Laryngitis, or throat inflammation as well as oesopahgus inflammation can occur due to strain, infection, or age. The larynx consists of two vocal cords, which under normal conditions open and close smoothly to create the vibrations that produce sound. In cases of laryngitis, the vocal cords become inflamed. This causes discomfort and distorts sound, making the voice hoarse or raspy. While not usually serious, it can be an uncomfortable chronic condition.
Throat inflammation is typically classified as chronic if it persists for more than a fortnight without improvement. Chronic laryngitis can occur as a result of overuse of the vocal cords or environmental irritants, including smoking, acid reflux, excessive alcohol consumption, or overexposure to air-conditioned environments. Throat inflammation can also be a side effect of other chronic conditions, including:
- Fungal infections
- Chronic sinusitis
- Vocal cord paralysis from injury or stroke
- Bowing of the vocal cords with age (presbylaryngis)
- Tumours, nodules or polyps (benign or malignant)
- Thyroid inflammation
Managing the symptoms of chronic conditions, whether they be the disease itself or a side effect of treatment, is a key concern for integrative and holistic therapists. However, considering the delicate nature of many of the above complaints, natural solutions are preferable.
Interventions for Chronic Throat Inflammation
Many integrative therapists will take a mechanical approach to manage throat inflammation. This could include strategies like training patients to properly modulate their voices to manage discomfort. Furthermore, raising the patients’ awareness of environmental factors such as temperature change and humidity are useful. For example, is dry heat or stale air indoors produced by heating systems exacerbating the problem?
However, dietary or nutritional interventions are some of the most useful methods of managing chronic throat inflammation. Naturally, hydration is essential; ensuring the patient is consuming enough water is key to soothing irritation and neutralising acid. Various herbal teas can also provide hydration with anti-inflammatory benefits. For example, turmeric tea and green tea both have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to fight against infections.
Equally, there is a strong scientific argument for old favourites like honey and lemon drinks. Honey is one of the best remedies due to its natural antibacterial properties, immediately offering pain relief while working to reduce inflammation and kill pathogens. Meanwhile, lemon breaks down mucus and provides vitamin C to support the immune system.
Reishi Mushroom as a New Approach to Treating Laryngitis
Vitamin C isn’t the only compound with the potential to soothe the symptoms of chronic laryngitis; vitamins D and zinc are also beneficial. Therapists could integrate these supplements synthetically, or alternatively, they could look to natural sources. Ganoderma lucidum, or Reishi mushroom, is packed with these vitamins as well as being a proven anti-inflammatory agent.
Various studies have demonstrated that Reishi mushrooms present high levels of triterpenes, which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. According to one study, these anti-inflammatory effects have been attributed to the inhibition of transcription factor NF-κB, as observed in the decreased NF-κB-DNA binding activity . Combined with other natural anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, this medicinal mushroom can yield compelling results .
Supplementing Old Wisdom with New Science
As mentioned, there is a strong case for deploying old favourites when it comes to treating throat inflammation. Honey and lemon have proven antibacterial and immune-supporting benefits; equally, herbal teas are soothing and pleasant. However, medicinal mushrooms like Reishi are rapidly emerging as a key tool in the treatment of chronic laryngitis. With their impressive nutritional profile, they can also provide other integrative benefits beyond their anti-inflammatory action.
- Dudhgaonkar S., Thyagarajan A., Sliva D. Suppression of the inflammatory response by triterpenes isolated from the mushroom Ganoderma Lucidum. International Immunopharmacology. 2009;9(11):1272–1280.
- Hewlings, S. J., & Kalman, D. S. (2017). Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 6(10), 92.