How many of us reach for the medicine cabinet when we are in need of some relief? I know when I first started singing years ago I did not have the gift of knowing what I know today about the effects and dangers of chemicals and prescription medications on the voice. Nor did I know what safe and natural alternatives were available to me. I did not think twice about taking Sudafed or slamming down some Nyquil at the first sign of any symptoms of a cold or sore throat. I also was a favorite at my local doctor's office often taking prescription medicines for what was ailing me. Below you may find some of the more commonly used medications for throat, respiratory and various other conditions that are often prescribed for voice professionals; the side effects, and the natural alternative to those medications. The medications and their side effects for this short list were taken directly from a more comprehensive list found at The National Center For Voice and Speech website-
Always check with your health care provider before stopping or adding any medications or herbs to those you may already be on. The alternatives found below are suggestions. I am not a doctor nor do I profess to be one. I am merely bringing attention to the side effects of various medications and the suggested natural alternatives to those medications. Accupril- Excessive coughing, can lead to hoarseness and possible vocal tissue damage.Natural Alternatives-Comfrey and Fenugreek- An even combination of both Comfrey, Lobelia, Marshmallow, Mullein, Slippery Elm- An even combination of all five These combinations are excellent for Lung disorders, Allergies and Bronchitus Adderall- Adderall may have a drying effect on vocal fold tissues, which can lead to hoarseness, soreness, voice changes or laryngitis. Additionally, dry vocal tissues may be more prone to injuries such as nodules. Natural Alternatives- Gotu Cola, Ginseng, Ginko Balboa, Bee Pollen, Cayenne, Peppermint, Ginger, Nettle, Pennyroyal Allegra, Claritin, Promethazine tabs- The antihistamine component has a drying effect on mucous membranes that may cause hoarseness, sore throat, voice changes or laryngitis. In addition to irritation, dry vocal folds may be more prone to injuries, such as nodules. Natural Alternative-Get a blood test to see if you are suffering from any food allergies. Burdock , dandelion, Echinacea. Take 2 to 3 teaspoons of Yerba Mate in 16 ounces of hot water on an empty stomach. Black Cohosh, Blessed Thistle, Pleurisy Root, Skullcap- An even combination of all four. Acetaminophen, Ambien- The use of sedatives/narcotics may produce an uninhibited or diminished drive to speak. Symptoms of dysarthria (slow, slurred and uncoordinated speech movements ) may also be linked to sedative/narcotic use. Natural Alternatives-Boneset, Queen of the Meadow, Pleurisy root, Hops, Passion flower, Skull Cap, Catnip Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft-Antidepressants have shown to Increase cough and gastroesophageal reflux have been reported, both of which can adversely affect the voice. Rarely, asthma, laryngitis, bronchospasm or sputum increase may occur. Natural Alternatives-St. Johnswort, Kava Kava, Borage oil, theanine, gren tea, Clacium/magnisium, Ginko Bilboa, Balm ( also known as lemon balm ) Peppermint. Zantac- The antihistamine component has a drying effect on mucous membranes that may cause hoarseness, sore throat, voice changes or laryngitis. In addition to irritation, dry vocal folds may be more prone to injuries, such as nodules. Natural Alternatives-Drink peppermint tea before and after meals. Aloe Vera, Essiac, Acidophilus, Digestive enzymes, Alkaline foods,Read Kathy Pyrtle's book- "Performance without Pain." Flonase, Floven, Nasonex-Throat irritation and dryness, cough, hoarseness and voice changes are all possible adverse reactions. Natural Alternatives-Sage, Saw Palmetto Berries, Brigham Tea, Oregano Oil, Goldenseal, Comfrey, Cayenne See Superior Vocal Health blog posts on Nasal Irrigation Ibuprofen- Voice professionals particularly, should be cautious about using medications that decrease platelet function during periods of strenuous voicing demands, due to an increased possibility of vocal hemorrhage. Natural Alternatives-Boneset, Queen of the Meadow, Pleurisy root, Hops, Kava Kava, Passion flower. Borage oil or tea, Bromelian As always I wish you the best on your quest for Superior Vocal Health.
David Aaron Katz
Superior Vocal Health