Spices, Honey, or Alcohol: What Really Relieves Sore Throat

During winter, the common suggestion to cure sore throat is to try spices, honey, or alcohol. Read on to know which of these really helps.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Nov 18, 2022 17:07 IST
Spices, Honey, or Alcohol: What Really Relieves Sore Throat

During winter, it is common for people to catch the flu and suffer from sore throats. Though having a sore throat might not be seen as a big threat but it can be very uncomfortable. Sometimes, it becomes painful to swallow and even drink. Generally, people who develop a sore throat are bombarded with a number of relief measures or home remedies to try. The most common suggestion is to try spices, honey, or alcohol. Here we discuss which one of these works as a remedy and which does not.

What Causes Sore Throat?

Your throat becomes sore when your body’s immune system responds to viral infections. As a result of this natural response, inflammation and swelling occur in the mucous membranes of your throat. 

So What Helps?


There are several spices that can provide relief from sore throat. Ginger and Cinnamon top the list. The reason for preferring ginger is that it has anti-inflammatory properties that help in relieving throat pain. There have been several laboratory studies that found ginger extract can kill some viruses and bacteria responsible for causing respiratory illnesses.

Also read: Understanding Sore Throat: Treatment, Causes, Diagnosis & More


You take some honey when you have a sore throat. Honey has been on the list of researchers for many years. And, yes it works. Honey has antimicrobial properties. One study showed that honey can effectively reduce the influenza virus that causes the flu.

Honey is also recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if you have a sore throat along with a cough.

Is honey effective for coughs associated with the common cold and flu? Various studies have shown little improvement in nighttime cough and quality of sleep in kids over the age of one. Caution is to be taken that honey should not be given to children younger than a year. This is because honey contains bacteria (Clostridium botulinum) dangerous for babies.


The argument falls flat when it comes to curing sore throat with alcohol. People might argue that alcohol has a disinfectant quality, so it should kill viruses and bacteria. This is true but slightly misunderstood. Indeed alcohol kills viruses and bacteria responsible for the common cold or flu, however, it does so externally; like with sanitisers and hand gels.

If you drink alcohol thinking it would have anaesthetic effects, then you have got it all wrong. There is no scientific evidence for alcohol helping cure sore throats.

Also read: Confused Between Sore Throat And Strep Throat? Know Difference From An Expert

The warmth people experience after having a couple of drinks is also misunderstood as a response to alcohol fighting the flu. It is due to alcohol’s vasodilation effect and that’s why you feel warm and fuzzy.


So, in the battle between spices, honey, and alcohol, it is clear that alcohol is the sure loser. It is always recommended that in case you experience discomfort, visit your doctor at the earliest to prevent any complications.

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