Neurochemistry and Pain Reduction
HARMONIES Music As Medicine by Marlaina Donato
rom ancient Mongolian shamans that used drumming for physical and emotional healing to modern, board-certified music therapists that work with special needs kids, science now confirms what we’ve always known: Music makes us feel better. Decades after Don Campbell’s groundbreaking work about the cogni-
tive effects of listening to the music of Mozart, growing research reveals music’s ability to reduce chronic and acute pain, restore brain connections after a stroke, boost immunity and promote brain development in children. Recent studies of the benefits of music published in BJPsych International show decreased depression in patients with neuropsychiatric
Listening to music we find pleasurable can have an analgesic effect on the body, and researchers theorize that the brain releases a cascade of natural opioids, including dopamine. A pilot study on cancer patients published in the Indian Journal of Palliative Care in 2016 shows a significant reduction of pain when individuals are exposed to music for 20-minute intervals. Music also minimizes chronic pain associated with syndromes like fibromyalgia. Collective studies published in Frontiers of Psychology in 2014 suggest that relaxing, preferred choices of music not only reduce fibromyalgia-related pain, but also significantly improve mobility.
Dementia, Stroke and Brain Development
Board-certified music therapists like Sheila Wall use live and recorded music to catalyze therapeutic changes in their clients. In her Eau Claire, Wisconsin, practice, Wall works with a wide range of clients ranging in age from 3 to 104. “Music bypasses the language and intellectual barriers in the brain that can prevent healing. Music helps the brain
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disorders and improvement in people with certain types of epilepsy.
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