Music, Healing and Longevity

Music has a long history of therapeutic use – from its traditional role in healing rituals around the world to its recent use as an integrative Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Here’s how music to your ears can add on years.

Posted on | Mao Shing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., PhD | Comments ()
Music, Healing and Longevity
Music, Healing and Longevity

Music has a long history of therapeutic use  – from its traditional role in healing rituals around the world to its recent use as an integrative Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Here’s how music to your ears can add on years.

Get Some Music Therapy

For thousands of years, music has been used in medicine. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that music had a healing effect on the body and soul. Singing and chanting have been a part of Native American healing ceremonies for millennia. In the Ottoman Empire, mental illnesses were often treated with music. A more formal approach to music therapy began after World War II when researchers observed that music had a positive effect on emotionally disturbed veterans.

To date, there is evidence that music therapy can reduce high blood pressure, depression and sleeplessness. In Alzheimer’s patients, music therapy was shown to significantly reduce anxiety and aggression. While there are no claims that music therapy can directly cure diseases like cancer, medical professionals believe that music can reduce certain symptoms, help with healing, improve physical movement, and enrich a patient's overall quality of life.

Live Longer With Soothing Tunes

In the past few decades, researchers have found that slow, soothing music is generally beneficial to one’s health, whereas fast, jarring music is not. Listening to calming music enhances cognitive functions such as memory, concentration and reasoning skills; even better, it boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscle tension, regulates stress hormones, elevates mood and increases endurance. Classical music and meditation music were found to deliver the most health benefits. On the other hand, irritating sounds can cause stress and therefore negatively impact your health. The composers that have been suggested to most effectively improve your quality of life are Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi and Scarlatti.

Play Songs to Boost Your Brain

When you learn new things, you give your brain a workout, so why not learn a new instrument? Studies have found that students who take music lessons have increased IQ levels, and even show improvement in their nonmusical abilities. And when you play a wind instrument, such as the saxophone, flute, trumpet, trombone, clarinet or even a pennywhistle, you get the added benefit of improved lung capacity.

Remember that music is for people of all ages. There is increasing evidence that regular mental and physical exercise maximize overall health and functioning in older adults; for aging individuals who are prevented by disability from participating in active physical exercise, music bridges the gap, providing the significant benefits of both mental and physical stimulation. Whether they enjoy the social experience of singing in a choir or reflect on a musical recording, older adults can use music as an effective healing art.

Get Balanced With Calming Sounds

If your home or office is consistently overrun by disturbing sounds like traffic and construction, consider counteracting the noise with a subtle sound source. Try an indoor fountain with bubbling water to soothe your nerves. Wind chimes made from natural materials like bamboo or seashells also provide peace. For some, the sound of a grandfather clock brings serenity. Find the most calming sound to you and make it the background to your day.

Blog written by Mao Shing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., PhD
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, bestselling author of Secrets of Longevity, is a 38th-generation doctor of Chinese medicine and the leading...