Lymphadenitis is the correct medical term for the swelling of lymph nodes; which most commonly occurs in the lymph nodes in the neck and throat area.
Mainstream medical treatment usually involves antibiotic medication, and surgery in severe cases, but there are some natural remedies which are very effective for lymphadenitis.
The aim of treating lymphadenitis with home remedies is to reduce swelling, pain and tenderness and to provide extra support for lymph node function and the immune system.
Listening to Your Body
Have you ever woken up in the morning with a nagging tenderness on either side of your throat? It mostly happens to me when I’ve been working too hard, I’ve been letting things get to me, or I just generally feel run down.
A quick check in the mirror and a gentle but pain-provoking prod under the jawline confirms it—swollen glands.
I’m a great believer in listening to the body. To me, swollen glands means it’s time to slow down, take stock of what I’m doing, and re-adjust the plan.
But what exactly are swollen glands? What causes them; and what should we do about them?
Swollen glands are fairly common, occurring in around 40 percent of the population. They’re most often associated with some kind of infection which many need medical treatment, but there may also be things you can do to help.
Research shows that there are some natural ingredients that can be combined as effective treatment for lymphadenitis, so we’ve had some fun experimenting with these and coming up with some home remedies for swollen glands.
What Do We Mean by Swollen Glands?
When we talk about swollen glands, we’re generally referring to the swelling and inflammation of some small structures in our neck or throat area. These structures are called lymph nodes, and they’re an essential part of our lymphatic system.
The lymph nodes can become swollen for a number of different reasons. They can feel tender and are often more painful when touched. This condition is called lymphadenitis.
What Is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is a body-wide network of organs and soft tissue structures. These include the adenoids at the back of the nasal airway, the tonsils behind and to the sides of the tongue. The spleen is located under the bottom of the left ribcage and the thymus in the central upper thoracic region.
All of these structures are connected by channels that contain lymph nodes. Each structure has a part to play in the transport and filtration of a clear substance called lymph fluid. The operations of the lymphatic system play a key role in healthy immune system function.
The thymus, for example, is where specialized bug-buster cells called T-cells mature before being released to destroy infected or cancerous cells. The spleen is the largest organ in the lymphatic system, and stores the white blood cells that fight many different types of infection.
Within the channels connecting the larger soft tissue structures of the lymphatic system, there are approximately 600 or so small bulbous structures called lymph nodes. These lymph nodes are masses of soft tissue that filter the lymph fluid.
The lymph nodes contain high numbers of infection-fighting white blood cells. As the fluid filters through the lymph node, any bacteria, some toxins and any other harmful substances are filtered out and attacked by the white blood cells.
The rest of the fluid is then returned to the blood supply by means of a one-way valve system.
How Do We Get Swollen Glands?
Most often, swollen lymph nodes are caused by a response to the introduction of a bacterial or viral infection.
Our immune system is usually very good at making sure it fights off most infections without us even being aware of what’s happening. Occasionally, though, we’re exposed to an infection that’s a little more tricky to manage.
Say, for example, we’re feeling run down, not sleeping well, perhaps worried about a few things. When we’re not feeling 100 percent, bacteria which are normally harmless, can be allowed to reproduce out of control, attach the body and produce harmful toxins as waste products.
Wherever the bacteria are present in the body, the lymph nodes in that area can become enlarged as they deal with the infection. The white blood cells work by engulfing the source of the infection.
In deactivating the infected material, pus is produced as a waste product, which can be one reason for swollen glands.
Lymphadenitis can present as either localized or generalized. Localized swollen glands occur in response to infection in the local surrounding tissue. For example, the presence of an airborne infection or virus can result in the swelling of the tonsils.
Localized lymphadenitis accounts for around three-quarters of all cases. Over half the cases of localized lymphadenitis occur in the head and neck region.
Generalized lymphadenitis is where two or more groups of lymph nodes are swollen, and is usually linked to some kind of systemic virus or other illness.
Advantages of Home Remedies for Swollen Glands
There are a lot of benefits to using your own recipes to treat lymphadenitis.
As bacterial strains become increasingly resistant to antibiotic medications, we need to find alternative ways to manage infection. Using home remedies for swollen glands is one way to avoid increasing antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic medication can also cause digestive discomfort and gastrointestinal damage. Using home remedies for swollen glands is a more gentle, natural way to treat lymphadenitis and avoid the side effects of antibiotics.
Home remedies for swollen glands are easily accessible. Most of the ingredients are probably sitting in your store cupboards right now, ready and waiting.
You can make as little or as much as you need, and anything leftover can be stored in the refrigerator ready for the next application. This means there’s no waste.
Using home remedies for swollen glands also means no packaging, no plastic waste, and less damage to the environment.
Ingredients for Swollen Glands
There are several natural ingredients which have proven effective actions that can either help avoid lymphadenitis or help to relieve the symptoms.
Scientific research studies indicate that raw garlic is highly effective in killing many different types of bacteria, which isn’t really so surprising when we consider garlic’s nutrient profile.
Garlic is a nutritional powerhouse, containing vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, fluoride, choline and betaine.
The nutrients in garlic have numerous different functions. They help maintain healthy teeth and bones, soft tissue, skin and mucous membranes.
Garlic also helps to boost the immune system, maintain blood and eye health, positively affect diabetes, and supports healthy brain and nervous system function, among a wide range of other supportive effects.
It boosts our immune system, regulates our digestive system, protects eye health, helps to control blood pressure and blood-clotting, improves brain function, reduces the signs of aging, and can reduce the risk of birth defects.
Garlic also contains many different plant compounds. These phytochemicals give plants their distinctive colors, flavors and scents, and protect plants from disease and injury. Some of the phytochemicals in garlic have been identified as allicin, ajoene, alliin and diallyl sulphate.
Garlic is thought to contain more than 12 different antioxidants. In addition, research studies have indicated that garlic increases the activity of enzymes in the body which help to metabolize free radical molecules. So garlic has a two-pronged attack on free radical chemicals.
Extensively researched for it’s antibacterial effects, garlic has been shown to be effective against many bacteria, including salmonella, E. coli, staphylococcus, clostridium, klebsiella, micrococcus, bacillus subtilis and mycobacterium. It’s also a proven anti-fungal agent.
Garlic is thought to be effective against these potentially harmful organisms by depleting their oxygen supply, damaging their cell membranes and preventing them from accessing and replenishing their energy store.
The phytochemicals in garlic are thought to be responsible for the proven effects of garlic against cancer cells; decreasing the growth rate of cancer cells and tumor growth.
Garlic stimulates and supports the immune system in all of these different ways, but has also been found to specifically support the lymphatic system by stimulating the production and activation of the different kinds of specialized white blood cells necessary for dealing with infection and disease.
This is a unique type of honey produced in New Zealand by bees that primarily gather pollen from the native Manuka plants. Studies have shown that Manuka honey is has many different health benefits from improving sleep to decreasing allergic reactions, improving skin conditions and assisting with wound healing.
Specifically in respect of the immune system, Manuka honey has been proven to have significant antimicrobial action, helping to combat bacterial infections and improving the efficiency of infection control in the lymphatic system.
There are various kinds of Manuka honey available on the market, and not all are effective as others. Manuka honey is graded by its UMF, or unique Manuka factor, rating. Look for a Manuka honey with a UMF rating of 10 or over. This guarantees a good-quality honey which has significant antibacterial properties.
This is a fragrant herb which many of us are familiar with through a variety of different culinary uses. Oregano oil, however, may not be so familiar, despite the fact that scientists have observed its impressive antibacterial actions.
In one 2016 study, oregano essential oil was found to be effective against all 17 strain of bacteria against which it was tested. This included some drug-resistant forms of bacteria, including MRSA, E. coli and Acinetobacter baumannii bacterial strains.
Oregano oil is another ingredient which helps destroy bacteria and therefore support healthy lymph node function without increasing the risk of developing further antibiotic resistance.
Colloidal silver is a liquid preparation which contains tiny silver ions in a suspension. It’s been shown in research to attach itself to the cell membranes of invading bacteria and prevent the bacteria from producing energy. Colloidal silver has been proven in some studies to destroy bacteria within minutes of exposure.
Not only does colloidal silver support the lymph system during a bacterial attack; it does so in a way that doesn’t increase bacterial resistance to medication.
Tea Tree Oil
Studies have shown that tea tree oil can be extremely effective against bacteria. There are many studies which purport its effectiveness; some have reported interesting findings on the longevity of the antibacterial action of tea tree oil.
One study in particular observed both an immediate effect when tea tree oil was applied to bacteria, but also found that the tea tree oil continued to remain active against the bacteria over the next 24 hours.
While some essential oils can be taken internally, tea tree oil is not one of them. Be sure to only apply tea tree oil topically, in an appropriate carrier oil.
Ginger is a spice which has been used for centuries for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Quite simply, ginger root is brimming with beneficial nutrients.
Ginger contains vitamins C, E, K, B3, B5, B6, and B9, calcium, choline, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.
Ginger is thought to contain more natural oils, phytochemicals and beneficial plant compounds than any other edible plant. The main active compound in ginger is gingerol, but it also contains numerous others.
The compounds in ginger help keep teeth and bones, soft tissue, skin and mucous membranes healthy, help regulate digestion, blood pressure and blood clotting in addition to reducing the risk of many serious diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Research indicates ginger root has a huge number of other health benefits, including pain relief from the prostaglandin compounds. It’s indicated in research to be equally as effective as ibuprofen for inflammation and pain relief, without the negative side-effects.
Some experts have noted that ginger root has a particularly widespread effect on inflammation, and has a markedly positive effect on the immune system by increasing the substances produced by the body to fight diseases and infections. It has also proven to be highly effective against 24 different types of bacteria, including E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, salmonella and Klebsiella.
Ginger root also contains many different antioxidants, such as vitamin C, manganese and more than 12 phytochemicals including gingerol, shogaol and diarylheptanoids.
These are chemicals which support the immune system by absorbing other free-radical chemicals. Research suggests that ginger is capable of absorbing more than 90 percent of available free radical chemicals.
Inflammation is a common feature of swollen glands, so powerful natural anti-inflammatories like cilantro can be extremely helpful when managing lymphadenitis.
One research study observed that cilantro contains substances including phytochemicals that can significantly reduce inflammation by targeting inflammatory pathways. The study also found that black pepper, ginger, garlic and cinnamon have similar mechanisms of action.
Cilantro has also been shown to reduce the amount of cell damage by bacteria such as E. coli and Bacillus subtilis and inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria. Studies have shown cilantro to be effective against salmonella, cholera, but particularly against listeria.
Cucumbers are well-known sources of hydration, which is good for keeping body fluids, including lymph fluid well diluted. This helps to keep everything flowing and avoids a build of pressure.
What many people don’t know is that they also contain some quite powerful pain relief. One study compared the pain control achieved with cucumber extract against a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, diclofenac sodium—the active drug in medications like Cataflam Voltaren and Zorvolex.
While the diclofenac did an excellent job of reducing pain by 75 percent, cucumbers gave an impressive performance for a natural alternative, reducing pain by 50 percent.
While cucumber extract wasn’t as effective at reducing pain as diclofenac, it still significantly reduced pain, and has the added bonus of none of the negative side effects of the medication, such as headaches and damage to the gastrointestinal lining when used regularly.
Cucumbers, then, can support swollen lymph nodes by keeping the lymph fluid from becoming viscous and by providing natural pain relief.
With 86 percent water, pineapples are a great source of hydration, but also contain a huge range of vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds. One unique compound in pineapples is bromelain, a powerful anti-inflammatory which gives the immune system a potent boost.
The nutrients in pineapples help with numerous different functions, including the development of healthy new cells and soft tissue, regulation of digestion, boosting eye health, reduced risk of many serious health conditions and the signs of aging.
In addition, they boost our brain and nervous system function, help control blood pressure and improve kidney and liver function, which are both important for removing toxins and waste products.
Research trials indicate that many of the plant compounds in pineapples, particularly bromelain, are responsible for a marked improvement in many immune system functions.
Pineapples have been put up an impressive performance in antibacterial research trials, with impressive performances against many different types of bacteria. This included drug-resistant strains of E. coli and Vibrio cholera.
The antibacterial properties of pineapples have been indicated to reduce the numbers of bacteria in our internal organs and digestive system and boost the skin’s ability to keep out potentially harmful bacteria.
The zinc in pineapples helps to maximize immune system function. As a rich source of antioxidants, pineapples also support the immune system by keeping harmful free radicals in check. The strong anti-inflammatory effects of the compounds in pineapples can help to calm swollen glands and provide pain relief.
This is really just a snapshot of just a few of the natural ingredients you can use as home remedies for swollen glands. There are a whole host of other ingredients you could use to help support the immune system and relieve symptoms.
6 Home Remedies for Swollen Glands
There are many different ways you can use ingredients to help relieve swollen glands. Here you’ll find suggestions for home remedies that work from the outside in and from the inside out!
1. Go-Go Garlic
Given that garlic packs such a powerful punch, it’s not surprising that it’s our first port of call. It’s also one of the easiest home remedies—although its aroma may not be very popular!
Breaking down the fibers in the cloves is important as it releases and activates some of the most important phytochemicals.
Although some people take raw garlic with no unpleasant side effects, it can make you’re your breath smell, but you can mediate this by chewing some raw parsley after taking your dose of garlic.
Crush or chop between one and three cloves of raw garlic. Consume them raw either on their own and washed down with water, or as part of a salad, just as long as the garlic is raw.
2. Honey Honey
Manuka honey is a great addition to any eating plan for its many health benefits. It’s a good idea to take a teaspoon each morning to support general good health.
In the event of swollen glands, take an extra dose of manuka honey in the evening, too. It works best when taken on an empty stomach.
3. Manuka Garlic Bazooka
You can combine the antibacterial and antiviral power of garlic and manuka honey by crushing garlic cloves and mixing them into a paste with enough manuka honey to mix well.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Take a teaspoon of the mixture on an empty stomach morning and evening.
4. Swell Smoothie
This is a really tasty smoothie which combines lots of beneficial ingredients to give the immune system a powerful kick start, helping to reduce pain, settle inflammation and fight bacteria.
It’s good to drink this smoothie on an empty stomach, so first thing in the morning is ideal. For swollen glands, have another glass an hour before bedtime.
- ½ medium pineapple, peeled.
- 2 teaspoons manuka honey.
- 6-inch chunk cucumber.
- 2-inch piece root ginger.
- 1 medium green apple, core removed.
- Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes.
- 1 cup coconut or almond milk.
- Chop the pineapple, cucumber and apple into bite-size pieces.
- Peel the ginger root.
- Chop the ginger into small pieces.
- Add the pineapple, cucumber and apple to the blender.
- Add the coconut or almond milk and blend to a pulp.
- Add in the ginger, honey and lemon or lime juice.
- Blend well, add more milk or water if the mixture is too thick.
- Serve immediately, over ice if desired.
5. Silver Saver
It’s possible to make your own colloidal silver tincture, but it’s quite an involved process. It requires specialist equipment, and you have to be very careful when it comes to avoiding contamination.
There’s a wide range of colloidal silver products on the market, from creams, gels and liquids to nasal sprays, drops and tinctures. Look for products that contain between 3 to 20 ppm (parts per million). This is considered a safe but effective level.
6. Soothing Salad
This mixed salad gives a great raw boost of power to the immune and lymphatic systems. Tomatoes and parsley are other ingredients with impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and along with lettuce are great sources of hydration.
Studies show that the largest concentration of phytochemicals occurs just under the skin in many fruits and vegetables, so use the raw skin whenever possible. The dressing not only adds a distinct zing for the taste buds, but also helps to soothe inflammation and fight bacteria.
For the Salad
- 1 cup green lettuce.
- ½ cup cilantro.
- ½ cup parsley.
- 2 ripe medium-sized tomatoes.
- 6-inch chunk cucumber, with skin.
For the Dressing
- 1 fluid ounce extra virgin olive oil.
- ½ fluid ounce apple cider vinegar.
- 1 small garlic clove.
- ½-inch piece ginger root, peeled.
- 10 black peppercorns.
- ½ teaspoon sea salt.
- 1 teaspoon manuka honey.
- For the dressing, finely chop or mince the garlic and ginger root.
- In a glass jar with a screw-top lid, mix the olive oil with the apple cider vinegar, the garlic, ginger, sea salt and honey.
- Lightly crush the peppercorns between two dessert spoons and add to the mixture.
- Close the lid tightly. Cover with a tea towel and shake vigorously for a minute or so.
- Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature to allow the ingredients to become active.
- Make the salad; wash the vegetables and chop them as coarsely or as finely as you want to.
- Assemble the salad in a dish; either layer the ingredients or mix it up!
- Drizzle the salad dressing over the top and serve immediately.
When using home remedies for swollen glands, it may take several days for the effects of the treatment to become noticeable. The symptoms should not worsen, however. If this is the case, seek advice from your medical care professional immediately.
Tips for Home Remedies
While it might be tempting to add a little of all the helpful ingredients to formulate a home remedy for swollen glands, it may not be the best approach.
We’re all different, and various ingredients may have a different effect depending on the person. Some people may have an adverse reaction to one or more of the ingredients—how will you know which ones?
It’s best to try one remedy for at least two months before changing it or adding in another treatment. If you find one treatment isn’t working for you, you can either try a completely different home remedy, or add an ingredient to your current remedy.
If you notice pain or tenderness and swelling, particularly in the front and sides of your throat, it could well be that your lymph nodes have become swollen. This can be a common response to a threat to the immune system, and can be treated with antibiotics and surgery.
In many cases, though, scientific studies have found that many natural ingredients are effective in helping to boost the immune system and soothe swollen glands. In addition, using natural ingredients to make home remedies for swollen glands avoids the problems associated with the negative side effects of and bacterial resistance to medication.
Any number of different fresh, raw produce could help with swollen glands. Garlic, good-quality honey, and in particular Manuka honey have some extremely beneficial effects.
Cilantro, ginger, cucumbers, pineapples, black pepper, and cinnamon have also been shown to be beneficial. Essential oils like tea tree, oregano and preparations which include colloidal silver can be useful too.
Many of these ingredients contain compounds that are very effective in reducing inflammation, fighting bacteria and helping the immune system to work effectively. They can be combined in a number of different ways to help relieve the symptoms of swollen glands.
Some produce, like garlic or Manuka honey can be taken alone, or as part of a prepared dish. The key to making sure of the maximum effect of all natural produce is to buy good quality and consume it as fresh and as close to its natural state as possible.
From a morning spoonful of a Manuka garlic mix to a soothing smoothie, an all systems go salad or the application of a colloidal silver or essential oil preparation, there are lots of choices with regard to both ingredients and applications.
So next time you feel those tender glands in your throat, try some of these home remedies for swollen glands, and test them out for yourself. Most of the recipes and preparations take relatively little time, are easy to do, and research tells us they could make a world of difference.