Disclaimer: The following list is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prevent any disease or illness. Before taking any of the following vitamins, mineral, or herbs, I urge you to contact your physician for consideration, and proper dosage amounts.
I have been asked many times if there were any “tricks” to keep your voice healthy. I don’t really consider hard work and vocal awareness a trick, but if you learn a solid vocal technique and maintain an awareness of how you treat your voice every day, you will improve. Another aspect to consider is vocal health. By “feeding” your body with the right nutrients, you can maintain over-all health. So I decided to focus this lesson on what nutrients best help to maintain a healthy vocal apparatus. What I am about to present to you is a review of my daily regimen; my list of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other areas I take into consideration to keep my voice healthy.
I shouldn’t say this out loud, but I might be what you would consider, a bit unhealthy. I had my tonsils removed when I was 3 years old, due to ongoing colds, and I was diagnosed with a rare skin disease at the age of 7 years old. I could possibly say that I have had several colds, every year of my life, for as long as I can remember. This includes basic colds to sinus infections, laryngitis, pharyngitis, and bronchitis. This is due to several factors; my tonsils were not completely removed and I have severe allergies. So I now take 6 allergy shots a week and use a water pick to keep my tonsils clean. Food can get lodged behind your tonsils and set up a home for bacteria to spread.
Before I started on shots, I had already noticed that the majority of singers I have met (including myself), were hypochondriacs! Singing can be a mental thing, and people have a tendency to get in their own way. A lot of times a sore throat is out of fear of performing, but there are still times when you are really sick. When you are tired of being sick, especially when you are a vocalist, you’ll try anything. So I decided to teach myself to be prepared for a sore throat. I have read deeply on the subject and came up with my own concoction of daily supplements. I have discovered what foods the voice needs to strengthen, replenish, and repair itself.
If you sing for hours a night, you are going to have to give your voice time to recuperate. First things first- PLENTY OF SLEEP! Your voice is very sensitive and when your body is tired, your voice will be the first to suffer. This is why when you are extremely tired, you feel like it’s too much work to talk. You could need 8-10 hours of sleep, especially after a long night of performing. You want be sure that you are well rested before you sing as well.
Singing, especially rock singing, takes a lot of physical energy. I also recommend some sort of exercise program. If you want to sing to your fullest potential, you must be in shape, as well as your voice. Cardiovascular exercise is best for a singer, preferably something such as jogging, or Tae Bo. Yoga and Tai Chi are excellent forms as well. Singing is a big part of breathing, and all of the preceding exercise programs focus on breathing.
I follow a specific nutrient regimen every day. When I wake up in the morning, I drink 8-10 ounces of water. I continue to drink water all day long. My daily water quota is a gallon. It used to be more. The more you drink, the better. Your vocal cords need lubrication to maintain their elasticity, and only water will do.
Every morning, I take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. I also take an additional 1000 mg of chewable vitamin C, 1000 mg of Calcium, 400 mg of Magnesium, and 25 mg of Zinc. When your body is tired or under physical or mental stress, you will lose vitamin C, and Calcium. Both strengthen the immune system. When your body lacks vitamin C and Calcium, the immune system is weakened and you risk the chance of infection. Magnesium helps the body to maintain Calcium. Zinc is the singer’s mineral. Zinc helps to reduce the swelling of inflamed vocal cords, which is why I also take Zinc lozenges if I have a cold. I used to take a tablespoon of colloidal silver every morning. I purchased a colloidal silver generator from Sunstone Herbals. If you want to learn about colloidal silver and it’s benefits go to http://www.sunstoneherbals.com. But I have since switched to using a water additive called X20 from singerswater.com. This additive adds ionic silver, calcium and other important singer essentials.
There are also a couple herbs that I use every day as well. I take three, 500 mg capsules of licorice root. Licorice is natural cortisone, which will also reduce the swelling of inflamed vocal cords. You can pick some up at your local GNC. Slippery Elm root is also an excellent herb for singers. Slippery Elm soothes inflamed mucous membranes in the throat and mouth. The best source I have found is Throat Coat Tea by Traditional Medicinals. I try to drink a cup every day.
The day of a performance, I up my water quota. I also perform at least 20-30 minutes of warm ups before singing. By the time I hit the stage, I drive everybody crazy because I have to pee so much! But hey, I can sing all night long! I know this is probably unethical, but I also take 2 aspirin before I go onstage. Aspirin thins out the blood, so when I get the blood pumping to the vocal cords from all of the Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, and AC/DC I do, any vocal cord swelling is minimum. I’ll also occasionally suck on a lozenge. I’ll use anything that contains vitamin C, bee propolis, Zinc, apple pectin, slippery elm, licorice, or glycerin. I stay away from any menthol-based lozenges. Menthol dries out the vocal cords.
Again, at the end of the night, I warm down my voice by performing some the exercises from my Vocal Stress Release program. Do some research and create your own daily regimen. What works for me, won’t necessarily work for you. Regardless of what you do, if you try to live a healthy lifestyle, (plenty of rest, water, nutrients) you will have a longer vocal career. If you are really serious about singing I offer these words of advice. Find a good vocal coach and learn proper technique. If you are a smoker, QUIT!!! Smoke aggravates the cords and dries them. Alcohol is also another bad choice. Alcohol dries out the vocal cords. If you are interested in more information about vocal health, everything we have discussed in this lesson is discussed in greater detail in my book Raise Your Voice.