Echinacea Flower. Photo by Sarah Baldwin.
With fall just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what to stock up on for our winter apothecaries. Homemade herbal throat spray is one thing that I consider an indispensable household item for cold and flu season.
The dry air of woodstoves and heating systems causes our throats to become drier and more susceptible to harboring viruses. Herbs with antibacterial and antiviral compounds create an uninhabitable environment for viruses and infections. When you have a sore throat, these botanicals boost your body’s healing response to fight off the infection more quickly. If you use an herbal spray at the first hint of a scratchy or sore throat, you can often prevent a cold from ever taking hold.
Throat spray also comes in handy even when you don’t feel sick. While traveling, it can ease a dry throat that comes from flying in airplanes and sleeping in hotel rooms. Throat spray is also nice to use before all kinds of vocal performance, from speaking engagements to concerts.
With a few key ingredients and a little know-how, you can create a homemade throat spray from scratch. This will ensure that what you’re ingesting is totally natural and also save you money. Plus, the process fosters a deeper connection with your medicine. When you get involved with your own healing process, you form a strong intention for health that works on multiple levels to keep you at your best.
Sourcing Herbal Extracts
Herbal throat spray can be simply made from a combination of tinctures, herbal extracts made with alcohol. If you buy a top-dollar herbal throat spray at the store, this is basically what you’re getting. It is more cost-effective to make your own tinctures from wildcrafted or cultivated plants. You can also buy dried herbs; I recommend purchasing organic herbs in bulk and making large batches to save money over the long run, especially since alcohol-based tinctures keep for years. (Glycerin-based extracts can also be used for throat spray if you’re avoiding alcohol.) Of course, you can also purchase pre-made tinctures, but it will add some cost to your throat spray.
Homegrown Goldenseal Root. Photo by Sarah Baldwin.
There are many medicinal plants that can ease a sore throat and boost the immune system. Below are several to choose from based upon your specific needs and what is available in your area. You can start out with combining equal parts of these tinctures, and adjust the ratios as you please for taste and medicinal properties:
- Echinacea (Echinacea spp.): Superb immune-booster; anti-inflammatory to ease pain; also cleanses blood and lymph for detoxification.
- Red Root (Ceanothus americanus): Specific for sore throat, even severe conditions like mononucleosis, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis.
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Highly antiseptic, antifungal, and expectorant.
- Horehound (Marrubium vulgare): Eases hoarseness and laryngitis; expectorant.
- Sage (Salvia officinalis): Specific remedy for sore throat; antimicrobial and antioxidant.
- Goldenseal root (Hydrastis canadensis): Antibacterial and antifungal; eases chronic inflammation of the throat and pharynx. (This is a strong remedy and at-risk plant, so use sparingly in your formula.)
- Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis): Soothing and softening; especially useful for dry throat.
- Elderberry (Sambucus spp.): Tasty and sweet; antiviral and anti-inflammatory.
- Elderflower (Sambucus spp.): Opens up the throat for speaking and singing; also eases cold, flu and fever.
- Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum): Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and expectorant; adds a pleasant flavor.
To sweeten the deal, add some raw, local honey to your recipe. Honey has natural antiseptic properties that will heal and soothe a sore throat while also greatly improving the taste of your throat spray. You can also add a few drops of high-quality, organic tea tree oil for an added antiseptic boost.
A one-ounce glass spray bottle is a great way to keep your throat spray handy and portable. If you make a larger batch, keep the rest in an airtight glass jar and store it in a cool, dark place. Alcohol and honey are natural preservatives, so your remedy will keep for a long time.
It’s as simple as that! Herbal throat spray is a wonderful tool that will help keep you healthy everywhere you go. It also makes a nice homemade gift for family and friends.
Sarah Baldwin is immersed in the world of herbalism, writing and teaching about the physical and spiritual benefits of healing plants. She is the author of The Herbal Healing Deck, an earthy and mystical oracle deck featuring guidance and wisdom from medicinal plants. Sarah is a regular contributor to Plant Healer Magazine and The Herbarium and has also written course material for The Herbal Academy. Her interests include gardening, yoga, meditation, dance, and music.