Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Common Vocal Remedies: What Are They and Do They Really Work?, Part 2

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Common Vocal Remedies: What Are They and Do They Really Work?, Part 2

Article excerpt


MARKETED BY KESTREL MEDICAL LTD. in Broadstone, UK as a formulation for singers, actors, and voice professionals, Vocal Zone Pastilles are a popular option among many celebrities for relieving dry or irritated throats from excessive singing, speaking, or smoking. This product also has a rich and interesting history. In 1907, an otolaryngologist named William Floyd produced a treatment he called "Vocalzone" as a voice remedy for the great Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso. His product gained such popularity that it is (supposedly) still being sold in its original formulation today.1

Ingredients in Vocal Zone Pastilles includes Levomenthol 1.07%, Peppermint oil 0.54%, and Myrrh Tincture 1.39%, as well as sucrose, glucose, Crystal Tex 85, vegetable oil, liquorice extract, beeswax, and purified water.2 Peppermint leaves yield a volatile oil that is composed primarily of menthol and menthone. Evidence-based medicine has demonstrated peppermint oil to be beneficial in preventing and relieving intestinal gas, indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome-related intestinal spasms. This physiologic mechanism is due to smooth muscle relaxation in the GI tract, and thus peppermint oil is contraindicated in conditions such as hiatal hernias, severe gastroesophageal reflux, and gall bladder disorders.3 Further, peppermint oil may cause symptoms of heartburn.4 Additionally, peppermint oil has been shown to be effective topically for analgesia and muscle relaxation, and in mouthwash to relieve gum inflammation.5 Commission E approved peppermint oil for relief of the common cold, cough, bronchitis, and inflammation of the mouth and pharynx.6

Interestingly, an animal study has shown that peppermint oil has an anti-spasmodic effect on tracheal smooth muscle in rats. The study found that the mechanism likely involves two well studied chemical mediators that promote bronchial relaxation, nitric oxide, and prostaglandin E^sub 2^, possibly explaining the popular use of peppermint oil in respiratory diseases.7 Use of peppermint oil should be avoided in children due to potential for asthma-like attacks and possible respiratory failure;8 however, the dosage used in Vocal Zone is likely too minimal for this to occur.

Myrrh's use in analgesia and wound cleaning dates back more than 2,000 years, prior to the discovery of morphine.9 A number of studies have explored the anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of myrrh; thus, there is support for using myrrh to treat various diseases associated with inflammatory pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.10 Commission E has also approved myrrh for treatment of conditions involving inflammation of the mouth and pharynx. Unproven uses for myrrh include topical treatment of mild infections of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa and as an expectorant for cough. Myrrh is contraindicated during pregnancy, although there are no known hazardous side effects associated with therapeutic dosages.11 Those who choose to use this product should do so with caution, as it may mask the protective physiologic response of pain.


Vita Vocal Health (New York, New York) markets their Throat and Voice Enhancer to singers, promising to "assist" in strengthening the voice, enhancing vocal clarity, soothing the throat, minimizing dryness, and preventing vocal fold inflammation. They also claim that it may help with laryngitis. Like many of the other products discussed in this review, the marketers use words like "assist" and "may help" to avoid making "guarantees" to their consumers, because there are no substantial clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of the product. Throat and Voice Enhancer is taken as two capsules, each 400mg of a proprietary blend of herbs and natural flavors.12 Many of the herbs in this product have been discussed already, such as osha root, Echinacea, slippery elm bark, licorice root, and marshmallow root. Additionally, this product contains vitamin B-12, a vitamin that is rarely deficient in an average healthy person because the body stores it for very long periods of time. …

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