DIY Herbal Sore Throat Gargle by Herbal Academy
21 Feb 2024

DIY Herbal Sore Throat Gargle

I have always been prone to respiratory infections so for me it’s not a question of if, but when I eventually come down with one of the many respiratory infections that get passed around this time of year. Now is the time to strategize. The worst part for me is always the sore throat, and how it turns each swallow into a painful torture. I understand the cough is a necessary part of my body fighting off infection, so I made this sore throat gargle to help this process along while also soothing my poor battered esophageal tissues.  

My grandmother, the Mayo Clinic, and the United Kingdom’s National Health Services (NHS) all recommend a salt water gargle for sore throat care at home. I wanted to build on this basic recipe by adding herbal assistance—demulcents and anti-inflammatories to soothe irritated tissues, plus expectorants to encourage a productive cough.

While there is no substitute for advice from your medical provider when deciding on a plan for treating an infection, there is much comfort to be sought in our apothecary cupboards. Let’s look at the herbal allies in this sore throat gargle.

Herbal Assistance for a Sore Throat

jar of licorice on a slab of wood with leaves in the background

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a member of the Fabaceae family, whose roots are known to have a variety of uses for respiratory issues like coughing (Hoffmann, 2003). A soothing, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, expectorant licorice can encourage a more productive cough while simultaneously soothing damaged and tender mucosal tissues in the throat. The ability to assist and alleviate made licorice a clear choice for this blend.

dried peppermint on a spoon and slab of wood

Peppermint (Mentha x. piperita)

A humble herb with a huge impact, peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a member of the Lamiaceae family. Peppermint leaves have the power to gently allay the troubles of the mind and body through mild nervine and analgesic properties (Chevallier, 2000). Soothing the tension of the throat tissues as well as discomfort in the body can help us to rest more deeply, assisting the body in its process of healing. I also appreciate the way the mint in this recipe refreshes my senses and breath when I’m dry-mouthed and foggy-headed from being unwell. For all of these reasons, I wanted to include peppermint in my sore throat gargle.

dried mullein on a spoon and wooden slab

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a biennial plant belonging to the Scrophulariaceae family. The leaves are covered in fine hairs and are known to be a fantastic aid to the respiratory system. With the ability to help the body fight inflammation, soothe irritation, and increase fluid production; Mullein is a wonder herb when coping with a painful cough. What’s even more striking about how mullein acts in the body is that it is considered an amphoteric expectorant, meaning that it can help dry a wet cough or moisten a dry cough (Hoffmann, 2003). I liked that the use of mullein made this an easy-to-reach option no matter how your cough manifests.

pouring salt into a mug

mug of sore throat gargle on a slab of wood

Sore Throat Gargle Recipe

This Sore Throat Gargle Recipe soothes the throat and brings comfort to help you get well soon.


1 tablespoon peppermint leaves
1 tablespoon mullein leaves
1 teaspoon licorice root
½ teaspoon salt

  • First, put your kettle on to warm. Combine the herbs in a glass measuring cup. Once the water is boiling and your kettle is whistling, pour one cup of boiling water over the herbs into the glass measuring cup. Stir the herbs and allow them to steep for ten minutes. 
  • Once the herbs have finished steeping, strain the infusion through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or tea linen, into a drinking vessel. You’ll want the extra layer of filtration to remove the fine hairs of the mullein leaves so that they don’t get into the infusion and irritate the inflamed tissues of the throat.
  • Now you can add in the salt. Use whatever you have on hand in your cupboard. You’ll want to stir the infusion until the salt completely dissolves. Now you’re ready to gargle.
  • You’ll notice the herb-to-liquid ratio in this recipe is quite high. This is because we are using the herbs in a topical application, so they can be quite a bit stronger than we may prefer them for ingesting. Making a concentrated infusion helps to make the short time the gargle is in contact with the tissues count.

What’s great about this is that if you increased the water volume to one quart, left out the salt, and added honey to taste you could drink this blend as a soothing tea to potentiate all the benefits of these herbal allies.

woman holding a cup of herbal sore throat gargle

In Closing,

I loved building on this classic sore throat recipe. Adding our herbal allies to a salt gargle can make our at-home care more impactful. Mint to help refresh the senses, licorice to address inflammation, and mullein to bring some relief to the tender tissues of the throat. As a gargle or tea, this trio is sure to help you get well soon.

DIY Herbal Sore Throat Gargle | Herbal Academy | This classic Herbal Sore Throat Gargle recipe soothes sore throats and brings comfort to help you get well soon.


Chevallier, A. (2000). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine: The definitive reference to 550 herbs and remedies for common ailments. Dorling Kindersley. 

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press.

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Sore throat [Online Database]. Retrieved from

National Health Service. (2020). Sore throat [Online Database]. Retrieved from