Music can do many amazing things for us. Everyone enjoys some kind of music.
Even if somebody is not a music fan overall, that person will still have a song or two that gets them toe-tapping or head-bobbing. It’s not surprising then that many people believe that music is therapy and that it actually has powers that can heal and restore us emotionally and mentally.
This may sound like we’re back in the ’60s at Woodstock; however, there is definitely merit to these beliefs that music can change us, and in more ways than just emotionally and mentally. It can change us physically, too.
How Can Music Physically Change Us?
According to recent scientific studies, listening to your favorite songs can kill cancer cells, curb anxiety, and even reduce pain in our bodies. This is absolutely revolutionary information because music has long been known to positively affect emotions, however, it seems that the positive effects go well beyond just the emotional space.
Daniel J. Levitin, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of the breakthrough book “This Is Your Brain on Music” (Plume/Penguin, 2007), analyzed 400 studies on the specific health benefits of music on our bodies. The results of his analysis provided some amazing insight into the physically positive effects that music has on numerous health ailments and diseases. “We’ve found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a healthcare role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics,” says Levitin.
This totally changes the game, not only for us but for hospitals, general practitioners, and every other healthcare profession that provides care and medicine to the sick. Essentially, Levitin has found that music can play a similar role to medication in the medical space in terms of what it can treat and positively affect inside our bodies.
Music Boosts Our Immune Systems
Listening to your favorite music causes your body to produce more of the antibody known as immunoglobulin A, which helps your immune system fight off various bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells. As a result, your immune system’s defenses are bolstered, and your immune system as a whole is boosted and made stronger against any foreign invaders of your body.
Music Reduces Anxiety
Anxiety has been plaguing society for centuries, but only recently has it been actually diagnosed as such. It’s become a significant problem for younger people in particular in recent years, but people of all ages are affected by it.
Studies have shown that listening to music can dramatically decrease levels of anxiety in a person, as it significantly reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisone that is released in the body. This hormone is largely responsible for feelings of anxiety, so when music decreases the amount of cortisol that is released, it’s actually helping to alleviate anxiety!
Music Reduces Chronic Pain
People who live in nursing homes and hospice care and suffer from chronic or persistent pain have experienced significantly less of this pain when singing or playing musical instruments, as well as active engagement in songwriting activities. These people tend to live longer and experience less pain when they’re actively involved in what can be called ‘music therapy.
In addition, pediatric care patients who are listening to music while getting an IV inserted have reported feeling less pain than those who aren’t listening to music. This is significant because it’s another reason why music can be regarded as a form of therapy and why it’s becoming more and more commonplace in medical treatment spaces.
Is This True?
All of this evidence about the impact of music on our general health suggests that it can definitely be accepted and used in the treatment of disease and sickness in patients who suffer from any of the above examples.
The author and psychologist Levitin’s analysis and results are all based on a wide array of scientific evidence that suggests the brain responds to music in ways that promote and increase levels of relaxation and healing. Levitin also notices that the genre of music doesn’t make a difference in its effect on the body. So hip hop music can have the same positive impact on the body as classical music.
According to Melanie Kwan, who is the president of the Association for Music Therapy in Singapore, the health benefits of music can be summed up like this: “Active music engagement [allows] patients to reconnect with the healthy parts of themselves, even in the face of a debilitating condition or disease-related suffering.”
So, this ultimately means that you should listen to more music. So, take a seat, plug your headphones in, and let Kate Bush work her magic on you.