Sage: a natural sore throat remedy - gardenstead Skip to content
sage leaves

Sage: a natural sore throat remedy

sage leaves

Better than just soothing sore throats and coughs with a lozenge, this natural sage gargle remedy takes care of the root cause of your sore throat: bacteria. The simple solution kicks bacteria butt so fast, your sore throat will improve instantly after first use and heal at an accelerated rate as you continue to gargle with it. I’ve used it many times over the years and swear by it!

What gives the gargle super-powers? The deadly combination of sage tea, tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar.


Scientists and practitioners of traditional medicine alike find sage tea to have strong antibacterial properties, especially against harmful bacteria affecting the mouth. On top of that, this super-herb has impressive antioxidant and antiviral effects.

In fact, even if you don’t have the other ingredients, sage tea alone makes for an effective sore throat treatment.

Common Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is an easy houseplant to grow all year-round. It’s drought-tolerant and easy-going about sunlight conditions. Pop it in a windowsill with bright light and water when the top two inches of soil dries out.

This herb is worth your windowsill real-estate! In addition to fantastic medicinal uses, the leaves are velvety and a unique shade of silvery-green, the aroma is divine and it makes a delicious addition to many meals, such as Jamie Oliver’s Turkey and Leek pie.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is an evergreen shrub native to Australia. The oil distilled from its leaves have been used to kill bacteria since prehistoric times and modern scientists have confirmed its bactericidal and fungicidal properties.

This oil is potent and should only be used diluted and never ingested; therefore please refrain from ingesting this gargling solution.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which is used by every cell in the body to produce energy. Moreover, it is antimicrobial and it helps the body make use of the healing properties of the active substances in fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Sage Tea Gargle Recipe

This recipe comes from Melanie Wenzel’s Essential Guide to Home Herbal Remedies. This well-researched and beautiful guide includes recipes for treating more than 125 conditions.

“If your throat is sore or your voice husky, bacteria are usually to blame. A bacteria-killing gargling solution, such as one that contains sage, brings the quickest relief. It tastes quite medicinal, but you’re not meant to drink it, after all.” – Melanie Wenzel

When to Use It

Fore sore throat and hoarseness

How to Use it

Gargle with this solution once every hour so that pain subsides quickly.

Shelf life

The gargling solution will keep for two days in the fridge.

Home Herbal Remedies - Melanie Wenzel
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (200ml) apple cider vinegar (use raw, organic vinegar ‘with mother’ for best results)
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) cooled sage tea (brewed from fresh or dried sage), see tips below
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil
How to Make and Use It
  1. Add 10 or more fresh sage leaves or 2 tsp dried sage leaves to a tea infuser or tea bags. Place the infuser or bag into a large mug or teapot and pour 1 1/4 cups of boiling water overtop. *Cover the pot or mug with a lid and steep the leaves for at least ten minutes. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour apple cider vinegar and cool sage tea into a large mason jar or glass pitcher
  3. Add 10 drops of tea tree essential oil
  4. Stir vigorously several times (if using a mason jar, you can seal the lid and shake)
  5. Pour a bit of the mixture into a glass and gargle. Make sure to spit out the solution after gargling — it should not be ingested
  6. Store the remaining solution in the fridge
  7. Continue to gargle as needed, up to once per hour

*Active components of sage leaves may evaporate with the steam, but covering your mug or teapot will help contain them.

Fresh vs. Dried Sage

There isn’t a certain answer here, other than both fresh and dry are great options. Fresh sage may be more effective because the chemical profile of active ingredients may change from the drying process; however, dried sage is still highly beneficial and has an increased concentration of beneficial constituents by weight (because there is no water weight).

When using dried herbs for medicinal purposes, it is important to use herbs that have been dried relatively recently (less than a year ago) and stored in a dark, dry, airtight glass container. Dried herb packages from the grocery store may not pack the punch as herbs from an herbalist, or herbs dried from your own plants at home.

If you’re interested in learning more about medicinal herbs, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Medicinal Herb Gardening.

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