Pharyngitis may be caused caused by a viral infection (90% of cases) or by a bacterium (10%). If caused by the group A streptococcus, it is called “strep throat”. The chronic form can be caused by a continuing infection of the sinuses, lungs or mouth, or by constant irritation from smoking, breathing heavily polluted air, food allergies or consuming too much alcohol, or by swallowing substances that scald, corrode or scratch the throat. Pharyngitis is a common illness.

Even strep throat is usually a self-limiting disease. Controlled trials show that clinical recovery is similar in cases with and without the use of antibiotics. The “streptophobia” associated with the risk of rheumatic fever and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis is probably unwarranted today, although proper care is still important. Epidemiological surveys demonstrate a correlation between vitamin C deficiency and the development of post-streptococcal consequences. Rheumatic fever is virtually nonexistent in the tropics where vitamin C intake is higher; 18% of children in high risk groups have subnormal serum vitamin C levels.


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Pharyngitis

Symptoms - Head - Mouth/Oral  

(Frequent) raw throat

Symptoms - Metabolic  

Having a slight/having a moderate/having a high fever

Conditions that suggest Pharyngitis


Erythema Nodosum

Strep throat can cause Erythema Nodosum

Risk factors for Pharyngitis


Allergy / Intolerance to Foods (Hidden)

The ear, nose, and throat are common target organs for food allergens. Congestion or inflammation of the nose (rhinitis), sinuses (sinusitis), and throat (pharyngitis) may be due to airborne irritants and allergens, but food allergy may be the undiagnosed cause of these common problems.

Environment / Toxicity  


STD Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea may cause an infection of the mouth. An oral infection normally produces no symptoms, but in some cases a sore throat will be experienced.



Pharyngitis suggests the following may be present

Cell Salts  

Pharyngitis can lead to


Erythema Nodosum

Strep throat can cause Erythema Nodosum

Recommendations for Pharyngitis



Propolis / Bee Products

Propolis has proven effective in helping to deal with a wide variety of infections including sore throat. [Doroshenko, P. N. (1978, 1981, 1990) (U.S.S.R.)]


Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

The berberine alkaloid found in goldenseal stops the growth of streptococci, the organism most often associated with bacterial pharyngitis. It also promotes easier removal of the bacteria by inhibiting their ability to adhere to tissue surfaces.


Coneflower (Echinacea purpura)

To promote the spread of colonies, streptococci secrete large amounts of hyaluronidase. This enzyme is inhibited by echinacea and prevents tissue invasion by the bacteria. Echinacea also promotes increased phagocytosis and natural killer cell activity. Physical contact is required, so gargling or topical application is best.


Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)

Wayne McCarthy, N.D., a naturopathic physician in Waikoloa, Hawaii, believes frankincense works wonders on a sore throat. He recommends mixing 2-3 drops of frankincense tincture with saliva in the back of the throat and then swallowing. “I found it to be so effective for throats that I just never want to be without it,” he says.


Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)

For coating and soothing irritated or inflamed mucous membranes add 1 tablespoon of dried slippery elm per cup of hot water. Alternatively, mix 1 tablespoon of liquid extract in 8 ounces of hot water and drink up to 3 cups daily. Slippery elm lozenges are also available.


Sugars Avoidance / Reduction

Sugars have a depressive effect on the immune system.


Reduced Calorie Consumption

The old adage of drinking plenty of fluids, restricting food intake and getting plenty of rest often helps the immune system overcome a sore throat.



Primary care physicians should avoid or delay prescribing antibiotics to patients with sore throats. Even when beta-hemolytic streptococcus has been cultured and thus shown to be present, antibiotic use may be no more effective than placebo. [Antibiotics are Ineffective for Sore Throat Treatment, Family Practice News, May 25, 1997; p.62, British Medical Journal, 1997;314: pp.722-27]

When antibiotics are required, a once-daily regimen of amoxicillin was found to be as effective as penicillin V administered tid to children with group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis. This reduces cost and inconvenience.



Zinc lozenges have been found to be effective when locally applied to an inflamed throat. Lower dosages of zinc (10mg) with more frequent application are best, and may help avoid any nausea which might result from higher doses.


Oxygen / Oxidative Therapies  

Ozone / Oxidative Therapy

Ozonated olive oil can be used to kill the bacteria causing sore throats. A small amount of the frozen product can be melted and held in the mouth as needed.

Physical Medicine  


Gargling with very warm salt water hourly can ease the pain and reduce the duration of a sore throat. Sometimes it works so well that people forget to continue gargling after the first couple of times and the sore throat returns. Use at least 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup of water. The water should be no hotter than your immersed finger is able to tolerate. Other uses of water for pharyngitis are mentioned in the discussion of the Treatment – Hydrotherapy.



Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended



Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.


Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.


Inflammation of glomerulus. The glomerulus is part of a nephron, which in turn is the basic functional (working) unit of a kidney. Millions of nephrons acting together filter the blood to produce urine.

Vitamin C

Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant vitamin essential to the body's health. When bound to other nutrients, for example calcium, it would be referred to as "calcium ascorbate". As an antioxidant, it inhibits the formation of nitrosamines (a suspected carcinogen). Vitamin C is important for maintenance of bones, teeth, collagen and blood vessels (capillaries), enhances iron absorption and red blood cell formation, helps in the utilization of carbohydrates and synthesis of fats and proteins, aids in fighting bacterial infections, and interacts with other nutrients. It is present in citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, potatoes and fresh, green leafy vegetables.


The cell-free fluid of the bloodstream. It appears in a test tube after the blood clots and is often used in expressions relating to the levels of certain compounds in the blood stream.

Erythema Nodosum

Acute inflammation of skin with red nodules.


A substance that is capable of producing an allergic response in the body.


Inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane.


A sexually-transmitted disease that is often without symptoms. If there are symptoms in the female, they include frequent and painful urination, cloudy vaginal discharge, vaginal itching, inflammation of the pelvic area, and abnormal uterine bleeding. If the male has a purulent (pus-like) urethral discharge, he should assume he has gonorrhea until proven otherwise.

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