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14 Science-Backed Benefits Of Music Therapy and Sound Healing │How Sound Healing Can Help Increase Your Energy

14 Science-Backed Benefits Of Music Therapy and Sound Healing │How Sound Healing Can Help Increase Your EnergyWhat Is Music Therapy And Sound Healing?

Think about your favorite song. We all have at least one, and probably numerous ones that bring up good memories at the core of our heart, move us on the inside, and maybe even get our body physically moving.

It’s no secret that music can be a powerful force in our lives. Cultures dating back to the beginning of time have used music across history for spiritual purposes, to connect and communicate with each other, and for socialization.

More recently, the use of music has built upon these foundations to address many diseases and diagnosis. Research is revealing benefits beyond your imagination and is becoming a staple therapeutic approach to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.[1]

After evaluation by a music therapist, a program that may include creating, singing, dancing, or just even listening to music is designed to suit the preferences, strengths, and needs of each client. The therapeutic context of music therapy can touch many aspects of clients’ lives and is applied for many reasons, such as:

With all these uses, it’s no wonder that music therapy and sound healing has the potential to impact almost every area of your life (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, etc.). Moreover, by touching every area of your life in a positive manner, sound healing is a phenomenal way of maximizing quality of life and energy levels while minimizing fatigue.

 

How Music Therapy And Sound Healing Works

When we listen to, play, or sing music, there are a ton of physical changes that are taking place in your brain and other structures of your body. Literally, the music changes you from the inside. A couple of the notable ways that music therapy and sound healing can improve your health are:

Here’s a little bit deeper look into each of these changes in the body.

 

Sound Healing Changes Patterns Of Brain Activity

Changing Patterns of Brain Activity - Music therapyWhen we think of music, you most likely think about using your ears to hear the rhythm and noise. However, it’s not only the auditory parts of your brain that are active. Research consistently shows that brain regions involved in movement, attention, planning and memory consistently are activated with music. The cool thing is that the activity of our brain does everything from controlling our emotions, impacting important organs in our bodies, and even leads to develop habits.

The term neuroplasticity revolves around the concept that “neurons that fire together wire together.” In other words, when you regularly stimulate certain neural pathways and brain regions, you encourage those neural pathways to grow stronger — much like exercising a muscle makes it stronger. Here are a few of the ways that brain activity has been shown to be affected with music:

These are just some of the examples of changes in the brain Further discussion of relevant changes may be made later in the article when discussing specific beneficial aspects of sound healing.

 

Sound Healing Influences The Release Of Neurotransmitters And Other Hormones

Thanks to certain mood-altering chemicals, music has a powerful effect on our energy levels and emotions. It can make you happy, energized, sad, or even relaxed. Research has implicated several important neurotransmitters and hormones to be involved in the regulation of our states of being. In particular:[10]

 

Sound Healing Increases The Number Of Immune-Boosting Cells

In a meta-analysis of over 400 studies, lead researcher Daniel Levitin, Ph.D., found that listening to and playing music increase the body’s production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and other important bodies such as interleukins, lymphocytes, and natural killer cells.[11]

These are the body’s defense mechanisms that fight invading viruses and enhance the immune system’s usefulness in keeping you healthy and help you to recover faster when you are sick.

 

Science-Backed Benefits Of Music Therapy And Sound Healing  

Literally anybody…children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly can be positively impacted by music therapy. Additionally, as you will see below, there are a wide-range of benefits that have been proven to possibly be obtained with sound healing.

 

#1 Music Therapy Can Improve Your Mood

Music Therapy Can Improve Your MoodThe National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) designates music as an effective way to regulate mood. They note that “the rhythmic and repetitive aspects of music engages the neocortex of our brain, resulting in calming us and reducing impulsivity”.[12]

Research in a wide variety of patient populations has shown that sound healing truly is an effective method for improving mood. Prior research findings include:

Having a bad day? The NAMI suggests that music can be used to alter mood states by playing music to match your current mood and then slowly shifting to a more positive or calm state.[19] When we shift into a better mood, we will most often have more energy, be less fatigued, and be better able to show up in this world.

 

#2 Music Therapy Can Help Improve Symptoms of Autism

Individuals impacted with the autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) often have significant limitations in conventional forms of verbal and non‐verbal communication. It has been proposed that the structure and predictability found in music help to develop tolerance, flexibility and social engagement to help enhance interpersonal responses and communication.[20]

A 2006 review found that both randomized controlled trials and case studies using music therapy improved “communicative behavior, language development, emotional responsiveness, attention span and behavioral control”.[21]

Further research in 2008 demonstrated that 24 sessions over the course of 8 months was more effective than sessions playing with conventional toys in improving attention behaviors and non-verbal social communication skills in children.[22]

A similar study comparing improvisational music therapy and toy play sessions released a year later showed that “Improvisational music therapy produced markedly more and longer events of `joy’, `emotional synchronicity’ and `initiation of engagement’ behaviors in the children than toy play sessions”. In addition, positive responses to the therapist’s demands were more frequent in the music therapy sessions, whereas more “no responses” to the therapist were seen in the toy play sessions.[23]

In sum, as noted in a 2014 review paper, music therapy may help children with ASD to improve their skills in:[24]

Music Therapy Sound healing and Autism

 

#3 Music Therapy Can Fight Brain Injuries

Brain injuries can result in “impairments in motor function, language, cognition, sensory processing and emotional disturbances”, impacting the quality of life of individuals with these injuries. Luckily for researchers, these people also represent ideal subjects to test the efficacy of music therapy on improving brain functioning.[25]

 

#4 Music Therapy Can Help Treat Depression

Music Therapy Can Help Treat DepressionDepression is a serious threat to the mental health of our society. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, there are some saddening statistics to report from 2016, an estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults.[32]

Depression tends to cause changes in mood, heighten anxiety and increase loss of interest and pleasure. Music therapy has been proposed as an alternative or adjunctive therapy for those who suffer with depression. Highlights of previous research in the area are supportive. For example:

These examples are consistent with recent review papers from 2015 and 2017 that agree that sound healing seems to “reduce depressive symptoms and anxiety and helps to improve functioning and quality of life (maintaining involvement in job, activities, and relationships)” of those diagnosed with depression. [40] [41]. In addition, it seems likely that music therapy and sound healing can be beneficial in reducing markers of depression in individuals going through medical treatment.

By overcoming depression and depressive tendencies, your life will most likely have a brighter perspective and bring a new sense of energy into your days.

 

#5 Music Therapy Can Enhance Fetal Development

Twinkle, twinkle, little star…

Music therapy and sound healing can help fetal development (1)One of the hallmark lullabies that is a staple of nearly every child’s early days, weeks, and months is a perfect example of how music is intertwined in our lives from birth to death.

We’ve talked about numerous benefits of music therapy to the health of a living adult. When in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), it has been demonstrated that providing parents with culturally based, self‐selected, personalized musical songs can can instill a potent means of support and allow for expression of fear or anxiety related to the birth of a child[42]. However, what is good for the parent is also very good for the infant as well.

About halfway through the pregnancy term, neonates are able to start to hear sounds inside the womb. Until birth, the vital sounds of the placenta provide a rhythmic beat that nurtures them and encourages growth. When they are born, infants enter into to an acoustically void environment that may be suboptimal.  However, recent research shows that attention to sound and music played within the environment of a growing infant is instrumental to securing conditions that enhance health. For instance:

While the majority of the research has been done on pre-term infants, it is likely that the same effects of music would be seen in healthy neonates. As a result, this could encourage healthy rates of growth, development, and nourishment to ensure that the first few weeks to months of an individual’s life are maximized for a healthy future.

 

#6 Music Therapy Can Improve Your Pain Management

Music Therapy Can Improve Your Pain ManagementMany people take medications and use other alternative therapies to manage chronic and acute bouts of pain that can severely lower quality of life. As effective as these remedies are, they can often come with negative consequences like addiction and/or a list of side-effects and interactions with other prescriptions or lifestyle factors.

However, you can’t go wrong with getting hooked on music. Research has now been showing that music therapy has the potential to be a natural source of pain relief. For instance:

There are a few plausible mechanisms that can explain why music can help to relieve pain and be an effective analgesic. Some of the more popular theories are[53]:

Regardless of why it works, if music has the ability to reduce your pain, it’s likely that it would result in an improvement of quality of life. Pain tends to drain our energy and ability to do basic life functions. Without it, we are free to live life as we want and not be held back by nagging signals from our body that we are hurt.

 

#7 Music Therapy Can Help Your Heart

Music Therapy Can Help Your HeartJust like the beat of music, your body has an internal beat. That beat comes from your heart and is the sign of you being a living being. What’s cool about music is that it can have an internal effect on the beating of arguably the most important organ in your body.

For example, Bernardi and colleagues showed the effect of different types of music[54]. Slow tempo, meditative music “produced a relaxing effect with a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, and ventilation rate”. Increasing the tempo of the music produced an increase in breathing rate, blood pressure and heart rate, probably due to sympathetic activation.

Furthermore, more research shows how music can play a role on our cardiovascular health.

This line of research shows that by listening to certain kinds of music, we can lower our heart rate and blood pressure, which is a long-term strategy for reduced stress and improved cardiovascular health.

In addition, if you need a quick boost of energy, turn up the tunes on a fast paced, upbeat song that can temporarily give you the spark you need.

14 top benefits of music therapy and sound healing

 

#8 Music Therapy Can Enhance Social Connection

Music therapy and sound healing can strengthen social connectionFor years, music has been a tool to create community and culture in populations across the world. Whether it was the pounding of drums during battles, pomp performances during celebrations, or jazz tunes during hard times, music has been a uniting factor throughout history.

Think about many of our daily activities…. walking, talking, clapping, dancing, tapping, etc). While they are all performed by different parts of our bodies, they all share a common theme of being tied to rhythm. When these rhythmic activities are performed by groups of people they “tend to become synchronized, reflecting social coordination which leads to fostering of interpersonal trust and bonding[58].

Physiologically, oxytocin, vasopressin, and dopamine are necessary components for the establishment of social bonds, whereas endogenous opioids (like endorphins) contribute to feelings of ‘dependence’ that are necessary for humans to maintain long-lasting social relationships[59].

The two most important neurotransmitters believed to underlie the connection between music and social connection are oxytocin and vasopressin. Thus far to date, the majority of the research has looked at oxytocin in relation to music therapy. Studies have shown[60]:

While the underlying mechanism tying music and enhanced social connection isn’t well known, we have known for years that music can be a powerful uniting factor between individuals across all cultures.

 

#9 Music Therapy Can Help To Reduce Stress And Anxiety

Music Therapy Can Help to Reduce Stress and AnxietyWe live in a society swimming in stress and anxiety. Whatever your worry…financial fears, professional concerns, family issues, etc., our perception of life’s events tends to cause us to live in chronic stress and anxiety.

Our biological stress response is a mesh of neuroendocrine, autonomic, metabolic, and immune system activity that impacts our physiology. There are many mechanisms by which music can decrease our bodies response to stressful and anxiety provoking situations[65]:

A large number of studies have shown music to be a great tool at lowering stress levels and reducing anxiety in a variety of populations. For instance:

While stress can be seen as a good thing in the short-term, prolonged activation of these systems has detrimental consequences for health (such as decreased immunity and development of chronic diseases). In addition, chronic stress tends to drain our energy levels and make us fatigued.

By listening to music and living a less stressful life, you can enjoy more vitality and have better health. Bump up those beats and lower the stress in your life!

 

#10 Music Therapy Can Improve Physical Function Capacity

Tapping your foot, getting up to dance, or even working out to your favorite tunes all are great examples of how music interacts with movement. There is just a natural part of us that wants to move as we hear the words and rhythms of songs and music.

Music seems to be able to not only get us to move our bodies, but improve our bodies ability to move as well. One such example comes from people with Parkinson’s disease. Those affected by these diseases fall victim to movement troubles such as slowed movements, tremors, rigidity, and postural instability.

Something as simple as walking may be a challenge for those who suffer from this ailment. A recent thesis paper found that “walking performance and motor symptom severity were significantly improved amongst people living with PD after 13-week music-accompanied walking program”[73]. Interestingly, the more familiar and enjoyable participants rated the music, the better their improvements seemed to be.

Furthermore, complex movement like dancing to music is even more of a challenge for these patients. A review of the impact of different dance genres on mobility and quality of life found dance (with music) to be “safe and feasible for people with mild to moderately severe Parkinson’s, with beneficial effects on walking, freezing of gait, and health related quality of life[74].

Additionally, there is more evidence in a variety of populations that shows how music works to improve physical functioning:

The physiological changes that come from listening and moving with music seem to have beneficial effects on our overall ability to move. If we are able to physically move better, it’s likely that we will have more energy. When do you tend to have the least amount of energy? Usually, it’s when you’ve been lounging around on the couch all day. On the other hand, you have a ton of vibrancy right after your workouts.

Movement creates energy and improves movement capacity!

 

#11 Music Therapy Can Fight Parkinson’s And Alzheimer’s Diseases

Two of the most common degenerative brain diseases that affect individuals worldwide are Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s Diseases. The most frequent symptoms of both diseases are cognitive decline, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances[78]. However, there are a wide range of quality of life sucking, debilitating consequences to these diseases. Emerging evidence suggests that music therapy is an effective treatment modality for those who suffer with these diseases.

For example, three months of weekly sessions of music therapy (group choral singing, voice exercises, rhythmic and free body movements) combined with traditional physical therapy (stretching exercises, specific motor tasks, and strategies to improve balance and gait) improved measures for slowed movements, motor improvement, control of emotional functions, improvements in activities of daily living, and improved overall quality of life[79].

In addition, another symptom of Parkinson’s disease is impairments in speech production. 20 hour-long group music therapy sessions resulted in “significant improvements in singing quality and voice range, coupled with the maintenance of speaking quality” in ten patients diagnosed with the ailment[80].

For those who suffer from these terrible diseases, life can be stolen. Energy levels are low, physical function is hampered, and cognitive abilities decline. The potential for something as readily available as music to be an effective therapeutic method offers promising hope to partly restore quality of life in those affected by such debilitating conditions.

 

#12 Music Therapy Can Reduce Symptoms Of Psychological Disorders

Just as important as our physical health is, our mental health is just important. We have covered how music therapy can help to improve mood and emotions as well as reduce stress and anxiety earlier on in this article. However, research also shows that sound healing may be a beneficial therapeutic method for those diagnosed with psychological disorders. For example:

Just as with using music as a therapeutic method for degenerative diseases, sound healing offers a ray of hope to improve quality of life and reduced negative symptoms associated with the wide number of psychiatric conditions that are popping up among individuals worldwide.

 

#13 Music Therapy Can Improve Self-Expression & Communication

The ability to express your thoughts through words, speech, and non-verbal communication is an essential component of developing and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as living an overall productive life. Without the ability to communicate, you may be pre-disposed to social isolation, be less successful in work, etc.

Multiple studies have shown that sound healing can be an efficacious method of improving self-expression and communication. Most of the research has been done in populations who have difficulty with basic communication skills and functions. For example:

 

#14 Music Therapy Can Help You Stay Well

Music therapy and sound healing can help you stay wellOur immune system is our bodies line of defense against infection and includes cells and proteins such as natural killer cells, phagocytes, leukocytes, and T-cells that provide both general and specific responses to incoming pathogens[89].

Research suggests that “stress and aging have detrimental effects on both immunesystem responses, leading to a weakening of defenses against new pathogens and increases in systemic inflammation”[90].

However, little attention has been devoted to psychosocial and lifestyle factors may potentially improve immune system functioning[91]. Positive aspects of life such as optimism, humor, and laughter have been shown to potentially alleviate the negative effects of age and stress[92] [93] [94]; leading to the theory that music (which we have shown to improve mood and reduces stress) may be a tool to improve immune function[95]. To date, there is some literature the analyzes the connection:

When we are sick, whether it is with a major illness or a minor bug, we don’t have optimal energy levels. Our vitality gets drained by our body focusing on fighting whatever we are facing and pushing resources towards getting better. As a result, fatigue flies in fast.

If music therapy offers protection against illness by enhancing our immunity, it stands as a potential way to ensure that we keep our energy levels high and consistent across the days, weeks, months, and years.

 

Bringing Sound Healing And Music Therapy To You

It’s unlikely that you will go out and hire a credentialed music therapist after reading this article. However, I hope that it has opened your mind to an alternative, unique therapeutic and beneficial tool to improve your physical, emotional, cognitive, and social health.

With that being said, I’d like to provide a list of ideas of incorporating sound healing into your own life:

(My personal favorite music/sound therapy album is from sound healer Michael Tyrrell of Whole Tones, which induces the most profound state of tranquility and vibrant energy. You can get it here.)

LET THE MUSIC FLOW THROUGH YOUR BODY

Whatever genre of music you like, turn up the tunes to improve your health, enhance your energy, and bring vitality to your life!

If you want to learn more about music therapy and sound healing, check out the podcast I did with Michael Tyrrell on Wholetones and how they help heal fatigue and stress

 

References

[1] American Music Therapy Association.  Definition and Quotes about Music Therapy

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Comments

5 thoughts on “14 Science-Backed Benefits Of Music Therapy and Sound Healing │How Sound Healing Can Help Increase Your Energy

  1. Ari……when I saw the email about this podcast my first reaction was to dismiss it as something I wasn’t looking to know about but I have thought that about a few of your topics and listened anyway and have never been sorry. Michael Tyrrell was awesome and you Ari continually amaze me with the quality of guests and information that is cutting edge and worthwhile.

  2. Excellent information on this interview Ari and thank you for the amazing work you are doing but searching on Google about Michael Tyrell a lot of negative feedback comes up, such as that all these alleged healing benefits are nothing more than a scam, that we should be more sceptic and less naive in believing such claims, etc.
    What is your take on these?

    1. Interesting that there are people who advise being sceptic and not naive- there is wisdom in that as it keeps us being alert and awake to what we are experiencing for ourselves and what has been discovered with open minded curiosity and good research methods and technology and methods. In this case of the effects of music there has been so much careful research done over many years. With the scope and depth that the new technologies give us- very specific measurements are being documented. I have been working in the field of Arts-in-Medicine for 18 years. I work in hospitals and other facilities with people under a great deal of stress- physical and emotional. Due to the effectiveness of the arts in bringing positive results, particularly with the support of research, hospitals around the US and other countries are funding programs that bring the arts into the medical arena. Please yes be skeptical! I would hope that those with serious doubts about the claims regarding music will indulge their negative impressions with some vigorous investigation- they might be surprised, expanded, and enlivened by what they find when they do their homework. They could even simply start with noticing how they feel physically, emotionally, etc. when they listen to their favorite music.

  3. Hi Ari,
    A quick note to express my appreciation of your great work, your beautiful curiosity and
    extraordinary depth and diligence in researching what has been discovered that can illuminate the questions that have emerged in you. I think your perceptive and rare questions may be one of your greatest gifts. I believe that Einstein said something about: ‘finding the answers was not the most difficult part… it was finding the right question’…..
    Thank you for all you are doing and your generosity in sharing it with us!

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