You wake up in the morning with a telltale tickle in your throat. Ruh roh. Is it the first symptom of a cold, the flu, or—gulp—strep throat? Before you rush to the doctor’s office or reach for strong pharmaceutical medicines, consider trying a more immediate cure for the pain and irritation of a sore throat—gargling salt water.
Salt water gargles are an easy and natural home remedy for a host of common ailments that may be the root cause of your pain. It could possibly soothe the inflammation in your throat in a matter of hours. What have you got to lose?
What happens when you gargle salt water?
Salt water gargles may seem like an old wives’ tale (raise your hand if you first heard about it from Grandma), but there’s science to back up its effectiveness. The addition of salt to a glass of warm water used as a gargle creates an osmosis effect where the concentration of salt draws fluids from your mouth and throat tissues to relieve a painful infection. It also breaks up thick mucus, which can remove irritants like allergens, bacteria and fungi from the throat, according to Philip T. Hagen, MD, editor in chief of the Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies.