It isn’t often that your pediatrician gives you a prescription for ‘magic’ medicine. Especially for something as common as a sore throat. I thought I had heard everything… and tried it, too. Aside from wondering if our doctor was crazy, I couldn’t imagine that I’ve had this “remedy” in my medicine cabinet my whole life – right under my nose – and have never heard of it. Just think of all those miserable sore throats that went untreated. The shame of it!
I have to admit, I was skeptical that a “Magic Mouthwash” would help make a wicked sore throat more tolerable – even numb. However, the doctor insisted that it would
help, and my daughter was suffering. I figured trying it wouldn’t hurt. When you or your kids are in that much pain, you’ll try anything.
She told us to mix 1 part Maalox, 1 part Children’s Benedryl and gargle with the solution. I thought I had both on hand, so I didn’t buy any Maalox. When I got home, I discovered that I only had Milk of Magnesia. Lucky for me that the active ingredient in Milk of Magnesia is actually the same one that works in Maalox – there’s just a little more of it.
After researching online about the “Magic” mixture (still uncertain), I discovered that there are many different recipes for the mouthwash. The usual concoction contains diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Children’s Benedryl) for pain relief, and an antacid for coating the mouth and throat. Some even have anti-fungal or corticosteroids to prevent secondary infections (such as Hydrocortisone, or Tetracycline). If you try something with a prescription medicine, be sure to clear it through your doctor, though… and beware – the Tetracycline caused complaints of stained teeth.
I read through all of the comments and recipes I found on a mouth ulcer website that was supposedly written by a pharmacist, and found that the recipe my doctor gave me was the least strong of the bunch. Many of the people commenting said that the doctor even told them that the child could drink part or all of the brew after swishing with it. Since Morgan had taken a Zyrtec and I wasn’t sure how two antihistamines would work in her system, I only let her swallow a tiny bit of it so that the very base of her throat would be coated (usually where the pain is the worst).
Before she took it, I had her drink 8 oz of water (required by the medication if you drink it), and had her gargle with hot salt water to clean and comfort her throat. She protested, but was thankful I made her do it – saying that it really felt good (a huge thing for someone who couldn’t sleep because of throat pain). Then I mixed the “Magic Mouthwash” and let her gargle most of it and drink the last swig.
She complained after she did it that it made her tongue numb and her throat was stinging, tingling, and more painful. We thought maybe the ‘magic’ mouthwash was just a snake-oil hoax. However, within five minutes, she could hardly feel her throat … which gave her the peace she needed to get uninterrupted sleep… and let her throat have time to heal. This morning she said she only has a scratchy throat and feels a lot better. The pain is gone.
I tried the stuff on myself this morning since I awoke with a scratchy throat again (the oak pollen around here is thick enough to cut with a knife). I wasn’t thrilled with the taste of the stuff (Cherry flavored kid medicine has always grossed me out), but the Milk of Magnesia really makes the flavor more mild. Morgan says it almost tastes like ‘bubble gum’, but I didn’t think so. I can say this: after a few minutes, I was GLAD I used it!
Here’s the recipe for our Magic Mouthwash:
1 Part Milk of Magnesia (2 tsp – for her weight and age. She could have swallowed up to 1 tablespoon of this, but to create the mixture we only needed 2 teaspoons.)
1 Part Children’s Benedryl (2 tsp – for her weight and age. This was the maximum dosage she could have swallowed if she hadn’t taken a Zyrtec.)
1 Part (or a little less) of water (1.5 tsp – to make it easier to stir and mix)
I guess it lives up to it’s name. I think having your sore throat eased really is magic. I sure wish I had known about it a long time ago. These over the counter remedies are always around in my house. Now that we know how to make it, we’ll be saving ourselves a lot of money on throat spray and cough drops.
Note: I’m not a doctor and you should always check with your physician or pharmacist before taking any medication or giving it to your children. Please be careful!
Since you guys love this post so much, and it has helped so many throats – here’s a few highlights and additional info from the comments section (to prevent you from feeling the need to read over a hundred responses):
1. There are lots of recipes for “magic” mouthwash. The prescription ones include other ingredients like lidocaine, dexamethasone or nystatin. YES they might work for some even better than this simple recipe, but these harsh drugs can’t be swallowed by children under 6, and a few who commented said that they didn’t work at all – while this cheap version did. I say why not try the cheap version first? It couldn’t hurt. If it doesn’t work for you, then go to your doctor and ask for a prescription for the kind with narcotics.
2. Mylanta or Maalox was the original ingredient instead of Milk of Magnesia. However they are in a product recall or remix or something right now and it is really hard to find. Milk of Magnesia is a laxative and has MORE of the active ingredient that Mylanta has in it. Be careful with it and don’t swallow if you can help it. If you are going to swallow it, ask your doctor for the recommended dose for your child based on her/his age or weight. I would not give this medicine to a child who can’t spit things out on command (under 4 especially). We don’t use toothpaste with my little ones until they are 4, either… because I don’t want them ingesting fluoride.
3. Another reader said that their family tries warm salt water gargle first, then they use aspirin – dissolved in water to coat the throat. For an older child over 12 or adult, this sound good, but I’m not sure children can have aspirin (read your bottle and check with your doctor). Someone else suggested baking soda on mouth sores – just a dab before bed, and no eating or drinking after.
4. One reader suggested using this mix for sores or burns in the mouth (great idea). I tried it again on myself recently for a sore I got from jabbing the toothbrush on my lower gum accidentally which got infected. It did offer relief temporarily. Interestingly, I found even more relief the next day by swishing with COCONUT OIL. It’s all the rage these days after a model says she drinks it in her green tea to help stay thin and beautiful. It has been found to be beneficial orally, so I swish with it sometimes and drink some in my tea from time to time (makes the taste of green tea less bitter). This morning I swished with it because of the infection on that painful spot on my gum where I scraped it with the toothbrush and it has offered more lasting pain relief than the magic mouthwash did. I’m curious about possibly using it next time we get a sore throat, too — you never know, it might actually help and can’t hurt you if you swallow it – no matter how old you are!
I love coconut oil – and it is an awesome natural fat that has amazing health benefits, so I became a Tropical Traditions affiliate. I use their brand. If you want to purchase some, I’d love it if you use my link.
5. My pedi gave me another recipe recently with added ingredients I hadn’t used before after she came down with an awful sore throat she had for days caused by an adenovirus that was affecting only one side of her throat. He said he had seen lots of people in the area with the same presenting symptoms. For OLDER KIDS ONLY (My daughter is now an adult at 19 in 2018 – so this is a recent addition to the post):
800 MG IBP/2 Alieve 500 Naproxin – every 6 hrs… and gargle with…
Magic Throat Med: 30ml benedryl, 30 ml Maalox, 10ml lydocaine (1 tube adult orajel)… 1/2 tsp every 2-4 hours (spitting it out, but not to worry if you swallow some)
AGAIN: BE SURE YOU ARE CAREFUL AND ONLY USE THIS IF YOU ARE AN ADULT UNDER DOCTOR SUPERVISION. THIS RECIPE IS NOT FOR KIDS, ESPECIALLY NOT LITTLE ONES UNDER THE AGE OF 6.