gargling salt water

When you are living any of metropolitan or even a big enough city, then with weather change, irritation in the throat is something you notice.

This, if not taken care of, usually escalates to a sore throat or viral.

Why does this happen?

The main reason attributed is air pollution. Though there are many other small issues too.

The question is how pollution is affecting our throat? Shouldn’t it stay confined to our respiratory system only?

Air Pollution

The air quality around us doesn’t only effect out the respiratory system. It affects our food pipe too.

You see, our nasal cavity and throat (and by that extension our mouth and food pipe) are closely connected.

When you breathe such air, particulates tend to settle down within this area. And, if you have choked nose, then…!

With the presence of saliva, these particulates get a suitable environment to stick there. Thus, the feeling of dryness, whenever we cross the road at high traffic time, or something similar in case of smog.

And then it is aggravated by drinks

With irritation in the throat, the natural inclination is to have coffee/tea or any other warm drink.

Which is good. But…

The problem is what we do after that. You see, just to retain the taste of these drinks, there is no followup.

Means, even for an hour after having tea, coffee etc. the remnants are there in our mouth. And if it is sugar based drink, well!!

And food

The food that we eat. It ‘may’ (it depends on how you look at it) have improved in quality but it also means it has additives to keep it fresh. The way it reacts with saliva is getting different over time.

This is compounded by the fact that, processed food doesn’t get the same treatment of chewing like cooked food does. Thus when it is swallowed, there is always some part of it left behind.

And then the drinks along with food

There is a gradual change in the way we handle our drinks with food.

Nearly every meal is with a drink. And I am not talking about water (this is constant debate issue anyway).

I am talking about coffee after meals or coke with burgers etc.

The problem with these drinks is not caffeine or sugar, no. The issue here is the desire to have that lingering effect of the taste of the drink in our mouth.

Which means – Breeding ground in your mouth! Don’t visualize that (Ewww!)

But why salt water?

Note: Don’t drink the salt water. Swallowing ‘a bit’ is incidental, but don’t drink that water

The reason salt is recommended, along with lukewarm water, is for its disinfectant properties.

Not only does the salt water flush out post-nasal drip and other bacterial material (just like any fluid would), a salty environment prevents bacteria from growing.

Also, the salt functions as a magnet for water. It’s good for symptomatic relief.

It draws moisture out of any bacteria who is present in the mouth.

“Essentially, the presence of salt in your mouth increases its pH balance. The environment that results is very alkaline, and bacteria cannot survive in an alkaline environment. Bacteria is only able to thrive in an atmosphere that is very acidic. When salt is used on a regular basis, bacteria will not be healthy enough to reproduce, resulting in a healthier mouth.” — Oral essentials

And, if, you are gargling for a sore throat, then it is good to know that it also moisture out of your own swollen tissues, relieving inflammation.

[This is not an automatic solution for a sore throat. If you have a sore throat, do consult a doctor first]

For those with heart issues like blood pressure, salt is prohibited and thus to avoid any incidental harm, it advised using simple warm water only.

Even warm water gargle is helpful. As per WebMD: Minus the salt, regular gargling of plain water may help prevent upper respiratory tract infections, according to research.

How much salt to use?

There are different definitions according to texts ( as well as different salt recipes available online), though you can use a simple guideline:

Use enough salt, that the water tastes just salty. Adding extra salt won’t help and may actually scrap your throat. So keep it on the lower side.

How many times a day?

As with any other activity in yoga, moderation is the key.

In normal circumstances, once in a day (morning time) is good enough.

If curing a sore throat, 2–3 times a day with a suitable gap in between is beneficial. Reduce the frequency, once throat is fine.

Salt is abrasive, especially for our skin. So, we have to use it to the level that benefits outweigh other effects. Nothing more.

[The process of gargling with salt mixed in water is for general cleaning of mouth and throat. It is not a medical substitute. Our body is not for experimentation unless you know what you are doing. ]

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