No, strep is not a viral infection. But just like a virus, the bacteria that causes strep can linger in the body and stir up all sorts of trouble. Having an assortment of natural treatments for strep on hand just makes sense. In this post, we’ll share some strep throat home remedies.
You may be known as the queen of crunch in your neck of the woods, or neighborhood, but there’s a diagnosis that may lead even you to fill that antibiotic prescription: strep.
Strep throat is caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria, also called group A strep. This bacteria is found in most of our bodies, as well as environments. The diagnosis of “strep throat” is really an infection of this bacteria of the throat and tonsils.
While complications such as scarlet fever and PANDAS might warrant that antibiotics use, taking a natural route is also a viable option for most.
Strep running rampant at your kid’s school, church, or team? Read on for our best tips to fight strep throat naturally.
What is the first sign of strep throat?
The first signs of a strep throat infection are:
- Swollen and red tonsils
- Red spots on the roof of the mouth
- White film covering the tonsils
- A fever of 101 degrees or more
- Painful swallowing
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Headaches and body aches that accompany fever
How do you know you have strep and not a sore throat?
Typically, a regular sore throat will not cause a fever, body or headaches. But the tell-tale sign of a strep infection is a white film on the throat and tonsils accompanied by red spots on the top of the mouth.
Can strep throat go away on its own?
Like any bacterial infection, your immune system can check a strep infection. Under the best conditions, you might see symptoms subside in 3-7 days. This is especially true when incorporating natural treatments for strep.
However, some folks with reoccurring strep throat infections may need additional support.
How long are you contagious with strep?
Most sources will say that after 24 hours of antibiotic treatment, you are no longer contagious.
However, a course of antibiotics for strep lasts 10 days. This means that the bacteria could surely be living longer than that.
While it is absolutely necessary to quarantine yourself or your child with a strep infection, it’s best to bolster your immune system to prevent strep – instead of fearing it.
Are antibiotics necessary for strep?
If you have had reoccurring infections, it’s clear your body needs help. Likewise, if your symptoms do not improve at all in 3-5 days, or completely by 7-10 days, consider giving your body some assistance to prevent scarlet fever or PANDAS.
Scarlet fever is a secondary infection of strep that results in a rash on the trunk, neck, arms, and legs.
Read more about PANDAS here and how to treat it naturally here.
Natural treatments for strep
There are many natural treatments for strep out there including gargles, natural antibiotics, herbs, and dietary supports. Use a multi-pronged approach and be prepared with your chosen remedies on hand.
The best natural treatments for strep include:
- Echinacea- According to Stephen Buhner in his book Herbal Antibiotics, echinacea is one of the best herbal remedies for strep throat. Buhner states:
“Direct contact with the tissue at the back of the throat with a tincture of echinacea liberally mixed with saliva is a certain remedy for cases of strep throat. Echinacea actively stimulates saliva and numbs the tissue it comes into contact with, making it perfect for this condition or for any infection causing a sore, swollen throat. I have found this reliably effective, again if treatment is assertive and consistent. In several cases (including a doubting physician), the throat had been positively cultured for Streptococcus; healing generally occurs within 24 hours.”
Dosing: Buhner suggests taking a full dropper of echinacea tincture once per hour, mixed with saliva, and allowing it to run down the back of the throat until symptoms cease.
- Usnea- This herb is known for killing gram-positive bacteria, which strep is, while not harming beneficial gut bacteria.
Dosing: Take a full dropper of usnea tincture, and allow to drain to the back of the throat as with the echinacea tincture. Get it here.
- Cayenne pepper- This pepper often graces our cooking but it’s not used enough to treat ailments. The strong antimicrobial properties of cayenne make it a great natural treatment for strep.
Dosing: Mix cayenne pepper with manuka honey (see below) and raw garlic, if you desire. Consume the mixture every 2-3 hours until symptoms subside.
- Manuka honey- Honey is arguably one of the strongest antibiotics in the world, even able to obliterate MRSA. Warm honey is not only soothing but is the perfect medium to add other herbs to “sweeten” your natural treatment for strep.
Dosing: Make a mixture of honey, cayenne, and raw garlic and consume 2-3 times per day. Or, add honey to warm water with your herbal tinctures, such as echinacea or usnea, and consume throughout the day as symptoms are present. Get it here.
- Bone broth, elderberry, vitamin C, and vitamin D should be added to the diet throughout a strep infection to bolster the immune system’s response.
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV)- Thanks to its acidity, ACV can kill strep bacteria in the throat.
Dosing: Mix 1 tablespoon of ACV in a glass of filtered water. Gargle (for as long as you can!) every 2-3 hours until symptoms resolve.
Does apple cider vinegar kill strep throat?
If you’re wondering whether or not apple cider vinegar kills strep throat, all signs point to yes.
The acetic acid and thus extreme acidity of ACV can kill strep on contact. However, you need to get the ACV against the strep in the back of the throat. It requires consistent gargling to get results.
What happens if strep throat goes untreated?
In most cases, your body will fight strep and you’ll bounce back.
But what if your strep throat isn’t going away?
If symptoms last longer than 7 days, it’s time to consider an antibiotic. Complications of untreated strep throat include:
- Scarlet fever
- Strep infecting the lungs, also known as pneumonia
- Spinal meninges, or meningitis
It’s important to actively treat a strep infection, whether you opt for natural strep remedies or allopathic means.
Why do I keep getting strep?
If you find yourself constantly battling strep, it may be wise to look at your diet.
For example, do you have a sweet tooth? Are gluten-filled carbs and dairy your jam? If so, these foods can get in the way of your immune system fighting its best fight.
In order to ward off strep, be sure you have a strong gut along with a good balance of gut bacteria. This means making fermented foods and probiotics your norm.
If you eat a whole foods diet and still cannot kick reoccurring strep infections, then you might want to consider using a course of antibiotics or even tonsil removal. Because your tonsils are the first line of defense for your immune system, be sure to investigate any underlying issues that may cause strep throat before removing them.
Esther Bardack says
Any suggestions for treating PADAS?
Hi Esther, please do a quick search on the site for “PANDAS” as well as “oppositional defiant disorder” and you’ll find our best suggestions for treatment.
H Feld says
I have used oil of oregano for strep . Wondering if it’s safe for kids… what are your thoughts?
I think so. However, you should treat it as a natural antibiotic and not overuse it and mind gut health during and after use.
Kari H. says
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this article!! Very helpful for an illness which I HAVE allowed my children to take antibiotics for after searching and searching for truly effective natural remedies. My husband is an occupational therapist and has treated children with PANDAS, so the fear of that happening as on outcome of untreated strep is a real deal !
I’m glad you found it helpful!