Thursday, October 29, 2009
Christmas associations for most people include the sounds of joyous Christmas carolers and beautiful or fun Christmas music. There are many beautiful and soothing Christmas tunes often played in the background during the festive holiday season. You will be delighted to discover that music has amazing health benefits for you!
Research now tells us that music not only makes us feel good but has a role in improving our health. Yes music can release the increase of endorphins which is the body's natural ‘feel good' hormones. Music can lower hormones related to stress and can effect physiological functions such as respiration, heart rate and blood pressure. One study found that listening to harp music during Chemotherapy eased the pain of cancer patients and relieved anxiety associated with the treatment. Music has also been shown to help reduce post-surgical stress and pain, to reduce symptoms of depression in elderly people, and to aid children who are developmentally delayed by enhancing hand-eye coordination.
A great deal of research has been done by The American Music Therapy Association with regards to music therapy. It has shown consistently the positive effects of music therapy. Music Therapy has its roots in ancient times. It regained attention during World War I and II when community musicians visited soldiers in hospitals suffering emotional and physical trauma. There was notable improvement in these patients which resulted in the doctors and nurses advocating for musicians to be hired to play in the wards.
The use of music to improve health was recognized by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Plato, Seneca and Cicero believed that music had profound effects upon behavior. They all believed that it affected societies and that the state should regulate the type of music as they believed some had potentially harmful effects. It is noted that many musicologists today relate that music is a form of communication or language that directly accesses the emotions.
Research today has found that different types of music may significantly affect blood cortisol levels (a stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands). In one research study they presented one group being informed of a pending operation then tested for cortisol levels after listening to some calming music of their choice in consultation with a music therapist. Cortisol levels were reduced by 50% compared to the group tested that had no music.
Music has even been researched with its effect on plant growth. Researchers found that frequencies around 5000 Hz were the most potent in stimulating plant growth. In this frequency range you will mostly find 18th and 19th century composers. One researcher Dorthy Retallack after experimentation with rock styled music where plants were exposed to a selection of Led Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge, and Jimi Hendrix found these plants became stunted, gangly, exhibited sparse leaf growth while bending away from the source of the music. Retallack found that most of the plants died after 16 days.
Alfred Tomatis confirmed that what Retallack found with regards to frequencies of music beneficial for plants was the same for humans. Tomatis found that the types of music most likely to promote brain waive patterns related to relaxation were the frequency range from 500 to 8000 Hz which promoted alpha-band brain waives. Interestingly research has shown that stringed instruments are the richest in producing these beneficial higher frequency levels that induce a calming response.
Christmas music for most people brings a soothing calmness to their being. It has the ability to distract our attentions from our daily grind and worries and cause a sense of relaxation. When we hear Christmas music we mostly feel uplifted with a sense of joy. Now we know that listening to our favorite joyous music may be more beneficial than we thought! Enjoy the sounds of Christmas and revel in its benefits!