Herbal Secrets For Improving Your Singing Voice
- Published on: 26 February, 2019
- Last update: 03 November, 2020
As you guys know, 2019 has already been a wild ride for me. If you told me even one month ago that I’d be in a studio rekindling my deepest passion and finding my voice again, I probably wouldn’t believe it.
Since my other passion of course is all about health and we view the body holistically, I know that what you eat and how you live can have a huge impact on the quality of your voice. I asked my teachers for their “herbal secrets” regarding singing, and this is the list of tips I came away with!
1. ACORUS CALAMUS ROOT (tincture)
Often called “Singer’s Root” or “Preacher’s Root.” A very unusual herb that’s both a relaxant and stimulant. It helps to increase the range of the voice and center your energy, plus eases discomfort when your vocal chords are tired. This is a very low dose herb so I just use 5-10 drops under my tongue or sipped in tea. In Ayurveda, this herb is called “vacha” meaning literally “to speak” and it helps connect the heart to the voice, helping anxious people feel able to speak up about things.
2. STONE ROOT aka Collinsonia (tincture)
Helps you relax your larynx to hit those sultry low notes. My teacher says to combine this with equal parts Calamus for a 50/50 tincture. Indicated for tenderness, hoarseness, and cough brought on by intensive speaking or singing. Also a very low dose herb (5-10 drops).
3. DIGESTION IS KEY FOR SINGERS
You must be extracting Qi (energy) from food to propel the voice. Food must be digested “downward” energetically (instead of coming back up with reflux, etc) which is where digestive bitters come in with their downward moving energy. Use digestive bitters throughout the day/week/in your regular routine rather than using them directly before singing because the digestion piece is more of a long term effort that has an indirect effect.
4. “NERVINE” HERBS TO RELAX
The class of “nervine” herbs are our best anti-anxiety allies (they can be found in both my Peace Juice and Mood Juice). You can kill 2 birds with one stone by using “nervine bitters” which are herbs that are both nervines and digestive bitters. These include: blue vervain, chamomile, mugwort, lemon balm, gentian, wood betony, and more. You can create your own digestive bitters blend with a few of these or choose an existing bitters blend that already contains several.
5. PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU’RE DIGESTING CARBS
I asked why it seems that I sing better when I’m eating a lower carb diet. My teacher Claudia said, “That makes sense, because many people have trouble digesting carbs. They can sometimes slow us down, make us tired, they’re hard to digest, and they get ‘stuck’ in the middle.” Eating what digests well and easily is the best way to improve singing via improved, more seamless digestion. For many people that is either low/lower carb OR eating the “right” carbs that are properly prepared if you can tolerate: 48 hour fermented sourdough bread, soaked and sprouted grains, etc.
6. OIL YOUR BODY
In the system of Ayurveda, people who are of the “kapha” dosha are natural born singers as they are very well lubricated and have a strong constitution for belting out those notes from the belly. You can spot a Kapha singer by their big white teeth (Brandy, Lea Michelle) and their strong, solid build (Adele, Pavarotti). Kaphas are very loving and nurturing, their skin is supple and well-oiled and they often have rounder features. You can support your own Kapha (since we each have all 3 doshas within us in some form) by oiling your body via self-massage.
Do this before a bath or shower; you’re not “washing the oil off,” you’re actually opening up the pores and helping the oil to penetrate deeper into tissue.
7. NASYA OIL TO LUBRICATE NASAL PASSAGEWAYS
Singing requires a lot of moisture and lubrication so the throat doesn’t try out (which is again why Kaphas do so well). Ayurveda says to regularly lubricate your head, neck and throat to maintain a clear and firm voice. Nasya Oil is the most powerful lubricating tool for healthy voice and an essential part of the Ayurvedic daily morning routine “dinacharya” prescribed for everyone. You use Nasya Oil by dropping your head back and inhaling 1-3 drops per nostril with a deeeeep breath. The goal is to “sniff it up to the brain,” as one of the benefits of Nasya Oil is to stimulate the pineal and pituitary glands to regulate hormones. Funny enough, this relates to #1 because Nasya Oil traditionally contains infused Calamus Root!
8. OIL PULLING
Although this a trend in today’s world, oil pulling has been part of the Ayurvedic dinacharya for thousands of years. While it’s helpful for teeth whitening and oral health, the benefits go much deeper (read more in my post here).
“Keeping of oil gargle provides strength in jaws and voice, development of the face, maximum taste and relish of food. One does not suffer from dryness of throat, lip cracking and teeth become firmly rooted. The teeth do not ache or become sensitive and can chew the hardest food items.”
~ Caraka Samhita Ch V -78 to 80.
Oil pulling is yet another way to lubricate the throat, vocal chords, etc. I’ve recently added this into my routine and I do feel that food tastes a bit more delicious (and my voice doesn’t get tired as quickly!)