While music has long been recognized as an effective form of therapy to provide an outlet for emotions, the notion of using song, sound frequencies and rhythm to treat physical ailments is a relatively new domain, says psychologist Daniel J. Levities, PhD, who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal. A wealth of new studies is touting the benefits of music on mental and physical health.
For example, in a meta-analysis of 400 studies, Levities and his postgraduate research fellow, Mona Lisa Chance, PhD, found that music improves the body’s immune yester function and reduces stress. Listening to music was also found to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery (Trends in Cognitive Sciences, April, 2013). “We’ve found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a health-care role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics,” says Levities, author of the book “This is Your Brain on Music” (Plume/ Penguin, 2007).
The analysis also points to Just how music influences health. The researchers found that listening to and playing music increase the body’s production f the antibody mucilaginous A and natural killer cells ? the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness. Music also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortical. “This is one reason why music is associated with relaxation,” Levities says.
One recent study on the link between music and stress found that music can help soothe pediatric emergency room patients MAMA Pediatrics, July, 2013). In the trial with 42 children ages 3 to 11, University of Alberta researchers found that patients who listened to relaxing music while getting an IV inserted reported significantly less pain, and some demonstrated significantly less distress, compared with patients who did not listen to music.
In addition, in the music-listening group, more than two-thirds of the health-care providers reported that the Avis were very easy to administer ? compared with 38 percent of providers treating the group that did not listen to music. “There is growing scientific evidence showing that the brain responds to music in very specific ways,” says Lisa Hurtling, PhD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta and lead author of the study. Playing music for kids during painful medical procedures is a simple intervention that can make a big difference.