Dossier: Home remedies

Five tips for when you’ve lost your voice

It’s not much fun when your voice sounds raspy or strained. Hoarseness can really test your patience. But remember: silence is golden! Try to keep your mouth shut. If you have to talk, try to do so at a normal volume.

Text: Leoni Hof; photo: iStock

You shouldn’t whisper when you’ve lost your voice, because this places additional pressure on your vocal cords. Hoarseness is usually a symptom of a cold. But sometimes it’s associated with allergies. Triggers such as dust, pollen or certain foods can cause or worsen hoarseness. These five home remedies should hopefully have you back to talking normally in next to no time. 

Honey-elderflower syrup

For this simple recipe, you take 200 ml of elderflower syrup and 300 ml of organic honey and heat both in a saucepan to approximately 40 degrees Celsius. Do not boil the mixture. This preserves the ingredients’ health-promoting properties. Leave the mixture to cool, then let 1 tsp of it melt on your tongue every three hours.

The perfect spice

Ginger, the all-rounder, also helps ease hoarseness. Either chew it slowly and swallow or enjoy it as a tea. To do so, grate a piece of ginger into hot water, let it infuse for five minutes and sweeten it with honey. Then raise a glass to your health! Don’t use candied ginger – it doesn’t have the same effect.

Hot air

More effective than gargling, which only reaches your mouth and upper throat, is inhalation. The fine water droplets penetrate deeper into your respiratory tract. If you don’t have an inhaler, simply add two to three tablespoons of ribwort or sage leaves to a pot of hot water. Leave it to infuse for 20 minutes, then breathe in the warm air under a towel.


Various poultices can help against hoarseness. To make a quark poultice, spread approximately 1 cm of quark on a cotton cloth, wind the cloth around your neck and leave it on for at least an hour. For an onion poultice, cut two to three onions in rings and heat gently. Then place about a finger thickness of onion rings on a muslin, close the cloth and wrap it around your throat. To fix the muslin in place, tie a cotton cloth over it and wear it until the heat subsides. Poultices containing healing earth can also ease symptoms. To do so, mix three tablespoons of healing earth with a little water to make a paste. Spread the paste on a thin cotton cloth and tie it around your neck. Tie a woollen scarf over the cloth to increase the warming effect.

Moist air

A humidifier works wonders in winter against dry air from radiators. Alternatively, you can place little bowls of water on the radiators to achieve the same effect – or leave your washing to dry indoors.

Expert tip

Dr Markus Kessler, doctor with Medgate:

“If the hoarseness isn’t due to an acute cold and the remedies listed don’t help, there may be another cause. This may be reflux, whereby gastric acid flows back up into the oesophagus and irritates the vocal cords. Other reasons for hoarseness include permanent overstrain due to talking too much – particularly in the wrong pitch – or nerve paralysis as a result of tumours. If you lose your voice for longer than three to four weeks, I recommend going to see an ear, nose and throat specialist.”

To Medgate