Music can play an important role in health and healing…
It has become almost free to obtain, has no adverse effects and it’s really been shown to help specific conditions. For these reasons, I consider it one of the best “natural” medicines of our day.
Listening to music is definitely a “feel good” part of each day for me. I play it in the office, and I play it when preparing my dinner. Music accompanies most all entertainment I choose. It’s too bad we can’t have music playing in our dreams, right?
When it comes to the practice of medicine, music is one of the best natural treatment to relieve pain, cancer, heart disease and much more.
To better understand the basic qualities of music that heal living organisms, let’s consider how music influences plant growth…
In 1973 Dorothy Retallack published her studies in which she played soothing music in one chamber, rock music in another chamber, and discordant classical music in a third chamber. By two weeks, the soothing-music plants were uniformly lush and green with healthy strong stems — and leaning 15 and 20 degrees toward the sound speaker. In contrast, the plants exposed to the discordant classical music leaned 10 to 15 degrees away from the sound speaker. Even worse, the plants exposed to rock music leaned 30 to 70 degrees away from the music speakers and were drooping with faded blooms. By day 16 nearly all the rock music plants were in their final stages of dying, compared to the soothing-music plants which were all alive and strong. Interestingly, she found that plants liked jazz music, but showed no reaction to country and western music.
A subsequent researcher, Don Robertson, did a similar experiment with his plants and got very similar results. Healing music qualities were considered to be emotionally and spiritually uplifting tones that are healing, relaxing, calming, and mentally invigorating — unrelated to lyrics.
People are much like plants, however, healing music is different for everyone. It is much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I know for me which music feels healing, relaxing, calming and mentally invigorating.
Eleven health benefits of listening to music
- Improves mood: in 2001, Harvard scientists found on imaging studies that certain areas of the brain will release dopamine when we listen to our favorite music. Dopamine is our “feel good” brain hormone. Music should make you feel happy, and when it does, you can expect your brain to be getting lots of dopamine. Music aids in relieving mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
- Boosts mental creativity: Certain music boosts this part of our brain function.
- Boosts immune function: Music improves your immune system, reduces stress, and was found to be comparable to prescription medications for reducing anxiety before surgery.
- Improves sleep quality: In a study of 94 students with sleep complaints, those who listened to relaxing music for 45 minutes at bedtime for 3 weeks had significantly improved sleep and also decreased depression.
- Increases exercise stamina: There’s no doubt that music plays a powerful energizing role if listened to during physical exercise
- Improves sensuality: Again, dopamine sets the stage for enjoyable sexuality
- Improves learning: I know this works for me because of the endorphin effect explained below. Researchers find that music enhances cognitive tasks and test taking if the music also induces a positive emotional state.
- Improves recovery for stroke victims: Our brain develops new neural pathways which is required for stroke recovery. This is known as neuroplasticity. In a placebo-controlled trial the stroke patients who listened to recorded music for an hour or more each day had twice the verbal memory recovery in three months compared to controls.
- Reduces pain after surgery: Playing music during painful surgical operations has been found to lower pain and reduce the need for post-operative pain medications.
- Assists with cancer: Music helps manage stress and gives some pain relief for those with terminal cancer.
- Improves recovery from a heart attack: Researchers found benefits of healing music in recovering from a heart attack through decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of anxiety. This is also probably due to the release of endorphins that is elicited when music is present. The researchers found that the type of music wasn’t important.
What is your most healing music?
To feeling good from your favorite music often,
Michael Cutler, M.D.