation and act as an anti-inflammatory. This is my favorite and easiest way to deal with a sore throat that I feel coming on!
To get help relief from a sore throat, follow the steps below:
- Peel and crush between 2-4 cloves of garlic. Using a garlic crusher is the most effective way to do this.
- Throw the crushed garlic in a bowl
- Take around 1 tablespoon of Manuka honey (the higher the UMF the better), and mix with the crushed garlic cloves in the bowl.
- Leave the mix for about 5 minutes to allow the allicin to be released
- You may eat this as is or better still just make some toast, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on the toast and then spread the garlic and honey mix across the bread. As garlic can be quite potent and difficult to consume by itself, consuming it with some food will be easier on the mouth and stomach
Note: I’ve heard many people say that you should leave the mix in a container overnight, but doing this would cause the garlic to lose its potency and not be effective. For vegans who also avoid honey (I know it’s controversial), you may simply mix the garlic with olive oil.
If your sore throat is caused by a cold, then you will need to use this method at the first sign of the cold, usually a scratchy throat. Once the virus has established itself, this remedy will be less effective.
2. Garlic Tea with ginger, lemon, and honey
Sipping a warm cuppa can help soothe your sore throat and is my 2nd favorite way to help ease a sore throat when I have one.
Follow the steps below on how to use garlic in tea for a sore throat.
- Get a saucepan and put around 3-4 cups of water in there
- Add 3-5 cloves of freshly crushed garlic or just slice them in half
- Bring the water to a boil
- Once it is boiling, lower to simmer, and then add ginger, 3-4 tablespoons of honey, 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- You may also add matcha green tea powder which will boost the antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties of the tea. Green tea also helps reduce the smell of garlic breath.
Drink this throughout your day to help prevent and relieve a sore throat either from an infection or allergies.
3. Licorice Root and Garlic tea
Licorice root is great to use with garlic because of its ability to soothe the stomach and help prevent the irritating effects of garlic on the stomach. Licorice is also often used in cough mixtures and alternative cough medicines to help soothe a sore throat and cough.
You can simply buy licorice tea from the store (they are often found in many supermarkets) or you can make your own licorice/garlic mix tea.
If you want to make your own licorice tea, then follow the steps below.
- Pour around 4 – 6 ounces of water into a saucepan
- Add crushed garlic to the saucepan
- Throw about 1 teaspoon of licorice root powder and stir heat up slowly
- Once boiling, turn off and leave the ingredients steep in the water for a few minutes until warm
- Once warm, you may then add honey if you wish to help thicken up the mix
- Use a strainer to pour into the cup
4. Chewing raw garlic
One of the ways used by many people to help cure a sore throat is to simply chew the garlic. As you chew the garlic, you will cause the garlic compartments to release the enzyme to create allicin while in the mouse. Depending on much you chew, this will slowly release the allicin over time.
This is my least favorite way of using garlic to help a sore throat, but one that I see a lot of people teaching. There are a few risks using this method like causing garlic burns to the gums and throat, accidental choking, and even vomiting due to the potency of the garlic.
I would recommend against this method for dealing with a sore throat. But if done carefully, it could be effective.
Garlic can be used to help prevent and heal sore throats but it should be not be used instead of antibiotics when they are needed. For example, if you suspect you are suffering from strep throat, an abscess which may block airflow, then these require medical assistance from a doctor and antibiotics.
Garlic is best used as a complementary treatment in such cases. I always recommend that you seek doctors advice first before trying to self-treat using natural remedies.
Why is garlic effective?
Garlic contains many different organosulfur compounds which each have unique properties like antimicrobial properties in that it can kill pathogens, block communication between bacteria, and help boost the immune system to deal with the infection.
Garlic also has the ability to block powerful inflammatory cytokines and immune cells in the body which are responsible for excessive inflammation and overreaction to harmless things like dust mites and pollen.
Many studies have been conducted on garlic and its ability to fight colds, bacterial infections, and superbugs like MRSA. Studies have shown garlic to be effective in animals who have fungal and bacterial infections. Most of the studies have used a stabilized garlic extract which contains significant amounts of allicin.
Below are a few results from studies conducted on garlic and pathogens which cause a sore throat in humans.
Common cold and Flu
In 2009, a study was published on the use of garlic for preventing and treatment of the common cold. Colds cause untold misery for millions of people each year and many days of missed work and lost voices.
The study involved 146 volunteers who either used the garlic supplement containing 180 mg of allicin or a placebo. The trial lasted just 12 weeks, and the people in the study would report if they developed a cold and how long their symptoms lasted for.
The results confirmed what we already knew about garlic. While 65 people in the placebo group developed a cold, only 24 in the garlic group got one in that period of time. The number of days for the garlic group was also much less at 111 days in total vs 366 for the placebo. 
Amazing results! It wasn’t the first trial to show that garlic is effective for the common cold, but it met certain criteria whereby researchers were satisfied with the study design and methodology.
In another study, this time looking at the effect of different natural foods and teas on influenza, researchers found that garlic was among those which were effective at preventing influenza from docking and infection of the cells.
The study was in vitro but shows that allicin has the capability of blocking neuraminidase activity and thus blocking viral infection. 
Reducing the smell of garlic
It’s great that garlic is so effective at helping a sore throat, but if you consume too much of it, even about 3-4 cloves a day, you’ll definitely end up smelling a little like garlic within a day or two. Trust me on that one!
Although I’ve never really tested this out myself, scientists have researched which foods are the best at helping mask or take away the garlic smell.
The foods they recommend you use are:
- Lemon juice
- Basil and Parsley
For non-vegans, research suggests that a small glass of milk (around 200 ml) may help reduce garlic breath by up to 50%.
Also check out Dr. Axe tips on how to kick a cold fast!
There are many different uses for garlic, but I have found that it to be particularly effective for sore throats, especially if used very soon after you feel you’re getting sick. If you haven’t tried using garlic before, then give it a try next time you feel like you have a cold coming on! And if you don’t want to end up smelling of garlic, you can also take a supplement.