Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

28 Jan 2012

Laryngitis and Preaching


It’s flu and virus season, and if you’re a public speaker, you probably worry at least occasionally about the possibility of losing your voice. Many years ago, I read some advice from Charles Spurgeon in pages 203-4 of his Lectures to My Students, and in a moment of desperation I followed it. It worked.

Specifically, he rejected the common drugstore solutions of “‘Cough-no-more Lozenges’…or any of the ten thousand emollient compounds.” Instead, he advised the preacher to “take a good share of pepper—good Cayenne pepper, and other astringent substances, as much as your stomach can bear,” preferably mixed into a “beef tea.” He further recommended that the preacher have at his pulpit a mixture of “Chili vinegar and water” for immediate vocal strength.

Last night, my wife reminded me of the effectiveness of the first of these remedies by making a hearty chicken soup, thick with pepper, to aid me in my misery. For the first time in two days, I was able to speak strongly and clearly. About an octave lower than normal, but strong and clear nonetheless.

Please know that this should not be taken as medical advice, of course. We’ve got doctors writing on this blog, but not that kind. So follow this advice at your own risk…and be sure to change out the water in your pulpit before you invite in any guest speakers.