Daily Archives: July 2, 2009
Okay, I’m not usually a “product placement” kind of person, but this one product is so amazing and has saved my professional life so many times, I have to mention it.
I’m a musician–conductor, singer, teacher, mostly. (Also organist/pianist, composer, but those things aren’t voice-affected.) I am also depressingly prone to vocal-and-respiratory bugs, which get in there and just sit for weeks. And tend to come at very inconvenient times. (I wonder on some level if it’s performance anxiety manifesting psychosomatically, warning me that I really don’t want to make a career out of singing, even if I have a pretty adequate instrument to work with. On some level I think I’m conflicted about whether I want to or should sing more…but that’s beside the point.)
So while normally I like to make my own funky medicinal concoctions, I happened upon the Traditional Medicinals line of teas some years ago, particularly the one called “Throat Coat,” and it has been my salvation on numerous occasions.
Traditional Medicinals teas are available at most natural food stores (Whole Foods, etc.) and I’ve even seen them in some conventional grocery stores. They have a whole line of products, very clearly stating on the box what conditions each blend is intended for. I took the “More Milk” tea while I was nursing, the “Pregnancy” one (I forget the name) when I was pregnant, and I take “Herba-Tussin” and “Cold Care P.M.” regularly when I have colds and flu. There are a couple of good ginger-based ones, too, for upset tummy. Like most herbal treatments, they are not intended to be a magic bullet or to immediately clear all symptoms; rather, they strengthen and tone the system so that the body can heal itself in particular ways.
Throat Coat, on the other hand…okay, it’s probably not intended to be a magic bullet, but it’s served me as such. A lot.
The active ingredients are as follows:
Slippery elm bark
Wild cherry bark
Bitter fennel fruit
I think the last two are mostly just for taste, and I don’t honestly know what bitter fennel does, but the first five ingredients are a powerhouse of soothingness for mucous membranes. Licorice, Slippery Elm, and Marshmallow are for example well known mucilagenous herbs, which sort of put a very light coating of, well, goo I suppose (but it doesn’t feel goopy or mucousy at all, as opposed to not using these herbs in which case you either have raw tissues or actual mucous or both) which protects and sooths the inflamed tissues and sort of helps the whole vocal mechanism function under really adverse conditions. Wild cherry bark is usually used more as a cough supressant, but it also does it in a soothing and gentling kind of way.
I have gone from effectively mute to functional over the course of a few hours with this tea more times than I can count. (I mean, it’s not like I would go sing Azucena or anything, not that anyone has ever wanted me to, but I’ve been able to manage choral concerts and recording sessions.)
If you hate licorice with an ungodly passion, you probably won’t be able to deal with it. It has a very delicate licorice flavor which I happen to really like, not overpowering at all. And licorice is one of the naturally sweet herbs, so it doesn’t have the bitterness of some herbal teas.
A note about brewing herbal teas: To get good medicinal use out of them, you must let them brew for the recommended 15-20 minutes, and you must cover them while brewing or all the good stuff will evaporate out of them. Plus they’ll taste yooky if you don’t.
Enjoy!! (well, okay, if you have laryngitis you’re probably not having too much fun, but you know what I mean.)