Feeling a tickle in your throat? Have an important service or vocal performance coming up? It can be downright stressful when you need your voice to be there for you… and it’s feeling like it might not be! So here are my top vocal remedies and tips for combatting alllllll the bugs out there and keeping your voice in tip-top shape.
Seriously… drink lots and lots of water. And then drink some more. Quick tip—find a bottle that you enjoy drinking from and you’ll drink more!
Drink warm herbal teas.
Warm tea is soothing for the throat, and especially ones containing licorice root and/or turmeric are amazing for the voice! My favourites are Throat Coat tea and Licorice Root tea by Traditional Medicinals.
Stay away from dairy and refined sugar.
Cut out dairy and sugar for at least 24 hours before you sing, or anytime you feel sickness coming on. Bottom line—they cause more harm than good, especially when you’re feeling worn down.
Eat local, organic, raw honey.
One of the absolute best things to help combat allergies and load your body with good stuff is organic, raw honey. It’s antibacterial and antimocrobial, so it helps keep the bugs away! Use a spoonful in your tea throughout the day, or even just a spoonful straight from the jar. Look for raw, unpasteurized honey, as commercial honey is often heavily processed and chemically refined, and the heat used in the chemical process destroys the natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Good quality manuka honey drops are also great to soothe your throat if it’s sore (best to stay away from most other throat drops like Halls!).
Load up on turmeric.
Turmeric has amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which makes it great for the voice if your vocal cords are tired or you feel inflammation in your throat or nasal passages. Buy it fresh or in powdered form, and put it in your tea and sprinkle it on every meal you can handle! A good high-quality tincture or capsule is also a good option.
Down the apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is amazing for its antibacterial properties, immune support and digestive health. Drink a tablespoon or two several times a day when you feel a cold coming on, or once a day for general health and immune support (either straight or mixed with water). Make sure it’s raw and unfiltered (it should have little floating things inside—that’s where the health benefits come from!).
Drink some fresh greens.
Fresh green juice (I like a mix of spinach, kale, cucumber and celery!) gives you an immediate infusion of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that are easily digestible because they’re already broken down—it’s a natural energy boost that makes your voice feel great! A juicer is a great investment in your health as a singer.
Take a few supplements.
I personally don’t take a ton of supplements—I try to get as many nutrients as I possibly can from the food I eat. But… there are a few things that I load up on, especially if I start to feel a tickle in my throat—namely Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and a wild mushroom supplement like this one. Go high quality on your supplements or don’t take them at all—the supplement industry is unfortunately not regulated well, and so cheap drugstore supplements are usually full of fillers and toxic substances that are harmful for your body.
Essential oils come from plants—the roots, resin, leaves, flowers, shrubs, seeds, etc. They can easily penetrate into our cells and are easily absorbed by the skin and into the circulatory system, often having immediate effects. My favourite “immune booster” blend is a mix of frankincense, oregano, lemon, tea tree, peppermint and lavender—diffuse it in your home or rub the oils on your feet and spine for immune support. And if you’re fighting some respiratory symptoms, put some boiling water in a big bowl with a few drops of eucalyptus oil (and/or any of the above ones mentioned), put a towel over your head, and breathe in the steam for a few minutes! Be cautious in your purchases though… same as with supplements, the essential oils industry isn’t regulated well, so you get what you pay for—cheap oils are filled with yucky stuff that you don’t want in your home or on your body!
Get lots of sleep.
Aim for a minimum of 7-8 hours per night. Our body is designed to recharge and rejuvenate while we sleep, so this is a non-negotiable if you want a healthy voice—and of course, just overall health in your body!
Your voice is a whole body instrument, and food is what fuels your body—so pay attention to your fuel! Digestion has a massive, massive impact on your voice… so this area is way more important than most people think. You don’t have to overhaul your entire diet (although I do recommend it!), but please… make smart choices. Less dairy. Less gluten. Less sugar. Less fried foods. Less processed foods. Less coffee. Try consuming 1/2 as much (or less) of them as you normally do. Even better would be cutting some out completely. The best things you can fuel with are veggies, fruits, legumes and whole grains. Go organic as much as you can. The better you eat—the better you’ll feel, the better you’ll sing, and the healthier you’ll stay!
Always warm up your voice.
Every time you sing on stage and every time you practice, make sure to warm up for 10-15 minutes at the very least! Singing on cold vocal cords causes inflammation, which stresses out your voice and your body as a whole. And… it can lead to long-term vocal damage, which obviously we want to stay far away from!
Don’t scream, yell or talk loudly.
Your vocal cords and muscles are fragile—and sometimes we don’t even realize how much stress we’re putting them under when we’re talking over loud music or in a loud hallway (or through a mask, 6 feet away ?). Be aware of the environments you’re in, and be kind to your voice!
Kick fear to the curb.
Being stressed and anxious about getting sick is an invitation for the sickness! Fear wreaks havoc on our immune system, so kick it out, and invite the peace of God into your thoughts every single day! “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Have more vocal health tips? Let me know below! And make sure to share this with all your singer friends so they can keep their voices healthy too!
This is so great! Thanks for the pro tips!
Such important tips here, especially heading into fall and winter/ “cold and flu season”, and a holiday around every corner/sugar filled treats season! These things are all extra important when we are relying on our voices to carry us through!
Thanks for the great list
This article is entering my life at a prime time- I’ve had an itch in my throat for two days now, and I’m supposed to lead this weekend! Love the tips about eating plant-based and staying hydrated… trying to do those as much as possible (I love fruit/veggie packed smoothies to score points on both of those things!).
I’m allergic to apples, so the ACV is out for me… but we keep turmeric and Vitamin C around at the church, so I’ve been downing those this week. And drinking throat coat tea with honey like it’s my job. (I do have to have uno cup of coffee in the morning, though. 🙊) I have never tried the essential oils for immune support, I will be trying that one for sure! Thanks for these tips!
Aw girl! Feel better! Allergic to apples—that’s the first I’ve heard of that!
I so agree with the statement, “Your voice is a whole body instrument”. I was nursing a migraine (had to take some strong meds that made me a little “fuzzy”!). I still had to sing at church because so many of the team were isolating for Covid. I noticed that my voice wasn’t doing what it normally could and I actually felt my throat “lock” or “freeze” after I had finished singing the high bridge of “The Blessing” a few times 😯
Such great reminders! I love throat coat tea and use it often. I also love doing the steam with EO’s with a towel over my head. After reading this, I am trying get back to the ACV thing. I know it works but its not always the first thing I think of.