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The Kava Drink: A Singing Solution?

The Kava Drink: A Singing Solution?
Fluids with interesting side effects seem to dangle the promise of a better singing career. Kristie Knickerbocker examines the evidence.

QuestionHi there! I’m visiting Hawaii and was introduced to the Kava drink. I found it to be very relaxing something I need before performing. Now I’m wondering if you know of any affects Kava has on the vocal cords. I will be performing on the radio here on Wednesday and wanted to make sure it was safe before then. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Answer: According to the National Center for Voice and Speech website (NCVS), Kava has no known effects on the voice or speech mechanisms. However, some of the activities that you might partake in if you were under its influence, whether it be drinking alcohol or doing other drugs, may dehydrate and dry out your vocal fold tissue.

It contains Kavalactone, which changes how your brain is receiving signals and processing them

Kava can have some serious health side effects including making you drowsy enough to impair your ability to drive or operate machinery, causing temporary yellowing of skin, liver problems, shortness of breath, scaly rash or facial swelling.

There is also the possibility that it might affect your singing voice because it contains Kavalactone, which changes how your brain is receiving signals and processing them. In this blog looking at the effects of beta-blockers on voice control and production, it found that beta-adrenergic blockers might actually worsen vocal quality. Beta-blockers and Kavalactone are not the same thing, but the study suggests using relaxing medication might be counterproductive to your singing voice. My two cents.

See Kristie’s last article: Is It Possible To Drink Too Much Water?

Kristie Knickerbocker

Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She provides voice, swallowing and speech therapy in her own private practice, a tempo Voice Center, LLC. She also lectures on the singing voice to area choirs and students. She also runs a mobile videostroboscopy and FEES company, Voice Diagnostix. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Voice Disorders, NATS and is an active member of PAVA. Knickerbocker has developed a line of kid-friendly voice therapy materials on TPT and her website. She keeps a blog on her website at www.atempovoicecenter.com

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