Last Updated on March 4, 2021 by Karmyn
One of the worst things that can happen to a healthy vocalist is an overproduction of mucus. Phlegm, snot, mucus, whatever you call it – can have the most negative effect on vocal control. The good news? You can learn how to reduce mucus production naturally!
What is Mucus?
According to Google, phlegm (mucus) is, “the thick viscous substance secreted by the mucous membranes of the respiratory passages, especially when produced in excessive or abnormal quantities, e.g., when someone is suffering from a cold.” (1) Mucus-making tissue is found in six places in our body, the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. (2)
Why am I producing SO much Mucus?
You probably aren’t producing any more than normal. However, the consistency has changed from thin and clear to thick and darker.
Healthy mucus production hydrates the tissues and traps unwanted substances like bacteria or dust from getting into your airways. Think of it like – internal “flypaper.” It also contains antibodies that help recognize nasty bacteria and viruses. Oh, and get this, a healthy person churns out 1 to 1.5 liters of mucus every single day. (2)
So the better question is: Why does it feel thicker and stickier? Answer: An immune response that your body triggers to clear out unwanted substances otherwise known as Histamines. (3) Histamines trigger the allergic responses of coughing, runny nose, nasal congestion, closed throat feeling, etc.
A healthy person churns out 1 to 1.5 liters of mucus every single day.
What the HECK can I do?
2) Reduce Histamine Response
3) Reduce Inflammation
–Drink water! Water is a natural expectorant. If you live in a dry climate, water is even more important! (See my Dry Sinus Post for more information.)
–Irrigate, irrigate, irrigate! Using a neti pot to irrigate your sinuses removes mucus. Simple. If you are not irrigating, you’re denying yourself an EASY remedy to help your body eliminate unwanted mucus. But BE SMART! Use distilled water! (4, 5)
–Take the amino acid N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) instead of Mucinex! Studies have proven that NAC is much more powerful and safer than Guaifenesin (brand name Mucinex) at thinning mucus production! I can thank my mother’s research into my father’s severe COPD for this little gem. It tests (and proves) to elevate symptoms of cystic fibrosis. I take it, and it WORKS!
Reduce Histamine Response
–Decrease wheat, dairy, nuts, and caffeine intake. Wheat, dairy, and nuts can cause minor to severe histamine responses. You don’t have to give up these treats, but reducing them will reduce histamine agitation. Caffeine is a diuretic and the opposite of hydration. (6) So eat sourdough or oat bread, drink milk alternatives, and snack on corn chips for a few days. Try Yerba Mate or Green Tea instead of coffee. They contain way less caffeine and have fantastic antioxidant properties. (7, 8) Heck, I drink black tea every morning! It has even less caffeine and, coming from a former caffeine-oholic, it was a smoother transition than I thought!
–Take Quercetin. I accidentally found out about this supplement years ago while in Wholefoods in Dallas, TX. A woman gave me anecdotal evidence about a huge reduction in her husband’s flu symptoms. Well, I tried it and had the same success. Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant that prevents “immune cells from releasing histamines…On that basis, researchers think that quercetin may help reduce symptoms of allergies, including runny nose, watery eyes, hives, and swelling of the face and lips.” (9, 10) Quercetin is often combined with Bromelain. A study on bromelain showed to reduce inflammation caused by asthma (13). Quercetin combined with bromelain makes a super packed combo that leads to the last category:
–Take NAC, Bromelain, Serrapeptase, and Frankincense Essential Oil. Guess what all the supplements previously mentioned also help with inflammation.
*NOTE: Bromelain needs to be taken on an empty stomach to be effective.
Now for the specifics on Bromelain. This little enzyme is a proven anti-inflammatory, that also reduces histamines by inhibiting neutrophil (immune cell) migration (11) to stop the train on the inflammation highway in your body by breaking down the infrastructure.
Serrapeptase is an enzyme approved in most European countries to reduce inflammation and ease pain after major surgery. It can also reduce the thickness of mucous and help sinus drainage. My mother helped me discover this one too, seeing that it helps with acute to chronic COPD. (11a)
Frankincense Essential Oil – The resin in Frankincense is a proven natural anti-inflammatory. (12) It can be taken internally or rubbed into the skin. I usually put a few drops of Young Living Frankincense essential oil in warm water and drink.
Now, REMEMBER: Be smart in how you treat your body and especially your voice. Always consult a doctor before trying any of these remedies, but know that there are better treatments out there that work with your body’s natural healing process.
Other links of interest: