Sore throat can be acute or chronic. Acute cases are typically due to wind heat, with accompanying symptoms of fever, possibly a cough with yellow phlegm, and a floating, rapid pulse.
The classic formula in traditional Chinese medicine for this diagnosis is Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian. The sooner it is taken once symptoms arise, the more quickly and effectively it clears the condition. If the sore throat is especially severe, add Chuan Xin Lian Antiphlogistic Pills. If the sore throat continues to get worse, seek medical attention immediately to determine if the condition is a strep infection.
Acute sore throats usually subside after a day or two of herbal therapy and acupuncture. The most commonly used points are Large Intestine 4 and Large Intestine 11 ("Crooked Pool"), located on the hand and arm. If the pain is especially severe, a point near the base of the thumb on the palm side (Lung 10) is very effective. Since this point can be painful to needle, it is usually reserved for more severe throat pain. In these cases, the patient is willing to tolerate a little extra discomfort from the needles in order to get relief from the throat pain.
A chronic sore throat can have yin deficiency as the underlying cause, since the lack of cooling yin can lead to chronic inflammation. Other symptoms of yin deficiency are a thin, rapid pulse, red tongue with little or no coating, dry mouth, night sweats, and irritability or insomnia. The treatment principle is to tonify yin and clear the heat with standard formulas such as Rehmannia Teapills. It might be necessary to take the formula for a few months for it to have a long-term effect.