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Why Is Saltwater Gargle A Perfect Home Remedy For Your Throat And Upper Respiratory Problems?

“Do saltwater gargles 2 to 3 times a day.”

I am sure you must have got this advice from your doctor when you visited them for a sore throat, common cold, sinusitis, or any other respiratory problem. Even your old wise grandma might have advised you to do warm water gargles to get rid of a sore throat.

The original gargle water salt rinse

Do you think gargles are really useful?

And does this simple home remedy provide any relief from your throat symptoms?

Most people are not aware of whether gargling is effective and how it works. They also do not know the right way to do gargles and whether it causes any side effects.

Yet, it is the most commonly practiced home remedy for instant relief from throat pain and irritation. 

What is the saltwater gargle?

Saltwater gargles offer a safe, simple, and frugal home remedy.

It is commonly used to relieve the symptoms of a sore throat and viral respiratory infections such as common cold and sinusitis.

Saltwater gargles can also help with breathing difficulties, allergies, and other mild imbalances such as running nose and headaches. Gargling with saltwater is believed to be useful not just for relieving the symptoms of respiratory infections. It may also help prevent your existing symptoms from getting worse and minimize the attacks of infections and allergies when done in the right way.

Healing properties of saltwater gargle

Saltwater gargles are revered for their natural healing properties. Gargling with salt water may promote the body’s natural repair processes, thereby controlling inflammation.

The use of salt in gargles may also promote rapid healing. It would enhance the immune cells’ response to repair the tissues damaged due to infections or inflammation, thereby ensuring faster recovery of the patient.

The therapeutic or healing effects of saltwater gargles include its ability to support the body’s natural defense mechanisms. It can produce natural anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-viral, and soothing effects to promote healing following infections, inflammation, injury, irritation, or allergy.

Now that we have learned what saltwater garage means and the healing properties it provides let’s take a peek at the history of this excellent home remedy.

History of using saltwater gargles

For several generations, the warm salt water gargles have been recommended strongly by ancient healers to relieve a sore and irritated throat. It is also found to be highly effective when used during an acute attack of infection.

Some people use it regularly as a preventive remedy to maintain optimum oral hygiene and improve their respiratory health.

But where did this all start? Where did the saltwater gargle get its merit? How has it evolved over several decades and centuries?

Salt in saltwater gargles

Salt has a long history when it comes to its therapeutic and preventive potential. The history dates back to as long as several centuries.

The ancient Chinese are believed to be the first to harvest salts from the surface of the lakes when the water from the lakes evaporated during a dry season. They are also believed to be the first to use salts for healing purposes.

The use of salt is mentioned even in the Ayurveda, the ancient system of medicine in India, as well as the ancient Egyptian scripts.

These medicine systems find the mention of salts as an essential ingredient for healing respiratory infections and other purposes. Ancient ayurvedic physicians recommended the use of salt for its ability to disinfect and dry out a wound.

The Greeks also used salt to support the repair of skin lesions and relieve digestive issues and respiratory diseases. In contrast, the Romans used it to prevent excessive blood loss after injuries and to treat poisonous bites. Over the years, the use of salt in the form of gargles came to be widely recognized and accepted for its anti-inflammatory, soothing, and anti-microbial effects.

Saltwater for gargles

Initially, a warm saltwater solution, also called the saline solution, made by diluting table salt (NaCl) in water, was used in the form of tea to soothe the throat symptoms. The same saline solution was also used in medical practices all around the world to sterilize and disinfect wounds and medical tools.

It was only later that saline’s medicinal properties were extended to soothe a sore throat by using it in the form of gargles. The recent centuries have seen the widespread use of saltwater gargles as the most common and highly effective home remedy for soothing an irritated throat, relieving common cold, and clearing viral infections.

How effective is saltwater gargle: The science behind saltwater gargles

According to research studies, gargling with warm saltwater could pull fluids, including excess mucus secretions from the back of your throat. This may effectively flush out the viruses and other microorganisms responsible for the infection.

And the benefits of the warm salt water gargles do not stop there. The antibacterial properties of salt may help destroy and eliminate the bacteria and viruses in your throat and support the body’s efforts to rapidly clear the infection.

Here is a brief discussion about the medicinal properties of salt water and how it may work to relieve the symptoms of respiratory infections and allergies. 

Anti-inflammatory action

What makes saltwater gargles an effective home remedy for soothing a sore throat is the natural anti-inflammatory it would produce. The symptoms of a sore throat, including irritation, pain while swallowing, and cough, occur due to the immune system’s pro-inflammatory response to fight viral infections.

Gargle salt rinse

When you gargle with warm salt water, the warmth produced by it coupled with salt’s medicinal potential will produce a natural anti-inflammatory effect. The salt, being hygroscopic in nature, may also absorb excess mucus secretions accumulated in the throat, thereby providing relief from cough and swelling.

This is how frequent saltwater gargling about 3 to 4 times a day can reduce irritation and pain and provide relief from mucus secretions, swelling, and cough by acting as a natural anti-inflammatory agent.

Antibacterial effects

The natural antibacterial action produced locally in the throat during saltwater gargling could be beneficial for clearing bacterial infections.

Saltwater may destroy some throat and mouth bacteria. However, saltwater solutions may also bring bacteria to the surface of the throat, gums, and teeth, thus facilitating their elimination for the body more easily.  

The warmth in the throat during gargling would create an unfavorable environment for the microorganisms to survive. Additionally, the reduced mucus selections in the throat can also render bacteria ineffective, thereby providing relief from infections. This is why; saltwater gargling is recommended for eliminating mild infections. It would help clear the infection completely and relieve the symptoms of throat problems without the risk of side effects involved in the use of antibiotics.

Antiviral properties

It is possible to get rid of the symptoms of viral infections like influenza and the common cold by gargling with warm saltwater. It may produce a mild anti-viral action, thanks to the rise in local temperature it produces within the throat’s tissues. The increased temperature may destroy viruses, thereby cleansing the throat naturally.

Gargling can also help to wash up the build-up of viruses and bacteria in the throat.

gargling with salt water

The CDC (Centers For Disease Control And Prevention) has also recommended gargling with warm salt water to relieve throat infections caused due to influenza (H1N1).

Also, salt may stimulate the action of the innate and humoral immune systems, thereby boosting the body’s defense mechanisms against viruses.

Studies have also shown that gargling could decrease the viral load in your throat and provide relief from upper respiratory tract infections.

However, it should be noted that saltwater gargling’s anti-viral and antibacterial actions are very mild. It works by creating an unfavorable environment for these pathogens to survive.

Yet, these effects of saltwater gargling may not be effective in managing severe throat infections.

Even when the infection is severe, saltwater gargling may be used as an adjuvant treatment, if not standalone, to derive faster relief from symptoms.

Soothing effect

You must have experienced an instant improvement in your throat symptoms after salt water gargling.

Gargling with warm salt water would create a soothing effect on your throat and sinuses and provide immediate relief from nasal congestion, headaches, throat pain, and cough.

The addition of salt to gargle water also stimulates an osmosis effect. The higher concentration of salt allows for the drawing of fluids from the mouth and throat to reduce pain, swelling, and mucus secretions. It also breaks down the thick mucus secretions and removes irritants such as bacteria and allergens from the throat.

The instant relief can also be attributed to the improved blood flow in the mucosa of the throat brought about by the warmth of the salt rinse. The salt would also pull mucus secretions and reduce swelling in the throat, thereby soothing the mucosa.

Immunomodulatory effects

One of the lesser-known benefits of salt water gargling is its immunomodulatory effect.

Not many people know that gargling has been supported with clinical evidence to manage a sore throat and other respiratory infections effectively.

Clinical data suggests that saltwater gargling may be used to promote herd immunity against common viruses known to cause seasonal flu or other infections repeatedly.

This means that when a larger population uses saltwater gargles to protect themselves against viral infections, it may make these pathogens vulnerable and weaken their virality.

Additionally, at a personal level too, saltwater gargling would help you develop immunity against infectious pathogens. It might help to regulate the response of the immune system.

It would strengthen the functions of white cells like neutrophils and lymphocytes that are activated in the presence of infections. This would enable these cells to attack and destroy viruses more efficiently, thereby improving your immune response against infections.

What does gargling with salt water do?

Here are a few specific conditions that can be relieved by gargling with warm saltwater. Most of these include infections in the upper repository tract as well as allergies.

Sore throat

A clinical survey has revealed that saltwater gargling is highly recommended as an effective home remedy for a sore throat and flu by physicians in clinical settings across the world.

It is especially useful for relieving the symptoms of cold or flu that cause mild pain and irritation in the throat.

Saltwater gargles might be more useful for reducing the risk of re-infection compared to flu vaccinations. This marks the importance of using salt water gargles to reduce your risk of flu.

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is a common upper respiratory tract infection caused due to the infection in the cavities called sinuses within the bones and other tissues of the face. It is marked by running nose, nose block, facial pain, sneezing, and severe throbbing headaches.

gargling Saltwater for sinus infection

Scientific studies have revealed that saltwater gargling may help to reduce the symptoms of sinusitis, whether it’s due to a viral or bacterial infection.

It would also be effective for reducing sinusitis associated with the streptococcal throat and even mononucleosis.

Allergies

If you suffer from allergies, gargling with saltwater could help reduce the frequency and intensity of the attacks of this condition. The allergy may manifest itself in the forms of asthma, rhinitis, or even dermatitis.

Saltwater gargles effectively manage the symptoms of allergies related to the respiratory tract, such as allergic rhinitis and asthma. However, it may not help to treat any of the conditions.

Saltwater gargles would reduce inflammation in the throat and air passages, thereby reducing breathing difficulties caused due to asthma.

It may also help to open up the airways to allow smooth entry of air into the lungs.

Saltwater garages are recommended for people who suffer from fever, breathing difficulties, running nose, and severe sneezing due to allergies to pollens, animal fur, or the smell of perfumes and detergents.

Dental Health

Saltwater may draw out water, viruses, and bacteria from the oral cavity, thus protecting the teeth and gums.

Hence, gargles could be effective for improving your dental and gum health.

It may also help to avoid the recurring episodes of cavities in the tooth, gingivitis, and periodontitis.

Salt water for oral health

An evaluation to assess the effects of gargles has also revealed that rinsing the mouth and throat with warm saltwater on a daily basis may lower the counts of harmful bacteria in the saliva.

This effect of gargling might also provide relief from bad breath and other issues related to oral hygiene.

Canker sores

Saltwater gargles or rinse, along the same lines as a sore throat, might alleviate canker sores’ symptoms, sometimes called mouth ulcers.

Gargling with warm water may ease the inflammation and pain these ulcers cause. This is why saltwater gargling is considered one of the top recommendations for adults and kids with oral sores.

Now that we know the benefits of saltwater gargling let’s check the right ways to use this home remedy. We will also look at the common questions people have about saltwater gargles so that you get a clear idea of how and when to use it.

How to make a solution for saltwater gargle?

Generally, people prefer to make a simple solution of saltwater at home to use for gargling. Most physicians recommend mixing about half a teaspoon of table salt to 8 ounces of water.

You can warm the water slightly before gargling. Make sure the water is not too warm as it may scald your throat.

At the same time, ensure your gargle water is not too cold. Most people make the mistake of mixing salt in tap water or mineral water at room temperature. Using tap water may put you at an additional risk of infections if the water is not clean or free of germs.

 It may expose the delicate tissues of your throat, mouth, nose, and sinuses to the germs in the water and exacerbate the symptoms of infections.

As far as using mineral water or clean drinking water at room temperature is concerned, it is fine to use it

.

Using warm water would also allow the salt to dissolve in the water more readily. The better dissolving of the salt would be ideal, especially when you are using kosher salts or coarse sea salts instead of the fine table salts or iodized salts.

You can use any type of salt for preparing saltwater gargle.

However, avoid adding too much salt as it may cause excessive dryness of the throat. The higher salt content may also irritate your throat slightly.

In short, you have to consider two very important parameters while preparing a saltwater solution, which includes the temperature of the water and the amount of salt you add.

How do you gargle with salt water?

Most people find gargling to be fun exercise. Don’t you think it would be better to keep it at that?

Yes, the sound of gargling is a bit funny, and it brings a smile to our faces.

If you have seen someone gargling, you will know how exactly it is to be done. It is a very simple practice that requires absolutely no guidance.

However, you must be aware of some finer details to improve the benefits.  

How to make saltwater to gargle

Here’s a step-by-step method to gargle:

  1. To begin with, take a small sip of water and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds just to check if the temperature is fine, and then spit it out. If it feels too hot, wait for some more time for the water to cool down a bit.
  2. Once you feel the water is at the right temperature, by which I mean soothing enough for your throat, take a larger sip and look upward.
  3. Do not spit the water or swallow it. Simply hold it in your mouth as you look up.
  4. Then, open your mouth slightly and let the water seep toward the back of the throat for as long as you are comfortable.
  5. Then, swish the water gently around the throat, mouth, gums, and teeth. Make sure you swish it between the gum and teeth because this is commonplace for the build-up of germs and the formation of oral ulcers.
  6. Spit the water out into the sink. Repeat the same 3 to 4 times.
  7. Then, follow steps 2 to 4. Now, instead of swishing the water around your mouth, keep looking up and try a movement of the throat muscles as if you are exhaling air through the throat. It is the same activity that we perform while exhaling through the mouth instead of the nose. You can practice doing so before actually gargling. As you try to exhale air through the throat, the air from your lower respiratory passages would push the saltwater up resulting in the typical gargling sound.
  8. Repeat the same for 10 to 15 seconds or until it feels comfortable, and then spit the water out.
  9. You can do gargling with warm saltwater in this manner 3 to 4 times a day while suffering from an acute attack of infections or allergy. You can perform it once daily as a preventive measure.

Check this video to learn more about how to gargle and the benefits it provides.

How often should you gargle with warm saltwater?

It is advisable to gargle at least once or twice a day as a preventive measure against throat infections and allergies. During an acute infection, you may gargle 3 to 4 times a day to relieve the symptoms and eliminate infections.

Gargling more frequently is not known to cause any serious side effects. Hence, you can safely gargle even more frequently than that.

How long should you gargle with saltwater?

When you hold a small quantity of saltwater in your mouth, you can swish it around the throat and mouth for 10 to 15 seconds before spitting it out.

Usually, it takes 2 to 3 minutes to gargle. You may increase the duration depending on the intensity of the symptoms.

Is it safe to gargle salt water every day?

Yes, it is safe to gargle with saltwater every day. You can gargle 3 to 4 times a day without the risk of any serious side effects. It is a highly effective home remedy that can be safe even for elderly people and kids as young as 6 to 8 years of age.

Saltwater gargle is also safe to practice by women during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It can offer an effective way to manage throat infections during these phases when taking antibiotics could be risky, considering the side effects they produce.

Can we swallow gargle water?

If you have an infection in the throat or sinuses, it is advisable to spit out the saltwater to keep the infections at bay.

Also, if you are gargling multiple times a day, it’s better to be careful about swallowing too much gargle water. Salt added to gargle water may cause water retention in the body and reduce urine secretion. The build-up of fluids in the blood may also increase your blood pressure.

Also, swallowing saltwater may also have other health risks.  Hence, swallowing saltwater after gargling is not advisable, especially for patients who suffer from hypertension.

Should I rinse after gargle?

Yes, it is advisable to rinse after gargling. While it is not essential to rinse, it does provide a few additional benefits.

Firstly, rinsing your mouth after gargling may help wash off the bacteria and viruses that have been destroyed or come to the surface due to salt exposure.

Additionally, it can also help wash off excess salt from the mouth, thereby preventing the unpleasant taste that remains after gargling.

I do not like the taste of saltwater; what can I do?

It is common for people to dislike the salty taste that lingers in the mouth after gargling. However, the taste can be easily eliminated by simply drinking a glass of warm water after gargling. It will wash off the salt remaining in the throat, if any, and help you avoid the unpleasant taste.

Alternatively, you may add other ingredients to your saltwater to improve the taste. For example, adding a spoonful of honey, or lemon juice, can mask the taste of salt and provide additional benefits.

Natural remedies for sore throat

Honey can be soothing for the throat and produce an anti-microbial action, and lemon juice may provide the vitamin C needed to fight infections.

You can also add herbs known to improve the symptoms of throat infections like Tulsi, ginger, and turmeric to the gurgling water. These herbs possess a natural medicinal potential and produce anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial actions, thereby providing faster relief from your throat symptoms.

Does gargling with saltwater help kill bacteria?

Gargling with salt water may help to kill some bacteria in the throat, mouth, and sinuses. However, it may not kill all the bacteria. Hence, it is advisable to use a salt water gargle as an adjuvant treatment and the use of appropriate medications in case of severe infections.

Mild infections could be managed efficiently by saltwater gargles as it would also enhance the natural healing mechanisms of the body and support faster recovery.

saltwater gargle for bacterial infection

Also, though saltwater gargles can not kill all bacteria, it may help to bring the microorganisms to the surface of the throat, gums, and teeth. Once these pathogens are brought to the surface, most of it would be washed away when you spit out the saltwater.

Can saltwater gargles be effective for treating viral infections?

Viral infections such as the cold and influenza are common in people of all ages. These infections usually affect the throat, sinuses, and other upper respiratory tract tissues resulting in nose black, headaches, throat pain, irritation, and cough.

Gargling with salt water stop a cold

Gargling with warm saltwater could provide a safe and effective way to relieve these symptoms. Research studies have shown that hypertonic saline could reduce the duration of the illnesses caused due to infections in the upper respiratory tract.

This study has suggested that gargling would reduce viral load in the throat by stimulating the functions of the immune cells, especially macrophages. It can encourage the activities of these cells to attack, destroy, and then engulf these viruses to be eliminated from the body easily.

This benefit of gargling has been particularly attributed to the chloride ions present in the common salt (Sodium Chloride or NaCl).

How does saltwater gargling help to maintain the PH levels in the throat?

A healthy pH level in the throat can produce favorable conditions for the immune cells to react against viruses and bacteria. A very low or very high pH may reduce the efficiency of immune cells, rendering them ineffective to fight infections.

Gargling with saltwater could be an efficient way to maintain healthy pH levels in the throat and mouth.

The mixture of salt and water could help to neutralize the acidic secretions accumulated in your mouth and throat.

Gargling with salt water may help to dilute the acidic secretions and maintain a healthy and normal pH balance.

This would help to control the growth of bacteria in your throat and oral cavity.

Maintain healthy pH is also essential for protecting the teeth and gums against damage by bacteria. It would reduce the risk of cavities by minimizing the erosion of the tooth enamel to some extent.

Does saltwater gargling eliminate bad breath?

The most common cause of bad breath is the build-up of bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria cause damage to the enamel of the teeth and burrow deep into the tissues to form colonies.

Saltwater for bad breath

Poor oral hygiene and not brushing your teeth properly can contribute to the build-up of bacteria.

Additionally, these bacteria thrive on the food stuck in the teeth. It allows these microorganisms to grow rapidly. This is the most common reason for bad

breath.

Moreover, salt in gargle water may act directly on the bacteria resulting in their destruction. Regular gargling would minimize the build-up of bacterial colonies in the mouth and thus, provide relief from bad breath.

Saltwater gargles can also help those who suffer from bad breath due to ulceration in the oral cavity and infection in the gums resulting in gingivitis. Gingivitis may also cause the formation of pus, thus worsening bad breath.

Gargling with salt water can reduce swelling and inflammation in the gums and, thus, reduce bad breath. It may also relieve ulceration by producing natural anti-inflammatory and healing effects.

This is why; regular gargling with salt water is recommended for those who suffer from bad breath. You may add a few mint leaves (finely crushed) to the water and swish your mouth using it for better results.

Is saltwater gargling safe for those with bleeding gums?

If you suffer from bleeding gums due to injuries or vitamin C deficiency, it would be advisable to reduce the frequency of gargling as the warmth of the water may worsen the bleeding.

However, if the bleeding is due to gingivitis or infection in the gums, you may gargle more frequently to eliminate the infection and relieve inflammation.

Does saltwater gargle help with a toothache?

Not many people know that saltwater gargling can provide immediate relief from toothache. Gargling can reduce swelling and inflammation in the teeth, specifically at the root of the teeth, thereby decreasing throbbing pain that usually occurs due to cavities and inflammation.

Saltwater gargles can also help wash the bacteria in the mouth and eliminate the infection responsible for causing the toothache, thereby supporting faster recovery.

Salt water for toothache

Moreover, patients who are prone to develop recurrent tooth infections should also gargle with salt water regularly. It would help prevent infections and even clear the food particles stuck between teeth, reducing the frequency of cavities. 

Is saltwater better than mouthwash?

Gargling with saltwater having a healthy pH could be better than a mouthwash as it can provide the benefits linked to the medicinal potential of salt as well as the warmth of the water.

Mouthwash can only be used to swish and rinse your mouth. It may provide relief from bad breath and kill bacteria. However, mouthwash is not always effective for treating throat infections since it does not involve the typical gargling action performed at the back of the throat.

Hence, as far as throat infections are concerned, saltwater gargling could be better than mouthwash.

On the other hand, mouthwash may have chemical compounds such as menthol that can, at times, aggravate pain linked to gingivitis.

Does gargling improve oral hygiene?

Yes, regular saltwater gargling can improve oral hygiene by reducing bacterial colonies in the mouth, especially in the teeth and gums. It can reduce the risk of infection and inflammation and thus, improve oral hygiene.

What are the side effects of saltwater gargling?

Saltwater gargling is not known to cause any side effects, provided clean drinking water is used for preparing the gargle, and the salt content in it is not too high.

In rare cases, gargling may worsen the inflammation symptoms if the water is too hot, not clean, or contains too much salt. These side effects can be easily avoided by gargling with doctor-formulated bottled gargle water.

Why bottled gargle water?

Bottled gargle water can provide a safer alternative to avoid the risk of side effects that may occur due to gargling with regular water.

Gargle Salt Water is the only bottled gargle water available today. It is doctor-formulated gargle water that is perfect for addressing your oral health issues, including throat infections, teeth cavities, ulceration in the mouth, and gum diseases.

It is pH-balanced gargle water free of alcohol, any drugs, or chemical compounds making it a safer option for those looking to derive the benefits of gargling without any side effects.

What is the ideal pH of saltwater used for gargling?

It is advisable to use Gargle Salt Water as it has a slightly acidic pH that could be perfect for destroying bacteria and viruses in the throat.

Why you must choose alcohol-free gargle water?

Gargle Salt Water is free of alcohol, making it safer for kids, elderly people, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Being alcohol-free also helps to maintain optimum pH in the throat and mouth, allowing you to derive maximum benefits from your gargling routine. 

Alcohol Free Gargle

Conclusion

Using bottled salt water for gargling ensures it is free of germs that might worsen your throat infection. It also provides a ready-to-use solution for gargling and helps you save time and effort in preparing gargle water.

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