Is the TikTok Famous ‘Jell-O Tea’ Actually a Good Sore Throat Remedy? Here’s What Experts Say

Photo: Stocksy/ Melanie DeFazio
Recently, a viral sore throat recipe has made the rounds on TikTok, and the not-so-secret ingredient is Jell-O. Content creators and sore-throat havers alike have made videos about this supposed “hack” that can help a sore throat feel, well, less sore. The claims state that Jell-O tea can help your sore throat because the gelatin offers a pain-relieving coating to your esophagus. Though this isn’t necessarily the case, there are reasons that it can help relieve pain, believe it or not.

It’s also no secret that this winter is a doozy for respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the flu, and, of course, COVID. Many people across the country are stocking up on tissues, cough drops, cold medicine, and more to stave off some pretty nasty symptoms. And, while prescription and over-the-counter medications can be useful, many home remedies, like the aforementioned Jell-O tea, can also be helpful.

Here's what a pharmacist and nurse had to say about this popular sore throat remedy.

Can Jell-O tea really help your sore throat?

The short answer is yes, but not because it’s a magical cure, says Benjamin Gibson, PAHM, PharmD, a pharmacist and functional medicine specialist in San Antonio, TX. The idea that the Jell-O coats your throat to make it less painful is probably not the reason it works, since the coating wouldn't last on the throat after you swallow, he says. Instead, he shares that this tea can be effective for many of the same reasons hot chicken soup is better for your cold symptoms than cold chicken soup.

Honey can help relieve symptoms

Many people online are making their Jell-O tea with honey, which can often relieve sore throat pain through anti-inflammatory properties and mild cough suppressant effects, according to the Mayo Clinic. Think about it like this: If you cough less your throat will be less irritated, which means your sore throat will feel better.

Staying hydrated is important

Jell-O is commonly used in its solid form to add to patients’ hydration when drinking water isn’t easy, says Nancy Mitchell, RN, registered nurse and contributing writer for Assisted Living Center. Some of the same aspects apply here: the Jell-O tea helps you consume water without being a diuretic, like coffee. Staying hydrated is a good way to help your body fight off infection and keep your throat from drying out.

The placebo effect is a powerful thing

Dr. Gibson says that the warmth of the drink and the plain old placebo effect can have a sizable impact. In fact, a small study from the Journal of Rhinology assessed that drinking a warm beverage might make you feel like it's reducing your sore throat, which, in turn actually does make it feel better. That means that even a placebo effect can be beneficial.

The tanginess in Jell-O can promote salivary production

That same study also pointed out that drinks that elicit excess salivation (like some Jell-O flavors or fruit beverages) can help lubricate an otherwise raw, irritated throat. However, Mitchell does add that there is citric acid in this drink, which ups the acidity. While that can be tasty, it also can potentially irritate your throat.

So, the verdict is still out on whether gelatin will have significant soothing effects on your throat, but this tea could definitely lift your spirits and potentially relieve some pain. Or, you could just drink some warm herbal tea or heat up a cup of chicken noodle soup. It's your call.

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