6 Most Effective Ways to Get Rid of Tonsillitis Naturally


hough children and adults are known to be susceptible to tonsillitis, swelling of the tonsils due to an infection is also observed in adults. The symptoms of acute tonsillitis are similar to those of flu or a bad cold, and are usually known to subside within one to two weeks. However, prevalence of recurrent episodes of tonsillitis could be a real problem that in some cases leads to complications. Chronic tonsillitis is associated with bacterial infection. When the bacteria that triggered acute tonsillitis are not completely eliminated from the tonsil tissues, they continue multiplying leading to recurrent acute tonsillitis. In people with chronic tonsillitis, the symptoms of acute infections tend to worsen over time. As a result their tonsils are slightly inflamed all the time. [1]

Though acute tonsillitis responds to anti-inflammatory drugs and home remedies, recurrent tonsillitis are hard to treat. The symptoms return after the medications are discontinued. Chronic tonsillitis damages the tonsils and may require tonsillectomy or removal of the tonsils that are severely infected or permanently swollen. Removing the severely infected tonsils relieves persistent throat infection and breathing problems associated with it. [2] However, it is believed that chronic tonsillitis and risk of complications that lead to tonsillectomy could be reduced with appropriate remedies.

What Causes Tonsillitis

The tonsils are a pair of soft tissues located in the back of the pharynx or upper throat. They are a part of the body’s lymphatic system that protects us from infection. However, the infection-fighting capacity of the body is not affected when the tonsils are removed. In normal circumstances, the tonsils produce antibodies that help in fighting respiratory infections. The tonsils are known to become most active between 3 and 7 years of age. This is also the period when the size of the tonsil starts increasing. Risk of tonsil infection that leads to tonsillitis is known to be the highest at this stage. As the tonsils start shrinking after the age of 11 or 12, the risk of tonsil infection and associated tonsillitis also start decreasing.

Inflammation of the tonsils is known as tonsillitis. Acute tonsillitis is associated with either bacterial or viral infection. Viruses responsible for tonsillitis include the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also known as mononucleosis, influenza virus and common cold virus. Bacteria that cause strep throat can also cause tonsillitis. However, not everyone with streptococcus infection will develop tonsillitis. In about 30% children, tonsillitis follows strep throat. These pathogens enter the respiratory tract through casual contact with an infected person. The pathogens present in the droplet of an infected person are released into the air when the person talks or sneezes. The pathogens on entering the respiratory tract come into contact with the mucous membrane where they start multiplying. Oral contact is one of the causes of transmission of EBV.

Inflammation of the tonsils indicates that the tonsils are fighting the germs. Tonsillitis becomes chronic when several incidents of tonsillitis occur per year. Children are vulnerable to tonsillitis after the age of two years. Viral tonsillitis is more common in younger children, whereas children between 5 and 15 years of age are more likely to suffer from tonsillitis due to Streptococcus bacterial infection. Numerous children experience repeated tonsillitis that negatively affects the quality of their lives. Chronic tonsillitis develops when the microorganisms that infect the tonsils form biofilms in the wet warm folds of the tonsils that serve as a repository of infection. Unlike the free swimming bacteria of the same class, the bacteria present in the biofilms are highly resistant to common antibiotics and the host immune response. The older and more mature a biofilm, more is it able to resist the body’s defensive mechanism. [2][3][4]

Symptoms of Tonsillitis

In tonsillitis patients, the tonsils are red and swollen. White or yellow patches or coating are present on the tonsils. The patient experiences sore throat. Swallowing becomes painful or difficult. In some cases, the lymph nodes in the neck become enlarged and tender. The infection is accompanied by fever. Voice becomes scratchy, throaty or muffled. Bad breath, headache, stiff neck and stomachache are also known to occur in addition to the aforementioned symptoms. [5]

How to Get Rid of Tonsillitis

Plenty of rest and adequate fluid intake are the first line treatment for tonsillitis. Analgesics are recommended for alleviating pain. Antibiotics are prescribed only when a throat swab test indicates a bacterial infection or when the patient is systemically unwell. [6]  It is believed that frequent antibiotic use for treatment of acute bouts of tonsillitis causes antibiotic resistance, thereby leading to chronic tonsillitis. [7] To reduce risk of chronic tonsillitis that may require removal of the tonsils, you may rely on natural remedies that help in relieving inflammation of the tonsils and minimize risks of recurrent infections.

1. Hot Fomentation

In addition to rest and liquid diet, maintaining the body’s external warmth is essential to speed up the healing process. To keep the tonsil area warm, consider applying a hot fomentation. Take a long clean cloth. Fold it four to six times until it is about 7 to 8 cm wide and long enough to wrap the neck twice. Dip the folded cloth in hot water. Wring it out to remove the excess liquid. Wrap the warm moist cloth around your neck. To trap the heat, cover the cloth with a 10 cm wide folded flannel. [8]

2. Essential Oils

To further enhance the effectiveness of the hot fomentation, add few drops of lavender, tea tree, lemon, ginger, Roman chamomile or niaouli essential oil to the compress. Alternatively, make an essential oil blend by combining 15 drops of tea tree oil, 10 drops of lavender oil, 3 drops of lemon oil and 1 drop of niaouli oil. Add four drops of the oil blend to the warm compress and apply the compress to the throat area twice a day. You can mix five drops of the essential oils mixture with two teaspoons of carrier oil and apply a small amount of the oil to the back and upper abdomen. You can also add the oil blend to the diffuser. [9] Steam inhalation with certain essential oils is also believed to reduce the discomfort and swelling of the tonsils. To one quart steaming hot water add 3 drops of lavender, lemon or eucalyptus essential oil. Lower your head over the pot and place a towel on your head. Breathe in the aromatic steam. [10]

3. Gargle

Warm salt water gargle helps in relieving a sore throat. Salt is also known for its antiseptic property. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Gargle with the warm saline water for 5 to 10 minutes four times a day. [11]

Gargling with diluted essential oils with analgesic, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and cooling properties can help in alleviating the symptoms of tonsillitis. To four ounces of water add two drops each of therapeutic grade clove oil, cinnamon oil, and lemongrass oil. Take a small amount of the diluted essential oil mixture in your mouth and gargle. [12]

Gargling with a mixture of honey, cider vinegar and ginger, and lemon essential oils is known to be an effective tonsillitis remedy. Blend three tablespoons of cider vinegar with one tablespoon of honey. Add five drops of lemon essential oil and three drops of ginger essential oil and mix the ingredients well. Add one teaspoon of the mixture to a glass of warm water. Gargle with the solution twice a day. [13]

You can also use herbal infusions for gargling. Put one teaspoon each of goldenseal and myrrh in a pint of boiling water and steep for half an hour. Every half hour gargle with this herbal infusion. [14] In Indian folk medicines, gargling with a decoction of tamarind leaves or fenugreek leaves and seeds is recommended for tonsillitis. Both the herbs contain mucilage that soothes the throat. In addition, tamarind leaves are known for their antimicrobial property and fenugreek possesses analgesic property. [15]

4. Herbs

A number of herbal remedies are believed to be effective in attenuating tonsillitis. Herbs such as licorice and slippery elm are frequently recommended in folk medicines for relieving tonsillitis. They help in soothing the irritated mucous membrane. Prepare an herbal decoction by boiling one tablespoon of licorice, two tablespoons of slippery elm, one tablespoon of hyssop or one teaspoon of sage. If you can access all these herbs, boil all of them together to prepare the decoction. Take one dose of the decoction thrice a day for a few days or until the symptoms subside. Avoid licorice if your blood pressure is above the normal level. Five to ten drops of redroot or Ceanothus americ anus tincture can be taken four times a day to reduce the swelling of the tonsils and lymph nodes. [16]

In the traditional Indian medicine system, licking a paste made by combining the powdered roots of licorice, calamus and Alpinia galangal with honey is recommended for tonsillitis patients. It is believed to reduce inflammation and infection. Sipping warm tea prepared by boiling a handful of fresh rose petals in water and sweetened with honey could help in alleviating the pain.

Herbs that help in strengthening the immune system such as Echinacea, turmeric, neem, thyme, elderberry and garlic are recommended for fighting acute as well as chronic tonsillitis. Combine any of these herbs with an herb that supports the lymphatic system such as marigold, red clover or cleavers and an herb that astringes the mucous membrane such as thyme, raspberry leaves, plantain, ground ivy or Prunella vulgaris. Furthermore, herbs that assist in detoxification such as celery seed, nettles, marigold and burdock can also help. [17]

5. Nutritional Supplement

Increased intake of vitamins and minerals that support the immune system could help in providing fast relief from infection associated with tonsillitis. Nutritional supplements containing vitamin C with bioflavonoids and zinc lozenges are considered important for tonsillitis patients. Vitamin C and bioflavonoids help in boosting the immune system’s ability to fight infections. Zinc plays an important role in stimulating the immune system. Tonsillitis patients can take 5000 to 20,000 mg of vitamin C daily. At the initial stage of acute tonsillitis one 15 mg zinc lozenge can be taken every two to three hours for 3 days. Thereafter, the dosage should be reduced to one lozenge four times a day until the infection heals.

A number of other nutritional supplements could help in healing tonsillitis. If the tonsillitis patient is on antibiotic medications, acidophilus supplements are recommended to maintain the gut flora. Cod liver oil supplements are known to strengthen the immune system. Liquid chlorophyll supplement helps in reducing irritation and fighting infection. To reduce inflammation, dietary supplements containing proteolytic enzymes can be taken between meals. Grape seed extract is an excellent source of antibiotics that helps to boost immunity and reduces inflammation. You may also take extracts of shiitake, maitake or reishi mushroom extract as these are known for their antiviral and immune-boosting activities. Vitamin A supplements containing a mixture of carotenoids including beta-carotene supports the healing process. For 3 days, you can take 10,000 IU vitamin A daily, and thereafter, reduce the dose to 5000 IU per day. The B vitamins are known to keep the throat and mouth healthy. Vitamin B5 is especially essential for formation of antibodies. It also enables the body to use other vitamins. Vitamin B6 plays an important role in reducing swelling. Choose a vitamin B complex supplement that contains 50 mg of the important B vitamins. You can take the supplement three times a day. If needed, you can take 100 mg additional vitamin B5 and 50 mg additional vitamin B6. By neutralizing the free radicals, vitamin E helps in improving the function of the immune system. You can take 200 IU of vitamin E in the form of d-alpha-tocopherol daily. [18]

6. Diet

The diet of the tonsillitis patient affects the healing process. To increase fluid intake, liquid diet is usually recommended in the early stage of acute tonsillitis. Diluted vegetable juices and vegetable broths provide additional fluid along with essential nutrients. Consider adding sea vegetables such as kelp, wakame, dulse or hiziki to soups. They are excellent sources of minerals including the trace minerals that are essential for the function of the immune system. [19] Avoiding dairy and animal products, fried foods, sugar and grains for a week could help in promoting the healing process. To strengthen the immune system for fast relief from the infection consider adding hot lemon juice with honey, honey with cider vinegar, carrot and apple juice, elderberry juice, ginger juice, unsweetened blackcurrant juice or tea and herbal tea to the diet. Continue taking some of these immunity boosting foods for a few days after the symptoms of acute tonsillitis had subsided. [20]