- - Thursday, March 17, 2016

Scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. Add to that, researchers are finding that we are so hard-wired to respond to music that there is potential in music’s power to impact our physical and mental health as well as the way we learn. Powerful, indeed! Studies also suggest that someday music may even help patients heal from Parkinson’s disease or a stroke.

Musicians have an innate understanding of how musical sound interacts with our bodies — recognizing sound impacts our bodies in a way no other art (or science) does. Some have contended we live in a very visual world and that what we see is powerful – but we are reminded that the latest scientific evidence reveals that the ear, which we now know is active in the womb and in the final times of life, has an advantage over the eye. Facts are utilizing this wonderful tool will help us live a healthier life and make demanding times in our life a little more manageable.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About The Health Benefits of Music

Stress Buster
When we are stressed, our body releases the hormone cortisol which prepares us for “fight or flight.” It increases our blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels, and decreases our digestive tract function. And when stress becomes chronic, it can increase our risk for a number of chronic illnesses and premature death.

Recent studies have shown that listening to music can put a damper on stress.
Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry from The University of Alabama, found that it actually affects our brain waves and promote a calm meditative state (alternatively, faster beats stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat and can sharpen concentration and produce more alert thinking). A calm meditative state in turn can decrease cortisol levels.

Pain Relief
It has been hypothesized that because music distracts our attention from pain and can relax us, it may alter our brain’s neural pathways that are associated with the perception of their pain. In a study of people with fibromyalgia—a disease characterized by severe total body pain—those who listened to music once a day for four weeks experienced significantly less pain and depressive symptoms compared to those who did not. And, too, there have been studies that have shown that when patients listen to music before, during, and after surgery, they experience less pain from their procedure.

Immune Function
Music has played a role in healing rituals for centuries. Today, we are starting to understand how tunes and notes can directly enhance our immune system. In a study from Wilkes University, researchers found that when students listened to soothing music, their levels of IgA—a type of antibody that is present on mucosal surfaces such as nostrils, mouth, lungs—increased. IgA is often referred to as the immune system’s first line of defense.

In another study from Tokyo Medical and Dental University Graduate school, listening to music for sixty minutes was shown to increase the level of natural killer (NK) cell activity. These immune cells have the important job of attacking bacteria, infected cells, and even cancer. Now that’s music to my ears.

Help us get our ZZZ’s
Music has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration, as well as reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and sleep disturbances. Some of the theories as to why this occurs include: it helps our body relax, calms our mind when it is racing, and serves as white noise (steady sound used to mask unwanted sounds). Listening to tunes to treat insomnia—as opposed to medications—serves as a cheap, convenient method without side-effects.

And it appears that not all music is created equal when it comes to improving sleep. In a study by the University of Toronto, researchers found that classical music with slow rhythmic patterns (similar to ones that are effective against stress) helped people get to sleep fasters and for longer.

Facilitate Learning
Listening to tune engages many of the same areas of the brain that are involved in language processing, memory, and other critical thinking skills that are necessary for academic success. One study showed that students who participated in music programs scored 63 points higher on the verbal and 44 points higher on the math sections of the SATs compared to students with no music participation.

Patient care
Hospitals and health care settings have begun to appreciate—and incorporate—music in patient care areas. It can create a calm, personal atmosphere and block out some of the disturbances that surround them. One study showed that listening to music before surgery may be more effective than drugs when it comes to reducing anxiety! The reason behind this mimics the method in which it decreases stress and insomnia—a slow rhythm syncs with brainwaves and induces a meditative state.

Exercise Harder
Numerous studies have shown that listening to music can help us run faster, bike harder, boost workout motivation, and enhance our endurance. Experts believe that this is partly due to being distracted with the beat or lyrics. It may also be because we try to sync our bodies with the tempo. And while we tend to focus on the benefits of music during our workout session, there is some evidence that listening to music enhances post workout recovery. So keep the tunes playing!

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