The Power of Music

We’ve often heard that music can heal the soul. But, now we have evidence that it can actually heal the body.

A new study reveals that music may actually help premature babies. Researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada have found that music can reduce the level of pain babies feel and help them transition from tube to bottle feeding. This study is of particular interest to me because I have a premature baby who is still in the hospital right now. It just so happens that our doctors believe in the healing power of music, as they encourage parents to have music — usually Classical music — playing quietly in their children’s hospital rooms. As a mother of a premature baby who is just learning to bottle feed, I’m happy to play music all day long for my baby. If it would get her off of the tube feeding, I would hire a Classical concert pianist to play in her room! As far as reducing pain and increasing the level of comfort, there’s no doubt that alleviating pain and increasing comfort will promote healing and health. Bring on Mozart!

Music is also medicine for adults according to Doctor Wendy Magee, International Fellow in Music Therapy at the London Institute of Neuropalliative Rehabilitation. This doctor describes music as a “mega vitamin for the brain.” She encourages a choir called “Sing For Joy,” comprised of people with Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and others recovering from cancer and strokes. They believe that singing makes them feel better. Whether the music itself is bringing healing or the joy that comes from the actual singing is almost irrelevant, as long as they are genuinely feeling better. It’s legitimate therapy.

There are so many health benefits of music. It affects brain waves, breathing and heart rate, and state of mind. We have all experienced being sick at some level, much less being sick in a hospital room, and the difference between a quiet room, a room with a bunch of buzzers and beeps going off (as in most hospital baby rooms), and a room with something pleasant — whether that be music, television, or people we love sharing that space. It almost seems silly that it requires a study, or multiple studies, to tell us what we already instinctively know. If you’re like me, it’s just nice to be affirmed. You don’t have to be a doctor to know what makes people feel better.

Other researchers explore the role music plays in regulating the heart and boost hormones. This, again, is an interesting perspective on the effect of the music. It may be that the music increases the hormones that make us feel better. We can leave it to doctors and researchers to figure out whether the relationship is cause-and-effect or correlative. Whatever the case, there’s no debate that music is a healthy prescription.

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(Original photo by Tse Chuen Tsai, used under Creative Commons license.)

This entry was posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009 at 11:00 am and is filed under Body & Soul, Wellness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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