Hello dear friends!
I noticed the other day, as I was talking on the phone with a client, just how often I felt the urge to cough, clear my throat, or sniffle. Needless to say, when you’re trying to be professional and clear on a phone call, making those kinds of annoying sounds isn’t ideal. So, it got me thinking about writing this blog. Because how many of us talk about ways to naturally care for our throats?
I don’t know about you, but autumn tends to be a particularly rough month for my sinuses. Something about the dry, windy weather, decaying plant matter, and abundance of germs flying around makes my throat scratchy and my nose stuffy. Not so fun! This is always the season that I have to remind myself of the remedies and tips that I know, so I can take good care of my body. Because man oh man, when I don’t…it’s not pretty.
Most of you probably don’t know this about me, but I used to do a lot of singing. I was in a multitude of choirs from childhood, through college, and actually was aiming for a career in musical theatre at one point. Funny how the Universe changes your path, isn’t it! But anyway, in the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking about auditioning for choir again, and I realized there’s never been a better time to talk about natural throat care. After all, vocalists need to take extra good care of their sinuses and vocal cords, so they can keep kicking butt at what they do!
Whether you’re a singer or not, your throat is particular susceptible to allergens, bacteria, and other ickies, and this can make you not only sound funny, but can make you feel downright miserable. Sore throats are seriously no fun, when every swallow hurts, and you’re stuck eating (drinking?) only liquid foods until it goes away.
So, without rambling on any further, let’s jump into it.
Here are my tips for giving your throat the TLC it deserves:
1. Halt the ice water
You probably know someone who drinks ice water all year round, without fail. Maybe that’s you. But, while ice water can feel nice if you’re hot, it’s actually not so great for your throat and vocal cords. Your throat and sinuses are made up of very sensitive tissue, and when they are exposed to really cold water, they tighten up. This can lead to strain, reduced vocal range, squeaking, and lots of other unpleasant things.
Instead, reach for warm water and/or tea. Room temperature water, if you absolutely must. The warmth will relax your muscles and tissues, expand your vocal range, and keep the area open and lubricated.
2. Try honey and lemon
It’s a remedy as old as time itself- in a glass of warm water, put several slices of lemon and a heaping spoon of raw honey, mix it up, and sip it down. Both honey and lemon are natural antibiotics, and together, they can soothe a sore throat and prevent infection from taking hold. If you feel like you’re actually coming down with something, I recommend crushing up a clove of raw garlic and adding that in too!
Honey lemon “tea” is perfect to sip throughout the day, or right before you have to speak/sing. Honey coats the throat, making it less irritable, and lemon is a mild astringent. There’s a reason this is used by so many people- because it works!
3. Cut the caffeine and alcohol
If you’ve got a serious coffee or booze habit, you’re probably putting unnecessary strain on your throat and sinuses (and the rest of your body, too!). Both of these substances are dehydrating, drawing moisture out of your tissues, which can lead to tightness, strain, and the loss of elasticity and range of motion. Alcohol particularly is irritating to the mucosal membranes, so definitely avoid it if you are planning to do a lot of talking or singing, and/or when you feel under the weather.
For those who seem to always be clearing their throats, try switching to decaf coffee or herbal tea. And perhaps limit alcohol intake to once per week or so.
4. Reach for herbs
There are so many wonderful herbs that we can use for seasonal health, and several that work particularly well for throat and sinus issues. Chamomile is soothing for sensitive skin, including the tissues of the airway. Marshmallow is a mucilaginous herb, meaning it helps coat and lubricate the throat, along with Slippery elm. Peppermint is stimulating for circulation and tissue healing, and it also helps open the airway, thanks to its menthol content. Fenugreek has many antimicrobial properties, and can settle digestion too, which can affect the throat.
I always recommend taking these herbs in hot tea form, particularly for throat and sinus health. You can combine the dried herbs yourself in a tea strainer, or you can buy pre-made blends from Traditional Medicinals, Yogi Tea, or another natural, reputable brand.
5. Ditch the dairy
I’ve talked a couple of times about the inflammatory effects of dairy, and this is especially important to think about when considering throat care. For me, when I eat most kinds of dairy, particularly cow’s milk, within about 20 minutes, my sinuses are full of mucous. I’m clearing my throat, my nose is stuffed up, and my whole head feels heavy. Ick. This is definitely not something you want to experience when you need your voice to sound good…or just to feel good in general!
Many people are sensitive to dairy and don’t even know it. I recommend doing a “cleanse” of sorts, and completely eliminate dairy for 14 days. Then, slowly add back in one type of dairy at a time, to see how your body reacts. Thankfully, there are tons of wonderful non-dairy options nowadays, from ice cream to cream cheese.
6. Increase humidity
For those of us living in really dry climates, like here in Colorado, everything can feel extra tight and parched. You may have sensed a theme in this blog already, and that is hydration! The right amount of moisture is essential for having a healthy throat and sinuses, and sometimes that means supplementing. Consider installing a humidifier in your home, either a whole-house one that’s attached to your central air, or a portable room one. Bonus if you get a diffuser that can be used with essential oils!
Also, drink more clean, filtered water (not iced!) throughout the day. If you need an extra humidity boost, try a facial steam: fill a large bowl with steaming hot water and hold your face over it for 10-15 minutes, surrounded by a towel. You can also add aromatherapy with lavender, chamomile, peppermint, and/or eucalyptus oil in the water.
7. Balance the throat chakra
This blog wouldn’t be complete without addressing the energetic aspects of our health. The throat chakra is a major energy center, and can easily become blocked or strained. This chakra, the fifth chakra, is associated with communication, personal boundaries, and speaking our truth. There are many different exercises you can do to work with this chakra, as well as crystals and essential oils to bring it into balance.
If you struggle with chronic throat problems, you may benefit from adding Reiki sessions to your current therapies. Sometimes, emotional, mental, or spiritual trauma can manifest itself as physical illnesses or strain, particularly in this chakra!
Even if you have no intention of ever singing or speaking in front of a crowd, you can benefit from taking good care of your throat, vocal cords, and sinuses.
So friends, what are you go-to throat remedies? Share in the comments below!
And in the meantime…
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~