Essential oils herbs and flowers

Can Essential Oils Change your Vocal Health?

Our body is a healing machine and thanks to natural approaches to wellness, we can prevent voice disorders and stay in good vocal shape.

Essential oils, obtained by mechanical pressing or distillation, are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural scent of the plant.

They are produced for three primary purposes: flavorings, fragrances, and therapeutic applications.

Aromatherapy has been used for centuries having an impact on the emotional center of the brain and health benefits.

Today, we meet with natural health practitioner Dr. Ylona Hartford – the Holistic Diva.

Dr Ylona Hartford holistic diva
Dr. Ylona Hartford

Dr. Hartford is a dramatic soprano, a doctor, and a voice teacher, offering natural solutions for your health, like naturopathy, wellness, essential oils, homeopathic remedies, and energy therapy.

What is your philosophy of healthy vocal cords?

Healthy vocal cords begin and end with a healthy body around them. We are not simply parts that work together sometimes.

Our bodies were made to function holistically. Every organ, system, and even cell is part of a coherent system that is affected both positively and negatively by the rest of the system.

Remember, we channel sound into the world through our entire bodies—it resonates everywhere in us. So, to have the healthiest vocal cords, you need to make sure the whole body is healthy.

I noticed a difference from day one of starting my program.  I have energy again.

Lonique S. – Testimonial

Can you describe the VoiceBio analysis?

VoiceBio Analysis is a way of checking a person’s overall health by looking at the notes present in their speaking voice. This is done in-office by having clients answer three questions for me while the computer records and analyzes which notes are present and not present in their voice. 

After taking the three samples, I can see if someone has too much A# and not enough C and can make supplements, herbal, essential oil, therapy, and other recommendations to bring those frequencies back into that client’s body.

Voice Bio Analysis
VoiceBio Analysis

What differs essential oils from oils used in cosmetics and cooking?

Essential oils are among mankind’s first known forms of medicine—as soon as we understood plants could help us, we realized the natural secretions specific to each plant were powerful. The plant created these secretions to help heal and protect itself; however, blood and chlorophyll are almost identical chemically, so these properties also benefit humans.

Thousands of years ago, people started to distill the natural secretions of plants to make essential oils. These oils were used for a variety of beauty, seduction, and health applications. Unlike oils used in cosmetics and cooking, essential oils are highly concentrated and are medicinal. 

Essential oil distiller

They should be used in very small amounts (1-2 drops typically) and with the respect due to any medicine. Although you can use high-quality essential oils internally, that is best done under the care of a qualified natural health practitioner.

What is the best way to use essential oils for singers? Diffused? on the skin? diluted? or neat?

I am a strong believer in using care when using any product but especially anything medicinal. Diffusion is a wonderful way to use essential oils. Typically, only a couple of drops are needed in an entire diffuser.

essential oil diffuser
Breathe essential oils diffuser

You can also put a drop of oil on a handkerchief, in a nasal inhaler tube, on a diffusing piece of jewelry, or just leave the bottle open near you for the smell to reach you. 

I also really love applying oils topically. I recommend diluting any oil you use. After all, a drop of oil neat (or undiluted) is the same as a drop of oil in ¼ tsp of carrier oil. You are getting the benefit of that oil but ensuring your skin doesn’t have any reaction. I recommend this to all of my clients.

Some other ways of using essential oils for singers include in a shower, in a bath, and a mister spray bottle.  In the shower, put a drop in a bowl at the bottom of the shower and the steam will help disperse the oil’s scent throughout. In a bath, use 3-5 drops to the bathwater. However, do NOT use any hot oils like cinnamon, thyme, or oregano in a bath.

In a misting spray bottle, you would add 10-15 drops of oil per ounce to pure water.  This can be shaken and sprayed on or over the body.  Please make sure the bottle is glass and darkly colored!

Young Living essential oil bath jellies
Young Living essential oils

What is your ideal singer’s essential oil survival kit for auditions and live performances?

This will be broad, as I believe any program or suggestion can be made stronger when it is tailored specifically for an individual. However, one item I would always recommend would be Bach’s Five Flower Formula or Rescue Remedy (they are the same product, just by different manufacturers). This is a flower essence/remedy, not an essential oil.

It is used by taking 4 drops under the tongue or adding 4 drops to your water and drinking it throughout the day.  Rescue Remedy/Five Flower Formula is a great remedy that helps with any trauma (physical, mental, or emotional). While we may not think of nervous feelings as traumatic, this remedy can help give you support to calm down.

For oils, jasmine resonates with the throat chakra and is always wonderful for singers. I would recommend some soothing, anti-stress oils like lavender, bergamot, ylang ylang, and frankincense. Of those, if you needed to limit how many things you were bringing, I would pick lavender or frankincense because they have plenty of chemical constituents and have many uses.

However, if you worry about experiencing a hoarse voice, bergamot can help.  I would also recommend oregano because it is very anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-septic.

essential oil kit
Essential oils kit

When purchasing pure essential oils, the bottles must include “Pure Therapeutic Grade”?

At a very minimum, yes, usually. I more prefer you to look for recommendations of brands from qualified health practitioners.

There are lots of good products out there. Some I use and recommend include Young Living, doTERRA, Be Young, Revive, and Plant Therapy. However, there are many beautiful oils like rose oils from Bulgaria and a myriad of oils from Egypt where families there can trace their oil production back thousands of years.

One brand I use sometimes is Uttati. That family is the one who taught Gary Young about essential oils. 

So, a pure therapeutic grade is something to look for too, but getting recommendations from trusted, qualified sources is my first choice.

Any safety precautions to take when using essential oils around kids and pets?

Yes! With children, using less oil is important. Most children I would never use more than a drop of oil on and I would dilute it in ¼ – ½ tsp of carrier oil before applying it topically. Diffusing oils with children can be very beneficial, but you always want to go with the less is more attitude.

Aker Dr Hartford cat
“Aker” the cat – Dr. Hartford’s pet

With animals, there are different schools of thought. Some say never use an oil with an animal, especially cats. Others say they’re ok. My approach is to never diffuse any oil in a room where my animal cannot leave the room. So long as my animals can leave the room I am diffusing the oil in, I will diffuse any oil I need.

Using oils on animals is a personal choice. I will use oils on my dog before I will on my cats. However, I have used them on my cats for very specific things. I would recommend discussing any oil use on animals with a qualified health practitioner or, ideally, with a holistic vet.

Vocal cord lesion is a common illness affecting singers and speakers due to vocal overuse. How do essential oils treat nodules, polyps, and cysts?

Treat is a tricky word. The FDA doesn’t like to treat claims for any natural products. I would highly recommend any singer with nodules, polyps, or cysts speak to a qualified natural health practitioner to get a comprehensive program.

However, I can suggest frankincense because it is very healing to tissues. It also has been shown to help with growths and tumors. Jasmine would also be a go-to because of its affinity for the throat. Another I would consider would be clove because some of these conditions could have a parasitic component.

Nothing my physician did helped. He told me I would die in 6 months. It is more than 3 years later, and I am still improving. Dr. Hartford is a godsend.

Eloise k.

Are there any essential oils to prevent seasonal allergies, and boost the immune system for cold and flu seasons?

This is another time when I would highly recommend getting with a qualified natural health practitioner. Allergies, including seasonal allergies, have their root cause in the gut.

While oils can help with the symptoms and can be part of healing, they will not correct the root cause alone. Boosting the immune system is often better done with herbs and supplements and a more comprehensive program as well.

Oils that can help with allergies include peppermint, lavender, and melaleuca. They can be inhaled, diffused, or applied to the body (please dilute them).

Oils to support the immune system include Thieves-type blend (Thieves by Young Living, On Guard by doTERRA, Immunity Boost by Revive, Germ Fighter by Plant Therapy), oregano, frankincense, and lemon. Additionally, you can use cumin and ledum to help boost your immune defense.

What is the difference between flower essence and essential oil?

Essential oils are as I described previously—a distillation of the natural secretions of the plant to make medicine. Flower essences are different. There is no smell to a flower essence, and it works on an energetic level more than a physical level.

Flower essences are made by harvesting some of a plant early in the morning and then letting it soak in pure water in the sun. Once the “essence” has soaked into the water, that water is taken and preserved with an alcohol (usually brandy) to keep the energy it has absorbed from the plant. 

Flower essences can work on all levels like essential oils, meaning they work on a physical level, an emotional level, a mental level, and an energetic level.  However, we often look at them for emotional support first.  They are one of my absolute favorite tools to use with clients because they are powerful and subtle at the same time.

About the author

Rita Hokayem

I am a soprano opera singer, voice teacher with over 13 years of experience, and digital marketer.
I teach online singing lessons for beginners and professional singers in pop, rock, R&B, country, oriental Arabic music, and pop opera.
My blog contains a series of interviews and articles about interesting topics related to the life of a musician and singer.
I am currently based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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