Tonsillitis involves an inflammation of the tonsils caused by bacteria or a virus. When this occurs, the lingual tonsils at the back of the tongue, as well as the pharyngeal lymphoid tissue at the top of the pharynx, called the adenoids when enlarged, can be infected. As part of the lymphatic system, which protects the body from infection, the tonsils can be attacked by the very germs they are supposed to combat. The resulting illness usually begins with chills and a high fever. The swollen tonsils ache, the throat may be quite sore and you may suffer from difficult or painful swallowing. Often the lymph glands in the lower jaw are enlarged as well. A white or yellowish coating on red, painful, swollen tonsils signals strep throat, caused by streptococcal bacteria. If this develops, a doctor should be consulted for further treatment. For milder tonsillitis, try healing baths, compresses and herbal teas to help alleviate the pain and discomfort.
Easing difficulty in swallowing
Herbal lozenges with essential oils, especially peppermint, menthol, eucalyptus and lemon, stimulate saliva flow and are soothing; they numb pain and ease swallowing. In addition, the essential oils are anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
What you can do?
If you have severe throat pain and fever, take it easy or, better yet, rest in bed. Because of the loss of fluids from the fever, you need to drink plenty of liquids. Steamed vegetables are a good food choice because they are light and rich in vitamins. To ease discomfort, try natural healing measures, such as hot or cold throat compresses, therapeutic teas and baths.
Pain relieving throat compresses
Throat compresses, cold or hot, have a pain relieving effect. Decide whether hot or cold compresses are more comforting. However, if you are sweating or have a fever, use a cold compress. Cold compresses around the throat also induce the body to send more blood to the area, which can speed healing. To make a cold compress, soak a thin cotton cloth in ice cold water, wring out lightly and place it loosely around your throat. Cover with a wool scarf, and leave the compress in place until it has been thoroughly warmed by the body.
When you inhale steam, you stimulate the blood flow to the mucous membranes. You can add essential oils, such as peppermint or eucalyptus, to the water, they cool and refresh and will improve nasal breathing. It is also beneficial to add moisture to the air inside the house. If you don't have a humidifier, setting a container of water on the radiator, hanging up damp towels or simply boiling water on the stovetop are effective alternatives.
To gargle or not
According to recent medical reports, gargling when you have tonsillitis may spread the infection. However, many herbalists disagree, taking the position that herbal gargles allow disinfecting herbs to reach the areas where they are most needed.
First aid : Dab swollen tonsils with a cotton swab soaked in a 20 percent solution of disinfecting tea tree oil. Tinctures of myrrh can be used in the same way.
Soothing tea blend
Herbal teas can have a soothing and anti inflammatory effect when you're sick with tonsillitis. To make an herbal blend : mix 1 oz. of thyme, 1 oz. of hibiscus root, 1 oz. of fennel seeds and 1 oz. of aniseeds. For 1 cup of tea, boil 1 tbsp. of the mixture with 1 cup of water, and steep for 10 min. drink 1 cup 2-3 times a day.
Marsh mallow tea for the mucous membranes
Marsh-mallow tea is helpful for tonsillitis because the herb contains mucilage, which coats inflamed mucous membranes with a protective film. Add 3 heaping tsp. of marsh-mallow blossoms to 3 cups of cold water. Steep for 12hr. heat and strain for each cup. Sip 2-3 cups per day.
Echinacea is effective for treating common colds, sore throats and infections. It works best when taken often at the onset of symptoms. Take ½ tsp. of tincture every several hours for several days until symptoms improve.
Goldenseal is a bitter antimicrobial herb that has been shown to decrease the ability of strep bacteria to adhere to the tonsils' mucous membranes, reducing your risk of contracting strep throat. Goldenseal tincture is costly, but it can be taken in small amounts, swabbed on the throat or diluted and used as a gargle.
This stimulates blood flow in the mucous lining. Immerse your feet in a footbath at 91 deg F. add hot water in stages every 15 min. until the temperature has reached 107 deg F. soak your feet for another 5 min. dry well; put on thick socks and rest for about 30 min. repeat every 2 hr.