By Tina Boosahda
It’s 8AM the morning of a big audition, you roll out of bed, and before you pour your first cup of coffee, you think, ‘NO! Is that a sore throat? A stuffy nose? A cold? The FLU?!?’ You start to feel hoarse, phlegmy, have a runny nose, itchy eyes, chills... Your think ‘Oh S!@#, I’m sick… I have to cancel! If I cancel, I won’t get the job, if I don’t get the job, how will I pay my bills…’ and so on. Don’t panic! Leigh Tomlinson, licensed Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, has some solutions to remedy an unexpected, last minute illness! As a singer herself, she understands what needs to go into our bodies to keep us healthy, get us feeling better faster, and keep us performing at our peak.
What sparked your interest in the health and nutrition field? Share with us the path you took to get to where you are now as a licensed Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.
I got both my Bachelor and Master of Music in Voice Performance at Florida State University. In my last year as a graduate student, I realized that my weight and health were becoming an issue and I was about seventy pounds overweight. I couldn’t breathe correctly because I was plagued with horrible allergies and constant sinus infections.
It took several years of crash dieting, allergy testing, and constant ENT visits before I realized that I wasn’t losing weight and I wasn’t getting better. I was taking several prescriptions that were not fixing my problems, but making things worse. I had reached the end of my rope.
I finally tried a more natural approach and saw a naturopathic doctor who suggested I might be allergic to certain foods; specifically gluten, dairy, soy, and eggs. I went on a very strict allergy-free diet and incorporated some natural supplements to help support my body. It was really hard at first to cut out all of these foods, but I saw an improvement in days, and finally felt like I could breathe again! My energy skyrocketed, my sinuses cleared up, my brain fog went away, and best of all, I was singing better than I ever had. I also lost 75 lbs!
Over the course of about four years, three of which I was strictly gluten-free, after being introduced to the world of natural products and supplements, I was hooked. I felt great and I wanted to share that with others.
I then decided to take some time off from auditioning to focus on going back to school for nutrition. I am now a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) through the Nutritional Therapy Association. It was the best thing I have ever done. It encouraged me to be more confident in my ability to help other people discover their own health and happiness through good food and quality supplements.
What are the benefits of seeing a NTP?
Unlike most traditional doctors who treat symptoms, my job is to look at all of the symptoms and find the underlying foundational issue(s) that is/are causing all of the symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms that manifest seem completely unrelated to the foundation. For instance, my seasonal allergies and lack of energy were really related to my digestion system being out of balance. Our gut is the center of everything. If your digestion isn’t working, you will not receive the nutrients you need to make your body function properly. When you consume foods that are high in sugar, processed vegetable oils, hydrogenated dairy products, and processed grains, you are not only stressing the body by giving it little nutritional value, but you are limiting the body’s natural ability to break down foods because they have been heated and denatured to remove enzymes and probiotic cultures.
What are some holistic steps we can take or natural products we can use when feeling sick?
The first step to clear up gunk fast is to cut out anything that might be causing mucus, i.e. dairy, sugar, and even gluten. Dairy often causes a thick mucosal response when allergic to it, and sugar can weaken the immune system, allowing the symptoms to linger longer, and possibly cause an infection. Some great natural supplements to boost the immune system include:
- Echinacea- an herb that helps boost your immunity.
- Elderberry- another herb helpful in relieving symptoms of a cold and boosting the immune system.
- Vitamin C and Zinc help build the body’s natural immunity. Not all Vitamin C is created equal. Look for one that is whole food based or contains Acerola, Amla, or Rose Hips for better absorption.
- Turmeric- Curcumin is the active ingredient in Tumeric. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and can be helpful in reducing swelling without the hazardous side effects often found in over-the-counter pain medications.
- Nettle leaf is a great herb that can help reduce the symptoms of allergies such as itching and sneezing. Staying hydrated is key for all singers, but increasing your water intake along with a “tea” made with hot water, apple cider vinegar, honey, and lemon can help soothe the throat and loosen the mucus as well.
What are some products every singer should have on hand to help maintain their wellness?
Here are some of my favorite natural supplements to take when you are facing an oncoming cold, flu, or allergy attack:
- Gaia Turmeric Allergy: An herbal remedy with anti-inflammatory properties along with soothing herbs for the nasal passages.
- Source Naturals Wellness Formula: This tried and true formula for boosting the immune system can be taken at high doses for the first few days and will show very quick results. Take 6 capsules a few times throughout the first two days of a cold and you should notice a difference pretty quickly.
- Oreganol: A potent herbal tincture that acts as a natural anti-microbial, kicking away the bad microbes without harming the good bacteria, something a traditional anti-biotic might do. Add a couple drops of this to water and drink quickly. This stuff packs a punch!
- Nutri-Biotic GSE liquid concentrate: this liquid form of grapefruit seed extract is great at loosening and breaking down mucus. It makes a great addition to a Neti-Pot saline solution and is usually the only thing I use that can break up that stubborn mucus in my ears. Just add 3-5 drops in your saline solution in your Neti, or gargle like normal, following the instructions on the bottle.
- Enzymatic Therapy Air-Power- This product contains guaifenesin, the active ingredient in Mucinex, without all of the harmful chemicals and drying side-effects of the name brand. This product is very helpful at clearing up your lungs and sinuses so you can breathe and sing again.
What remedies interact with prescription drugs and how safe are the products?
Herbs and vitamins, while natural, can interfere with some prescriptions. If you are concerned, check with your pharmacist to see whether or not a natural supplement might cause a contraindication. If pregnant or nursing, some of the most common herbs can be harmful and should be carefully watched.
Two herbs that need to be taken with caution include Kava Kava, which can cause a sedative like effect, and St. John’s Wort, which can interfere with many medications including anti-depressants and birth-control.
Are there any scam natural products out there and how can we spot those types of products?
Vitamins and supplements are tricky because they don’t have to be regulated by any one particular agency. Unless a company is doing their own quality control and third party testing, it’s difficult to know what is really in a product. I always look for companies that are certified USDA organic, non-GMO, project verified, and certified gluten-free. This usually means that they are constantly being regulated by outside companies and their product includes the ingredients they claim to. I also like companies that grow their own herbs and foods found in their products. A few of my favorite brands include: Garden of Life, Gaia, New Chapter and Herb Pharm. They make quality products that not only work, but also work with the body to help it heal and recover quickly.
There you have it, insight into the world of natural wellness, and nutritional therapy. Stay healthy, stay well, and sing beautifully, Sexis!
If you would like to get in contact with Leigh, please send her an email mentioning this article at firstname.lastname@example.org, and get a discount on your first consultation!
*Please note, that while Leigh is a licensed practitioner, the information that she has given above is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition but is given as general information about holistic health and wellness. Please consult your doctor before starting a new diet or supplement routine. *