Have you ever woken up in the morning to a painful, dry and scratchy feeling in your throat? Well, you are not alone.

Sore throats are common, and most of us experience them several times in our lives. Usually caused by viral or bacterial infections, sore throats can be remedied easily through natural methods. 

Essential oils have natural healing properties that help with treating sore throats.

In this article, we will learn about 11 essential oils that kill germs, reduce inflammation and lower throat pain and heal a sore throat.

What is a sore throat?

A sore throat is a condition which causes pain, scratchiness, and irritation in the throat that worsens when you swallow.

Viruses that cause common colds and flu are also the cause of sore throat. In some cases, bacterial infections also cause a sore throat.

Allergies, dry air, outdoor pollution, muscle strain, and GERD are some of the other causes of sore throat.

Symptoms of sore throat

The common symptoms of sore throat include –

  • Pain and scratchiness in the throat
  • Throat pain while swallowing or talking.
  • Swollen glands in your neck and jaw
  • Swollen and red tonsils
  • Pus on tonsils
  • Hoarse voice

When infections cause sore throat, it can result in other symptoms like fever, runny nose, cough, sneezing, body ache, headache, and nausea.

Essential oils for sore throat

These essential oils have several anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and expectorant properties that help ease the symptoms of sore throat.

1. Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint essential oil is amongst the most popular essential oils for the treatment of sore throat. You can use it for the treatment of common cold, sinus infections, inflammation of mouth and throat and respiratory infections.

According to a 2013 study, peppermint essential oil is effective against oral pathogens (1).

Another research studied the antibacterial and antioxidant activities of peppermint oil. During this study, researchers found that peppermint essential oil inhibited the growth of microorganisms and the results were comparable with those of the antibiotic gentamycin (2). 

Peppermint oil also contains menthol which helps to soothe and calm sore throats. Menthol is used in cough drops and lozenges that help to treat sore throats.

2. Eucalyptus essential oil

Eucalyptus essential oil has antiseptic properties which are helpful in the treatment of sore throats, coughs, and colds.

Eucalyptus oil contains 1,8-cineole which has antimicrobial effects against many types of bacteria. Cineole also has immune-stimulatory, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, and spasmolytic effects.

It also has decongestant, and expectorant properties (3). Steam inhalation and topical application on the neck and chest are the two popular methods of using eucalyptus essential oil.

3. Clove essential oil

Clove oil has been used for centuries for reducing pain and inflammation. If you have a toothache, chewing on a clove bud can have a numbing effect.

This numbing effect of clove oil is beneficial in treating a sore throat as well.

The immunity-boosting, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties of clove oil are an excellent tool for treating sore throats, colds, and flu.

4. Lemon essential oil

The lemon essential oil is sourced from the peel of the Citrus limon plant. It has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, which help fight infections and boost the immune system.

According to a 2017 study, lemon essential oil has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that protect against bacteria that cause listeria (4).

This study shows that the antimicrobial properties of lemon essential oil also help protect against bacteria that cause a sore throat.

Lemon oil soothes a sore throat by causing an increase in saliva, which helps kill surface bacteria.

5. Thyme essential oil

Thyme oil is a potent antioxidant, which has been used for several centuries to treat respiratory issues. Thyme essential oil is an antibacterial analgesic, which makes it the perfect choice for easing sore throats.

During a 2011 study, researchers tested thyme oil against 120 strains of bacteria. Thyme oil showed good efficacy against antibiotic-resistant strains of the tested bacteria (5).

Several other studies have also shown that antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of thyme essential oil can help fight harmful pathogens (6, 7).

6. Oregano essential oil

The potent antifungal and antiviral properties of oregano oil make it an effective cure for a sore throat. Oregano oil contains carvacrol, terpenes, and thymol, which help fight bacteria and viruses naturally. B

eta-caryophyllin, another component of oregano oil, is an anti-inflammatory which helps alleviate congestion in the airways.

Oregano oil can destroy Staphylococcus aureus, which causes strep throat (8).

Studies have shown that oregano oil can even kill superbug MRSA (9). The antimicrobial activity of oregano oil is not reduced when you boil it in water.

7. Hyssop essential oil

Hyssop is an aromatic shrub that originated in France, Holland, and Hungary. Hyssop essential oil has been used for centuries for respiratory and digestive problems.

Since it is antibacterial, antiseptic and expectorant, it is used for the treatment of sore throat, cough, and congestion.

Whether a viral or bacterial infection causes a sore throat, hyssop essential oil can treat it all.

8. Juniper berry

Juniper berries are rich in flavonoids and polyphenols antioxidants. Research shows that juniper berry essential oil contains 87 different active compounds including antioxidants, antibacterials, and antifungals (10). 

This study indicates that juniper berry oil is useful for treating sore throat along with other problems like respiratory infections, fatigue, muscle aches, and arthritis.

9. Sage essential oil

Sage essential oil has antibacterial, antiseptic and astringent qualities that make it highly beneficial for sore throats.

Clary sage, Spanish sage, and common sage are the three varieties of sage that are good for treating sore throats.

You should always dilute and use sage oil in small amounts as doses higher than 12 drops can cause rapid heart rate, seizures and kidney damage.

10. Frankincense essential oil

Frankincense essential oil is sourced from the resin of the Boswellia Serrata or Boswellia ferreana tree. According to research, the extracts of this tree have potent anti-inflammatory properties (11).

Frankincense has been used for centuries for healing sore throats thanks to its antiseptic, astringent and disinfectant properties.

It also helps to soothe coughs and loosen phlegm in the respiratory tract. Other than treating sore throats, Frankincense essential oil is also effective against bronchitis, nasal congestion, and laryngitis.

11. Basil oil

Basil essential oil has been used for thousands of years in traditional Asian medicine. This powerful adaptogen helps the body to fight disease. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help decrease inflammation and heal sore throats.

Ways to use essential oils for sore throat

The US Food and Drug Administration( FDA), does not regulate essential oils, so it is crucial that you purchase the right quality.

When choosing an essential oil, always look at the label carefully. Make sure that the oil is made by a company that is a part of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy.

The label should mention the date of distillation, date of expiry and country of origin.

There are three different days by which you can use essential oils to treat a sore throat –

1. Inhalation

Put one or two drops of any essential oil for sore throat in your palms and rub them together. Now place your hands over your nose and inhale.

You can also put two to three drops of essential oil on a cotton ball and place it on your pillow and sleep.

Add a few drops of any of the above mentioned essential oil in boiling water and breathe in the steam.

Add a few drops of essential oil in a diffuser and diffuse the oil.

2. Oral

You can ingest many essential oils. However, not all are safe to be taken internally. Some oils available on the market are mixed with some synthetic ingredients, which make them unsafe for consumption.

Always check with a doctor before you use any essential oil internally.

For oils that are considered safe by the FDA, you can use them to gargle. Mix just one drop of essential oil in one glass of warm water and gargle. Do not ingest the water after gargling.

3. Topical application

Dilute essential oils with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil before topical use. Add four or five drops of the essential oil to one tablespoon of carrier oil and apply it to your neck, chest, behind your ears and at the bottom of your feet.

Precautions and side effects

Always use therapeutic grade essential oils for sore throat. Inhalation and topical use of essential oils are generally considered safer than oral use.

You should always check with a doctor before using any essential oil internally. Always dilute essential oils before topical application.

Essential oils can cause an allergic reaction in some people. The symptoms include rashes, itching, trouble during breathing, and rapid heartbeat.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using essential oils. Babies and children should also not be exposed to essential oils.

Final thoughts

Essential oils are an excellent remedy for the symptoms of the sore throat like pain, scratchiness, and irritation in the throat.

Sore throat is caused by bacterial infections (strep throat) or viral infections (cold and flu). These essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties which help treat sore throat.  

Essential oils can be used through inhalation, orally and topically. However, always dilute essential oils before you use them on your skin.

Essential oils, such as peppermint oil, clove oil, basil oil, sage oil, etc., can be of great relief in sore throat condition.