Nov 7, 2012

Sore Throat

       The pain of a sore throat makes any illness worse. One traditional treatment is to gargle with salt water or a strong herbal tea several times a day, spitting the gargle solution out without swallowing. Add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water or warm tea for this purpose. If you can sing and gargle at the same time, the soothing liquid will contact more throat surface. Licorice root tea soothes throat soreness and reduces pain. Simmer 1 tablespoon licorice root in 3 cups water, covered, for 10-15 minutes.

     Drink one cup three times daily unless you have high blood pressure or edema (fluid retention). Gargling with licorice root tea does not cause side effects. Hot sage tea is a popular European remedy for sore throats. Steep 1 or 2 teaspoons dried sage leaves or 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh sage in 1 cup boiling water, covered, for 10 minutes. Sip slowly or add salt and gargle. Horseradish mixed with honey, water and ground cloves is an old Russian remedy for sore throat. Mix 1 tablespoon grated fresh horseradish, 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon ground cloves in a glass of warm water until blended. Stir often and sip slowly or use as a gargle.
       Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, is so effective at preventing pain that it is used to treat the mouth sores of people taking chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancers of the head and neck. Researchers at Yale University developed a chile pepper taffy for patients with mouth lesions resulting from orthodox cancer treatments and it works as well for throat pain brought on by colds or flu.

      The following recipe was published in the May 1996 issue of Chile Pepper magazine. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup light corn syrup, 2/3 cup water, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon salt.

      Cook over medium heat to the hard ball stage (265 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer, or until a small amount dropped into very cold water forms a hard ball). Remove from heat, stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper and pour into a buttered pan. When it's cool enough to handle (this part is easier with two people), lightly butter your hands and pull the taffy until it is satiny, light in color and stiff. Pull it into long strips 1/2-inch wide and cut the strips into 1-inch pieces. Wrap pieces individually in waxed paper and store them in an airtight container. This recipe makes about a pound of taffy. Of course, you can adapt the recipe, substituting 2/3 cup strong herbal tea for the water, using any throat-friendly herb.