Gargle with Salt Water

“Gargle with hot salt water when you have a sore throat.”

The informant is a 51 year-old father of four children and has lived in Southern California for most of his life.  He lost his mother at a very young age, so his grandmother helped his father raise him.  His grandmother was an educator from the Mid-West.  The informant’s grandmother was very involved in raising the informant. .  The informant was told that his grandmother was the “wisest woman in the world”, always willing to share a piece of wisdom.  He had a great respect for her and always took her word to heart.  Now the informant shares the wisdom he has learned from his grandmother with his own children.

The informant recalls his grandmother telling him this piece of folk medicine many times.  Once time in particular, he remembers in college having a sore throat before a sports game and his grandmother reminded him to gargle with salt water.  He believes it to be true and uses it and passes it down to his children.  The informant said that this is his first line of defense to a sore throat, and the salt water always soothes his sore throat.

The idea of using hot salt water to soothe a sore throat is well known in American society.  This is not the first time I have heard that this folk medicine is successful in medicating a sore throat.  This piece of folklore medicine was actually the basis for a study done in Japan.  Researchers found that people who gargled with salt water were less likely to contract upper respiratory tract infections.


Satomura, K., T. Kitamura, T. Kawamura, T. Shimbo, M. Watanabe, M. Kamei, Y. Takano, and A. Tamakoshi. “Prevention of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections by GarglingA Randomized Trial.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 29.4 (2005): 302-07. Print.