Now that we are into the deep freeze of this year (I live in New York) I wanted to address natural alternatives to warming the body and voice when singing in colder climates.
In general, cold contracts and heat expands. The same applies to the chest, throat and vocal cords. When I sing in a part of the world that is mostly warm, like the West Coast of the United States, Puerto Rico and the Middle East, and the temperature is on average above 70 degrees, I always feel as if my voice and throat are wide open. Like the sounds just come pouring out with little or no effort.
However, when I sing in colder climates, like the East Coast and Switzerland during the winter months and the temperature on average is under 40 degrees, I feel as though I have to work twice as hard just to get half the sound out of my body.
I am used to warmer weather and my entire body opens up when I sing in warmer weather. Some of my colleagues are exactly the opposite and thrive in the cold weather.
When it comes to singing though, cold weather can be devastating on the throat and vocal cords. The throat and vocal cords need to be warm and pliable to vibrate properly giving us the sounds we desire. Thus the obvious reasons for "warming up."
So what can we do when, nutritionally without chemicals or drugs, when we have to sing in colder climates and want to make sure our bodies are warm and our voice is "hot."
Below you may find some excellent herbs for this issue.
Ginger has been used as a natural remedy for centuries for a myriad of ailments. Some of these include nausea, morning sickness, heartburn relief, migraines, menstrual cramps and it's positive effects on the entire digestive system. However, ginger is also extremely effective when used as a warming agent. It can be taken as a tea, raw, or with food. I have used ginger for years to keep my body warm and especially keep my throat and vocal cords warm. I also gargle with ginger ( sometimes adding cayenne as well, see below ) just before I sing to fire up the vocal cords and throat.
In addition, ginger can be used effectively to relieve a dry mouth and throat due to nerves or environment.
Another great way to utilize ginger before an audition or presentation is to slightly chew on a small piece of ginger ( about the size of a dime ) and let the mix of the juice and saliva slide down your throat.
This is very easy to do and no one will even know you doing it. You will feel the effects immediately.
If you have the time, ginger tea is also excellent to warm up the chest and throat.
The benefits of cayenne are almost to good to believe. Cayenne is one of the most valuable and useful herbs in the entire herbal kingdom. It is extremely stimulating to the entire body.
During the winter months I eat cayenne every day. Not only does it stimulate the whole body it also is excellent for the digestive system by helping to clean out the colon.
Cayenne is so effective because it increases metabolism, helping the blood to flow.
Indeed Cayenne is superb for the voice professional when needing to sing in colder climates.
Some of my colleagues have been known to drop their jaw when seeing me mix a spoonful of Cayenne in a glass of water and gargle the entire glass right before I go on stage. I feel my entire throat open up and the heat rush into my vocal tract. It is awesome. I am not recommending this to any of my readers, just letting you know how it has worked for me.
In addition, during the colder months when temperatures stay under 30 degrees for more than weeks at a time, I put Cayenne powder in my shoes. This keeps me warm all day long. However if to much is used, you will actually taste the cayenne because it will absorb into your system through your feet as you sweat. So use it sparingly in the shoes. It also stains your shoes a bit so be aware of this if you don't like the inside of your shoes to become red!
Horseradish is another amazing herb that heats up the system. Most often it is used for sinus clearing but when chewed raw it is excellent for warming up the cords, throat and even the chest as the juice makes it way into the stomach. Like cayenne, horseradish stimulates the metabolism to get the blood moving and open up the arteries. If your sinuses are clogged try putting a tablespoon of ground raw horseradish on the area between your eyes just above your nose and let it sit there for a few minutes. Do this for a couple of days and you will see a huge difference in your clogged sinuses if not a complete clearing. If you experience burning on the skin, stop the treatment at once.
*You may find these top performing herbs in our Sinus Buster and Vocal Rescue formulas at Superiorvocalhealth.com.*
As is always the case, the information presented in this blog are suggestions and expressions of my personal experience. They are not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. Please use herbs wisely and in moderation. Always check with your doctor or health practitioner before adding any supplements, herbs or new medications to your diet.
Stay warm, sing well, and I wish you the best on your quest for Superior Vocal Health.