(This article originally appeared in 2002. It’s not medical advice. Consult with a health professional if you have medical needs.)
Insert melodramatic music, storytellers. Recently, right before a storytelling gig, I woke up unable to talk. Oh, I knew something had been brewing in my body, as I had felt in ill health for a day or so. In fifteen and more years of speaking, I had never had a case of laryngitis. Was it time to panic? “Where could I turn? What can I do? Who will pay the rent? Save me, my heroes.”
Enter the “Storytell Listserv-” four hundred men and women who love stories and telling and freely share their ideas and tips. I asked the list for some emergency recovery tips. Thanks to the members of the “Storytell” list, (who took time to send me their great ideas), I finally settled on a combination of Echinacea and a fine peppermint tea.
Here are the great tips sent by the Storytell list, which Charlene, our new Village-Post editor, has consolidated and accredited. Now, remember, we here at Storyteller.net aren’t doctors and aren’t even pretending to prescribe treatment for you. Use any of these suggestions at your own risk- always consult a physician if you are ill.
Tips on treating laryngitis from our the Storytell members:
Avoid caffeine or alcohol, both of which dehydrate tissues. Use warm tea or honey to try to relax the muscles in and around your throat. – Nick Smith
Don’t take any chances with an irreplaceable and indispensable asset (your voice)- get a replacement for your gigs! – Tom Burger
DO NOT say a word, whisper, or even mouth the words in order to give your voice a chance to rest and heal. I was told by a physician that whispering and mouthing was almost as good as talking when it comes to usage of the vocal cords. Gargle with tepid salt water (about a teaspoon to a glass) several times a day. Grandma always said to drink tea with honey and lemon (warm, but NOT hot!) Hot is not good for healing the vocal cords. – Beverly Comer
Get zinc lozenges now! Have lots of room temperature water available to keep your throat moist while you tell. – Mary Morgan Smith
If you must do a show with a mild case of laryngitis, Lean on the sound system. Keep your lemon tea handy (some of us prefer orange slices). Avoid character voices. Be on, be good, and get off. Unless you are absolutely sure that this is a mild case, please find them a substitute* and stay home with your mouth shut. If it’s a bad case, count on 7-10 days before you can work again normally OR SAFELY. – Fran Stallings
I’ve found that Thai Chicken Coconut soup, spicy, helps break colds and viruses. It’s like chicken soup with attitude! – Robert Seutter
Inhale steam. – Mythteller
A tea made with fresh garlic, fresh lemon juice, and fresh ginger or any single or combination of these ingredients. A spray called Singer’s Saving Grace available at health food stores. Echinacea tincture or spray. – Beth Phillips Brown
Sean Buvala is the Director at Storyteller.Net. Special thanks to the Storytell Listserv participants for contributing content.