You’ve worked hard on your technique, delivered a killer audition, and finally (finally!) landed that solo in choir, that leading role in the musical, or that job as lead singer in a local band. You’re all warmed up and ready to go, and on opening night–you have a sore throat. There’s no question that sore throats plague both professional and amateur singers, at the highest levels and at the local community theatre. And a sore throat at the wrong time can ruin a singing career. If you have a sore throat you just want to get rid of, here are a few natural folk remedies to try:
Cayenne pepper. Many people swear by the cayenne pepper gargle: about 1 teaspoon of cayenne in 4 oz. of warm water. The amounts can be adjusted for your tolerance level. According to those who use the remedy, it usually works even when antibiotics have failed–but it may take a few tries. Most successful garglers do it every fifteen minutes or so until the soreness is gone.
Apple cider vinegar. This is a popular folk remedy, and doctors suggest it has some basis in fact: the acidity of the vinegar should kill sore-throat-causing bacteria on contact. To use this remedy, mix a teaspoon to two tablespoons (as strong as you can take) of vinegar in with water. Gargle and then swallow two times every hour. Remember to rise your mouth with water after gargling to prevent the acidity in the vinegar from damaging your tooth enamel.
Cayenne pepper and vinegar. For those who really like punishment, try combining hot apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper. Instead of gargling, drink the mixture down. According to those who use the remedy, it will dislodge mucus at the back of your throat, clearing your airway.
Salt water. To try this remedy, combine a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle the whole mixture. Repeat several times per day, or until your throat improves. The idea behind this is that the salt dilates the capillaries in the back of your throat, increasing the blood flow and bringing more bacteria-fighting antibodies into the area.
Honey is often used as an additive to help soothe the throat. Try it with a spoonful of lemon juice, in hot chamomile or lemon herb tea, or mixed in with the hot apple cider vinegar remedy.
Lemon. Lemon is also a much-touted cure for a sore throat. You’ll find it suggested that you gargle with a spoonful of lemon juice, add a drop or two of lemon juice to hot water, or drink herbal lemon tea with honey. Adding honey is recommended for a lemon cure, because it makes the taste more bearable. Honey also soothes sore throats while the acidity in lemon kills the bacteria, making honey and lemon a good combination.
Ginger tea. Peel a ginger root and cut it into thin slices. Boil the slices in water to make ginger tea. Add a dollop of honey, drink a cup, and then gently clear your throat. This tea should make the back of your throat feel tingly, and the throat-clearing at the end should dislodge any loosened mucus. This tea can soothe your throat and help you get your voice back if you’ve lost it.
Licorice. For this cure, you’ll be using a real licorice twig–not a candy licorice stick. Peel the skin from the stick, then suck or chew it. The herb should soothe your sore throat over time.
Soy sauce and lime. This is a Javanese cure that’s a different take on the honey and lemon cure. Combine the juice of one lime with a teaspoon to a tablespoon of soy sauce, and drink it. Those who recommend this cure say that it should take only a spoonful of the mixture to cure a mild sore throat.
A humidifier. Sore throats are often caused by post-nasal drip, which can leave your throat feeling dry, scratchy, and irritated. In addition, dry air alone is enough to cause a sore throat along with a nasty cough. If the air in your house gets dry in the winter–and if you heat your house, it does–try using a humidifier in your bedroom. Moist air could be all you need to get rid of a sore throat or cough.
There’s no doubt that a sore throat could put a serious damper on your singing ability. Try these folk remedies to get rid of that sore throat in a hurry–but don’t expect them to work right away; there’s no such thing as a miracle cure. In addition, if you find that your sore throat lasts longer than about two weeks, no matter what you try, you should see a doctor. Severe sore throats can indicate strep throat, bronchitis, and other more serious infections that should be treated by antibiotics.