Red-hot soother

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Pepper remedy nothing to sneeze at

If you're looking for an over-the-counter sore-throat soother, look over the kitchen counter first. Three common kitchen ingredients--cayenne pepper, lemon juice and honey--may be able to file the claws of even the scratchiest sore throats.

The recipe goes like this: In a tablespoon, pour 3/4 of a teaspoon of honey, top it off with lemon juice, then add a pinch of cayenne pepper, says Elson M. Haas, M.D., medical director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (San Rafael, California). Then, of course, put it down the hatch.

Surprisingly, the ingredient that can bring tears to your eyes--cayenne--may be the one that brings relief to your throat, says Ann Berger, M.D. While at the Yale University Pain Management Center, she used the spice to help tame the pain of mouth sores in people undergoing cancer therapy.

Cayenne can't cure what's causing the sore throat, but it's likely to subdue one of the body's pain chemicals so that swallowing won't ache so much anymore, says Dr. Berger.

How big is a "pinch" of cayenne? "There's no one dose for everyone because the ability to tolerate cay-enne is different for each person," she says. If you don't like the honey/lemon side of this concoction, here's another solution: "Sometimes when my son has a sore throat, I'll put cayenne on a pizza bagel."

PHOTO (COLOR): ingredients

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by Marty Munson with Teresa Yeykal

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