The use of music as a form of medical care is nothing new. The mind-to-body connection of music has roots that go as far back as ancient Greek civilization. Now, more than ever before, medical researchers are tapping into the preventative power of music and its role in health care. Music therapy now has a role in dental care, surgery and anaesthesia, pain medicine, intensive care, obstetrics, pediatrics, geriatrics, neurology, ophthalmology, and palliative care.
Should it surprise us that music can affect the whole body? As the journal Noise & Health points out, the proteins involved in hearing are the same proteins found in all other cells of our body. Therefore, what can music do for your body?
Music is well-known for its stress-relieving effects. It has been shown to lower the level of a stress hormone called cortisol. The journal Plos One found that music listening results in a faster recovery from stress. At the biological level, this process includes muscle relaxation, a lower heart rate, and lower blood pressure.
Guitar, tuba, piano. It doesn't matter what the instrument is--just learn how to play it. Long-term training in music is associated with better cognitive function. The journal Plos One confirmed this when comparing professional musicians to non-musicians. Researchers found that musicians outperformed non-musicians on multiple cognitive function tests.
The great thing about staying healthy with music is that you get to choose your "medicine". Most people assume health-promoting music has to be classical music. Although classical music has shown multiple health benefits, you don't have to worry if it just doesn't match your taste. Two studies have shown that preferred music is more effective to reducing anxiety for hospital patients. That go-to tune you jam to in the car on the way to work or during your morning jog can work wonders, too.
Dealing with Disease
Music imparts social and mental benefits including more endurance to adolescents and young adults dealing with rigid cancer treatment.
People with dementia are able to maintain or even improve their physical and mental health by participating in regular leisure activities that involve music.
Adults with insomnia who listened to music at bedtime for one month shows a signficiant increase in sleep quality as shown in a study published in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners.
Music has also demonstrated improvement in social functioning of schizophrenia and other mental disorder patients and walking and movement activities of Parkinson's disease patients.
Music VS Pain & Anxiety
Music has been shown to divert attention from pain and to reduce the level of anxiety, depression, and fatique.
Coronary heart disease patients dealing with anxiety, especially those who have already had a heart attack, benefit from listening to music of their choice. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews shows music can improve blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, quality of sleep and pain in heart disease patients.
Music distracts attention from pain. When one hospital agreed to have a live harp performance in an intensive care unit, a 27% reduction in pain perception was reported. The chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia and limited mobility caused by the pain was also improved by use of music as a treatment. To fully test its pain-reducing effects, the Journal of Affective Disorders examined the effects of music on one of the most painful experiences a woman can have--childbirth. Childbirth has been shown to negatively impact a woman's postpartum health. Music decreased anxiety and pain during labor and reduced the depression rate after childbirth.
The journal Cancer Nursing shows that music can improve the anxiety, pain, and fatique cancer patients experients. Once again, the benefits were greater when participants chose their own music.
Music has even benefitted patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing hemodialysis. Music reduced complications experienced by the patients during their therapy, especially pain.
Boost Your Exercise with Music
We all know the amazing benefits of exercise for our bodies. While doing your reps or morning jog, don't forget your mp3 player or radio. It turns out that exercise combined with music has more positive effects than exercise alone.
Boost Your Immunity
Thanks to creative musicians and ground-breaking neurochemistry scientists, we now know that music can improve our body's immune system. A report published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences points out that music can increase the amount of immunoglobulin A antibodies and natural killer cells, cells that fight invading germs and bacteria.
This field of research is ever-growing. In the meantime, don't forget to tune out to an old classic or trending, new hit next time you workout, take a road trip, or simply relax.