A virus, streptococcus bacteria (commonly referred to as strep throat), smoking, allergies and colds may cause sore throats. 

Whatever the cause, there are many over‑the-counter remedies. 

Adrian Monti called upon experts to evaluate a selection. Then, we rated them.

Double-action spray  

Covonia Sore Throat Oromucosal Spray, 30 ml, from £5.59, available at most pharmacies

Claim: According to the manufacturer, this spray is available in both lemon and menthol scents. It contains a dual-action formula which ‘numbs pain while fighting infection. 

Lidocaine hydrochloride is a local anaesthetic and chlorhexidinegluconate is an antiseptic. Three to five sprays are recommended, up to six to ten per day.

Expert opinion: Lidocaine can be used to numb a sore throat. It will also provide relief.

The chlorhexidine can be used to treat strep throat if it’s caused by a bacterial problem.

Sprays are good because the drug goes directly to the problem area. The spray is very fast acting and lasts for about one hour. You can also get mild nasal congestion relief from the menthol scent.

“If this spray is needed for longer than a week consult your doctor as antibiotics may be required. 


Covonia Sore Throat Oromucosal Spray

Covonia Sore Throat Oromucosal Spray

Gargle rinse 

Difflam Sore Throat Rinse, 200 ml, £8.29, most pharmacies.

Claim: The rinse was made for painful or inflamed sores and it contains benzydamine Hydrochloride. This non-steroidal antiinflammatory drug works quickly to relieve pain and anaesthetic. Measure 15 ml from the top of the container and then ‘gargle’ or rinse the solution.

Expert verdict

It contains benzydamine Hydrochloride, which can help to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain that are caused by infections. This stops the formation of prostaglandins — compounds released when the body is damaged in some way, and which result in pain, redness and swelling.

“Note: This contains alcohol that might sting. Gargling is another home remedy. Use half a teaspoon salt in water to dissolve the salt. 


Difflam Sore Throat Rinse

Difflam Sore Thumb Rinse

Tea made with herbs

Yogi Honey Lemon Throat Comfort, 16 bags, £3.37, uk.iherb.com

Claim: The caffeine-free, non-caffeinated tea includes liquorice and wild cherry bark as well as slippery elm bark and orange peel. Organic honey is also included. The tea’s manufacturer claims that it soothes the throat and is caffeine-free. Take three to six cups of the tea daily.

Expert verdict: “Herbalists believe that liquorice or slippery elm bark can soothe the throat. However, there have not been any clinical studies to prove this,” says Thorrun Govind.

“This tea contains antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Again, this isn’t supported by enough evidence.

“I recommend hot beverages to relieve sore throats. But hot water with a squeeze of lemon would be just as good — and cheaper.’ 


Yogi Honey Lemon Throat Comfort

Yogi Honey Lemon Thumb Comfort


Strepsils Sore Throat & Cough Lozenges, pack of 24, £4.79, most pharmacies.

Claim: These lozenges are able to’soothe your throat’, fight infection and prevent future problems. [it]The maker stated that it was “getting worse”. These lozenges contain levomenthol and two antiseptic components. You should dissolve one lozenge every two to 3 hours. However, you must not exceed 12 lozenges per day.

Expert verdict The second drug may be more effective if one doesn’t work. This increases the chance of the first being successful.

The levomenthol in the lozenge is mild enough to numb your throat. The lozenge will dissolve in saliva, and as the saliva moves it around your mouth and down to the throat, it has a greater soothing effect. The lozenge will last for approximately an hour, although it won’t decrease the severity of sore throats.

Avoid taking too much of them as it could lead to stomach pain. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you require more than one dozen per day. 


Strepsils Sore Throat & Cough Lozenges

Strepsils Sore Throat & Cough Lozenges


Healthipops Thoroat Soother, 12 lollipops, £7.99, amazon.co.uk

Healthipops Throat Soother

Healthipops Throat Soother

Claim: This lollipops have ‘naturally so soothing botanical extracts’ of marshmallow root. It also contains the antioxidant elderberry and vitamins A, D, E, and B6.

Expert verdict: “Sucking any boiled sweet soothes the sore stomach by stimulating saliva formation, as saliva contains compounds known immunoglobulins which protect against sore throat pathogens,” states Ben Merriman. “Saliva also eases dryness in the throat and helps protect it from a cold.

“But, I don’t know of any evidence these lollipops provide any benefits over and beyond a packet barley sugars.

Although ‘Marshmallow root is a popular herbal treatment for sore throats in the past, there are not enough clinical studies to support its effectiveness.

“This product also has a lot of vitamins. However, these are best obtained from a balanced diet.

These lollipops contain sugar and can also be dangerous because of the way they are consumed. Because they’re slowly sucked, natural bacteria can get a long ‘feed’. This could cause enamel damage. They are expensive and I would not waste money. 



Vocalzone Throat Pastilles, pack of 24, £4.99, most pharmacies.

Claim: These contain three active ingredients — menthol, peppermint oil and myrrh — which its maker says ‘helps to soothe throat irritation and dryness’.

Place one pastille into your mouth and swallow it. Repeat every two hours, if needed.

Expert opinion: “Menthol, peppermint, and ice-cold water provide cooling effects, especially on the mucous membrane in the throat and mouth,” says Dr Jeff Foster of Warwickshire.

“It doesn’t change the temperature but it activates cold receptors on cells known as TRPM8 which sends an alert to the brain that this is cold. Some evidence suggests that menthol has some antibacterial and pain relieving properties.

Myrrh has been believed to possess antiseptic properties. However, little data is available.

“These pastilles may help someone suffering from laryngitis. [inflammation of the larynx, or voice box], Pharyngitis [inflammation of the pharynx at the back of the throat]Thyroiditis and tonsillitis. The only way to get relief is for you to swallow the active ingredients. 


Vocalzone Throat Pastilles

Vocalzone Throat Pastilles

Throat gel

Otosan Throat gel, pack of 14, £8.99, amazon.co.uk

Otosan Throat Gel

Otosan Throat Gel

Claim: You pour the contents of one of these 10ml sachets — containing lemon-flavoured gel — down your throat in one go. According to the makers, Icelandic Moss is a component that provides quick relief from irritation. You can take up to 3 sachets per day.

Expert opinion: The instructions for the gel suggest that it aids in the moisturization of the mucosa [the moist lining of the throat]Thorrun Govind explains that the gel “film” helps to protect and reduce irritation. This aids in tissue repair.

«Although Icelandic moss [or lichen]It is sometimes used as a herbal remedy to treat irritation in the throat and mouth. I don’t know of any scientific support for this use.

“By pouring the gel down your throat I cannot imagine it being in place for very long.

“With the lack of evidence, and it cost, I would think about other options such as sucking an Ice Cube or an Ice lolly to cool a sore throat. 


Scarf instilled with “wool wax” 

Magical Wool, 30 g, £11.99, magicalwool.com

Claim: This scarf’s wool is derived from fleeces of sheep living in Austria and Germany, which contain a large amount of a waxy substance known as lanolin.

It is described as a “great home remedy” for any swollen or sore glands. Secure the wool around your neck with a traditional scarf.

Expert verdict: ‘I could not find any studies that link this product to sore throats or that prove it is anti-inflammatory — only ones that suggest lanolin can reduce water loss in skin, so it can help with dry skin and chapped lips,’ says Dr Jeff Foster, a GP in Warwickshire.

The claim that this product can help sore throats is absurd physiologically. There isn’t any evidence that the lanolin has penetrated deeper than the skin.

Even if it were, anything that dissolves through the skin naturally flows into your bloodstream. It doesn’t stay there.

“Understanding that a scarf can increase blood circulation, and make your skin feel a little warmer, isn’t enough to improve your overall health. 


Magical Wool

Magical Wool