It’s amazing how the simplest things can help the most. For generations it has been known that gargling warm water with salt can help a sore throat. But how?
The answer lies within the very nature of salt. It’s a natural dehydrator commonly used in food preservation and preparation. Its ability to draw out the water in foods is the reason pickles retain their tartness and crunch after months in a jar, and also how salmon lox is made.
While salt doesn’t exactly pickle your throat, the same principle applies. A sore throat is usually inflamed due to bacteria and other germs wreaking havoc on your soft tissues or mucosa. These inflammations (known as edemas) are usually filled with water, and the salt works its way into your throat. Through osmosis, the salt draws out the edema fluid, killing the bacteria, which requires a warm, wet environment.
While the relief from pain and swelling is real, gargling with salt doesn’t necessarily cure the ailment. Also, the principle of too much of a good thing can apply. While the warm water and salt grains dancing in your throat may feel good, too much salt can harm your mucosa. Gargle in moderation, then go see a doctor if your symptoms persist.