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Maintaining Health on Tour

 

Colds & flu and the touring performer: what a nightmare, struggling to perform despite-- or worse, having to cancel because of-- laryngitis, gouts of mucus, fever, clogged ears, dizziness, etc.

Here are some of the ways we take care of ourselves, drawn from the "health on tour" thread on the listserv "storytell." It's a survey, not a prescription, so don't take anything as gospel.

 

Common Sense

So much for that. Now for the stuff you can buy.

 

Vitamins

Most of us take vitamins, and swear by them-- vitamin C, in particular-- and up the dosage while on tour. Others advise against the practice, believing that getting vitamins from food is better.
If you do take vitamin C, the powder is by far the cheapest (so cheap you may be hard-put to find it available at many drug stores-- food coops carry it, though.) It's also the easiest to take in large doses: 1000 milligrams is a half-teaspoon of a nice sour powder that can either be dissolved in water, or dumped straight on the tongue, like flav-R-straws. (Taken with 800 mgs of Vitamin E, that's also enough to protect your arteries from the ravages of road-food cholesterol.) Linus Pauling swore that once he started taking large quantities of vitamin C powder, he never had another cold or flu.
Some of us require our vitamin C to have bioflavinoids, because we believe that without these complex compounds, the body cannot absorb or use vitamin C properly. This means pills, and a higher price, but a more complete and natural product.
Multi-Vites of various kinds will help keep you from getting too rundown. If you do get sick, they can help you feel better, since a good deal of the "sick" feeling is vitamin depletion. One of us takes his in a time-release capsule.

 

Garlic

Garlic is king. Garlic is magic. Garlic will make you whole. In the words of a fine old beatnik movie, "Garlic is better than 1000 mothers." If you like the taste of garlic at all, start eating a lot of it, raw and cooked.
If you're feeling poorly, try this: chop up the edible contents of an entire head of garlic, brown lightly in olive oil, add maybe a gallon of boiling chicken broth (home made is best, canned or boxed better than nothing.) Add a lot of basil & oregano & cayenne, add a lot of fresh chopped (or frozen or canned if that's all you can do) spinach; just before serving add a dash of sesame oil, ladle out, sprinkle with freshly grated locatelli romano cheese & black pepper. Tastes wonderful, will restore lost voices and sooth troubled chests.
Get a garlic press and squeeze fresh garlic on your salads.
You can buy garlic already peeled. You'll need to use a lot of it, or it'll go bad; just get in the habit of cooking with it like a kind of onion.
"I peel three cloves of fresh garlic, cut them into lozenge shapes, and swallow them like pills. This saves having to chew them and have a burning mouth. Within half an hour I feel fine, guaranteed. But my body is still under attack of course, so I continue to take about three cloves a day for as long as I feel a bit under the weather. I might reduce that amount to one a day if I don't really feel it threatening much, and if I am still right on the verge on getting something virulent, I might take three cloves twice a day for the first day or so. If they are really tiny, take more."

 

GINGER-- this comes in syrups, tonics, candied slices, and tinctures. Best is fresh juiced, if you have a juicer, which is a whole other topic. Ginger is good stuff, pound ginger.

ECHINACEA (pronounced Ekka Nayshia) is an herbal tincture, available at health food stores and food coops, that has been shown to strengthen the body's immune system. Many of us use it, and say it works very well. You measure it out with one of those medicine droppers, like an eyedropper-- 8 drops, a half-dropper full, etc. It can lose its effectiveness over time, so you can't take it every day for the rest of your life. One of us has started alternating it with a Chinese herb, Astragalus.

ZINC lozenges, to dissolve in the back of the mouth. Some of us used to do this back when it only came as a horrible disgusting-tasting pill; it's much better now, but it still ain't haut cuisine. It is effective. It's also good for the male libido, one of your happier side-effects. (As my pharmacist once said to me, after looking around quickly and ducking forward conspiratorially, "Zinc for the dink!")

HOMEOPATHY. This is a worthy, inexpensive, often effective, and never harmful system of medicine; don't think too hard about the rationale or it'll drive you nuts. Some stores (like our food coop) carry a compounded homeopathic remedy called "cold and flu" or "C&F." Read the directions, & take as a cure or as a preventative.

STEAM/HUMIDITY. Another use for water. One of us travels with a neat inhaler, with a soft mask snug to the nose and chin; it has successfully combated third-world smog, to make a heavy performance schedule possible. On the road, you can pick up a big old vaporiser at any discount drugstore for about $10 and set up in your motel room to counter the effects of dry heat. Or, inhale steam from a pot of water with a towel around your head. There's also a spray bottle called NaSal, which can be found in the drugstore next to the evil inhalants, but it's just a saline solution, and it can help.

 

Miscellaneous

"I find that it pays to test for allergies, and if they're present, treat them with antihistamines."

"Gargle regularly, but not compulsively, with Hydrogen Peroxide. If your gums go gray, discontinue."

"Betadine Mouthwash Gargle, made in Norwalk CT. I SWEAR BY IT. Also, working in an unheated library for eight winters was very helpful."

"If all these medications we've recommended on the list sound like they're too expensive or too much bother, think of being unable to make a storytelling commitment."

 

[Contributors include LoiS, Tim J, Tim S, Papa Joe, Dixie, Janice, Nick, David H. & Elizabeth.]


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