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Music's Power - How Music Can Benefit Your Health

"I believe music heals," said American musician Billy Joel. "It's a bursting human expression. It affects us all. Everyone loves music, regardless of culture. This universal bond with music has led researchers worldwide to investigate its therapeutic potential.

Dr. Cooney Blades
Nov 28, 202229 Shares540 Views
"I believe music heals," said American musician Billy Joel. "It's a bursting human expression. It affects us all. Everyone loves music, regardless of culture. This universal bond with music has led researchers worldwide to investigate its therapeutic potential.
We can all think of at least one song that makes us feel something. Songs that remind you of a difficult break-up or a loved one's death may be among the most poignant.
Music is "hardwired" into our brains and bodies, according to Barbara Else, senior advisor of policy and research at the American Music TherapyAssociation. Musical elements like rhythm and melody are echoed in our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Given our deep emotional bond with music, it's no surprise that it's been shown to improve mental health. A 2011 Canadian study found that listening to music increases dopamine production in the brain, a mood-enhancing chemical, making it a viable treatment for depression.
Listening to hip-hop music, particularly Kendrick Lamar's, may help people understand mental healthdisorders, according to research published in The Lancet Psychiatry earlier this year.
Increasingly, researchers are discovering that music has health benefits that go beyond mental health, leading some health experts to call for more widespread use of music therapy in hospitals.
In this spotlight, we examine some of the potential on how music can benefit your healthand whether it can be used to supplement or replace current treatment strategies.

Why Is Music So Powerful?

An old black lady joyfully listening to music on headphones
An old black lady joyfully listening to music on headphones

Pain And Anxiety Relief

It's true what Bob Marley said: "Music is good medicine when it hits." Some studies suggest this is true.
Early this year, MNT reported on research from Brunel University in the UK that showed music can help patients cope with pain and anxietyafter surgery.
The researchers found that patients who were played music after surgery reported less pain, anxiety, and the need for pain medication than those who were not.
This effect was even stronger for patients who chose their own music. Dr. Catharine Meads told MNT:
"Music could be marketed as a drug." Musical interventions are noninvasive and inexpensive. Everyone should have access to them.
This study is one of many praising music's anti-pain properties. Music may help patients with fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes muscle and joint pain and fatigue.
The researchers found that listening to soothing music reduced pain and increased functional mobility in 22 fibromyalgia patients.
But why does music seem to soothe? While the exact mechanisms are unknown, many researchers believe one reason is that music causes the brain to release opioids, which are natural pain relievers.
According to Dr. Daniel Levitin and colleagues at McGill University in Canada, music induces the release of opioids to ease pain.

A Good Stress Reliever

Listening to your favorite music can help you relax when you're stressed, and numerous studies back this up.
For example, MNT reported last month that babies remained calmer longer when music was played rather than spoken to, even when baby talk was used.
The researchers believe the repetitive pattern of the music the infants listened to reduced distress, possibly by promoting "entrainment"—the ability of the body's internal rhythms to synchronize with external rhythms, pulses, or beats.
Another 2013 study found that music helped children at the UK's Great Ormond Street Hospital reduce pain, anxiety, and stress – regardless of social factors.
Some researchers believe music can help reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels, the body's stress hormone.
This stress-relieving effect may be dependent on the type of music listened to, with relaxing music being the most likely to lower cortisol levels.
According to Dr. Levitin and colleagues, the effect of music on brainstem-mediated measures such as pulse, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature is another mechanism by which music can reduce stress.
It stimulates the heart, while relaxing music relaxes it. This is mediated by tempo: slow music and musical pauses reduce heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure, while faster music increases these parameters.
Researchers believe music may be effective in treating heart conditions due to its effect on heart rate and potential as a stress reliever.
Repetition of musical phrases may help control heart rate and blood pressure, according to a study presented earlier this year at the British Cardiology Society Conference in Manchester, UK.

How Does Music Heal The Mind?

Certain songs can bring back memories of happy and sad times in our lives.
The question is whether music can help with memory recall.
A study published in 2013 in Memory & Cognition included 60 adults learning Hungarian. Adults were assigned to one of three learning tasks: speaking unfamiliar Hungarian phrases, singing the phrases, or speaking them rhythmically.
When asked to recall the phrases, the singers outperformed the other two groups. The authors say that listening-and-singing may help verbatim memory for spoken foreign language phrases.
These findings suggest music may help memory recall in people with cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease.
A recent Gerontologist study examined the impact of music on memory recall in people with early-stage dementia.
The study divided 89 dementia patients and their caregivers into three groups: singing, music listening, and usual care.
On cognitive tests, the singing and music-listening groups had better episodic memory than the usual care group.
authenticity. They had better working memory than the usual care group.
Regular musical leisure activities can have long-term cognitive, emotional, and social benefits in mild or moderate dementia, the authors concluded.

Helping With Brain Injury And Seizures

Music appears to be helping people recover from brain injuries like strokes.
One study found that stroke patients who listened to music for 2 hours daily had better verbal memory, attention, and mood than those who listened to an audio book or nothing at all.
Music may also help with speech recovery after a stroke. One 2013 Korean study found that stroke patients with communication issues improved language ability after 1 month of neurologic music therapy. authenticity.
Barbara Else told MNT that music therapy may help stroke patients.
It's an exciting area of research because the neuroscience and research findings around music therapy interventions for speech, language, and communication are rapidly evolving.
We often see good results when working with these patients with our colleagues in related fields. There are still many unanswered questions, but the work is
Music may also help treat epilepsy, a brain disorder characterized by seizures. According to MNT, epilepsy patients' brains react differently to music than non-epilepsy patients' brains.
The study by Christine Charyton and colleagues at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that people with epilepsy had greater brain synchronization in response to music.
"Epilepsy sufferers synchronize before a fit. Patients with epilepsy synchronized to the music in our study without having seizures, "Charyton said.
These findings, Charyton says, may lead to a new epilepsy treatment. "Music can help people with epilepsy relax; stress causes seizures," she said. "Many patients said listening to music helped them relax."

The Bottom Line

Given the overwhelming evidence that music has numerous health benefits, many experts advocate the increased use of music therapy in medical settings.
As part of the interdisciplinary team, music therapists can assess, deliver, and document music therapy treatments as well as consult with other healthcare professionals (physicians, nurses), Else told MNT.
Else also believes music therapy could help treat conditions like tension headaches.
In a more complex case, she said, some people have seizures when exposed to music or auditory stimuli, especially high-frequency sounds and rhythmic intensity.
The patient's symptoms can be stabilized with customized music therapy interventions, allowing for a medication reduction or taper.
Based on current research, we clearly have more than just an emotional connection to music. Don't be afraid to dance around to your favorite tunes and reap the health benefits.
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