The salivary glands, located in your mouth and throat, secrete saliva to keep your mouth moist, help your digestion and protect your teeth from cavities. Swollen salivary glands are associated with a range of disorders, including viral infections, mumps, cancer and stones that may be blocking the gland ducts. Symptoms of swollen salivary glands include pain and swelling around your face, mouth and neck; dry mouth; and a bad taste in your mouth. Herbs may help relieve some of these symptoms naturally. Consult your medical provider for a diagnosis before using herbal therapy for swollen salivary glands.
Herbs for swollen salivary glands work in various ways. Anti-inflammatories may help relieve the swelling and pain. Lymphatic cleansers may help your body fight infection and drain the infected glands. Analgesic herbs can alleviate pain. Check with a qualified practitioner for advice about dosage and preparation of herbs for swollen salivary glands.
Poke, or Phytolacca Americana, is a tall perennial native to North America. Herbalists use the roots and berries to treat inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatism, mastitis, tonsillitis and mumps. The herb is rich in saponins, lignans and lectins, and it has anti-inflammatory and antiviral actions. In his book “Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine,” clinical herbalist David Hoffmann recommends poke for conditions associated with swollen salivary glands and viral infections, such as mumps and orchitis. Be sure to stay within recommended dosages because this herb is a potent emetic in high doses.
Cleavers, or Galium aparine, is a small perennial with clinging leaves and tiny yellow flowers. Traditional healers use the aerial parts to treat urinary tract infections and enlarged glands. The herb is rich in tannins, flavonoids and iridoid glycosides, and it has anti-inflammatory action. Herbalist David Hoffmann explains that cleavers is a lymph system cleanser and useful for swollen glands anywhere in the body. He recommends the herb for patients with mumps to help drain the infected salivary glands. Cleavers has anti-inflammatory action that may also help relieve pain. Cleavers may have sedative effects, so do not combine it with other sleep aids.
Willow, or Salix spp., is a deciduous tree with a long history of use as an herbal analgesic. The bark contains salicortin, which metabolizes to salicylic acid in your liver. The effects are similar to aspirin, which is a synthetic form of salicylic acid. In their book “Medicinal Plants of the World,” botanist Ben-Erik van Wyk and biologist Michael Wink note that willow inhibits COX-2, an enzyme involved in the body’s inflammatory response, and it does not cause stomach upset. Willow may help reduce inflammation and relieve the pain in your throat due to swollen and infected salivary glands.
- “Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine”; David Hoffmann; 2003
- “Medicinal Plants of the World”; Ben-Erik van Wyk and Michael Wink; 2009
Janet Contursi has been a writer and editor for more than 23 years. She has written for professional journals and newspapers, and has experience editing educational, cultural, and business articles and books. Her clients include Gale Publishers, Anaxos, Vielife and Twin Cities Wellness. Contursi earned her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, where she studied cultural anthropology, South Asian languages and culture, and art history.