What Ails You? Losing your voice


Kris Henriksen, Reindeer Bridge Herbs

Laryngitis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, or overuse. Where no clear cause is found, skilled diagnostics should be pursued. If the cause is bacterial or viral, Echinacea, and Goldenseal, with a little added Osha Root in the form of tincture, tea, or powder are specific for laryngitis. These herbs are bitter, so I find tincture is easiest to ingest. The main action of Echinacea, besides its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial action is enhancing the immune system’s white blood cell production and the macrophage-mediated defense system. It is now known that Echinacea is not useful as a preventative and should be taken at the onset of an illness. Goldenseal is a very effective antimicrobial and is specific for the mucous membranes in the body.

For direct application, demulcent herbs such as slippery elm in the form of lozenges or tea can soothe the throat and be used throughout the day as needed, and/or gargling with anti-inflammatory herbs such as sage and chamomile, in the form of a very strong tea/infusion, (steeped 20 minutes) can be used as needed also.

If the cause is overuse, gargling with an infusion of astringent herbs such as oak bark or raspberry leaves can be effective, although some quiet time might be the best remedy.

Josh Levy, Vineyard Nutrition

Losing your voice can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience. Luckily, there are a few simple things to help you feel better. The most important step is to drink plenty of fluids, which will help keep you hydrated. This can be from water or from a soothing herbal tea. You may find extra relief by adding a small amount of honey to your tea. Avoid coffee, caffeinated tea, and alcohol, all of which can dehydrate you. Another strategy is to moisten your throat by sucking on zinc lozenges; one brand we like is Zand. Avoid foods that may irritate your throat such as spicy foods like chili, or acidic foods like tomatoes. Lastly, eat foods that boost your immune system, like plenty of organic fruits and vegetables (9 servings a day), legumes, whole grains, and lean protein while avoiding processed foods, and foods high in added sugar and fat.  And remember, get plenty of rest.

Holly Bellebouno, Vineyard Herbs

From someone who has frequently experienced laryngitis, this is the best herbal remedy: licorice. I generally recommend local wildflowers, native herbs, or common weeds, but in this instance I always go with the smooth, delicious root of Glycyrrhiza glabra, which is native to southern Europe and the Middle East. Thankfully it’s easy to find in the United States; get the dried root at your favorite herbal supplier and brew a tea: 1 teaspoon chopped dried root for each cup of boiling water, steep 8-12 minutes, and sip slowly, allowing the sweet thick tea to coat and soothe the throat.

Sheila Muldaur, Homeopath, Integrated Health Care

In Homeopathy we ask, why did you lose your voice? And we ask what are your symptoms? Then we match a remedy with the answers. Here are some recommendations for homeopathic cell or tissue salts available at health food stores that will help heal and relieve symptoms of laryngitis. Dissolved in warm or cool water, sip or even gargle before swallowing as per package directions.

  • Ferrum Phos 6X – Why? Infection or overuse of the voice. Symptoms? Redness, swelling, burning pain, a dry throat and worse at night. Note: Alternate with Kali Muriaticum 6X when laryngitis is accompanied by a cough or sore throat with painful swallowing and there is white expectorant.
  • Calcarea Phos 6X – Why? Overuse or stressing the voice. Symptoms? Laryngitis is the main symptom of sore throat, no pain and voice is gone completely.
  • Kali Phos 6X – Why? Sore throat with cough. Symptoms? Throat is very dry with constant swallowing and cough hurts into throat.
  • Calcarea Fluorica 6X – Why? Acute sore throat becomes chronic. Symptoms? Mucus at back of throat comes up in lumps and warm drinks make it better.