to the Rescue"
has a remedy for just about anything)
other day I woke up with a killer sore throat.
was pay back for too many long nights in the studio on top of
jet lag from a recent trip. Obviously, I didnít heed my own
words of warning (see free lesson entitled : Singing With a
Cold ) and so I humbly insert foot in mouth. Anyway, the last
time I hurt that much to swallow was years ago, on the morning
of an "unplugged" show my band was playing at the Hard Rock
in Boston. Luckily, I didnít have to sing this time around;
a snow storm had canceled my studio session. However, I always
treat these nasty little detours as dress rehearsals for the
future. Aside from catching up on some much-needed rest, piling
on extra layers of clothes and forcing fluids, I reached for
my trusty herbal extract.
an excellent way for singers to treat many ailments without
the adverse effects accompanied by pharmaceuticals. Drugs leave
behind residues which are difficult for the body to eliminate.
Sometimes the cure is more harsh than the cold. Herbs work naturally
within your body, helping to fight infections and correcting
imbalances. They also have a preventative quality which fortifies
the immune system to recognize future intruders. Since they
donít leave behind any toxins, there is no adverse effect on
your vocal membranes (such as the drying from antihistamines).
The problem is that they donít provide the big bang weíve become
accustom to from western medications, so itís important to administer
them early. In order to discover the right herbal combination
and dosage, I strongly recommend experimenting on non-gig scenarios.
way to gain the benefits of herbs is via liquid extracts. Youíll
find racks of herbal extracts in any natural food store (they
come is small bottles with eye-dropper tops). The label will
detail what ailments a particular herb relieves. Some claims
will seem pretty far-fetched, so hereís a few I recommend for
singers: Echinacea for the beginning stages of a cold.
It activates the immune system, fights infections, mobilizes
white blood cells. Golden Seal to reduce mucous membrane
inflammation due to sinusitis, hay fever and allergies. Osha
Root to loosen mucus. Slippery Elm soothes sore
throats. Wild Cherry Bark is a good expectorant. Collinsonia
reduces irritation in the pharynx (upper throat). Licorice
Root is also good for sore throats and has mild anti-histamine
properties. Astragalus Root is the best at preventing
colds. It increases production of interferon and helps resist
viral infections if taken daily before cold season.
are also sold in combinations for greater convenience. My favorite
tonic is Echinacea and Golden Seal, which
is what I used to rid myself of that burning throat infection.
One squirt of the eye-dropper on the back of the tongue every
hour did the trick. What used to last a week was squashed in
a day -- twice. I must warn you the taste is extremely bitter.
If you need to, the drops can be diluted in a glass of water
or juice -- or a vodka martini, I guess.
of alcohol, you might notice most extracts contain an alcohol
base. This, I am told, is the best way to remove the herbís
vital resins and preserve their medicinal qualities. If youíre
a recovering alcoholic, place your drops into a cup of boiling
water. This will reduce the potency of the extract, but evaporate
the alcohol completely. If youíre worried about the affect of
alcohol on your voice, donít be afraid. There is twice as much
alcohol in a whole ripe banana than in a single dose of extract.
There is, of course, loads of info on herbs throughout the web.
Run a search for starters or visit your local health food store
and start asking questions. So, now that Iím feeling better,
itís off to the studio for more abuse. Adios my fellow vocalteers.
Baxter is a vocal therapist
who offers private and video lessons. To contact him, call:
(800)659-6002. Visit his website at: www.voicelesson.com
with the kind permission of Mark