Alternative Medicine

I have received so many letters from singers around the world suffering from vocal hoarseness. Many of these singers have found this to be a mystery and developed the hoarseness after years of vocal health. I decided to write this article because singers need to know about a phenomena of which little is written and about which few speak. This article is an account of my personal journey and my witnessing the journey of recovery of some of my students.

After teaching with no vocal fatigue for over 25 years, I suddenly developed a type of hoarseness that made my voice tired after only about 2 hours of teaching.  Previously, I had easily taught 7 hours without any fatigue at all and could then practice after such a full day.  What went wrong? Why did I suddenly feel fatigue after never feeling it before in my entire career as a vocal professional? What would be the answer to what any singer would call a crisis situation?


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When this crisis occurred, I did what any singer or teacher would do.  I followed my instincts by going to some of the best laryngologists in New York. These individuals are quite capable and specialize in treating professional singers and teachers on a regular basis. Certainly modern medicine can create miraculous results in specific situations, but with my condition there did not seem to be an answer to my hoarseness. I was diagnosed with a slight case of acid reflux and given antacid medication. Unfortunately, this did not solve the problem of chronic hoarseness either.  Then I was given allergy medications because nasal drainage was also a symptom of the problems I was experiencing. While there was a slight improvement, the primary issue of hoarseness was still present.  This just did not make any logical sense to me at the time. Why would I continue to have a condition of hoarseness when I had never suffered in such a way before?

During this time, I began to teach a singer who had suffered from technical problems but whose voice was quite healthy physically.  She consistently tried to get me to go to her holistic doctor. At that point I did not have a strong belief in such treatment, but she continued to tell me about Dr. Frederick Mindel. Finally, in desperation, I decided to go to his New York office about my chronic hoarseness in spite of my mistrust. I must say that I was a skeptic about such doctors and treatments because it involved kinesiological testing.

I will never forget the first visit with Dr. Frederick Mindel. He tested and confirmed that I was suffering from parasites in both my stomach and throat area. Many individuals have this condition and do not realize it. The condition of having parasites was accompanied by candida, which was a contributing factor in producing a large amount of mucus in the throat and nasal area; the primary reason for my chronic hoarseness.

I was then treated with supplements that attacked the parasites immediately.  The first medication was so strong that I was hoarse within a few seconds of taking it.  Then the medication was adjusted to another treatment, which was less strong. The one thing about alternative medicine anyone should consider is that an individual often gets worse symptoms before getting better.  It was a depressing time because my throat seemed raw and hoarse for about a week. Then amazingly I began to improve dramatically. The mucus level in my body decreased to the point that I felt little drainage at all.  My voice began to improve once again.  Within 3 months time, my vocal cords felt stronger than they had in over a year. Having been a lyric baritone who was trained as a tenor, it took a long time for the voice to relax after the transition of vocal fach. However, after Dr. Mindel’s treatment, my voice began to develop a roundness and beauty that my voice had never possessed before. I had most probably suffered from candida for many years and did not realize it. I could begin to teach longer hours once again without fatigue and my voice kept developing with more and more strength. Today, I teach 7 hours per day and I work a 6-day workweek. This can attest to the work of Dr. Frederick Mindel and his ability to help singers with throat problems.

There can be no mistake that in my case, this treatment saved my career as a vocal pedagogue. The vocal demands of teaching 7 hours per day, performing master classes at Universities, or simply speaking all day were not a challenge after treatment. Again, it is important to consider that I tried all the other treatments through very qualified doctors. I had also tried many of the over the counter drugs in a desperate attempt to solve a problem which I knew to be physical and not technical.

Professional Tenor

One of the gifts of this experience for me is that I can now hear the type of vocal dysfunction when someone is suffering from parasites. The singer’s sound is dry and there is a husk to the voice as though the cords do not completely come together. Usually the high range is difficult and the singer has to use breath pressure to get into the upper register. Of course this attempt at the high range causes more hoarseness. MOST importantly, the voice functions in a dramatically different way from day to day. It might feel relatively good one day and then feel very hoarse the next.

I remember having a tenor come to me with a most beautiful voice. He was a professional yet he suffered from chronic registration problems as well as breath management problems. He came to me after reading my web site and seeing the connection to the training of Jussi Bjoerling. In my experience, these vocal exercises help singers almost immediately in the re-balancing of registration and breath management. However, in this case, the singer improved dramatically and then would go backwards again. This is a HUGE red light to parasites in the throat. At some point I realized that the voice was suffering from a physical problem.  When the throat is open and the singer suddenly gets a breathy or husky sound to the voice, then I know there is a problem.

I sent him to Dr. Mindel and almost immediately there was a change.  This singer suffered from what many singers suffer: needing the voice to work on a daily basis as the contracts come in. As in my case, the singer’s throat improved and then got worse before getting better.  The challenge for any singer is to emotionally make it through the ‘getting worse’ stage. It is necessary for the singer to have a lot of emotional support during this depressing time. Right after that stage, (within 2 months) this tenor improved dramatically.  The Bjoerling exercises began to help him develop his voice technically in such a way that he could sing almost any repertoire he desired. This was another testament to the deep degree that this kind of work can help a singer save his or her voice.

Professional Soprano 

Not long before the tenor came to me, I had a professional soprano come to me with similar symptoms.  She had suffered a sudden case of hoarseness after years of a successful singing career. Sadly for her, she had put her career on hold for 4 years because of this type of chronic hoarseness. Again, it was not predictable. The voice might be close to normal one day and then extremely hoarse the next.  I immediately heard the dryness in the voice and witnessed similar vocal difficulties that I had experienced personally.  I told her about this approach to healing the voice and she was open to investigating it.

The results of this kind of work for her were nothing short of amazing. This singer in a few short weeks could sing with much more balance in registration because the swelling of the vocal folds diminished greatly as the candida levels in the body lowered. It was directly through this technical work and the holistic work that she was able to restart her professional singing career.

Questions for the Singer

  1. Do you feel hoarse or unusually thick in the throat in the early morning?

  2. Is there a great amount of thick mucus on the cords that gets better as the day goes on, but does not leave completely?

  3. Does the voice perform almost normally one day and feel very hoarse the next day?

  4. Do you feel large register breaks even though you are singing technically well?

  5. Is your repertoire limited in range because you are afraid that your voice will not make the high notes, depending upon the day?

  6. Do you sometimes feel waves of nausea and feel the need to eat?

  7. Is your professional singing career on hold in spite of the fact you feel you are singing technically well?

  8. Finally, do you feel there is a mystery about your throat that you just cannot figure out?

If you can strongly identify with one or more of these questions, then perhaps you could benefit from investigating the probable cause. Check with your doctor before using alternative treatment.

Alternative Medicine Magazine elected Dr. Frederick Mindel, holistic doctor of the year. His office is located in New York City. The office contact number is (212) 223-8683.

(c) David L. Jones/2004

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