Music helps the healing process, studies suggest
Maybe a good song does more than make you feel good
Friday, January 4, 2013
Probably one of the weirdest sentences that I’ve heard anybody say is, “I really don’t like listening to music.”
Now mind you, I’m aware there were much stranger sentences uttered throughout history, but I found this one about not listening to music to be particularly odd.
To me, it was like somebody saying they don’t like food, can’t stand love or choose not to use water.
When it comes to music, it doesn’t really fit in the I-like-it-or- I-don’t-like-it-category. Obviously, there are different types of music that we’ll completely shut ourselves off to--which is also kind of weird to me--but to have an underdeveloped appreciation for any kind of music at all ranks up there with a person who says they don’t like sunshine.
Personally, I would ask that person, what is it about the sunshine that they don’t like?
Is it the warmth that it provides, the good feeling it induces, is it the way it brightens up a dismal day? In fact, I wish I would have asked the same question to the guy who said he didn’t like music. Is it the warmth they don’t like, the good feeling it induces or the way it brightens up a dismal day?
Can be a healing agent
Listening to music isn’t only one of the best ways to pass the time when you need a good dose of lyrics and sound, it can also serve as an actual healing agent, say researchers.
Integrative medicine expert Dr. Isaac Eliaz said that receiving a nice feeling from one of your favorite songs isn’t just enjoyable, it actually benefits the mind and body. Eliaz also said the research findings only strengthened what he already believed.
“These results only confirm what I have observed for many years in my practice, music produces quantifiable healing,” said Eliaz in a published interview.
“For example, my daughter Amity, a professional musician, regularly plays her songs for chronically ill patients who express how uplifting her music is. These performances do more than encourage good feelings, they help the body heal on a molecular level.”
“As an integrative physician and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, the healing power of music has always been an important part of my practice and family life, Eliaz said.
“Harmony and tempo help synchronize the rhythms of the natural world with the music of the heart, each person’s individual energetic pattern expressed in their pulse,” said Eliaz after conducting a peer review on music and health.
There have been several studies on music being a treatment aid for certain types of illnesses, and music therapy—the official term for using songs to manage illness symptoms and other health problems—offers various ways to incorporate music into one’s treatment regimen.
A 2001 study in the United Kingdom showed that out of 29 cancer patients, each one of them felt healthier while undergoing music therapy sessions. The study also showed that each cancer patient had better immune responses due to their stress levels being lowered by music therapy sessions.
In a separate study, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that music therapy may be used effectively to strengthen weak respiratory muscles, which is a common characteristic among people with advanced levels of multiple sclerosis.
Although the findings weren’t exactly overwhelming--since 79 percent of the participants in the study didn’t respond to the music therapy as predicted--the effects were substantial enough to warrant further research.
Another study recently published in the medical journal Brain and Behavior showed that music can help those suffering from insomnia.
Scientists examined a type of technology called HIRREM, which stands for high-resolution relational resonance-based electroencephalic mirroring, and it can send brain frequencies back and forth to each hemisphere by using musical tones.
“The human brain is made up of the left and right hemispheres that work together as parallel processors,” said Dr. Charles H. Tegeler, a professor, neurologist, and researcher at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
“When a person undergoes trauma or a major stressor, their autonomic survival responses kick in and the brain can become unbalanced.”
“If those imbalances persist, symptoms such as insomnia can result. Our study looked at a new technology that is intended to facilitate greater balance and harmony in brain frequencies, which may result in improved symptoms,” he said.
Although there are numerous studies on how music therapy can help relieve the symptoms of other ailments like depression, anxiety disorders, and heart conditions, Eliaz says the medical community hasn’t even begun to climb the mountain of research that coud reveal the other ways music can be used to help treat illnesses.
“Modern science has just begun to scratch the surface of music and sound in terms of healing potential,” says Eliaz.
“However, traditional medical systems from around the world have long revered the beneficial vibrations of music, harmony and rhythm for health and vitality. The effects are instant and tangible, but they are also powerful and long lasting.”