Have you suffered from a strained voice? No doubt, this is very common among singers and speakers who use their voices to a great extent. Many people suffer from chronic laryngitis, which can also strain their voice, but we often target the throat, I think many factors contribute to this. From the TCM, a few meridians are actively involved in this case, especially the spleen, stomach, large intestine, and lung meridians. From Western medicine, digestive issues can affect the quality of your voice because your mouth is the entrance to your gut, and the inflammation in your upper GI tract can impact your voice.  As we get older, the larynx begins increasing its mineral content, making it stiffer and more like bone than cartilage. This makes the vocal cords less flexible. The muscles that allow the vocal cords to move also begin wasting as we age. In women, the hormonal changes associated with menopause alter the vocal folds in several ways. They become stiffer and slightly thickened/swollen. The number of glands producing the mucus that lubricates them reduces, causing dryness, while the quality of the mucus alters becoming thicker and more difficult to clear. These vocal fold changes can significantly lower the pitch of the voice and make vocal quality rougher.

Here are some self-healing tips that you can apply to get your throat and voice back on track fast.

1. REST Your Voice

Rest your voice; this is the first and also the most important tip to heal a strained voice, lots of patience, and hydration throughout the day to prevent a dry throat. Reduce unnecessary speech and rest your voice as much as you can. It may take a couple of weeks before you feel better when you talk. Sip on honey and gargle your mouth frequently with sea salt water, these remedies can help soothe your vocal cords and relieve the discomfort in your throat.

2. Control Acid Reflux

Chronic acid reflux can damage the esophagus and vocal cords especially when you lie in bed at night when the bad acid is not under control. People who suffer from acid reflux usually take anti-acid drugs to cover the symptoms, but that will not solve the issue. The cause of acid reflux has to be addressed and resolved. The cause of acid reflux has to be addressed and resolved. Acid reflux is usually caused by weak stomach acids and a lack of strength of the lower esophageal sphincter that is not able to prevent the reflux of the stomach content. 

The inflammation of the stomach lining and various stomach issues also contribute to GERD. Here are some tips on how to heal stomach issues easily and naturally.

If you have GERD, it is recommended to eat your super early, at least 3 hours before you go to bed, a low-fat light supper with small portions would help manage your GERD symptoms more effectively at night, so you don’t have to suffer from heartburns that can irritate your throat and cause laryngitis as well. A healthy lifestyle is all we need to establish when it comes to our health maintenance

3. Prevent Laryngitis

Laryngitis especially chronic laryngitis that comes and goes can take a toe on our voice. Some herbs that help manage laryngitis but may make your acid reflux worse, sound contradictive. This is because when your digestive system is weak, it is very sensitive to the food you eat or the herbs you take. Slippery elm is a great herb that takes care of both ends. It helps reduce acid reflux but also ease laryngitis, the best form is lozenges, so it can target your throat effectively with more concentration. Licorice is another herb that helps reduce inflammation in your throat and is also a great remedy for digestive issues.

You can also gargle with sea saltwater throughout the day to help prevent infections from bacteria in your throat. Raw honey is another wonderful natural remedy that can soothe your strained voice and ease digestive issues, it is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory, and it is also rich in bioactive nutrients to support your immune function. You can sip on honey as needed to give your throat a nice treat for a break.

Raw Honey

Diaphragmatic Breathing4. Breathwork

Most of us forget how to use our abdomen to breathe when we grow up, most adults use their chest to breathe normally unless they train their body to practice diaphragmatic breathing, but this is the instinct of infants and babies to do diaphragmatic breathing to optimize oxygen intake. Diaphragmatic breathing boosts Qi (energy) flow in the lung meridian, which is linked to your throat and voice. The lung meridian governs respiration and skin. It also regulates the ability to smell and speak with a clear voice. When you boost the energy flow in the lung meridian, it also helps strengthen your voice and prevent a strained voice. Diaphragmatic breathing or pranayama breathing technique can significantly enhance the energy flow in your lung meridian, which in turn strengthens your voice. There are many videos on YouTube or other social media channels that you can choose to practice Diaphragmatic breathing. Persistence and consistency are the keys.

Pranayama breathing or diaphragmatic breathing combined with the grounding technique offers tremendous health benefits such as reducing anxiety, improving sleep quality, improving heart functions, etc. 

5. Massage

Do you know that your poor neck has to support a head that is about 10-12 lbs. on average? No wonder a stiff neck is so prevalent these days because everyone is either facing a computer or their little cell phone all day long. The image below shows you how much pressure you have loaded on your poor neck with the wrong postures without awareness. When your neck is sore and your shoulders are tight, it can put lots of stress on your vocal cords and contribute to a strained voice. A good neck massage can help relieve the tension around your neck and upper chest and help recover a strained voice. But daily maintenance is also necessary, such as open shoulder and neck exercises. Even the acupressure point massage on your hands can help too.

6. Increase Humidity in Your Room

All small things count when it comes to preventing a strained voice. Increasing humidity in your bedroom with a humidifier at night can help keep the mucus moving in your throat and prevent a dry and hoarse voice after you wake up. It is also a bad idea to sleep with a fan or air conditioner blowing directly on your head because this can dry out your throat and affect your voice.

7. Avoid Certain Foods

Alcohol can cause irritation and dehydration in your throat and damage your voice. Your vocal cords are an elastic type of soft tissue, so it is very important to keep them hydrated. It is also a good idea to limit your coffee intake because it can tighten the muscles around your vocal cords and restrict your vocal range. Dairy products are other food choices that you should limit because they are inflammatory and also increase the production of mucus that affects your voice. Ice cubes are also not a good idea because they can freeze your vocal cords and decrease their ability to function properly.

8. Reduce Stress and Avoid Sleep Deprivation

Stress and fatigue can have an immediate effect on your vocal cords and the quality of your voice. Poor blood circulation due to sleep deprivation or other illnesses also makes the vocal cord muscles stiffer and strain your voice. Make sure you follow a regular schedule to go to bed to improve your sleep quality. The best time to go to bed is before 11:00 pm, if you go to bed too late, such as after midnight, you are depleting your Yang energy in the body, which is critical for your energy level and your overall health.

Manifestation9. Harness the Power of the Mind

When it comes to healing, it is patience and faith that will help you overcome obstacles and challenges and recover faster with a positive attitude. It is important to detach from a stressful situation and relax your mind and body with some relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga.

Manifestation and affirmation are other great tools that you can use to create a positive vision that you are already healed. You can apply the feeling of peace and joy and let it penetrate each cell of your body when you meditate to harness the power of manifestation, this will help speed up the recovery process.

Alternative solutions10. Alternative Solutions

Acupuncture and acupressure point stimulation are also very useful when it comes to healing a strained voice. You can massage Tiantu acupoint in pressing and releasing motion regularly to reduce tension and stiffness in your vocal cords to speed up the recovery of a strained voice. Tiantu acupoint is also called Celestial Prominence. It is an important acupoint in Ren Meridian based on TCM, it is located on the anterior midline, in the depression at the middle of the suprasternal fossa.

Based on TCM, a strained voice is closely linked to the lung and large intestine meridians, did you see how everything is connected? In Western medicine, the large intestine is linked to your gut health, and poor digestive health can contribute to acid reflux that is associated with laryngitis and a strained voice. Here is a small tip without any drug intervention to boost your gut health.

11. Establish a Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is necessary when it comes to our health maintenance and healing. Such as quit smoking because it can cause damage and irritation to your throat and vocal cords. Choosing healthy food such as lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs can help prevent acid reflux and reduce chronic inflammation in the body; improving your digestive health and detox regularly is also very important to prevent laryngitis that can strain your voice and affect your career especially if you are a speaker or a singer who has to use your voice frequently daily.

In summary, when it comes to managing and healing a strained voice, applying a comprehensive approach will help you recover faster. Prevention is the key. What are your favorite tips for recovering from a strained voice? Please share with us.


“The Human Voice is the most perfect instrument of all” ~ ArvoPärt

If you are interested in more self-care tips from the ancient wisdom of TCM, please check the book from Lucy Liu “88 Most Important First-Aid Acupoints for Self-care from TCM”. This book includes 88 most important acupoints (acupressure points) from the ancient wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for self-care. It is designed in a beautiful and colorful card fashion, which is very visual and user-friendly to the readers, it is also easy to memorize the information with precise visual aids. This book covers the most common health challenges, such as cold, fever, cough, sore throat, headache, indigestion, diarrhea/constipation, bloating, insomnia, night sweat, computer syndromes, shoulder pain, and back pain, etc. It can also be used to effectively manage chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, chronic pains, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and weight management; and it can also be used for anti-aging purposes and enhancing longevity.

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About the author: Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu

As a Holistic Health Practitioner, Registered Dietitian, TCM Practitioner, Energy Healer, Master Hypnotist, Reiki Master, Advanced Theta Healing Practitioner, Author and Speaker, Lucy Liu, the founder of optimalhealthsolutions.ca, has gained a good reputation in holistic health after many years of serving patients and clients as a holistic health practitioner. Lucy has developed a unique and comprehensive approach, which combines Western Medicine, Chinese Medicine, Energy Medicine, and Alternative Medicine together, to help others achieve optimal health by creating harmony between the body, mind, and spirit, and maintain long-term success for healthy lifestyle changes.
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