What to Drink to Soothe a Sore Throat (And Boost Immunity) All Winter Long

Cup of comfort.

By Edie Horstman
Camille drinking herbal tea_benefits of black tea

With December under way, let’s talk immunity. Unfortunately, ’tis the season for a suppressed immune system. Whether you’ve been hit with the flu, a cold, or something in between, it’s time to take stock of your immune health. From functional soups to citrusy elixirs, there’s no shortage of ways to soothe a scratchy throat. In many ways, a well-stocked kitchen is a home apothecary. Basic ingredients—like lemons, ginger, and turmeric—are powerful healing agents. But like all aspects of health, taking a well-rounded approach is key. Along with nutrition, you can support your immune health with deep sleep, minimizing stress, and creating a toxin-free home. Today’s focus: drinks for sore throat. A soothed throat could be a warm cup of broth away.

Drinking tea_drinks for sore throat
Image by Michelle Nash
Edie Horstman
Edie Horstman

Edie is the founder of nutrition coaching business, Wellness with Edie. With her background and expertise, she specializes in women’s health, including fertility, hormone balance, and postpartum wellness.

What causes a sore throat?

Let’s start here. The most common cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection—such as a cold or the flu. When a virus causes a sore throat, a sore throat typically resolves on its own. That said, strep throat, a less common type of sore throat caused by bacteria, requires treatment via antibiotics. In most cases, your sore throat will improve with at-home treatment. However, it’s time to see your doctor if a severe sore throat (and a fever over 101 degrees) lasts longer than 1-2 days, you have difficulty sleeping because your throat is blocked by swollen tonsils, or a red rash appears.

Keep in mind that a sore throat can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease. For example, overuse of voice, a burn from hot food, very dry mouth, or sleeping with the mouth open.

Janessa Leoné tea drinks for sore throat
Image by Teal Thomsen

Lower Stress To Boost Immunity

When it comes to minimizing the effects of a sore throat, there are certain drinks that can help. (More on that, below.) However, we also want to be mindful of stress. Unfortunately, most of us walk around in a constant state of stress. In turn, we run on adrenaline. This toxic cycle also diminishes fertility, sleep quality, blood sugar balance, and—no surprise—immune health. To help mitigate the chances of catching a sore throat, below are simple tips to lower daily stress.

1. Set Boundaries

Begin by setting healthy boundaries. You’ll begin to avoid certain people, tasks, and experiences that cause unnecessary stress. While it takes practice, standing firm to what you will (and won’t) allow into your life is game-changing. In doing so, your stress levels will naturally lower. We highly recommend this book to help you get started.

2. Nourish Your Body

Inadequate nutrition is often one of the largest—and most common—stressors on the body. Hello, dysfunction, illness, inflammation, and pain. But it’s a two-way street: lack of nutrition causes stress on the body, but other stressors also burn through important nutrients to keep things humming along. This often manifests in our moods, digestion, hormones, thyroid, joints, and immune system. Consider swapping some of your go-to packaged foods with whole, minimally processed alternatives. Also, aim to eat breakfast within 30-60 minutes of waking. You’ll automatically lower stress in the body. 

3. Establish Supportive Habits

On a scale of 1-10, how connected are you to your body’s needs? Being out of touch means we won’t realize that our habits are causing stress. If that rings a bell, it’s time get curious and identify some habit shifts. This might mean dropping that diet that’s stressful—once and for all. Or maybe, you need to get in the habit of starting your day off in a slower, more peaceful manner. At the end of the day, to understand what is working for us, we have to pay attention to what isn’t.

Kimberly Snyder journaling_drinks for sore throat
Image of Kimberly Snyder by Teal Thomsen

Home Remedies for a Sore Throat

Even if a sore throat isn’t serious enough for a trip to the doctor, it’s still annoying, painful, and may prevent a good night’s sleep. Try these at-home remedies to soothe the pain and irritation.

Gargle With Salt Water

While salt water may not provide you with immediate relief, it is still an effective remedy for killing bacteria while loosening mucus and easing pain. Mix half a teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of warm water. Gargle away.

Add Raw Honey and Lemon to Tea

Honey is one of the best remedies for a sore throat, thanks to its natural antibacterial properties. It acts as a wound healer, immediately offering relief for pain while working to reduce inflammation. Honey can also kill bacteria and help fight off viral infections. Similar to honey, lemons are great for sore throats. They can help break up mucus and provide pain relief. Plus, lemons are packed with vitamin C—helping fight off your infection.

Invest in a Humidifier

If you’ve noticed an increase in the number of sore throats you’ve had this season, then it may be time to invest in a humidifier. Dry air—especially during the harsh, cold days of winter—may be the cause of your sore throat. A humidifier will keep the air moist and open your sinuses.

Pouring tea_drinks for sore throat
Image by Michelle Nash

Does soup help when you have a sore throat?

Yes! It’s no old wives’ tale. The 12th century, Egyptian-Jewish physician, Moshe ben Maimonides, prescribed chicken soup as a treatment for respiratory tract issues. To this day, brothy soup is often the go-to food. It’s nourishing, restorative, and easy to digest. Furthermore, there is scientific evidence to back up the merits of soup for a sore throat. In this study, those who ingested the warm liquids recovered more efficiently from their sore throats. Furthermore, soup’s sodium is known to relieve sore throat pain.

12 Drinks for Sore Throat

Find natural relief—and a cup of comfort—with the following drinks for sore throat. Make these a part of your everyday rituals.

Immune-Boosting Tea

Aka, immuni-tea. Using kitchen medicine (ingredients you can find right in your fridge or pantry!), this wonderful concoction fights colds, eases a sore throat, and can help calm a cough. It’s super simple to make and can be tweaked depending on what you happen to have on hand.

fire cider_drinks for sore throat

Fire Cider

Have you heard of fire cider? This folk remedy drink is full of antimicrobial vegetables, roots, spices, and herbs to provide immune support all winter long. It works like this:

1. Choose ingredients that call to you (see my recommended list at the link above) and cozy up in the kitchen, chopping and chilling for a little less than an hour to make the cider.

2. Put it aside! Ferment all of the potent immune-boosting ingredients in apple cider vinegar for 4-6 weeks.

3. Take up to one shot every day throughout the winter months.

adrenal cocktail_drinks for sore throat

Adrenal Cocktail

Consider the adrenal cocktail an elevated glass of OJ. Unlike its name suggests, this isn’t actually a cocktail. Rather, the adrenal cocktail focuses on three nutrients: vitamin C, sodium, and potassium. These are key to maintaining adrenal health. This trio also helps maintain hormone stability, proper hydration, and electrolyte balance. This is best to drink to help ward off a looming sore throat!

hot cocoa_drinks for sore throat

Superfood Hot Chocolate

If you’re expecting a Nestle hot chocolate, this probably isn’t your drink. It’s not too earthy, but definitely tastes (and is!) healthier than the packet version. It’s lush and creamy, leaving you feeling relaxed rather than hyped up on processed sugar. From cacao to maca and collagen, this hot chocolate supports adrenal health, the immune system, and helps the body adapt to stress—all important things when you have a sore throat. Plus, who doesn’t love a hot cocoa when they’re feeling under the weather?

how to make bone broth_drinks for sore throat

Bone Broth

Bone broth serves as a great way to replenish the fluids you lose when you’re sick, while also providing your body with valuable electrolytes from the sodium in the broth. Bone broth’s amino acids reduce inflammation, and L-glutamine—specifically—reduces gut inflammation. This is another reason why bone broth is incredibly nourishing when you have a cold, cough, flu, or sore throat.

wellness-elixir_drinks for sore throat

Orange Juice Wellness Elixir

Our favorite way to incorporate 100% orange juice? In a warm, slightly spiced elixir. Of all our winter wellness tips, this is the most delicious one. You’ll want to sip on this nourishing drink all winter long. This mug of citrus contains vitamin C, electrolytes, freshly grated turmeric (anti-inflammatory), creamy coconut milk, and more. Drink this in the morning or at night before bed.

Chai_drinks for sore throat

Masala Chai

Homemade chai to soothe a sore throat? Count us in. The ritual of making homemade chai is beautiful, comforting, and for some, nostalgic. Every family has their own special version and secret (or not so secret) spice blend that makes their chai their own. But for the most part, all of these recipes follow a certain formula:

  • Water
  • Milk
  • Black tea
  • Ginger
  • Assorted spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves)
  • Sugar

We love sipping on this classic chai recipe when we’re feeling under the weather. Chai tea contains several different ingredients that can help with sore throats, including ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. Other chai tea benefits include boosting your immune system, reducing nausea, and soothing headaches. 

Turmeric Tea Latte

There’s no better time to add turmeric to everything. It’s incredibly anti-inflammatory (very helpful when you feel a cold, cough, or sore throat coming on!), and it brings a distinctive flavor to drinks and dishes. An oldie but a goodie, we created this warming winter drink to offer a double dose of antioxidants and caffeine in a delicious afternoon pick-me-up.

rosehip tea_drinks for sore throat

Immune-Boosting Winter Tea From My Tiny Laguna Kitchen

Whether or not you’re able to forage for a few of these ingredients, this immune-boosting winter tea is perfect for both special occasions and soothing a scratchy throat. This tea recipe is warming, delicious, and immunity-boosting. It’s caffeine-free and focuses solely on the herbs’ medicinal properties. Think: elderberry, rosehip, ginger, and reishi mushroom. You should be able to find most of these ingredients at your local health foods store, co-op, or online.

moroccan tea_drinks for sore throat

Moroccan Sore Throat Tea From Feasting At Home

Originating from Morocco—with just three ingredients—this tea is soothing, comforting and warming. You’ll want to drink this all winter long! This natural remedy had been part of Moroccan culture for hundreds of years. 

Soothing broth_drinks for sore throat

Soothing Broth For A Sore Throat From The Practical Kitchen

Minimal effort, maximum flavor. Miso, ginger, lemon, and garlic make the perfect soothing broth for a sore throat. If you aren’t slurping this out of a mug while swaddled under a pile of blankets on the couch, you’re doing it wrong.

chicken broth_drinks for sore throat

Chicken Stock by Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Nothing beats sipping on homemade bone broth or chicken stock when you have a cold or sore throat. Here is a step-by-step guide for the classic culinary way to make chicken stock (or broth as it is sometimes called) with chicken bones. It’s delightful, flavorful, and soothing.