The Healing Power Of Music

the-healing-power-of-music_300Even before we take our first breath, our lives are governed by rhythm. First, you feel your mother’s heartbeat. Later, your own beat adds harmony and stays with you throughout your life. In fact, that rhythm becomes a barometer for your health and well-being. An erratic heartbeat may be a warning of a serious health condition. An accelerated beat may encourage you to get out of danger.

On an even deeper level, rhythm may be the force that governs the universe. Some physicists theorize that small vibrating bits of energy, called “strings,” may be the foundation of all matter. If this is true, then you, me and everything we have ever touched or seen has its basis in music.

I find string theory quite inspirational, having witnessed firsthand the power of music to uplift the spirit. My youngest daughter, Amity, is a professional musician who performs regularly for chronically ill patients. I often marvel at how deeply her music affects them. Knowing how positive feelings enhance healing, I am quite certain that these benefits extend long after the guitar has been packed away. Now, research is backing me up.

Real Healing

Music therapy has a long history of helping people overcome disease. Recently, clinical research has confirmed that music can have a powerful effect on the healing process. For example, a number of cancer studies have shown that music, when combined with anti-nausea drugs, can reduce nausea and vomiting beyond what the medication alone can accomplish. Music has also been shown to ease pain, reduce depression, diminish anxiety and decrease fatigue.

A recent article [1] in the journal Nutrition reviews the latest research on music’s health effects. The piece points to a variety of studies which have shown that music benefits cardiovascular health, pain management, post-operative recovery, gastrointestinal and metabolic health. It even reduces recovery time after exercise.

Music has long been known to have a calming influence. But research has shown that it actually reduces levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with the fight-or-flight reflex. This is an enormous benefit. In prehistoric times, cortisol could be a lifesaver — providing the extra motivation to escape a wild animal, for example. However, modern living tends to trigger the response too frequently. A close call on the highway, a bad meeting with the boss or even being late for an appointment can stimulate the release of cortisol.

While cortisol has definite survival advantages, too much of it has been associated with anxiety, depression and other conditions. By modulating the hormone, music can have a big impact on stress and its long-term consequences.

Other studies have shown that music eases congestive heart failure, improves the health of premature infants, boosts the immune system, enhances digestive function and increases metabolism. In hospitals, music has reduced the need for sedatives and pain relievers. Perhaps the wonder drug we seek doesn’t come in a pill.

A Little Music

All this research about music’s health benefits confirms and even expands upon what we already knew. Music has been part of medicine since ancient times; and numerous healing systems, both Western and Eastern, bring rhythm and sound into their practice.

No doubt, many of you have incorporated music as a healing medium without even thinking about it. Consider the times you’ve been down and a great song picked you up. For many of us, music is a necessity; we simply cannot imagine life without it.

I’d like to finish this article with a little music. Click here for Amity’s most recent video, “Me and My Guitar.” The song is about how liberating it can be to strip away unnecessary artifice. Granted, as her father, I have my biases. But I believe, empirically, it is a great song and moving video. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to share.

For more practical health information and research, visit my new site


Dr. Isaac Eliaz

By Dr. Isaac Eliaz

Dr. Isaac Eliaz is a renowned integrative medical doctor, licensed acupuncturist, researcher, product formulator and frequent guest lecturer. He has been a pioneer in holistic medicine since the early 1980s, and has published numerous peer-reviewed research papers on several of his key integrative health formulas. He is the founder and medical director of Amitabha Clinic in California, an integrative health center specializing in cancer and chronic conditions. Dr. Eliaz is an expert in using highly strategic, synergistic protocols to address numerous areas of health including metastatic cancer, immunity, digestion, detoxification, diabetes, cardiovascular health and more. His approach integrates modern science with traditional healing wisdom for optimal health and wellness. To download any of Dr. Eliaz's comprehensive wellness guides, click here.