Cold and Flu Season is here and nothing is more frustrating than being knocked out by a sore throat, cold, or the flu. While there is no cure for a sore throat and cough, there are natural remedies that can make it feel better or get you through a presentation at work or other occasion where you need to use your voice.
You may know me as a garden and food blogger but, in my non-online life, I’ve been a private voice and choir teacher for the last 15 years. I’ve also sung in many amateur and professional competitions and productions, and know first hand how terrifying it is to try and power through vocally when you’re sick.
I’ve compiled my go-to tricks and non-alcoholic hot toddy recipes to help get through a cough, cold, or sore throat this winter.
Next time a cold has got you down, remember these natural solutions.
Rest Your Voice
The best way to sooth a sore throat is to not talk at all. *Wah, wah*
Not what you wanted to hear, right? But it’s the truth. Talking anymore than the bare minimum is going to do more harm than good. Don’t whisper either. Whispering is actually worse for your voice than talking.
Avoid saying anything more than necessary, write more emails, or just call in sick if it’s really bad.
Stay at home Moms and Dads, this is going to be much harder for you. I confess that it felt practically impossible to rest my voice when my son was a toddler, especially when he was in speech therapy and I had to be constantly on him to use his words. If at all possible, try to arrange for a babysitter or a trip to Grandma’s so you can relax and get some much-needed rest.
Get Lots of Sleep
I used to be one of those people who just downed a bunch of cold medicine and powered through a cold. Often my colds took 7 days to heal.
Now, I take the day off and sleep all day the first day of catching a cold. My cold is usually gone in three days.
The chores, work, etc can wait. Get some sleep!
If you can’t afford to take time off from your job, go to bed as early as you can, and do as little as possible once you get home for the day.
Make a Non-Alcoholic Hot Toddy
I’m no stranger to lemon-based drinks when I have a sore throat, however, I had never heard of this recipe. Once of my voice student’s parents suggested it and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s a lovely mixture of honey, lemon, and cinnamon that is surprisingly effective for a sore throat.
You could also add ginger or orange juice for flavour and extra soothing properties.
David’s Tea Cold 911 Tea
If vocal rest is going to be next to impossible, you need to get some Cold 911 Tea--stat! The tea itself soothes your throat, and the vapour the tea gives off helps clear your sinuses. I have personally used this tea to get through the odd singing gig or voice lesson where I wasn’t super sick, but my voice wasn’t at 100% either.
Do not drink this tea if you are pregnant, as it contains juniper berries.
Drink Warm Apple Juice
I love the way warm apple juice feels on a sore throat. Try and pick brands that contain 100% apple juice (no apple drinks), or warm up your own homemade apple juice if you have it. Here’s how I make mine, and a couple easy ways to make apple juice if you don’t have a steamer juicer.
Every classical/opera singer I know swears by this tea. You can literally tell who is sick in a room full of singers, because they are the ones chugging down this tea like it’s the elixir of life. If you feel a sore throat coming on or it’s almost over, drinking this tea can sooth it just enough so you can speak easier.
I’ve also tried Yogi Throat Coat Tea, but I don’t like the taste and smell as much. However, I know people who love the Yogi version and don’t like the Traditional Medicinals version, so to each their own.
There are tons of other non-alcoholic natural remedies you can take for colds and sore throats, but these are the ones I personally use. You can make your own elixir with ingredients like lemon, honey, apple cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, or turmeric that will make you feel better. Some singers I know also swear by slippery elm cough drops. They make my throat feel terrible, but worth a try if you are in dire straits.
Here’s to a speedy recovery!
Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots. She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden. She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.