Singers’ Home Remedies: Garlic, Honey, and Ginger

As a choral singer, I am interested in keeping my throat and voice healthy. These are notes from various home remedies I’ve collected through the years. When dealing with a flu or cold, relief may be found at the local grocery store, rather than the pharmacy. Some of these recipes have worked for me; “your mileage may vary.” It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment (please see the full disclaimer at the bottom of this post).

Some simple home remedies:

  • Allergies: Mix 1 oz apple cider vinegar with 8 oz water and sip throughout the day. Good for helping sinus headache, stuffy nose, and watery eyes.
  • Cold and cough: Eat 1 to 2 cloves raw garlic daily at the first onset of symptoms. Cut in chunks and swallow whole like pills.  Or crush the cloves and mix with two teaspoons of honey or stir into a glass of vegetable juice. See also “Tomato Juice Tonic”.
  • Cold: Mix hot tea with 1 to 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Cold, congestion, cough – intense remedy: Mix 4 oz (8 Tbsp) ground horseradish with 3 Tbsp lemon juice. Take 1/2 tsp twice a day between meals. This will dissolve mucus from your sinus cavities.
  • Cold, congestion, cough remedy drink: Mix 3 Tbsp lemon juice, hot water, 1 Tbsp honey, and as much cayenne pepper as you can stand. Drink as needed to clear up head and chest.
  • Congestion: Eat spicy foods: curry, chili peppers, garlic, onions, and horseradish. Swallow raw ginger. You can also mix 1/2 tsp hot sauce in a  glass of water and drink the mixture.
  • Flu/Sore throat remedy: Mix 1/4 c honey and 1/4 apple cider vinegar. Take 1 Tbsp every 4 hours or as needed.
  • Sore throat/laryngitis: Take a glass of warm water, and add 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and a small amount of honey, which will smooth out the taste of the vinegar. For sore throat, gargle as needed. For laryngitis (loss of voice), drink mixture about three times a day.
  • Sore throat remedy: Mix 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp cayenne, and 4 Tbsp honey. 
Take 3 T every 4 hours to speed healing.
  • Sore throat: Eat 1 – 2 Tbsp plain honey, or mix honey with fruit juice, herbal teas, or pure water.
  • Sore throat gargle: Gargle every hour or so with 1 tsp salt mixed in 1 pint (16 oz) warm water. Or use a little lemon juice squeezed into a large glass of lukewarm water.

Three Soothing Beverage Recipes

Ginger Tea (Michelle’s Trinidadian Cold Tonic)

Yield: 5 cups

Bring 5 cups water, 2 cinnamon sticks (2 tsp ground), and 4 whole cloves to a boil. Remove from heat. Add 1/4 c grated ginger and let steep 5 minutes. Strain tea through a fine mesh sieve. Add 3 T honey and serve immediately.

Ginger Tea II

Bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add 3 Tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped, and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper. Reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, strain, and sweeten to taste with honey. Optional: Add 2 to 3 T lemon juice. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Tomato Juice Tonic — “Monkey Sweat”

Adapted from the “Monkey Sweat” recipe by Lauren Manoy: This beverage is very acidic, but it is supposed to boost your immune system and clean out lots of gunk from your system. You may like it more if you warm it up first before drinking. The recipe easily multiplies if you use the 46-oz bottle of V8 100% Vegetable Juice. Combine all ingredients:

6 oz tomato juice or V8
3 Tbsp (juice of 1 lemon) lemon juice
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic (1 smashed clove)
1 tsp minced horseradish
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
18 drops Tabasco sauce
1/8 tsp kosher salt (omit if using V8)


Manoy, Lauren. Where to park your broomstick. Fireside; First Edition edition (August 20, 2002)
Moore, Melodie. Vim & vinegar. New York: HarperPerennial, 1997.
Rusch, Gloria. The professional singer’s handbook. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corp. 1998.
Sara Moulton, Cooking Live show. Recipe courtesy W. Michelle Beckles.
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., Natural Health, Natural Medicine (Walker & Co., 1998)

DISCLAIMER: The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine. This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.