24 Aug Music Therapy for Health and Wellness
Catherine Ulbricht Pharm.D.
Being a pharmacist, you may think I would always suggest a bottle of something for what ails you. However, first and foremost, I believe in the “do no harm” motto when it comes to healthcare. To me, that means to first try the least invasive route to feeling your best as possible, like a stress-preventing measure, special diet, or exercise program before popping a “magic pill.” Lifestyle changes can help prevent adverse effects and interactions associated with some drugs, herbs, and supplements. It may be a cost-effective and comparatively safe addition to your health and wellness regimen. “Do no harm” to your pocketbook as well.
For most people, music is an important part of daily life. Some rely on music to get them through the morning commute, while others turn up a favorite playlist to stay pumped during a workout. Many folks even have the stereo on when they’re cooking a meal, taking a shower, or folding the laundry.
Music is often linked to mood. A certain song can make us feel happy, sad, energetic, or relaxed. Because music can have such an impact on a person’s mindset and well-being, it should come as no surprise that music therapy has been studied for use in managing numerous medical conditions. (http://www.naturalstandard.com/databases/hw/all/patient-musictherapy.asp (link is external))
All forms of music may have therapeutic effects, although music from one’s own culture may be most effective. In Chinese medical theory, the five internal organ and meridian systems are believed to have corresponding musical tones, which are used to encourage healing.
Types of music differ in the types of neurological stimulation they evoke. For example, classical music has been found to cause comfort and relaxation while rock music may lead to discomfort. Music may achieve its therapeutic effects in part by elevating the pain threshold.
Music may be used with guided imagery to produce altered states of consciousness that help uncover hidden emotional responses and stimulate creative insights. Music may also be used in the classroom to aid children in the development of reading and language skills. Receptive methods involve listening to and responding to live or recorded music. Discussion of their responses is believed to help people express themselves in socially accepted ways and to examine personal issues. (http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10673229.2011.549769 (link is external))
There is strong scientific evidence supporting the use of music therapy for mood enhancement and anxiety/stress relief, according to Natural Standard research.
Here are five other conditions for which music therapy has been studied, supported by good scientific evidence:
Autism is a brain disorder that is associated with a wide range of developmental problems, especially in communication and social interaction. According to the American Psychiatric Association, autism is classified as a type of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These disorders are characterized by problems with communication, social interaction, as well as unusual, repetitive behaviors. Some professionals use a broader term, called pervasive development disorder (PDD), to describe autism. In addition to autism, there are four other disorders that qualify as PDDs: Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Rett syndrome. (http://www.naturalstandard.com/databases/genomics/all/condition-autism.asp (link is external)?)
People who have autism spectrum disorders often show a heightened interest and response to music. This may aid in the teaching of verbal and nonverbal communication skills and in establishing normal developmental processes.