Music and Health: More than Just Melodies for the Soul

drum lessonsEverybody knows the soothing effect of music on the soul. It helps calm nerves, makes you feel more relaxed, and often unawares of the world around you. Whether stressed out or in emotional pain, music always seem to find that magic spot in the heart to slow down its rapid beating and dictate it to a more harmonic rhythm. Pretty much like a drum teacher from RD Music Studios Melbourne motivating his students to strike the drum head to create a certain rhythm, that is what music does to your heart and soul.

It is precisely because of the beating heart that man has always been fascinated with music. The rhythm of the heart’s pumping of blood across the network of blood vessels sends rhythmic waves that are interpreted by the brain as the general rhythm of the entire body. Furthermore, since these rhythms are translated as whole body experiences, all parts of the brain are literally stimulated.

This means that aside from the release of dopamine and other helpful neurotransmitters that make you feel more positive about yourself, music has the potential for more profound physiological, psychological, and emotional effects. Because of this, health experts and scientists alike have been studying ways in which music can improve health and enhance the quality of life.

Music is an Excellent Stress-Buster

In healthcare, there is an intervention called music therapy where soft melodies are used to calm nerves especially during stressful events or anxious moments. Although the exact mechanism is still debatable, music has been shown to be more effective than oral anti-anxiety drugs in reducing the stress levels of certain patients who have undergone surgery. Post-surgery patients were less anxious and had significantly lower need for pharmacologic agents to manage their stress. Music’s effect on cortisol has been documented to play a large part in its effectiveness against stress.

Music therapy is especially useful in hospitalized children. Young infants in intensive care units are shown to have more favorable patient outcomes when soft music or melodies are played at least three times a week. The effects are further improved when it is the mother singing to their babies.

Whether listening to music or playing it, its effect on stress is simply remarkable. Playing the drums has been shown to be the best stress-buster among all musical instruments. The whole body movements allow for the expenditure of pent –up emotional energies that fuel anxiety. By drumming your way to the beat, you are not only creating music for your own anxiety relief, you are also venting all that negative energy out from your system.

Music is a Natural Painkiller 

The effect of music on the brain to release neurotransmitters has been largely described as very unique. These neurotransmitters play a role in mitigating the effects of surgical stress and pain on individuals. Post-surgery patients have been shown to require fewer morphine shots in order to control pain when music therapy was introduced as part of their overall treatment program. Even individuals who are suffering from fibromyalgia have shown a decrease in the level of pain experienced as well as a reduction in symptoms of depression.

Music is an Immunity Enhancer 

Some health experts believe that music has the capability to prevent diseases and illnesses. Although the assumption requires more thorough investigation, experts believe that music can significantly affect the release of immunoglobulin A or IgA by the body’s immune system. Immunoglobulin A is a natural antibody that is present in the mucosal surfaces of the body. It is one of the body’s first line of defense alongside the skin which acts as a natural protective barrier.

Music is a Memory-Enhancer

As music stimulates the brain into releasing dopamine and other neurotransmitters that may play a role in better memory retention and enhanced learning, its use in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or senile dementia prove promising. Its integration into the overall rehabilitation plan for patients who suffered a stroke is being considered as a mainstay in treatment. In several studies that evaluated the effects of music on these patient populations, it was observed that music not only enhanced memory recall and facilitate better learning processes; it was also shown to be generally useful in improving mood, enhance attention, and increase executive functioning.

Music is Good for the Heart 

Cliché as it may seem but music is definitely good for the heart. Depending on the kind of music, blood vessels can either dilate or constrict which can significantly affect blood flow. Studies have shown that an upbeat, happy music increases the diameter of blood vessels by as much as 26 percent to significantly improve blood flow. The opposite effect is observed when anxiety- or anger-triggering music is listened to.

Music is the food for the soul as it has the ability to capture imagination and attention, lift spirits, regulate mood, generate emotion, evoke memories, reduce inhibitions, increase work output, and encourage an overall rhythmic movement.

Be it listening to music or actively playing it, music is definitely more than just melodies.

Christina Hoover

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