By Sarena-Rae Santos, Natural Health Blogger
As a child, I suffered from recurring strep throat, so it seemed like I was always sick, and I was. It was so bad they recommended removing my tonsils, but I refused. Instead, every few months, I was on another round of antibiotics fighting off the latest case of strep, but was that the only solution? Absolutely not!
You may wonder what can be done if you get strep throat and if there are natural remedies you can try before taking the mainstream approach. First, let’s discuss what strep throat is.
What is Strep Throat
Strep throat is a common bacterial infection in children caused by group A Streptococcus. There are more than 120 strains of group A Streptococcus bacteria, and strep throat is a type of group A streptococcal (GAS) infection. Strep throat causes inflammation in your tonsils and throat, resulting in a sore, scratchy throat. Typically a healthcare provider can diagnose strep throat with a rapid strep test or throat culture, and treatment usually includes antibiotics (1).
Symptoms of strep throat may include (2):
- Throat pain that usually comes on quickly
- Painful swallowing
- Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
- Tiny red spots on the area at the back of the roof of the mouth (soft or hard palate)
- Swollen, tender lymph nodes in your neck
- Nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children
- Body aches
Although strep throat complications are rare, some complications that may occur include (3):
- The infection spreads to the tonsils, sinuses, middle ear, the mastoid bone behind the ear (mastoiditis), skin or blood.
- A peritonsillar abscess (a collection of pus) around the tonsils or behind the throat that can be extremely painful.
- Scarlet fever, a red rash that can be tiny pinpricks that are hard to see or intense redness on the body that gives it its name.
- Rheumatic fever, which can damage the heart, brain, and joints.
- A kidney disease called glomerulonephritis.
- Poststreptococcal reactive arthritis, which is inflammation in your joints
- Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS), which usually involves developing the tics and habits of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) after a strep infection or having symptoms of OCD worsen after a strep infection.
If symptoms persist or worsen after seven days, or you/your child is experiencing a dangerously high fever, extreme pain, or rashes, seek a trusted medical professional. Of course, if you don’t feel equipped to treat strep naturally, feel you need more than what natural remedies can provide, or would like a formal diagnosis, seeking a naturopath is a great option.
Natural Remedies for Strep Throat
When it comes to strep throat, a fever is usually present. Suppose you read How to Handle Fevers Naturally. In that case, you already know the importance of letting a fever work its course and how fevers reducing on their own is vital to recovery from any illness. So just some quick reminders to naturally support the body during a fever:
- Keep comfortable
- Stay hydrated
- Take detox baths
- Support the lymphatic system
Earthley’s Ultimate Guide to Fevers is an excellent resource if you’re looking for more in-depth solutions surrounding fevers.
Aside from fever management, you can only address the root cause (infection) and manage symptoms when dealing with strep throat, so let’s do it.
Addressing the Infection
Addressing the infection is tricky because many believe you need antibiotics for all infections. Believe it or not, doctors prescribe about 47 million antibiotic courses annually for infections that don’t need antibiotics (4). If you read 6 Reasons Why You Should Ditch Antibiotics, you already know antibiotics can cause many health complications and often don’t even work. So what can you use instead? Oil of Oregano or Fermented Garlic Honey.
Oil of Oregano has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties, amongst many other beneficial properties (5,6,7). Oil of Oregano is made by infusing extra virgin olive oil with dried oregano leaves, creating a robust and ingestible “natural antibiotic” widely used in the natural community.
Fermented Garlic Honey has immunomodulatory, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties and relieves upper respiratory tract infection symptoms (8,9,10,11). Fermented Garlic Honey is made by fermenting garlic cloves in honey and also creates a “natural antibiotic” commonly used in the natural community.
Another option is Dr. Christopher Strep Blend, which is very effective. Simply mix one tablespoon of honey, 1/4 -½ teaspoon of cayenne, and three cloves of grated garlic. Chew and swallow 1/2 tsp. of this mixture every half hour. This effectively kills the strep bacteria.
Addressing Sore Throat
Usually, when we experience a sore throat, the first course of action is to take a cough drop, but let’s face it, most of them are brimming with toxic ingredients. Addressing a sore throat without mainstream solutions is pretty simple. You could start with homemade natural remedies like gargling salt water, Cough and Cold Lozenges, or Healthy Lungs Tea, but keep reading if DIYs aren’t for you.
Mullein, peppermint, and lemon balm are excellent natural options to soothe a sore throat.
Mullein has been used for centuries to help coughs, bronchitis, asthma, and just about every respiratory issue under the sun. Mullein was traditionally used for tuberculosis (12). The flowers and leaves contain saponins that help rid the body of phlegm and mucilage, which soothes irritated membranes. Mullein loosens and removes excess mucus in the respiratory system while also having anti-inflammatory properties, relaxing muscles and relieving congestion (13). All great properties to help soothe a sore throat.
Peppermint oil has been recorded to kill bacteria effectively (14), especially in the bacterias frequently found in the mouth (15). In another study, peppermint oil was found to successfully kill several types of bacteria that lead to illnesses in humans, including Staphylococcus and pneumonia-linked bacteria (16). Additionally, peppermint provides a cooling sensation that helps relieve pain (17).
Lemon balm has demonstrated antibacterial properties in tested samples against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (18). Lemon balm has the potential to act as an anti-inflammatory agent (19), which can help relieve the pain of a sore throat
Why not opt for something less dangerous than mainstream cough drops, like Earthley’s Herbal Throat Spray? Herbal Throat Spray provides relief from sore throats without compromising ingredients. This spray is infused with anti-viral herbs and has a pleasant, sweet flavor. Banish sore throats naturally with cooling peppermint while your immune system gets the support it needs.
Addressing Nausea & Vomiting
Addressing nausea and vomiting without mainstream solutions can be pretty straightforward, as many herbs are great for these symptoms. When struggling with these symptoms, a doctor may prescribe Zofran, which blocks the body’s natural substances that cause vomiting. Zofran is typically used to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatment or after surgery. Zofran has side effects such as stomach pain, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. Additionally, Zofran may cause serotonin syndrome/toxicity (20).
Astragalus and fennel are excellent natural options to soothe an upset stomach and ease nausea and vomiting.
Astragalus may alleviate symptoms of chemotherapy, like nausea and vomiting, which is why Zofran is often prescribed. One study discovered people undergoing chemotherapy who were given IV astragalus experienced reduced nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (21). Another study found astragalus eased nausea and vomiting in colon cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (22).
Fennel is a carminative herb rich in volatile oils that help the gut soothe and remove gas from the digestive tract (23). Between being a carminative herb and its anti-inflammatory properties, fennel is great for improving overall digestion and upset stomach. Fennel soothes upset tummies, gas, bloating, and other digestive distress (24). One study found that supplementing dietary fennel seed powder improves appetite, digestion, nutrient absorption, and immunity (25).
Why not opt for something less dangerous than Zofran, like Earthley’s Feel Better Fast, which has both of these herbs? Feel Better Fast is an herbal tincture created to knock out coughs, sniffles, and upset tummies in no time. This tincture combines herbs like echinacea root, fennel seed, astragalus root, elderflower, and cinnamon to nourish your body with vitamins and minerals to help your body heal itself quicker.
Addressing Body Aches & Swollen Lymph Nodes
Body aches are a common symptom of illness, and it’s pretty uncomfortable. This pain typically comes from congestion in the lymphatic system. The immune system is very active, killing germs, and there is lots of extracellular waste. Plus, you’re probably not moving around much, and the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, so cellular debris gets trapped. That’s where lymphatic support comes in.
Detox baths, dry brushing, and Earthley’s Lymphatic Cream can help ensure that your system works properly to flush out the waste and head to a quicker recovery.
A detox bath is a warm or hot bath with some addition like herbs, salt, clay, etc. — that helps draw toxins out through the skin. Detox baths help the perspiration pathway work more effectively. Try making one of our 5 Detox Bath Recipes or try Earthley’s Detox Bath, which combines calendula, hyssop, yarrow, ginger, and sage to help relieve pain, soothe rashes, promote lymphatic health, and improve sleep.
Dry brushing helps detoxify and encourage lymphatic drainage by increasing blood circulation (26). There is no scientific proof that dry brushing is energizing. Still, many people feel invigorated and energized after a dry brushing session (27), which may help with the fatigue often associated with illness. An excellent dry brushing resource is How & Why to Dry Brush.
Earthley’s Lymphatic Cream is a lotion created to help relieve achy body parts caused by swollen lymph nodes. This cream tackles lymphatic congestion at the source and gently encourages drainage to help detox, reduce soreness, and improve overall wellness.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.