Crank-up those speakers and really get into that song because music is for therapy and really good for you! Music can soothe the brokenhearted, motivate when down-and-out, and kickoff the most epic
dance parties, but it also has some serious scientific benefits for our health and overall well being. If you go back to the early history of humans, music and healing once went hand in hand and predominate in their history and cultures. The Chinese character for medicine includes the character for music. In ancient Greece, music was used to ease stress, promote sleep, and soothe pain. Native Americans and Africans used singing and chanting as part of their healing rituals, and worshiping their Gods.
In Western medicine, the connection was gradually broken when the art of medicine gave way to the science of medicine. It’s slowly being restored as music therapists demonstrate the value of music for treating people with everything from Alzheimer’s disease to chronic pain and substance abuse problems.
Listening to music has been shown to improve memory functioning, increase rate of healing, improve your workouts and more. Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain, as well as, improve sleep quality, mood, and mental alertness
I think music in itself is healing,
American musician Billy Joel once said.
It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.
Most of us would wholeheartedly agree with this
statement, and it is this universal bond with music that has led researchers across the globe to investigate its therapeutic potential. We can all think of at least one song that, when we hear it, triggers an emotional response. It might be a song that accompanied the first dance with your first heart-throb, for example, making good times even better, or a song that reminds you of a difficult break-up or the loss of a loved one.
Having grown up as a young man in the mid 60s through the 70s, I have so many wonderful and fond memories, starting with the “British Invasion” the cultural phenomenon of the early 60s, with the Beatles, the Stones, the Byrds, Janice Joplin, the Kinks, Buffolo Springfield, Led Zepplin, the Who, Pink Floyd, the Doors, Beach Boys, Jimmie Hendricks, Cream, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Jefferson Airplane, Steppenwolf, Santana, the Grateful Dead…….and on and on…….
Combined with the early rock festivals, the mass hysteria of girls, the live performances by all the rock groups, and music, song, and dance constantly everywhere, made it an interesting and incredible time to be a young man! February 9, 1964, the date that changed the face of music in America forever! The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, singing “I Want To Hold Your Hand“.
Can you guess who said this?
My music isn’t just music, it’s medicine.
Did you guess Kanye West? As you will soon learn, there’s a lot of truth hidden in Kanye statement—music is medicine! Here are a couple of famous quotes about music and what it has meant to humans for thousands and thousands of years, and obviously, still does:
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.
Where words fail, music speaks.
― Hans Christian Andersen
Music . . . can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable.
― Leonard Bernstein
Let’s look at some of the ways music can be beneficial to your your health and well being:
Manage and Decrease Pain
Listening to music has a unique ability to decrease the intensity of pain, especially acute and chronic pain, such as the pain intensive care patients experience. However, the selection of music needs to be classical, meditative, or what the patient likes and normally listens to. Several studies have suggested that music has a secondary emotional and cognitive effect on people. Therefore, creating a distraction from pain and bringing forward a pleasant and enjoyable memory evoked emotion when listening to various types of music.
It can work in many ways. At its most basic, rhythm’s ability to ease pain has been noted among patients in cancer wards and nursing homes. Quoting The National Institutes Of Health (NIH) study:
Music therapy is an effective method of supporting cancer care for patients at various stages of the disease and is practiced with individual patients as well as patient groups.
At its core, music is sound, and sound is rooted in vibration, and vibration has healing power. Known as vibroacoustic therapy, the intervention involves using low frequency sound similar to a low rumble, to produce vibrations that are applied directly to the body. In a 2009 study researcher found that vibroacoustic therapy was affective in reducing tremors, more control in walking with increased speed, in Parkinson’s disease patients.
And while the greatest benefits of music therapy will come in a professional setting with a trained expert, people can use music to assist in relieving daily aches and pains. Music can be used for relaxation, to get an added boost for physical activity, as a catharsis when dealing with emotional stress, and other ways.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Those suffering from mild to extreme anxiety may find a soothing and relaxing effect through music for therapy. Music has a unique link to our
emotions. Research has found that it can be used as an extremely effective stress management tool. In a study appearing in the Journal Of Psychology found that in addition to reducing depression and anxiety in patients suffering from neurological conditions such as dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease, music therapy showed no negative side effects, meaning it is a very safe and low-risk approach to treatment.
Just like listening to slow music to calm the body, music can also have a relaxing effect on the mind. Researchers at Stanford University found that listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication. Another study published in an American Psychological Association article found that music was very effective in calming 272 premature babies, reducing their heart rates, increasing the time the babies stayed quietly alert, and even calmed their parents who were also present.
A Plos One study had some very interesting results. Sixty healthy female volunteers under stress were exposed to a standardized psychosocial stress test after having been randomly assigned to one of three different conditions prior to the stress test, one group to relaxing music, one to sound of rippling water, and one to rest without acoustic stimulation.
Cortisol levels were checked, resulting in lower stress level in the music group, compared to the group without stimulation, but, interestingly, the group listening to the rippling water, showed the lowest cortisol levels. It’s really not surprising that nature sounds will relieve stress like none other! Get out in nature to relax, if you can’t, your next best option is listen to music.
Since music is so widely available and inexpensive, it’s an easy stress reduction option. This has been found to be true for cancer patients. Music allows us to be distracted, especially in serious circumstances such as in cancer treatment. Patients have a chance to relax and communicate with their families about how they feel. The most beneficial music for relieving stress is light jazz, easy-listening rock, Native America, stringed-instrumental, or nature sounds such as raining, trickling water, or night sounds.
Go ahead and listen “Relaxing sounds for your mind”
Try this one “Nights In White Satan”
This will take your stress away “Night Time forest sounds”
Improves Blood Flow and Circulation
Researchers have found in studies throughout the years that the emotions people and patients experience when listening to music has a healthy effect on
blood vessel function and the entire cardiovascular system. In a study done by the American Heart Association found that listening to joyful music elicits positive emotions and therefore improved vascular health and circulation. At Massachusetts General Hospital, a nurse-led team found that heart patients confined to bed who listened to music for 30 minutes had lower blood pressure, slower heart rates, and less distress than those who didn’t listen to music.
At the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, researchers measured blood flow through the blood vessels in the forearm as healthy volunteers listened to music or relaxation tapes. Blood flow increased significantly while the volunteers listened to music that evoked joy or to relaxation tapes, and decreased while they listened to music that provoked anxiety.
In a study from Hong Kong, older volunteer patients who listened to relaxing music for 25 minutes a day for four weeks, before being administered stressful procedures, became relaxed, which lowered their systolic pressure, the top number in a blood pressure reading, and less critical, by 12 points and their diastolic pressure, the bottom number, by 5 points, while a control group that didn’t listen to music had no change in blood pressure. The NIH reviewed this study and concluded that relaxing meditative music is an effective strategy in reducing stress in patients.
Enhance Sleep Quality
Insomnia is a serious problem that affects people of all age groups. While there are many approaches to treating this problem as well as other common sleep disorders, research has demonstrated that listening to relaxing classical music can be a safe, effective, and affordable remedy. In a study with college students, participants listened to classical music, an audio book, or nothing at all. One group listened to 45 minutes of relaxing classical music while another group listened to an audio book at bedtime for three weeks.
The researchers assessed sleep quality both before and after the intervention and found that participants who had listened to music had significantly
better sleep quality than those who had listened to the audio book or received no intervention. Since music is an effective treatment for sleeping problems, it could be used as an easy and safe strategy for treating insomnia. Another NIH study looked at using relaxing music as a sleep aid. The findings showed the potential interaction between cognitive control of negative thoughts and music may be of significant importance for unearthing the pathways in the future by which music aids in the production, maintenance, and enjoyment of sleep.
The Sleep Foundation endorses the practice of listening to enjoyable music at least 30 or 40 minutes before falling asleep because it’s been shown to slow your heart rate and breathing, lower blood pressure, and even relax your muscles.
Better Cognitive Behavior
Research suggests that background music, or music that is played while the listener is primarily focused on another activity, can improve performance on cognitive tasks in older adults. Specifically, one study revealed that playing more upbeat music led to improvements in processing speed while both upbeat and downbeat music led to benefits in memory.
A Harvard Medical School study cited research done by researchers at the University Of California Irvine using the “Mozart Effect” to improve brain cognitive function. Standard IQ tests were given to 3 groups of college students after one group listened to Mozart, one group listened to relaxing music, and one sat in silence. Each test, for a total of 16, result showed the Mozart students always had the boost in IQ test scores.
Researchers theorized the Mozart music acted as an exercise that “warmed-up” certain brain cells responsible for processing information more efficiently. So the next time you are working on a task, consider turning on a little music in the background if you are looking for a boost in your mental performance. Consider choosing instrumental tracks rather than those with complex lyrics, which might end up being more distracting.
Will Improve Your Mood
Another of the science-backed benefit of music is that it just might make you happier, or, if depressing music, maybe sadder. Music can bring you up or bring you down. It can bring you to the “highest of highs”, or the “lowest of lows”. In one examination into the reasons why people listen to music researchers discovered that music played an important role in relating arousal and mood. Participants rated music’s ability to help them achieve a better mood and become more self-aware as two of the most important functions of music. What is your emotional reaction to these 4 songs?
Eagles “Lying Eyes”
Alan Parsons and Sirius “Eye In the Sky”
Neil Young “Old Man”
Todd Rundgren “Hello, It’s Me”
What Is your All-Time Favorite song that gets you up? That Makes you romantic? That brings you back to an earlier time?
Improves Exercise and Performance
Turning up your tunes can also up the effort you exert during exercise. In one study researchers found that cyclists worked harder and biked a further distance when listening to faster music as compared to music with a slower tempo. When the tempo slowed, so did their pedaling and their entire effect. Their heart rates fell and their mileage dropped. They reported that they didn’t like the music much. On the other hand, when the tempo of the songs was upped 10 percent, the men covered more miles in the same period of time, produced more power with each pedal stroke and increased their pedal cadences.
For pace-based exercises like running or weight-lifting, music can help regulate rhythm and signal to the brain when the body should move. This signal helps us to use our energy more efficiently, so we’re not exhausting ourselves too soon. One study by the NIH looked at high rate of physical inactivity and the associated negative health outcomes worldwide, practicians need new evidence-based theories and interventions to increase physical activity. NIH concluded,
music alters mood, is a cue for movement, and makes physical activity more enjoyable leading to improved health outcomes of weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cardiovascular risk factor management, and improved quality of life.
Keep in mind, music does fine for exercising indoors, but for the optimal health benefits of exercise or physical activity, the best option is outdoors out in nature.
Boosts Our Memory and Recall
Music elicits strong emotions in all of us. When you hear one of your favorite songs you are able to recall where you were when you first heard
it in addition to how it made us feel. Over the years and in more recent research, music has shown a strong correlation to our memory, as discussed in this Psychology Today article. When people listen to music that is thought to be pleasurable, there is an increased amount of dopamine released in the brain that is known as the pleasure neurotransmitter. Dopamine has an effect on our episodic memory, allowing us to recall certain events in which we were involved, overall strengthening our long-term memory.
In many patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, memories related to music can far outlast other memories, and listening to music can stimulate the recollection of autobiographical memories and enhance verbal memory, as well. In some cases, patients with dementia will be able to recognize emotions through listening to music, even when they can no longer do so through voices or facial expression. In late stages of the disease when it becomes difficult to form words and sentences, listening to music may make it easier to overcome these kinds of language deficits.
In one small study, singing familiar songs elicited conversation between patients as well as recall of memories. A social worker, Dan Cohen, began bringing personalized music he created after talking to family members, on an MP3 player to dementia patients in nursing homes. The results were incredible because patients who had seemed unable to speak, proceeded to sing and dance to the music, and others are able to recount when and where they had listened to that music.
The music seems to open doors to the residents’ memory vaults. Listening to and performing music reactivates areas of the brain associated with memory, reasoning, speech, emotion, and reward. There was even a award-winning documentary film :Alive Inside”, which was released in 2014, on Cohn’s patients.
Music and Other Beneficial Activities
As we have discussed, music has a huge positive and healthy impact on rejuvenating restful sleep, on physical activity ability and endurance, on mood, memory, recall and cognitive function, on your cardiovascular system, circulation, and heart health, on illness recovery and pain management, and on stress, anxiety, and depression, Let’s quickly review other activities that are also beneficial to your continued health and well being:
Learn To Relax, Re-Center, and Meditate
Eat A Well-Balanced, Fresh, Organic, Non-GMO, Nutrient-Dense Food Diet Of Lean Meats, Dairy Products, and Eggs(*),
Supplement Your Diet With the All-Natural, Organic, Non-GMO, Whole-Food Adaptogen, Peruvian Maca (*)
Follow the links denoted with a (*) to purchase any of these incredible nutrient-dense foods in our reviews.
We’re sure you will agree that using music for therapy is a very effective way to improve many aspects of you health, well being, and your life. What are your thoughts? Do you agree with our conclusion? Please address your questions below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
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