Fresh Living

Fresh Living


Why Salt Water Gargling Helps Your Throat

posted by hrossi

salt-is-not-needed.jpgAs home remedies go, this might be the most widely known/practiced/recommended.  But why does gargling with warm, salty water help soothe a sore throat?  Since I’m doing this multiple times a day–and since I feel like it helps–I decided to Google the gargle and attempt a better explanation than “because it does.”

First of all, gargling of any kind is helpful when you have a throat infection because it flushes the area and can encourage any lingering bits of phlegm to ride the wave and leave the premises.  For those who still have your tonsils (or who, like me, have big ones), flushing the throat with fluid helps loosen anything that gets stuck in there as well.  Alternatives to salt water gargling: cider vinegar, lemon juice, natural mint or cinnamon mouthwash, or just plain warm water.

But here are the main two reasons why salt water in particular are helpful for sore throats (information I learned here and here and here):

  • Salt sucks.  This is a phrase that I learned in 12th grade biology class, and I’ve come back to it again and again.  Salt draws moisture and promotes osmosis.  This is why salting eggplant or tomatoes makes them give up their liquid so they’re easier to cook with. In your throat, salt water “sucks” in two ways: it draws moisture out of any bacteria who have set up shop there, and it draws moisture out of your own swollen tissues, relieving inflammation.
  • Salt cleanses.  Not only does salt water flush out post-nasal drip and other bacterial material (just like any fluid would), a salty environment prevents bacteria from growing.  Just ask any medieval meat-eater how they kept their meat from going rancid, and you’ll recall that salt is a bacteria-fighter.

Fair warning, though – you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to salt water gargling.  First, do not swallow the salt – your body does not need the extra sodium, it needs to be well-hydrated in order to fight your infection.  Second, if the concentration of salt in your gargle is too high, it will dry out your throat membranes, causing them to inflame further.

A good rule of thumb is to use only enough salt so that the water tastes just salty, not WHOA, SALTY!  I usually do 3 10-second gargles in a row, 3-4 times a day when I have a cold. And for whatever reason, I usually feel better afterward.

Do you gargle?  Does it help?



Advertisement
Comments read comments(19)
post a comment
Ron Weathers

posted April 7, 2009 at 2:24 pm


I’ve used warm water salt gargoling for a long time. It has always worked to make me feel better and to enhance healing. However, I have an even better method of solving throat problems as well as colds and the flu. It’s simple, but you would have to email me to find out. It has to do with garlic and ginger.



report abuse
 

Karen

posted July 8, 2009 at 7:30 am


I gargle with plain warm water everyday, twice a day. First thing in the morning afer brushing my teeth and the last thing before bed. I have large tonsils, and the warm water is so soothing. I used to wake up EVERY morning with a dry, sore throat and have found since I started gargling regularly this NEVER happens anymore. I only add salt when I have a cold or the flu.
I think gargling regularly helps prevent a cold from ever starting as it flushes out any germs that may have gotten lodged there throughout the day. Case in point: a few weeks ago, I felt that scratchy tingly feeling in the back of my throat and just knew a cold was coming on. I had post-nasal drip and was starting to feel achy. After gargling at bedtime that night, I went to bed certain that I would wake up with a full blown cold. Imagine my surprise when I woke up the next day with absolutely no signs of a cold! Maybe it was coincidence, but I doubt it. I’ve read that people who gargle have 36% fewer colds.



report abuse
 

Ben Dover

posted October 16, 2009 at 10:51 am


You gargle chodes.



report abuse
 

stowers

posted November 18, 2009 at 10:28 am


I like the article about salt water gargling which I will try.



report abuse
 

Kate

posted November 20, 2009 at 11:17 pm


I’m gargling right now!



report abuse
 

Ken pasco

posted November 28, 2009 at 1:41 am


I gargle when I google



report abuse
 

Brittany

posted April 16, 2010 at 12:03 am


I Got sick about 6 days ago, and went to the doctor today. There i was diagnosed with Strep Throat!!!! Which I already knew, but went anyways. I also have a wisdom tooth growing in and its a royal pain in my mouth…lol….But i have been gargling with warm salty water and amazingly the pain and swelling have gone down a lot. So this is no myth everyone who even for a second feels a sore or itchy throat coming on gargle like you’ve never gargled before…..IT REALLY DOES HELP!!!!!!



report abuse
 

Joy

posted June 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm


Not only does salt water help with sore throats, it also helps an abcess tooth. I felt an abcess coming on last week and the pain was irritating. I decided to try to rinse the area with salt water. The pain IMMEDIATELY went away and did not become inflamed any further. I didn’t have to make a trip to the dentist to request antibiotics! This is my new remedy!



report abuse
 

Alfred

posted February 17, 2011 at 8:37 am


My doctor always recomended gargle with asprin or salt water. This was back in the 1960′s. Back then asprin was used more often than today.



report abuse
 

Dominick J.

posted August 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm


I wanted to know HOW much salt to use in a glass of water to help get rid of a sore throat. I really didn’t need this long and tedious explanation. Besides, you have to be careful when using a salt gargle because Salt can DRY out your sinuses and cause more problems. SO HOW Much Salt would you use in a Glass of water and is every 4 hours an acceptable amount of time to use it?



report abuse
 

Vongaro

posted September 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm


Dominick J, if you read the last paragraph of hrossi’s article it tells you how much to use. And far from being long and tedious, I think the explanation is very informative. No pleasing some people, I guess.



report abuse
 

Faghri Haghir

posted November 30, 2011 at 4:57 am


Hey guys, I tried to stick a rod in my hole but my cold got worse so I made some warm concoction in my rear and it felt so good. I think that’s what is best for a cold. Who wants to party with me.



report abuse
 

Miss America

posted December 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm


Hey Dominick J.

From what I’ve heard it’s 1 teaspoon of salt to every cup of water.



report abuse
 

Sarah Bernheim

posted December 20, 2011 at 5:44 pm


Salt water gargling help in killing bacteria in your mouth. In the past, when toothpaste and toothbrush were not yet invented, salt gargling is the best alternative. Even now, this way is still being used, most especially for persons affected with mouth disorders or other illnesses.



report abuse
 

Aaeza Kashif

posted March 10, 2012 at 8:34 am


yes, I did it today and i’m only 11 !



report abuse
 

Bella

posted June 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm


This article was very helpful and informative. I used to have dry mouth since using s & w i find that my saliva production has increased. Would you recommend using daily in place of alcohol-based mouthwashes?



report abuse
 

dessi113

posted December 8, 2012 at 5:39 pm


Verry helpful i usually always get sore throat because prone to it and hav always used the honey method but this method is much quicker and workd instantly! Did this 2times aday and showd good results! Love science but medicine is not always the cure to everything sometimes remedies are!:)



report abuse
 

hascold

posted November 10, 2013 at 5:57 pm


Lol, this is science too you know :p



report abuse
 

Pingback: 6 Cara Ampuh Mengatasi Sakit Tenggorokan - Jurnal Ahli Herbal

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

Fare Well, Live Fresh...and Thanks
This is the post in which we say goodbye.  We're both leaving our respective jobs at Beliefnet, and so it's time to step away from the blog.So, this is the post in which we say goodbye...by saying thank you.  Thank you to you, the readers, for clicking and visiting and sharing the myriad w

posted 12:00:45pm Jul. 02, 2010 | read full post »

Waking Up to Your Dreams (by Wendy Schuman)
Are you a frustrated dreamer? I know I am. I often wake up with fragments of scenes echoing in my mind that seem really meaningful--but then I leap out of bed, start my morning routine, and in seconds they're gone. I want to linger in that realm and tap into the guidance and insight rising from a wi

posted 2:21:32pm Jun. 24, 2010 | read full post »

Prayer for the Gulf from the 13 Grandmothers
Because I lack an engineering degree and don't understand why we can't just stop this thing NOW with a 10-ton wad of gum or giant boulder or massive Q-tip, I'll share more spiritual wisdom from elders. This is from the beautiful, amazing International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers--they each

posted 10:52:38am Jun. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Fresh Morning: Worry Away the Worry
"Worry is a prayer for something you don't want." - Sharon Gannon I love that. The other day someone expressed concern about my excessive worrying habit, and I've been contemplating on it ever since. Doing my best to actually contemplate, rather than worry. I've been on a renewed Gilmore G

posted 9:14:40am Jun. 21, 2010 | read full post »

How Did You (or a Loved One) Heal from Cancer?
In addition to co-writing this blog and working at Beliefnet full-time, I'm writing a book. It's about how I got through cancer five years ago with a combination of heavy-duty Western meds and all I knew from my personal and journalistic experience of yoga, meditation, non-religious spirituality, an

posted 3:08:46pm Jun. 18, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.