Natural Strategies for Catarrh and Throat Mucus

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Excess mucus in the throat is called catarrh. If you’re constantly clearing your throat you have catarrh. Here’s a recipe for natural relief.

This past weekend we represented our farm at a local festival. It’s one we do every year so our customers plan their shopping trips with us. We try to have the products that are expected, but we missed one very important item. It seemed like every third person was looking for our sage gargle kit for sore throats! I usually think of this item as important to stock in the winter during cold and flu season, but I was wrong.

Everyone is back to school and the convergence of exposure to all new germs with a really tough ragweed season is hitting pretty hard. There are two main nuisance issues right now – catarrh and sore throats.

Catarrh: Throat Mucus

Do you feel like you have to constantly clear your throat? Catarrh is simply excess mucus in the sinus cavity or throat. The drainage that occurs in either of these areas irritates the throat and causes a constant need to “clear your throat.” The problem can be temporary or chronic. Temporary catarrh is what we experience when we have a cold. Chronic catarrh is usually caused by an allergy to something in your environment or unidentified food sensitivity.

Have you ever heard someone refer to a food as “mucus-producing”? Pasteurized milk is the one that comes to mind right away. It isn’t that the food produces mucus in and of itself, but that it causes inflammation in the body. When our mucus membranes are irritated they are perfectly engineered to produce mucus. Unfortunately, this self-defense mechanism has become the target of medicine rather than the cause. While you hunt down the cause of the problem, here is a simple morning tonic to drink to clear it out and find relief.

Morning Tonic for Mucus and Throat Relief



For relief of catarrh, add all of the ingredients into a blender and pulse until everything is juicy. Drink at least ¼ cup each morning.

Treating a Sore Throat

A sore throat can be due to an illness as the body’s immune system is under attack, or it can come on by breathing in airborne pollen. Either way, one of my favorite remedies is sage (Salvia officinalis) tea. (Find organic sage leaf here.)

This weekend I didn’t have our sage gargle blend but we did have our sage-infused honey which is almost as good. Just about anyone can use sage tea for a sore throat. Like our recipe for catarrh above, sage is safe for most everyone. The only group that needs to be careful about overdoing it would be nursing mothers. More than a little bit of sage in your diet and you nursing mothers can see a dip in milk supply.

One other specific herb for an infected sore throat is echinacea (Echinacea Angustifolia). There is quite a controversy about this beautiful flower. It was never used as a preventative for the cold or flu. Recently studies have confirmed that echinacea isn’t really useful for immune support in this manner. The native Americans always used this plant for throat infections. It is still very effective for this use and for catarrh. I like to put a strong tea or tincture into a spray bottle and spritz it onto the back of my throat. The plant produces a numbing sensation and pretty quick relief of the infection as well. (Find organic echinacea here.)

Tip: make some elderberry syrup to boost your immune system.

How do you naturally treat catarrh, sore throats, and throat mucus?


About Dawn Combs

Dawn is a wife, mother, farmer, author, ethnobotanist, professional speaker, and educator. She has over 20 years of ethnobotanical experience, is a certified herbalist, and has a B.A. in Botany and Humanities/Classics. Dawn is co-owner of Mockingbird Meadows Farm. Her books include Conceiving Healthy Babies and Heal Local.

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    • Matt Jabs says

      -Glass jar – recently sanitized
      -Enough fresh sage to fill 1/2 the jar or enough dry sage to fill 1/4 of the jar
      -Enough raw honey to fill the jar to the brim

      1) Sanitize your jar by dunking it in boiling water or running it through the sanitize cycle in the dishwasher. Allow it to dry.
      2) Chop your fresh sage up as fine as you can and add it to the jar until it fills up about halfway. If you are using dry cut and sifted sage, add enough sage to fill the jar 1/4 of the way up.
      3) Fill the jar to the top with local, raw honey and allow the air bubbles to release themselves. Add more honey to top off the jar leaving about 1/4 – 1/2 inch at the top.
      4) Cover the jar with a lid and allow it to sit in a cool, dark, dry place for 2-4 weeks.
      5) Use as needed.

    • Dawn Combs says

      Hi Michele,
      I have instructions on how to make infused honey… along with several other types of honey remedies in my book “Sweet Remedies, Healing Herbal Honeys”. Sage infused honey is one of our favorites to keep around here at the farm… do be careful about using fresh and make sure you wilt it a bit before adding it to the honey so that it stays shelf stable.

      • COL SANJAY BAWA says

        Hi Dawn

        Sharing proven remedy to take care of high cholesterol,triglycerides
        Take one cup ginger juice ,plus one cup garlic juice ,one cup lemon juice ,one cup apple cider vinegar ,mix all and simmer for 25-30 minutes then boil for 10-15 minutes.
        Let it cool to room temperature and then add one cup honey ,mix well and store in air tight glass jar and store in your fridge .
        Take one table spoon of this mixture in lukewarm warm water early morning, if you want to reduce you cholesterol or triglycerides at a faster rate then take it morning and evening.
        Once your readings are normal you may switch taking it once in the morning

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  2. Melinda says

    You mention using a tincture of Echinacea for sore throat in the form of a throat spray. I purchased a tincture that is 500mg/ml. How much Echinacea tincture per how much water? Or, would you place this in some other type of medium to use as a spritz?

    My husband does a great deal of public speaking and gets throat strain from this. I plan to make the tea you suggested so he can drink that as well in case there is phlegm or sinus drainage causing some of his symptoms.

  3. Marianne says

    I learned about an almost miraculous cure for bronchitis and catarrh. It is Grapefruit Seed Extract, or GSE. A friend recommended it to me when I had a lingering congestion. I took one dose that night (15 drops in a couple Tablespoons water), and another dose in the morning. By mid-day I was well. I have recommended it to many friends who had the same results. One or two doses and congestion that has been hanging on for weeks disappears. It tastes very bitter so my grandkids take it (5 or more drops) in a Tablespoon of cherry juice concentrate, then follow with a glass of water.
    This can be bought in just about any healthfood store.

  4. Lori says

    I’m glad I read this I now probably know why even though I’ve changed the foods I eat, adding cultured and fermented foods, essential oils, and herbs, and crazy concoctions, made from lacto-fermented lemonade, raw honey, and garlic, which helps, but then a couple of days I feel like crud again, I thought my body wasn’t fighting a virus right when all along it’s probably my allergies that are actually causing the issues not a virus, so I need to attack this differently, and maybe the rain next week will help also. thank you

  5. Cindi says

    For how long is this remedy done? A day, week, month? I found that walking 2-3 miles 6 days a week, incorporating more water into my diet, plus cutting back on evening wine (wink), helped to clear my throat as well.

    • Dawn Combs says

      Hmm…. that really depends! I recently was working on a liver issue and did it for three days (once each morning). My dad uses it as a tonic off and on in the mornings when he is particularly phlegmy. There is no harm using it for longer periods of time.

  6. Dale says

    Are the teas and morning tonic only beneficial if you drink them, in other words, must it pass through the throat ? I have a daughter whose only able to take fluids via a g-tube directly into her stomach .

    • Dawn Combs says

      I think these are going to be most beneficial when passing through the top part of the digestion. In the feed tube route, mucous is most likely a lack of liquid absorbing from the mouth down and could be generalized dehydration as well. Not knowing the issue, please excuse my unhelpful thought, but can she suck on a popsicle or moistened cloth? You might be able to use water or tea in that application to apply moisture that way, but the tonic drink might be too harsh to introduce directly to the stomach without the extra processes that occur through the mouth.

  7. Christy Johnson says

    Would this work for excess mucous for asthma? I can’t seem to keep the excess mucous away. Allergy tests say I’m not allergic to any foods but my asthma tells me otherwise after eating various items.

    • Dawn Combs says

      Yes! The tonic would be really great for clearing the mucous away. You may not be “allergic” but instead “sensitive” which would make your body try to protect you. If you’ve tried eliminating the most common offenders (dairy, processed sugars and flours, nuts, etc.) then you might want to keep a food journal and see when you get the most mucous. You might also try to tonic drink with all lemons instead of the oranges.

    • Dawn Combs says

      Just pour one cup of hot water over 2-3 tsp of sage and cover. Let it steep for at least 10 minutes. Then you can drink it warm or wait for it to come to room temperature to use in another application.

      • Kim says

        When you say 2-3 tsp of sage, are you talking sage leaves or ground sage? I have a sage plant that did very well this year and would love to use it for this…advise please 🙂 Thanks for the helpful info!

        • Dawn Combs says

          You might go lighter on the ground sage… and it will be harder to strain out. This would be 2-3 tsp dried and a couple tablespoons fresh. Go for it! Use that sage you’ve got… I’m sure it will be amazing!

  8. Aisling says

    If they “proved” echinacea doesn’t work, it’s because they used the wrong one. It’s purpurea, not angustifolia, that is the immune booster.

    • Dawn Combs says

      It is true that there is a difference between the actions of purpurea and angustifolia. Many believe that angustifolia is the superior of the two. It’s more than that though. The notion of “proving” that it “doesn’t work” is complicated by what we expect echinacea to do for us. It was never used traditionally as a preventative or immune stimulator. Rather, it was used to treat septic conditions. The misleading studies have been designed to prove that echinacea doesn’t prevent cold or flu… and when it fails to do so, the statistics are used to cast doubt on the whole natural remedies industry. The premise of such a study is flawed. If we tested echinacea for septic conditions we would find it incredibly effective- as it has been so for hundreds of years.

  9. Trish says

    For the “Morning Tonic for Throat Relief”… is there anything you can substitute for the orange juice? My husband is allergic.

  10. Molly Ornati says

    Love this very timely advice. I had been searching the net for an herbal cure not precisely this, but on how to break up the the throat congestion one is left with after a cold. I’m going to try this remedy. Would your suggestion be different for the throat area.

    Molly in Bklyn

    • Angelica says

      Hi Molly,

      Any kind of Sore throat gets better with pomegranate peel extract or tea. In your case, I would suggest both drinking the tea and gurgling. However, there are other natural remedies that are good for throat congestion.

      Guaco tea: expectorant and anti-inflammatory due to its compound cumarine. You can find it here:

      Castor oil: drinking one teaspoon or using a warm castor oil pack around the neck. Here is how to use the pack: Use a piece of 100% cotton or 100% wool flannel. Pour some castor oil over the flannel and leave it around your neck and chest for at least one hour. Cover it with a hot heating pad. Do this before going to sleep, once a day. You`ll probably notice improvement after the 2nd or 3rd day. However, it depends on each person.

      I hope it helps.

  11. Angelica says


    My boyfriend had a terrible sore throat a few years ago, he took antibiotics every other month. When I met him I gave a pomegranate peel extract which my mother had told me was great for sore throats.

    He gurgled 3 to 5 five times a day (8 drops of the extract with warm water) and in 1 whole day he was almost healed, in the second day he didn`t have a sore throat anymore.

    I hope that helps!

    • nicole says

      Hi – I would like to try the pomegranate peel extract (Angelica) can you please help me find where you can buy it? I wonder where you found yours, I looked on the net, can’t find it.
      thank you!

      • Angelica says

        Hi Nicole,

        It’s easy to make your own.

        Buy a medium pomegranate (organic) and drinking alcohol (usually vodka is a good option). You can eat the pulp, and keep the peel.

        Use one ounce of vodka and cover the peels with it (I break the peels and put them into a dropper bottle, then I fill the bottle to the top with vodka). Leave it in a dark place for 2-3 days.

        Now you can use it. Dropper bottles are great for this. 8 drops are enough for half a cup of warm water. Drink it or gurgle with it.

        • Lori says

          Thanks for sharing i’m trying a more natural approach to healing, and this just might help this chronic sore throat i’ve been having, plus it gives me a way to use pomegranate peels, also might add some lemon rind