(This article is from the old School of Natural Healing newsletter)

March 2006

By Lindsay Wolsey, MH

At the end of January my baby caught a cold. Then my husband caught it. Then I caught it. While I was researching symptoms to make sure it wasn’t RSV, I also researched Strep Throat, as my baby had recently been around a child who had recently contracted Strep. Her mother assured me that she was no longer contagious, as she had received an anti-biotic shot. As my husband has a heart condition where he needs to avoid Strep, we take it quite seriously. And, my brother Mike is a carrier of Strep. Last time I had Strep, it was because I was around Mike when I was sick.

What is Strep?

Strep is a bacterial infection of the tissues in the back of the throat and the tonsils. Tissues become irritated and inflamed, which leads to a sudden, severe sore throat. None of us had a sudden, severe sore throat-more like a sore throat the sneaks up on you slowly. As I write this, I’ve had a tickle in my throat all night and day, as if my baby wasn’t enough to keep me up all night!

Strep is caused by a streptococcal bacteria. There are many different strains of this bacteria, and some of them can cause more harm than others. There is a certain strain that can be very harmful to people who had rheumatic fever that left them with a heart murmur (like my husband). The most commonly contracted strep bacteria is group A-hemolytic streptococcus.

Symptoms of Strep

Generally, symptoms of strep include sudden, severe sore throat; pain or difficulty in swallowing; fever over 101 °F; swollen tonsils; white or yellow spots on the back of a bright red throat. You might also experience headache or abdominal pain. Strep throat does not occur with the general symptoms of a cold, such as runny or stuffy nose, coughing or sneezing. So, the more cold symptoms you have, the less likely it is that you have strep!

How Do I Catch Strep?

You can catch Strep from someone who is contagious, generally via physical contact (shaking hands, touching a doorknob, etc.) or by inhaling airborne bacteria, transmitted by sneezing or coughing. So be sure to wash your hands frequently! The incubation period is about 2 to 5 days. You are considered contagious while you still have symptoms. It is said that you are not considered contagious 24 to 48 hours after receiving antibiotics, but if you do not seek treatment you can be contagious for 2-3 weeks, even after your symptoms go away! What is an herbalist to do? More on that later.

More ways to prevent strep

Bboost your immune system! Get plenty of sleep, eat the right foods (no dairy), and be sure to get regular exercise. If you live in a dry climate, use a humidifier to add humidity to your home. This will help your mucous membranes retain moisture, so they can fight of the germs!

What Do I Do?

If you were to visit an allopath–and let’s face it, some of us do just to get a diagnosis when we’re not sure what we’re up against-they would do a throat culture to verify whether or not you had strep. I’ve had more of those tests than I can count, and I gag every time! Your other option is to look up the symptoms, and see if they match how you are feeling. This is what most Herbalists do.

Strep will usually go away in 3 to 7 days, with or without treatment. However, if you do not treat strep, you are opening yourself up to a secondary infection, such as Rheumatic Fever, and that could be setting yourself up for trouble down the road. So, if you consult an allopath, you will most likely receive a prescription for an antibiotic (such as penicillin or amoxicillin), and maybe even a painkiller!

If you were to ask an Herbalist, they would tell you to boost your immune system, stay home and rest, stay hydrated, and use lots of garlic! In fact, we use a remedy that is almost guaranteed not to fail! We can’t guarantee it, because then the FDA and FTC would be breathing down our necks-but to our knowledge, it has only failed once, and that is because the person taking it chased it with milk! But this remedy should work in a day.

Strep Throat Remedy

1 clove of garlic
honey
cayenne

Chop up the garlic, pour some honey over it, and add as much cayenne as you can stand. Then grab a spoon and eat it! The garlic is full of antibiotic properties, as is the honey, and the cayenne will bring heat to the area. Repeat this as many times as you can!

One note of caution-unless you’ve done this before, you may not want to try this on an empty stomach. I did, and I ended up throwing it all back up!

Another option is take the X-Ceptic formula. If you can’t stand to take it straight, you can mix it with a little bit of water, although that will slightly lower its effectiveness. This is what I prefer to do when I know that I’ve been exposed to Strep, or anything else, for that matter!

You can also do a mullein and lobelia fomentation on the throat if you have swollen glands. It’s three parts mullein to one part of lobelia. Make an infusion, soak your cloth in it, wrap it around your neck, cover that with plastic wrap, and secure. You can also use mullein and lobelia massage oil.

Another thing-if you get strep, throw out your toothbrush and get a new one, or sterilize the one you’ve got. Don’t set yourself up for a reoccurring infection!

Do not allow an allopath to remove your tonsils! While tonsillectomies are no longer standard medical procedure, they are occasionally done for cases of repeated strep throat. If this is the case, you need to look at your lifestyle, and what you may be doing that is hampering your immune system. You need your tonsils!