a model clutching their throat with an expression of pain

Is hot sauce an effective sore throat home remedy?

When it comes to home remedies for sore throats, there are endless options — some tried and true, and some completely unfounded.

One popular remedy is hot sauce. It sounds weird because hot sauce causes pain, so why would you add fuel to the fire when you already have a sore throat? Read on to learn the truth behind using hot sauce to soothe your soar throat.

Can hot sauce help a sore throat?

Using spicy foods to treat sore throats is no new thing. In fact, the Maya used chili peppers to treat sore throats (Nicks, 2016).

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that hot sauce might help a sore throat in some circumstances, although it is not currently considered an official medical treatment. Many doctors, however, do consider it a safe home remedy to try (Smith, 2022).

What we know is that capsaicin triggers a burning pain sensation. Your body reacts to the pain signals by releasing endorphins, long-term anagesic (pain relieving) effect.

While there isn’t a lot of research specifically investigating the connection between hot sauce and sore throats, capsaicin, the chemical compound that makes hot sauce spicy is well-known to have pain relieving, anti-inflammatory (Basith et. al, 2016), and antimicrobial properties (Marini et. al, 2015). In one study, capsaicin was found to be effective in reducing postoperative sore throat (Park et. al, 2004).

How to use hot sauce for a sore throat

To soothe your sore throat, try eating a very spicy meal (or a meal with a lot of hot sauce). Add habanero or ghost pepper hot sauce to curry or soup to make it extra spicy. If you don’t feel like eating, you can add hot sauce to a glass of warm water and sip or gargle the fiery liquid. You can also mix some hot sauce into your favorite herbal tea.

Risks of using hot sauce for a sore throat

The main risk of using hot sauce for a sore throat seem to be simply that hot sauce is spicy and uncomfortable. You will experience the normal burning on your tongue, lips, and throat that comes with eating extremely spicy food, in the hopes that after a time it will dull your sore throat. Because it involves extremely spicy food or drink, hot sauce is not a good home remedy to try if your child has a sore throat.

So, while hot sauce isn’t necessarily a cure-all, if you’re comfortable with spicy foods it may be worth trying for your next sore throat.

References

Basith, S., Cui, M., Hong, S., & Choi, S. (2016). Harnessing the Therapeutic Potential of Capsaicin and Its Analogues in Pain and Other Diseases. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)21(8), 966. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules21080966

Hayman, M., & Kam, P. C. A. (2008). Capsaicin: A review of its pharmacology and clinical applications. Current Anaesthesia & Critical Care, 19(5-6), 338–343. doi:10.1016/j.cacc.2008.07.003

Marini, E., Magi, G., Mingoia, M., Pugnaloni, A., & Facinelli, B. (2015). Antimicrobial and Anti-Virulence Activity of Capsaicin Against Erythromycin-Resistant, Cell-Invasive Group A Streptococci. Frontiers in microbiology6, 1281. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2015.01281

Nicks, D. (2016). Hot sauce nation: America’s burning obsession. Chicago Review Press, Incorporated.

Park HS, Kim KS, Min HK, Kim DW. Prevention of postoperative sore throat using capsicum plaster applied at the Korean hand acupuncture point. Anaesthesia 2004 Jul;59(7):647–51.

Smith, C. (2022, February 16). 6 At-Home Remedies to Ease Your Sore Throat. Penn Medicine. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2018/february/sore-throat

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