Natural approach to tonsillitis


A natural approach to tonsillitis

In this series of articles, we take a look at what you can do or take to prevent, alleviate or cure common ailments naturally. As many complementary and alternative medicine therapies haven't undergone rigorous testing, we base the recommendations here on the amount of evidence that is currently available (indicated with asterisks):

Natural Steps for Tonsillitis (check the Evidence rating)
*** Good Evidence of a health benefit.
** Some Evidence of a health benefit.
* Traditionally used with only anecdotal evidence.

Incorporate lifestyle habits that strengthen the immune system ***

  • Stop smoking
  • Stress management
  • Daily relaxation
  • Healthy Exercise program
  • Healthy eating plan
  • Wash Hands appropriately

Avoid foods that weaken the immune system:

  • Refined and processed foods.
  • Dairy and high fat products.
  • Sugar and high sugar products.
  • Alcohol.

These nutrients have been shown to help Tonsillitis:

  • Vitamin C **
  • Vitamin E *
  • Selenium *
  • Zinc *
  • zinc lozenge **

The following herbs are normally used for Tonsillitis:

  • Echinacea **
  • Pineapple extract with bromelain **
  • Hydrastis Canadensis **
  • Liquorice root **
  • wild indigo **
  • sage **

Homeopathic remedies to help Tonsillitis:

  • Belladonna *
  • Apis mel *
  • Hepar sulp *
  • Merc iodatus flavus *
  • Merc iodatus rubber *
  • Lachesis *
  • Phytolacca *

Alternative/Complementary Therapy
The most commonly used Complementary Approaches to Tonsillitis are:

  • Herbal Medicine **
  • Homeopathic Medicine *
  • Naturopathic Medicine **

Please Note: This natural medicine guide does not replace the assessment and advice of your doctor.

Consultation with your health professional is extremely important if you are experiencing persistent or severe symptoms of Tonsillitis.

The tonsils are the two small masses of lymphatic tissue lying on either side of the uvula, (the "little-tongue" of the soft palate). With the adenoids, they form part of a ring of glandular tissue at the back of the throat.

Healthy tonsils are small, pinkish lumps of tissue, much the same colour as the surrounding area. Usually the two tonsils are of about equal size. When viruses or bacteria infect the tonsils, they become very red and swollen, and can develop grey or yellow spots. This condition is called tonsillitis. A persistent or recurring infection of the tonsils is called chronic tonsillitis.

Tonsils: to remove or not to remove?
According to natural health expert, Dr Arien van der Merwe, "Tonsils and adenoids are important components of the immune system and shouldn't be removed unnecessarily. For tonsillitis, it is preferable to assist your immune system by gargling with a disinfectant and by taking Echinacea, garlic and golden seal herbal extracts."

The popular belief that the tonsils "filter out" bacteria is a myth; but doctors do think that the tonsils may assist in defending the body against bacteria and viruses by helping to form antibodies. However, this help may only be significant during the first year of life, if at all – there is no evidence that the tonsils play an important role in immunity. Studies show that children who have had their tonsils and adenoids removed do not suffer from compromised immunity.

But according to natural health expert, Dr Arien van der Merwe, "Doctors in USA, Europe and Canada perform far less tonsillectomies than a few years ago. The tonsils are not useless organs to be removed at the first opportunity, as previous medical thought used to be!" These days doctors are generally only willing to recommend surgery in serious cases.

Natural remedies

What to do

1. Herbal gargle
Consult your doctor or a professional herbal practitioner before using any of the herbs mentioned in the following section, especially if you are pregnant, suffer from a chronic disease or are on other medication.

Gargle with a disinfectant such as sage or tea tree oil steeped in hot water and cooled, and by take echinacea, garlic and golden seal herbal extracts. Phytolacca, a herbal tincture, also makes a soothing gargle. Or how about an old fashioned gargle made from a teaspoon of lemon juice or apple-cider vinegar and a glass of warm water?

2. Diet
Eat foods rich in folic acid and vitamins A, B, C, D and E. Foods full of flavonoids, iron, magnesium and zinc will also help. Make sure you get five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and limit your consumption of caffeine, alcohol and refined carbohydrates.

3. Aromatherapy

To soothe: Use sandalwood and lavender

To fight infection: Use lemon, geranium, pine and tea tree.

To ease congestion: Use eucalyptus, peppermint and cedarwood.

Make a massage oil out of three drops sandalwood, two drops eucalyptus and one drop of peppermint oil in 12,5 ml almond oil or unscented body lotion. Massage this ointment onto your throat and chest.

Make a mixture out of two drops each of sandalwood and lemon oils or two drops each of cedarwood and eucalyptus oils in a glass of warm water. Gargle this mixture every two hours and then spit it out.

What to take

1. Supplements
Dr Van der Merwe recommends that you also "use an antioxidant combination, as well as starflower and cold water salmon oil supplements to support the immune systems."

2. Herbal help
Boost your immunity by drinking a tea made from Echinacea, wild indigo and sage. Drink a cup every two hours. Or try a cup of red sage tea with a teaspoon of apple-cider vinegar, which is both antiseptic and soothing.

3. Homeopathic help
The following homeopathic remedies were recommended by qualified homeopath, Dr Debbie Smith. Match your specific condition to the remedy suggested:

Belladonna – acute inflammation. Sudden onset in the night. Anxiety and fever.

Apis mel – burning stinging pains in swollen tonsils. Worse for heat and better for cold. No thirst. The uvula is swollen.

Hepar sulp – throat extremely sensitive to touch. There is a sensation of a splinter or fish bone in throat. Pains radiate from inflamed tonsils to both ears.

Merc iodatus flavus – throat pains and swelling right side, then on left. Swelling of glands.

Merc iodatus rubber / merc bin-iod Tonsillitis worse on the left side and accompanied with swelling of glands. Inclination to hawk up due to a sensation of a lump in the throat.

Lachesis – left tonsil swollen, extend to right. External throat very sensitive to touch. A sense of constriction in throat. Painful on empty swallowing.

Phytolacca – very dark, red throat and much pain with swallowing. Accompanied by swollen glands and pain that radiates to the ears.

This article was contributed to by natural health expert Dr Arien van der Merwe (MBChB). You can order her following books, published by Tafelberg, in English and Afrikaans online at
Health & Happiness
Geluk & Gesondheid
Herbal Remedies
Kruie met Geneeskrag

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