Disclaimer: I claim no medical training. All advice given here is based on my own, highly personal opinion of going through a few days of hell. If any of it helps, great. If some of it happens to kill you, I accept no liability.

So, I’ve been through a few days of absolute hell. After having “a bit of a sore throat” on Monday, the “bit” became really nasty, causing all sorts of problems with breathing, sleep, work, etc. I’ve had no more than three hours of kip a night for the past week, waking up in agony each time. So, I’ve had the time to try a few different home remedies and present my findings here.

Lozenges – Strepsils

Sugary, honey…y, and with some active ingredient or other, Stepsils have been around for an age and are the standard go to for sore throat. And previously, they’ve worked fine for normal sore throats, but honestly did nothing to relieve the rawness of this monster I’ve had. Sucking and swallowing helps (fnar, fnar), but it might as well be a regular boiled sweet.


For day-time relief, ice-cubes have been a thing of the Gods. Grab a pint of water, stick a dozen ice cubes in. Sip the water, suck on an ice-cube. The coolness helps to keep the swelling under control and the swallowing helps lubricate the throat. To me, significantly better than any boiled sweet or lozenge. Make sure you go via the water, lest you stick the ice cube to the inside of your mouth.

Hot Toddy

The traditional hot toddy has been a staple for generations – the blend of whiskey, spices, honey and lemon providing relief for coughs and colds. This time though I found the hot toddy didn’t do the trick, the alcohol seemed to dehydrate my throat leaving it worse after the initial effects of the drink worse off. Great for a short term gain, but waking up two hours later feeling like death wasn’t an improvement.

Honey is great – one of nature’s cure alls. Antiseptic and antibacterial, it’s also a proven soothing agent for sore throats. It’s a remarkable substance to come from stuff stuck to an insect. Oh, and it’s sweet.

I still reckon the hot toddy is king for colds – just not for raw throats. My personal recipe:

  • Two shots of whiskey – blended.
  • Two teaspoons of honey.
  • Hot water
  • 3 cloves.
  • Star anise.
  • Cinnamon stick.
  • Dried orange peel.

Boil hot water and add to cup. Mix in cloves, cinnamon and orange peel. Leave to infuse for five minutes. After infusion, pop in microwave and reheat for 30 seconds. Mix in honey, whiskey and serve.

Milk and Honey

Popular on the other side of the pond, warm milk and honey gives the same coating effect of the honey, mixed withe sleep aid of warm milk. It’s simple, but works surprisingly well, I drifted off naturally and whilst still waking a few hours later, felt less “dryness” in the throat than the after effects of the alcohol.

Milk and Turmeric

Turmeric is popular in India not just for it’s properties as a flavouring, but as medicinal spice to cure pretty much anything. Its properties may be a little overstated, but research shows it definitely has some antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, with more ongoing. There’s something here. Warm milk and turmeric is a popular preparation for sore throats and colds.

Only one problem – it’s foul. I mean really, really, retchingly foul. No way I’m drinking that as is.

Milk, Turmeric, Honey and Cardamom

Oddly, it doesn’t take much to change foul to remarkably pleasant, and the addition of a few crushed cardamom pods and a few tea-spoons of honey does the trick. On the palette you get a pleasant bit of the slightly bitter, musky-mustard taste of the turmeric mixed with the perfume of cardamom, the sweetness and lubrication from the honey and the drowsy effect of warm milk. On top of that you’ve got the properties from the turmeric and honey working towards helping with the throat. This was my winner – a cup of this and I managed a whole four hours sleep. After waking, by throat was still livable, and I could carry on. I’ll be using this again.

  • One mug of milk.
  • Three green cardamom seeds – crushed.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder.
  • 3 teaspoons of good honey.

Heat the milk with the cardamom until warm over a low heat until hot. Don’t boil the milk. Add the turmeric powder and whisk in. Whisk in the honey. Strain into a mug and drink. Drink.

Non of these recipes are “medicine”, alternative or otherwise – they are simply soothers and aids. As well as using the above, I’ve also been necking paracetamol and ibuprofen on a four hourly basis. It may turn out that everything I’ve done was a placebo effect, or it may been a genuine help. It’s been a little bit of research, and one way to spend my enforced down time.

I’m not a comments leech, but if you’ve got any interesting preparations of your own, let me know. I’m always interested in trying new ideas.

Edit : Since I’m out of milk today, I just tried the instant Chinese ginger and honey drink in the cupboard. Honey – good, ginger – also good. However, the level of ginger on the raw throat is painful. I don’t recommend these as treatment.