Causes of Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing) + How to Treat Naturally

Dysphagia is the medical term used to describe the difficulty in swallowing. It can happen to anyone anytime, but infants, the elderly, and adults with brain or nervous system disorders are especially susceptible. If you are suffering from dysphagia, you will notice increased difficulty swallowing food and an increased risk of choking. Even swallowing a drink of water may be troublesome, or at least very irritating.

What Causes Dysphagia?

There are a handful of causes that are the leading culprits behind dysphagia.

  • Immune system weakness, such as polymyositis, is a common culprit.
  • Stress and anxiety may also result in a swelling of the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow.
  • Iron deficiency is another common cause of dysphagia.
  • Scleroderma is another somewhat random cause behind dysphagia as it tightens and narrows the muscles of the esophagus.
  • If you have gastric reflux, you may also experience difficulty swelling
  • In rare cases, dysphagia may be caused by swollen lymph nodes or even a tumor.
  • Another leading cause of dysphagia is cancer treatment. Whether it’s radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery, many patients undergoing cancer treatment simultaneously deal with difficulty swallowing.

Categories of Dysphagia

Esophageal dysphagia – The sensation of food getting hung up or stuck in your throat or in your chest after swallowing.

Oropharyngeal dysphagia – Difficulty moving food from the mouth into the throat and esophagus after swallowing. You may cough, gag, or choke when trying to swallow or have the feeling of fluids or foods going up your nose or down your windpipe.

Natural Remedies for Dysphagia

If you have had difficulty swallowing and believe that you are suffering from dysphagia, there are some very effective ways to treat the condition naturally.

Raw Coconut Oil

Consuming some raw coconut oil will provide the body with fatty acids and important nutrients. This helps to fight off many fungus and viral infections, thereby fighting inflammation in the body, in particular in the esophagus. You can consume it by itself, or add it to a smoothie. Drinking the water from a fresh coconut will also help.


Fresh, ground, organic flaxseed is easy to add to your cereal or as a topping for your yogurt. You can also add it to your smoothie along with some coconut oil.


Not just any bananas, but fresh, organic bananas will help reduce esophageal swelling due to the high amounts of potassium.

Fish Oil

Fish oil has many benefits, and providing the body with ample omega-3 fatty acids is one of those. These fatty acids provide impressive anti-inflammatory effects to the body, reducing the pain and swelling in the esophagus.


There are many herbs that can be used to naturally coat and soothe the esophagus, and reduce swelling. Oregano oil and olive leaf extract are both excellent options. Raw cacao and Aloe vera can also be used, and are easy to incorporate into your daily smoothie. They are also both rich in potassium and magnesium, which particularly help address muscle inflammation.

Making a tea out of plantain, sweet violet, or St. John’s Wort is also a good remedy for treating dysphagia.

Pure Water

Water can help with dysphagia, but perhaps not in the way you’re thinking. Take a small bit of water in your mouth, and adjust your head and jaw in different positions as you swallow a little bit at a time. This will help stretch out the esophageal muscles and make it easier to swallow. After you feel more comfortable swallowing, start drinking a whole ton of it. Water will help flush out toxins from the body.

Hot Compress

St. John’s Wort can also be used in a hot compress as well as a tea (mentioned above). Soak a cloth in some hot water with St. John’s Wort oil, and apply to the throat for 5-10 minutes. This will help reduce the pain and swelling.

Other Tricks

You can help reduce inflammation by stretching out the throat; tilt your head back to stretch the throat area, then bring your chin to your chest. Looking straight, move your jaw around to loosen up the whole area.

While you’re dealing with dysphagia, it may be a good idea to get most of your nutrients from smoothies (with flax seed), as they will be easier to swallow and will still provide you with what your body needs. Once you do feel comfortable eating regular food again, eat smaller meals more frequently.

Final Thoughts

Dysphagia is an uncomfortable condition, but the causes behind it are often not nefarious. Nevertheless, it is important to see your physician to rule out tumors or other serious diseases that may be causing the swelling. Once you know that the dysphagia is caused simply by one of the many culprits mentioned above, you can start utilizing some (or all) of the natural remedies here to treat the dysphagia, reduce the swelling, and get you back to optimal health in no time.


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