One essential solution every singer must always keep on hand is a reliable dry throat remedy. When you try to sing with a dry throat, you are instantly dealing with a two-pronged obstacle. If ever there was a need for an
effective prevention plan, this is it!
Dehydration Equals Disaster
When we allow the voice to become dehydrated, it is already too late. A singer faces two major problems at the same time: dealing with the immediate problem and then taking care of the body’s reaction to becoming dehydrated.
First, if your voice does not receive adequate hydration, it feels terribly uncomfortable. The sound you produce will not be anywhere close to your best. There can be a kind of hard edge to the vocal quality. You will instantly realize that voice feels and sounds frustratingly below par. And it is a common trigger for your singing technique to suffer. The natural reaction is to sing with the mouth less open, trying to reduce the dryness. There is understandably anxiety, because the voice just does not sound as good. Out of fear, trying to cope with dry mouth and dry throat, many singers will fail to use the lower muscles of support. Instead they try to make the voice work by tightening muscles in the tongue, jaw, throat, and shoulders. So a singer can easily suffer from the technique spiraling down, out of control, all triggered by dehydration.
Gosh, you want to sing for the joy of it and to communicate your musical gifts to others! But dehydration robs you of everything! It’s not what you want and, frankly, it is not what anyone wants to hear. We really do need a dry throat remedy, literally yesterday!
As if this is not enough to throw you off badly, the second big issue of dry throat is the bombardment of thick mucus already on its way. We discuss this phenomenon in other posts on this blog, one of which is here. Thank heavens for the immune system. Our bodies defenses know when to kick in. The delicate mucosal lining, a crucial part of your respiratory system, needs moisture to stay healthy and intact. When the mucosal lining becomes dried out, the body’s defense mechanism quickly swoops in, to repair it. And the way our bodies respond is by creating a great deal of thick mucus, a specific reaction to dehydration. Great to know your immune system is responding. But who wants to try to sing through a ton of thick mucus?!
DRY THROAT REMEDY NUMBER ONE: Prevention
Please drink your water every single day! Your greatest defense is always making sure that your water intake is at least 80 ounces per day, preferably more. Continuous prevention with ongoing good clean water intake is always your smartest dry throat remedy. Drinking your water goes a long way toward preventing dehydration. And by the way, 80 ounces equals approximately 2.4 liters. It is highly recommended that you carry water with you at all times.
There are far too many water bottles available. It can be time-consuming to sort through so many product choices. Here is a good one, but ultimately the best water bottle is the one you will actually use!
If you want a more direct form of hydration, try a personal steamer, such as this one:
Another excellent choice for preventing dehydration is using a humidifier, particularly when you sleep. But a humidifier can be run at anytime, when and where feasible. There are many basic room humidifiers available. However, at the moment, I do not have a strong feeling about which one is best. Please contribute your thoughts in the comments below, on this and any other aspect of our topics. Your thoughts are valuable and you will be helping your fellow singers, with your comments!
DRY THROAT REMEDY NUMBER 2: PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
The finest remedies which can serve as both prevention and treatment include all of the above, plus these:
Aloe Vera Gel
The aloe plant is a true miracle of nature. It has profound healing properties and will help your system retain moisture, which in turn will help enormously with dehydration. Dr. Weil highly recommends that aloe vera gel come only from the inner filet of the leaf. The above-linked product fits this requirement.
If you prefer aloe vera juice, this will also work to hold in moisture and thus help keep you hydrated. But it is the case that some people report side effects of stomach discomfort, from aloe vera juice. For this reason, it is suggested that you simply take a little of the aloe vera gel. The link above is for the best brand of organic aloe vera I know of, specifically for their aloe vera gel. According to Dr. Weil, the dose should be 3 milliliters, 3 times per day. This dose would be the same, whether you are preventing or treating dehydration.
Throat Coat Tea
Because of the slippery elm ingredient in this tea, it helps enormously to treat dehydration and thus is a primary component of your dry throat remedy. As discussed in other posts, the slippery elm herb provides healthy lubrication to your vocal anatomy. Here again, let’s defer to the main leading health expert I know of, who is Dr. Andrew Weil, for his view. Slippery elm comes from the inner bark of various elm trees and is full of mucilage. This substance helps soothe, hydrate, and lubricate the vocal anatomy, and it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
For years, the finest brand of slipper elm lozenges was Thayer’s. But the company has stopped making their famous lozenges. So, from my investigation, the best slippery elm lozenge is going to be this one:
Bear in mind that slippery elm capsules are mainly intended to treat inflammation of the digestive system, as discussed in the article linked above, from Dr. Weil.
Sweeten the (Honey) Pot
You probably have heard claims about the healing powers of honey. Some of them are true but many are not. How do we know what to believe? This is a great example of why I trust Dr. Weil, for his advice. Dr. Weil is a Harvard-educated MD, who is the Director of the Center for Integrative Health (Tucson, AZ). He is a respected source of knowledge and expertise in the area of natural remedies. The special kind of natural sweetener called manuka honey is discussed here by Dr. Weil. You can rely upon his advice as to what manuka honey will and won’t do for you, in terms of your health. There is no evidence manuka honey is dangerous, which is always good to know. And in fact there is growing evidence manuka honey has antibacterial capabilities. Plus, it is a known remedy for serious wound healing.
I personally can heartily recommend manuka honey, particularly if you have a sore throat. However, I also believe that manuka honey can play an important role in your basic dry throat remedy. Because manuka honey can help take down the inflammation of a sore throat, this tells us it will help the vocal anatomy retain moisture. As long as you do not go overboard, I would definitely suggest this is a safe and effective dry throat remedy, absolutely! Enjoy manuka honey, as it is not only delicious but also is wonderfully healthy for, especially for singers.
Staying Hydrated in Airplanes
There is an excellent product you should know about, particularly if you travel a lot by air. It is the HumidiFlyer. You already understand that the air inside airplanes is extremely dry. And it’s almost impossible to drink enough water during long flights. Dehydration is a major risk for every airplane traveler, but especially for singers!
Jet lag is terribly aggravated by dehydration. Our muscles feel aches and pains of fatigue much worse, when we are not drinking enough water. The HumidiFlyer works to counteract these ill effects, by helping keep your whole body more hydrated, during air travel.
Some of the finest opera singers in the world today are using this outstanding product. Please keep this one in mind, for those times when you expect to need the wonderful help it can provide!
One Common Sense Precaution
You already know that just about anything can be done to excess — not in a good way. But did you know this applies to something as vital as drinking water?
For a singer, lack of drinking enough water puts you at major risk for developing fatigued, swollen vocal cords and even permanent damage, if nodules form. We’re constantly reminded to drink lots and lots of water. As mentioned, you should aim for at least 80 ounces per day or about 2.4 liters, unless your doctor says otherwise.
Ideally your water intake should be enough water to cause your urine to be either colorless or very light yellow. Drinking your water will make a believer out of you in no time. You will quickly realize that the benefits to singing are immediate and tremendous – no innumerable. And you will always want to be in proximity to a nonstop flow of good clean water.
Personally, I find it easy to fall into the trap of believing that if some is good, more is better. There was a time, when I was touring heavily, I was drinking roughly 100 ounces of water per day. But I soon began to feel something that at first made no sense. My throat was becoming very dry and I actually felt thirsty, more so than before I started drinking water that day. It was also clear that I had begun to excrete too much water, too frequently. The whole experience was as if I had taken a diuretic medication. Something was out of whack, not normal, and definitely was not supporting my singing voice!
Fortunately, I had a wonderful ENT specialist doctor, who explained that my symptoms were almost certainly caused by actually drinking too much water! It was time to listen internally, really zero in on what my body was telling me. I needed to reduce the quantity of water I was drinking and then adjust the optimal level of water each day, according to how I was feeling, from one hour to the next. So, experiment, while carefully tuning into the clues your body is giving you, and soon you will find your own sweet spot.
This post makes a thorough attempt to help you cultivate your own dry throat remedy, according to your individual needs. Remember that along with your desire to sing comes a lot of ability to listen to your body. Learn to zero in and realize what your own body is telling you. Trust that inner knowledge just as much as you trust your own doctor! Actually your inner wisdom is your own built-in doctor, isn’t it? But you still need your regular doctor as well!
Some related posts are these:
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