Despite some far-fetched claims, some herbs can really help your body – says Mark Baxter
Herbs are an excellent way for singers to treat many ailments without the adverse effects accompanied by pharmaceuticals.
Drugs leave behind residues that are difficult for the body to eliminate. Herbs work naturally within your body, helping to fight infections and correcting imbalances.
They also have a preventative quality that fortifies the immune system to recognize future intruders.
The problem is that they don’t provide the big bang we’ve become accustom to from western medications, so it’s important to administer them early.
In order to discover the right herbal combination and dosage, I strongly recommend experimenting on non-gig scenarios.
How Herbs Work
The best way to gain the benefits of herbs is via liquid extracts. You’ll 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 here’s 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
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.
Herbal extracts are also sold in combinations for greater convenience. My favorite tonic is Echinacea and Golden Seal, which is what I use to rid myself of burning throat infections.
One squirt of the eyedropper on the back of the tongue every hour does the trick. What used to last a week for me is now squashed in a day. I must warn you the taste is extremely bitter (I call it dumpster juice)! If you need to, the drops can be diluted in a glass of water or juice – or a vodka martini, I guess.
Speaking of alcohol, you might notice most extracts contain an alcohol base. If you’re worried about the affect of alcohol on your voice, don’t be afraid.
There is twice as much alcohol in a whole ripe banana than in a single dose of extract.
Mark Baxter has worked as a coach with Aerosmith, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls — and many others. He is the author of The Rock-n-Roll Singer’s Survival, creator of The Singer’s Toolbox instructional DVD, Sing Like an Idol instructional CD. Mark operates vocal studios in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and online via Skype. Visit his website: VoiceLesson