Gargling with saline water has usually been thought to be an effective method to relieve a sore throat. The salt has anti-bacterial effects, killing any harmful bacteria that resides in the throat. However, that is not all to gargling as there are different effects and benefits to it.
What is Gargling?
Ayurveda has mention of gargling as a health regimen. As Ayurveda believes that illnesses are a result of imbalance between the energies or dosha, namely vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (water). Gargling (known as kavala in Ayurveda) is said to balance out the doshic imbalance which favours the vata and kapha. To soothe sore throat, Ayurveda recommends special kinds of gargling.
In modern western medicine, a sore throat is a result of the common cold and flu. As healthy as you can be, there will be occasional sore throat. Saltwater is seen as the effective home remedy to relieve irritation and also prevents it from getting worse. By gargling, you will be able to remove viruses which cause irritation in your throat, create an effective barrier that prevents harmful pathogens from entering the system and removes allergens by breaking up the thick mucus in your throat. The effect is immediately felt within a matter of hours.
How to Gargle
Despite its overwhelming benefits to the human body, it can be easily be made at the comfort of your own home. Adults and children above the age of 6 can engage in saltwater gargling. All you need to prepare is to mix ½ teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm or hot water. Be cautious of the temperature of your gargling solution, for the water should be warm enough to dissolve the salt but so much that it burns your mouth.
You should engage in the following steps when gargling:
- Prepare the gargle solution of your choosing. If you are a beginner, you can start with plain water and work your way towards saltwater. Ineffective saltwater gargling can be counterproductive as it can burn your throat.
- Taking a large, comfortable sip of liquid.
- Tilt your head back until the liquid covers the back of your throat.
- After making sure all is where it should be, say ‘Aahh’, but keep your epiglottis closed so you won’t be swallowing any liquid.
- As you make the ‘Aahh’ sound, let the liquid bubble in your mouth.
- Continue for 30-40 seconds.
- Finally, spit the liquid in the sink.
- Gargle some more until you have finished your glass of gargling solution.
- Wash your mouth with fresh water to remove any remaining pathogens and bacteria.
Here are a few tips for effective gargling:
- If you are just beginning to practice gargling and feeling uncomfortable with using saltwater, start by using water at first. But as time goes by and you become comfortable, slowly switch over to saltwater as it is more effective.
- Take your time in doing this. Keep calm and breathe throughout the gargling process.
- This process can be repeated a couple of times throughout the day, although it is recommended that this activity is to be repeated at least twice a day (morning and before bedtime)
We highly recommend the practice of saltwater gargling, as it is completely safe with no side effects. Despite that, you will still need to take precautions while gargling:
- Don’t add too much salt to your gargling solution as it can dehydrate your mouth and lead to throat issues. Adding a half teaspoon of salt to your class of water is enough.
- Sip only the comfortable amount of liquid into your mouth. Taking in too much will make you uncomfortable and may prevent you from gargling effectively.
- Be careful of swallowing the gargling solution, as ingredients in it such as salt can cause you to vomit.
Benefits of Salt Water Gargling
The main cause of a sore throat is cold and flu. By gargling with salt water, you can reduce the amount of throat pain that you are experiencing. A study in Japan has even proven that gargling with water can prevent as much as 40% of upper respiratory tract infections. Effectiveness of gargling can be increased by adding salt to the glass of warm water.
Respiratory infections and sinusitis
Other than preventing the oncoming of a sore throat, gargling salt water helps reduce viral and bacterial infections that include strep throat, flu and mononucleosis.
Certain allergies result in a sore, scratchy throat. One of the home treatments that you can do include salt water gargling, for it eases the condition and reduces irritation.
For oral health
Not only does it heal and ease symptoms in the mouth, but it also prevents and protects oral health. Regular salt water gargling is said to reduce the salivary levels of the bacteria streptococci mutans, which is the major culprits of the formation of pitting and fissures in your teeth which will lead to cavities. It also prevents a myriad of different illnesses such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
Mouth ulcers or canker sores
Mouth ulcers are painful to have. Luckily, saltwater gargling helps with the healing process. It is said to ease the pain and inflammation caused by canker sores. Children suffering from mouth ulcers are particularly recommended to gargle saltwater to relieve pain and speed up the healing process.
Alleviates inflammation and prevents reinfection
As been written before, saltwater can soothe inflammation. It is particularly helpful to help with throat inflammation caused by cold, flu or sinus infections. As gargling reaches the throat, it draws all the harmful pathogens from the mouth and throat which prevents any chances of reinfection.
Relieves nasal congestion
When you are sick with the cold or flu, nasal congestion is one of the symptoms that you experience. Warm salt water gargling does a number of things, from thinning out the mucus build-up in your respiratory tract and nasal cavity, flushes out viruses and bacteria, reduces the inflammation and relieves the pain in the throat.
Helps to ease the symptoms of tonsillitis
Salt water gargling can also help with symptoms of tonsillitis. When the two lump tissues at the back of the throat are inflamed due to bacteria and viral infection, the pain can be reduced by gargling.
Cleanses your mouth
As it prevents the breeding of bacteria and infection in the mouth, gargling salt water can clean your mouth. It does that by removing food particles stuck between your teeth and preventing the development of oral infections.
Reduces bad breath
Bad breath is caused by the buildup of bacteria in the mouth. Prevent this from happening by gargling salt water. We recommend this solution to combat bad breath, because it’s a natural way to cleanse your mouth and freshen your breath.
Maintains the pH level
When bacteria inhibits our mouths, it adds acidity in the throat. Gargling saltwater is the simple solution to this, as it maintains the pH level of your mouth. As a result, it prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria in the mouth.
Bleeding gums and toothache
If you are experiencing bleeding gums and toothache, then gargling salt water will also help you out. These symptoms are the first sights of gum disease cause by bacteria and rinsing your mouth with salt water can help reduce inflammation and fight the bacteria. Gargling with salt water can also help you get rid of toothache.