Its Monday and you’re coughing up phlegm, your nose is blocked and your throat is sore… and you have to sing on Friday night! What do you do? Cancel the gig? NO WAY.
I have found myself in this situation so many times and cancelling is just not an option (read: if I cancel, I don’t get paid) So to help you get your throat back on track I’ve compiled my best list of herbal remedies to help you out.
I’m a huge fan of going natural when it comes to overall health and most of these remedies can be found readily and cost pennies.
Peppermint tea is the best herbal tea to use if you suffer from a lot of phlegm. Phlegm is every singer’s enemy because it sticks to the back of your throat and you have to clear it while you are singing.
The qualities in Peppermint tea reduce phlegm production without drying your voice out, so it’s perfect for singers. Add a little honey if you have a sore throat and it works wonders.
Go for the proper leaf stuff that you have to steep in a pot. Quality tea makes a big difference.
TIP: Picking fresh leaves from a peppermint plant and steeping them in hot water works just as well as dried out tea leaves.
If you have a sore throat and you have a big show coming up, Propolis is your go-to remedy. It is a liquid made from bees wax and it has fantastic antibacterial qualities and with rest, can clear up a sore throat overnight.
But be warned, it stinks! It smells so revolting (to me anyway) that I actually have to hold my nose to drink the stuff. It looks gross too. It forms a little hairy looking ball in the bottom of your glass when you drop it into water before you mix it around.
The taste is fine; it’s pretty tasteless actually, so if you can put up with the stench, Propolis works wonders.
TIP: Gargle with Popolis mixed in with water for a bit before you drink the rest of the glass down. You can grab a bottle for around $30 from your local health food store.
Licorice Root Tea
This is hands down the BEST tea for your voice. Like Peppermint tea, Licorice Root tea aids digestion and it somewhat numbs the back of your throat just a little which is fabulous for singers who are performing night after night.
If you don’t like the taste of Licorice, never fear. Licorice Root tea has a much nicer flavor than aniseed and is milder too. You can dunk the tea bag in less if you don’t like your tea to be very strong.
Licorice Root Tea is widely available at health food stores. I even found some down at my local supermarket in the healthy section.
Just boil up some water, grab a cooking pot and throw you’re a towel over your head as you breathe in that steamy goodness. If you’re really suffering from a cold, add two drops of Eucalyptus Oil and it will clear you up instantly.
Just make sure you don’t put too much in otherwise its vapour can sting your eyes.
Yet another lovely thing bees are providing us with. Jarrah Honey is highly sought after for its unique antibacterial qualities. It is a darker colour than common honey you’ll see in the supermarket and it has its own unique taste too.
Pop a teaspoon into some warm water, gargle with it and then drink it afterwards to soothe a sore throat. I often do this before a gig as preparation (and because it tastes yummy). It also makes a brilliant facial mask too!
Totally not related to singing, but I thought I’d share. I just use a spoon to put it straight onto my skin and leave it for ten minutes. When you wash it off with warm water your skin will be silky smooth. No moisturized required!
Jarrah honey is widely available in Australia or online if you live somewhere else just make sure you get the authentic stuff. Not all types of honey are created equal.
A lot of alcoholic drinks are a big no-no when it comes to singing because they dry your throat out and can also cause phlegm (especially if you’re mixing your drink with soda) BUT port is a big exception. It is absolutely FANTASTIC for easing a sore throat. You can feel the warmth running down the back of your throat as you drink it. Its lovely.
Port has saved my vocals many a time. In fact, I lived off the stuff (during gigs) while I was sick on my National Tour. Galway Pipe is a common brand that is decent enough quality but wont cost you the earth. Just make sure you sip it and don’t shot the whole thing otherwise you’ll be falling off the stage!
And there you have it, some of my best home remedies for singers. To find out more read: 5 drinks that are bad for your voice
I hope you have found this post useful and please let me know if you have discovered another natural remedy, not included on this list that works wonders for your voice.