December 31, 2016
'TIS THE SEASON!
Welcome! This is my very first blog and it comes at a perfect time… ‘tis the season! Yes… as you may have guessed the cold/flu season is upon us; congestion, pounding head, achy bones, stuffy nose, sore throat… the list can go on and on... and on! For singers, this can literally cripple our very way of being. I always have a number of students asking the best way to combat their ailments while still getting some productivity out of their voice.
How can singers maintain vocal ease and continuity without overdosing on over the counter fillers? Many drugstore “remedies” mask your symptoms and have opposing outcomes that can potentially stop your body from successfully killing your cold. Now, I am not a doctor; (I know... it’s really hard to believe). However, over time and through experience, I’ve discovered an abundance of natural therapies and remedies. Some are obvious and some aren't so obvious. So you may learn something new! One thing to keep in mind, ridding your body of any toxins and/or inflammation is key. INFLAMMATION IS THE DEVIL and the cause to most health issues. Yes, it’s true! The remedies I'm providing will combat inflammation, they are gentle on the body, will not harm your voice and there will never be any worry of weird side effects. Natural remedies allow the body to process how it wants to; in it’s perfect capacity and timing.
So… without further ado… HERE IS MY LIST. It is mainly comprised of natural remedies to get your voice back in the saddle… before, during and after the cold and flu season!
1. HONOUR YOUR BODY - It is important in any and all situations to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. If your throat/voice is too sore to sing, then don’t sing. Do not force anything that isn’t natural. You could potentially cause more damage to your vocal cords, which will have long term, adverse effects. So take the timeout from singing and listen to your body… honour your body.
2. REST - If your body is feeling tired and/or fatigued, listen to your body, it is trying to tell you to rest, (in case you are having issues with this, see #1). Sleep is critical. Immune systems rely on sleep to maintain all around, quality health. Your immune system guards your body from any damage or potential damage. Ongoing sleep deprivation can serious alter the way your body responds to sicknesses, like the common cold. Alternatively, lack of sleep can also cause sickness. So, don’t feel guilty about getting a full night’s sleep or taking a rest once and awhile.
3. HYDRATION - Your body operates at its finest when it is hydrated. I like to say… “like a well-oiled machine”. The information I'm providing to you about these forms of hydration are not exhaustive but will give you a general idea of the positive effects. I recommend two forms of hydration; lemon water and herbal tea (more specifically sage tea). Lemon water will jump start your immune system, it is loaded with Vitamin C, cleanses your body and reduces inflammation, (there’s that word again). Adding a slice of lemon to your water in a preventive routine will help your body remain inhospitable to sickness. Herbal tea (mainly sage in this context), is a natural detoxifier. Sage is a natural cold remedy. I know what you're thinking. There's no cure for the common cold. But, sage actually has properties which promote the discharge of phlegm and fluid from the respiratory tract. It also decreases inflammation (that word again), in the mucus membranes, (gross). Sage also helps you sweat it out. So those pesky toxins can go “bye-bye”. Make a hot cup of sage tea and add a tablespoon of honey, (which also has so many healing qualities).
4. NOURISHMENT - Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” It is key to ingest foods that are packed full of crucial nutrients. I live off food such as salmon, blueberries and spinach. But if you really want to up the ante, consuming raw garlic will not just give you crazy garlic breath, but it will severely boost the immune system! Garlic is jam packed of vitamins and contains allicin, (which basically has superpowers). Garlic is antiviral, antibacterial and works as an antioxidant. These qualities are believed to prevent cold and flu symptoms. A great way to get the allicin benefit is to slice up smaller pieces of garlic and swallow like pills (up to 5 cloves a day), or grab a high quality allicin supplement at your local health food store.
5. NATURAL ANTIBIOTICS AND SOLUTIONS - If there is one thing I swear by when my throat is sore, it is turmeric oil. As described earlier, sickness generally stems from inflammation in the body. So it is only expected that inflammation could appear in the vocal cords and sinuses. Just the other day, I could feel soreness beginning in my throat and it felt very hot and tender. It hurt to swallow and became very tiresome when talking and singing. I mixed about 15-20 drops of turmeric oil in a bottle of water and chugged. It is pretty much the most disgusting flavour to ingest with water. However, coupled with a little bit of rest, I was back in business within 10 hours. Literally miraculous. Other remedies which possess the same healing abilities as turmeric; are liquid pau d’arco, grapefruit seed extract, and oil of oregano. It is mostly preference and the severity of the sickness. Try staying away from ibuprofen as a “go to”.
6. ESSENTIAL OILS - I love lemongrass oil and eucalyptus oil! I have these oils going all of the time in my studio, even when illness is not present. The aromatherapy alone brings its own cleanliness to the air. However, if there is sinus congestion, add few drop to hot water and inhale the steam. Also, you can get the oil going in a diffuser or rub some on the soles of your feet. The essential oils are absorbed faster through the pores on the bottom of the feet and reach the bloodstream rapidly. I say do it right now… even if you are not sick.
7. LOZENGES - I am just a little bit obsessed with mint flavoured Fisherman’s Friend. Although this is NOT an all-natural product, I’ve had much success keeping my throat at ease and nasal passages clear. I give these to my students often. However, if you are looking for a natural alternative, (which I highly recommend), try either Honibe Honey Lozenges and THAYERS Slippery Elm Lozenges. Both of these products are only all-natural and will bring easy and clarity to your throat.
I hope you enjoyed what I’ve shared! Remember… this list is not exhaustive, but a lot of the items have helped me out in day to day prevention of illness and in the throes of the cold and flu!
Happy New Year!
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