Performing in many venues in Magic, Musical Theater, Public Speaking and such I have had my fair share of vocal strain and vocal pain. (I also have a seance show, two voices - extra strain :-) )
here is all I have learned about vocal care! Hope it helps.
My vocal coach Loves Entertainers Secret, it has aloe vera and some other good stuff, it's expensive and I've only used it once.
1) If your voice Hurts from Strain, you need to learn to effectively project, Diaphragm and all of that.
2) If its because your sick, try and take better care of your body, and drink more fluids - Use a cough drop.
Lets talk about what different voice remedies are for and how they effect your voice.
You have a pair of vocal cords, they are like a stretched rubber band.
Maybe a better illustration is that of a blown up balloon (your Lungs) and if you pull on the sides of the opening of the balloon you get that high pitched squeaky noise - that will represent your vocal cords. Air passes through them to make all of your sounds (their are all
sorts of fun experiments you can have with a balloon to better understand this process. However, the important thing is that your vocal folds (and your throat) shouldn't work hard, the important parts are your facial diction (use of mouth space and lips) and your use of blowing air "freely" from your lungs through your neck to an open cavity in your mouth, and this whole process is only pushed and "worked" via your diaphragm (2 inched below your belly button).
If you lie down and put some books on your belly and take a breath you will naturally use your diaphragm. As well as if you stand up and bend over at your waist, you will notice your breath coming from your stomach instead of your chest..... this is proper and natural... (but difficult to retrain yourself how to use. We have spent a life time training ourselves to take breaths improperly) watch babies, it's how they take every breath.
Moving on.... First , don't smoke! this will dry out your vocal cords and give them less flexibility! Flexibility is what gives you the ability you use a wide range of tonality and voice. Plus
smoking will cut down on you lung capacity which will prevent you from having the ability to speak loud . Coffee and other caffenated products that dry out your body should also be kept to a minimum.
Milk, Cheese and other dairy products should also be taken in small portions, they can create phlegm and make it difficult for you to use the full range of your voice
Drink 8 glasses, 10 glasses, a gallon of WATER a day. When you speak you loose so much WATER, when you present and are in front of an audience, every muscle in your body is working and you are perspiring. Water lubricates your voice and speeds ALL recovery for ALL sicknesses. They way your body clears out it's system when you are sick, gets rid of the bad cells, bacteria etc. through the urinary tract.. Drink fluids and use the rest room regularly :-)
The above mentioned aloe vera added to your water will also help moisturize
Tea is sometimes caffinated and can be bad for your voice , however hot water will help to rid pain and the acid in tea and acid in lemon juice can burn away and remove phlegm from your vocal cords.
On the other hand , if you have rubbed your vocal cords together in harsh ways , or the phlegm has caused damage .... their is not much you can do (other than drink water) to help speed their recovery. Let your body do the work it needs to (get extra rest). Also you can put a Band-Aid on your vocal cords and protect them from taking any more injury..... a band-aid for vocal cords? YES! Take a cough drop! all a cough drop dose is coat the vocal cords with sugar - so you have to beat through the sugar before you can damage the cords again ( I tend to use altoids, their less expensive and have an extra plus, peppermint is a mild stimulant). Also, hot water and honey will also help to coat the cords.
Cloriseptic spray and over the counter cough medicine , however, it can sometimes be a poor choice if you are going to perform, these products tend to numb the pain instead of coating it - so
you will painlessly go out and perform - beating your cords to death, and you'll pay for it with no voice tomorrow. But, if all you want is to eliveate the pain and go to bed, it can be an excellent choice.
Their are many who say if your vocal pain if from phlegm caused by pollen, hay fever and other allergies a good home remedy is to find a local bee raiser who has bees that have created
honey from local pollen and drink that in luke warm water. Honey has a basic antiseptic and local honey will help you build an immunity to that years local pollen.
One of the Best methods I have used for a hurt, sore throat was given to me by my grandmother: Gargle with salty salt water and then drink the Peppermint tea with local honey. The salt will kill bacteria in your throat and seal the bleeding and wounds you may have caused to your vocal cords. It tastes terrible (remember just gargle and spit, don't drink the salt water) but it helps, the tea after will soothe and rid you of the bad salty taste.
There are other options out there, like the "Entertainers Secret" http://www.entertainers-secret.com/ and many Chinese and eastern herbalist that will give you products such as "Lo-Han-Kud Beverage." Both of which I would recommend.
All in all , however, I can't say it enough... the best option is proper use of voice and LOTS OF WATER.
If none of these help to eliveate the pain or the pain is constant (even when not performing) you should go to a Dr.. Some other explanations might be a virus like Strep Throat or you might
have Acid reflux when you sleep. Acid reflux is caused by acid creeping up from your stomach to your throat while you sleep and eating away at your vocal cords, this is mostly experienced by those who eat late at night right before going to sleep. With late night performances and rehearsals, this is an easy routine to fall into. I have even heard of people with sleep Apnea hurting their voices at night while they snore .... a humidifier in the room while you sleep can help to solve this problem.
I hope this has been of some help. Please write me if you have any other questions.
Paul W. Draper