"Keep Your Voice (and Your Lungs) Healthy"
By Karen Stauffer
If you're a singer, your voice is your most important tool. You've probably been told this before, but I'll tell say it again... don't smoke! That is unless you like sounding as though you've been gargling broken glass. (Yes, I know Tom Waits made a career of sounding like that, but it's not good for you!)Even if you don't smoke, you probably have to perform in places where other people do. So, how do you minimize the damage?
Drink plenty of pure water. (Add a squeeze of lemon!) Avoid mucus forming dairy products, sugary stuff, chocolate, even orange juice, when you're performing. (All of those things can cause thick phlegm to form.)
Go outside to get away from smoke. (If someone thinks you're being unfriendly, give them a big smile and explain you needed fresh air.)
Some singers and speakers like throat sprays to use occasionally. These are available in inconspicuous little bottles that can be carried with you. "Herbs, Etc." makes one called "Singers Saving Grace" that comes in assorted flavors. A more exotic choice (contains orchid oil) is called Vocal Rescue.
Your lungs are important too. (You need good lung power to sustain a note.) Traditional herbs include mullein, pleurisy root, coltsfoot, fenugreek, slippery elm and horehound. These are available in capsules, teas or liquid extracts. Michael's Naturopathic Programs has an extract called LNG and a vitamin/herb pill called Lung Factors, and "Herbs Etc." has a mullein/coltsfoot extract called Lung Tonic.
Allergies can wreak havoc with your lungs and your voice. One supplement we've found helpful is called MSM. You can get this in a pill or powder. I like Alacer's Emergen-C Lite with MSM, an effervescent powder that mixes with water to give you an unsweetened, vitamin C fortified drink. (This will also help your fingernails grow longer and stronger.) It comes in envelopes that you can tuck in your pocket and add to water anytime. Used twice a day it will lessen the inflammation of tissue that can cause uncomfortable allergic symptoms. (Asthmatics who are forced to breathe second hand smoke appreciate this nutrient.)
Another anti-allergen is activated quercetin, a bioflavonoid from buckwheat combined with bromelain (pineapple enzyme). This can be taken along with MSM.
Remember that these are best used regularly for prevention of problems, rather that just when you find yourself clogged. Benefits will increase for several weeks as you take them regularly.
"River of Life Natural Foods"
advice is not meant to replace the advice of a physician.