January 26, 2020

Approximate reading time: 3 minutes

What you'll learn in this blog post:

  1. What Herbal Tea is good for a Sore Throat or Cough? 
  2. Which Premium Mashup Tea Blends are Best for a Sore Throat and/or Cough
  3. How Tea Helps to Relieve a Sore Throat and Cough


    5 Best Teas for a Sore Throat and Cough 

    1.  Licorice Root Tea


    licorice root Public domain photoEverywhere you look licorice is being added to over-the-counter remedies due to its long history and evidence as a powerful active ingredient.  

    Commonly used for digestive issues such as acid reflux and indigestion, licorice root tea has also been a popular remedy for respiratory ailments, such as coughs and sore throats in both Ayurvedic (originating in India) and Chinese medicine, for thousands of years.

    A 2018 scientific study found that licorice extracts, Liquiritin apioside and liquiritin had potent antitussive and expectorant activities, and were able to decrease cough frequency by 32-59% at 1-5 hrs at various potencies [1]. Although more work is needed to determine how it works, there is science emerging that supports the effectiveness of licorice as an expectorant and antitussis agent [2].  

    Licorice root is also a great source of antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage by free radicals and are critical for helping to strengthen the immune system and reduce chronic inflammation. ORAC refers to oxygen radical absorption capacity or the power of an herb to absorb and eliminate free radicals.  

    With an ORAC score of 102,945 per 100g the antioxidant activity of liquorice flavonoids was found to be over 100 times stronger than that of antioxidant activity of vitamin E [3].

    Organic Peppermint and Licorice BlendSpotlight Blend: Premium Organic Willamette Peppermint & Licorice Root Blend


    Special Note: Licorice has been known to increase blood pressure and is not safe for pregnant or nursing women. Discussing the use of licorice root tea with your doctor is particularly important if you are taking medications or supplements or have an illness of any kind.

    2.  Tulsi Tea


    Tulsi image commonsTulsi, or Holy Basil, is a member of the ginger family and one of the most important Ayurvedic herbs in Indian medicine. It is also a great source of antioxidants.

    In Ayurvedic medicine, Tulsi Tea is without a doubt one of the most important herbal remedies for the vata cold, with symptoms of a raw burning in the throat and sinuses in addition to sneezing. This tea will soothe and moisten mucous membranes [4].  In addition, studies have shown that Eugenol, a component in Tulsi, is effective at reducing the urge to cough [5], making Tulsi blends a popular choice during cold season! This is a good herbal tea for a sore throat, burning sinuses and bad cough.

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     Glass Tea Cup with Philosopher's Stone Tea Blend

    3. Turmeric Tea


    Turmeric is a fragrant and nurturing spice commonly found in Indian food dishes.

    Turmeric spice royalty free with latte Rich in the natural antioxidant, curcumin, turmeric has a 102,700 ORAC score, 5 times the antioxidant capacity of dark chocolate.

    There is also evidence emerging that curcumin may alleviate airway inflammation via the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway [6]. Consuming a warm spicy pairing of Ginger Turmeric tea can help loosen mucus from clogged nasal passages, reduce sinus pressure, and potentially fend off pressure-induced headaches.This is the best tea for congestion. 

    Black pepper should be part of the Ginger Turmeric Tea to improve the absorption of the curcumin, which is naturally not very available to the body.                                                                                                                                               
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    4. Peppermint Tea


    Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) is one of the most popular single ingredient herbal teas.  Over the years, studies have shown peppermint to have a high antioxidant capacity as well as significant antiviral, antiallergenic, antitumour, antibacterial, fungicidal, and anti-microbial properties [8,9].

    Drinking Ppeppermint leaveseppermint tea supports a healthy immune system, acts as an effective cough expectorant and improves the sensation of nasal decongestion. 

    Luckily peppermint is a great antidote to a weakened immune system due to its high antioxidant capacity. In a 2002 study, peppermint tea prepared with boiling water and steeped for 10 min. had one of the highest antioxidant capacities of the tea infusions tested [10].

    Have a cough? A 1994 study showed that inhaling menthol vapour (the main component in peppermint leaves) is an effective way to reduce coughing. Menthol is thought to reduce respiration and in turn coughing, by stimulating the cold receptors in your upper airway [11]. Similar to breathing in cold air, the urge to inhale and thus cough is reduced when inhaling menthol vapour. So next time you’re enjoying Peppermint tea, breathe deeply!

    The sensation of nasal congestion is one of the worst symptoms of smoke inhalation. A study by Eccles et al. (1990) discovered that inhaling menthol significantly increased the sensation of nasal airflow after 10 min. [12]

    Spotlight Blend: Organic Peppermint & Licorice Root

    Special Note: Consumption of peppermint herbal products are usually safe; however, caution should be taken with patients under warfarin treatment.

    5.  Ginger Tea


    Ginger tea is a very good choice for suppressing the cough reflex and reducing stomach issues that commonly result from overnight mucus drainage.

    Belonging to family Zingiberaceae, Ginger contains 1–4% volatile oil containing cineole, zingiberene, borneol, and resins like gingerol and shogaol. Cineole shows antitussive effects by suppressing the cough reflex through direct action of cough centre in the medulla [13]

    Ginger is a good tea for a sore throat and also provides a good source of antioxidants with an ORAC score of 39,041.

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    How Herbal Teas Help Soothe Your Sore Throat & Cough 


    1. Hydration, Hydration, Hydration

      • Tea moistens and helps reduce pain and irritation in the throat.
      • It also thins the mucous membranes, allowing particles to be more easily coughed out.

    2. Tea Can Be an Immune System Booster

      • Many teas contain powerful immune-boosting antioxidants, making it easier to fight off colds and other illnesses. Antioxidants can shield your body from the damaging effects of free radicals created by air pollution.
      • For maximum antioxidant benefits, try to consume 2-3 servings of herbal teas per day.

    3. Tea Can Help Reduce Pain and Swelling

      • Many herbal blends have strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties which can help reduce pain and swelling.They are good throat soothing teas.
      • Warm liquids are also particularly helpful for sore throats.

    4. Tea Can Have Antitussis and Expectorant Properties

      • Often herbals can help control and decrease the urge to cough. There have been numerous studies that have successfully surveyed herbals for natural antitussis and expectorant properties.

    5. Tea is a Useful Vehicle for Honey

      • Combining honey with nurturing tea can be a powerful combination. Honey has many antibacterial properties that are very helpful for a sore throat.

    Take Home Messages:

    • If you are suffering from a cough or sore throat, sipping a warm cup of tea will soothe and provide some relief.
    • Many herbs have hydrating, immune-boosting, pain-reducing, cough-suppressing properties. Licorice root, Tulsi, Turmeric, Peppermint and Ginger blends are great choices to support great respiratory health.
    • Try adding a drizzle of honey, a natural antibacterial and cough suppressant, to make your tea even more comforting.

    NOTE: seek professional medical assistance if respiratory issues last form more than a week, get worse or are accompanied by other symptoms like chills, nausea, vomiting or fever. This article is solely for the purpose of information and is not medical advice – so please consult your doctor before adding any herbs to your daily regime.  



    [1] Reid CE, Brauer M, Johnston FH, Jerrett M, Balmes JR, Elliott CT. 2016. Critical review of health impacts of wildfire smoke exposure. Environ Health Perspect 124:1334–1343; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1409277

    [1] Kuang, Y., Li, B., Fan, J., Qiao, X., & Ye, M. (2018). Antitussive and expectorant activities of licorice and its major compounds. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry26(1), 278-284.

    [2] Prashar D, Saklani S. Barshiliya Y, Sharma M, Mankotia S, Soni A (2012): Pharma-Economical World of Herbal Antitussive – An Overview, Asian J. Res. Pharm. Sci., 2(2), 48-51.

    [3] Ju HS, Li XJ, Zhao BL, Han ZW, Xin WJ. Effects of Glycyrrhiza Flavonoids on lipid peroxidation and active oxygen radicals. Acta Pharmaceutica Sinicia 1989; 24(11):807-812.

    [4] Buhrman, S. (1997). Ayurvedic Approaches to the Treatment of Sinus Infections. PROTOCOL JOURNAL OF BOTANICAL MEDICINE2, 135-139.

    [5] P. D. Nadig and S. Laxmi, “Study of anti-tussive activity of Ocimum sanctum linn in guinea pigs,” Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 243–245, 2005.

    [6] Liu, L., Shang, Y., Li, M., Han, X., Wang, J., & Wang, J. (2015). Curcumin ameliorates asthmatic airway inflammation by activating nuclear factor‐E2‐related factor 2/haem oxygenase (HO)‐1 signalling pathway. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology42(5), 520-529.

    [8] McKay, D. L., & Blumberg, J. B. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives20(8), 619-633.

    [9] Shah, P. P., & Mello, P. M. D. (2004). A review of medicinal uses and pharmacological effects of Mentha piperita.

    [10] Paździoch-Czochra, M., & Wideńska, A. (2002). Spectrofluorimetric determination of hydrogen peroxide scavenging activity. Analytica Chimica Acta452(2), 177-184.

    [11] Morice, A. H., Marshall, A. E., Higgins, K. S., & Grattan, T. J. (1994). Effect of inhaled menthol on citric acid induced cough in normal subjects. Thorax49(10), 1024-1026.

    [12] ECCLES, R., JAWAD, M. S., & MORRIS, S. (1990). The effects of oral administration of (—)‐menthol on nasal resistance to airflow and nasal sensation of airflow in subjects suffering from nasal congestion associated with the common cold. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology42(9), 652-654.

    [13] F. Sayyad Sadikali and S. Chaudhary R, “Isolation of volatile oil from some plants of zingiberaceae family and estimation of their antibacterial potential,” Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Research, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1–3, 2010

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