By: Cat Ebeling, RN, MSN-PHN, co-author of the best-sellers: The Fat Burning Kitchen, The Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix
We’ve all experienced the jarring effects of hard rock, screamo, head-banger music on our moods and our bodies. I know when I hear music like that, I can’t think straight and feel anxious, irritable and aggravated. On the other hand, think about the type of music that plays in a spa, during a massage—or even the music playing at the doctor’s office. It’s usually slow, melodic and very relaxing.
It’s obvious that music can have a real effect on our moods, our thought processes and even our physical bodies.
Musical therapy is more than a trendy ‘feel-good’ therapy. It can actually improve medical outcomes, ease moods and improve the quality of life in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the ways musical therapy helps:
Easing anxiety and pain–People who listen to music in the operating room reported less discomfort during their procedure. Post-operative music helped patients avoid opioid medication for pain.
Restoring lost speech–Musical therapy helps people who are recovering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury to help them speak again.
Helping with physical therapy or fitness—You may have noticed that working out to music helps your workout. Studies show that music therapy enhances people’s ability to perform during physical therapy programs as well.
Aiding pain relief–Music therapy has worked well in people with intense short-term pain all the way to those with chronic pain.
Improving quality of life for people with dementia—People with dementia or Alzheimer’s often are able to relate to music, and music therapy helps with memory, soothing agitation, helping with speech and communication, and even improving physical coordination.
What type of music works?
A couple of types of music have been identified to have healing, restorative properties.
Frequencies of music can occur in a range of wavelengths . Each of these different frequencies actually affect us in a specific way. An alpha frequency can bring about relaxation, a sense of calm and mindfulness. A theta frequency helps to inspire creativity and imagery.
Sound frequencies can affect our hormones and trigger endorphins, our feel-good chemical that relieves stress, helps us think and reason better, and even strengthens the immune system.
Consider this scientific study on positive effects of music: College students from University of California at Irvine were assigned to three groups. The first group listened to one of Mozart’s sonatas. The second group listened to a relaxation tape. The third group listened to nothing. The results were very clear—those who listened to Mozart improve their Stanford-Binet test results significantly.
In the 1950’s, Germain physicists studied electromagnetic resonance in the earth’s atmosphere. These electromagnetic waves or ‘heartbeat of the earth’ as they were called, were coined the “Schumann Resonance”. Schumann’s successor, Dr. Konig was able to match the resonance of the earth with various levels of brain activity by comparing EEG recording with the earth’s electromagnetic fields.
Dr. Konig later discovered that the resonances matched natural brainwave states. These are the brainwave states that occur during all normal daily activities from sleeping to creating to learning.
Specific tones of sound that help promote positive health are often called Solfeggio frequencies. These sounds can be traced back to ancient history and were said to be fundamental sounds in Christianity, as well as Eastern Indian religions. Solfeggio frequencies were found to profoundly affect both the conscious and subconscious to stimulate healing. These studies led to discovering the value of music at 432 Hz. Music at this frequency is more healing, meditative and relaxing.
432 Hz has been proven to be in harmony with human physiology.
The Benefits of the Different Solfeggio Frequencies
Many ancient musical instruments were constructed for 432 Hz tuning, and this was standard for instrumental tuning. The 432 Hz frequency is known for its deeply calming and soothing effects. A recent double-blind study from Italy showed that music tuned to 432 Hz slows down the heartrate compared to 440 Hz. This frequency works well for yoga, meditation, or sleep.
A 2018 study from Japan showed that music at 528Hz had a strong ability to reduce stress in the endocrine system and autonomic nervous systems–even after only five minutes of listening. This study in the Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy found that 528Hz music reduces the toxic effects of alcohol. Early research indicates that this frequency has the ability to heal and repair the body.
Music tuned in at 396Hz helps get rid of subconscious fear and anxiety. It also helps to eliminate feelings of guilt and subconscious negative beliefs that get in the way of achieving personal goals.
The frequency of 639 Hz helps balance emotions and elevate the mood. It also promotes communication, love, understanding, and harmony into interpersonal relationships.
Music tuned to the frequency of 741 Hz helps with problem-solving, cleansing the body, and self-expression. It also helps one to tune into intuition and decision-making.
The 852 Hz frequency helps to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, making it ideal when nervousness or anxiety is bringing you down.
When you combine specific soundwaves with a certain beat, the music has even more powerful benefits to humans.
Binaural beats mean that the music plays at a slightly different frequency for each ear, although the brain perceives it as a single tone. Binaural beats have become a new type of sound wave therapy for the treatment of anxiety, stress, and related disorders. This musical treatment is utilized with stereo headphones so that each ear will hear the different frequencies.
The findings of this 2018 study on pre-operative patients suggest that listening to binaural beats for a recommended period can affect a person’s subsequent relaxation, behavior and even their sleep cycle.
These Five different categories of frequency have been studied
• Delta pattern: Binaural beats in the delta pattern are at a frequency of 0.5–4 Hz that helps with deeper sleep.
• Theta pattern: Binaural beats in the theta pattern at a frequency of 4–7 Hz help with improved meditation, creativity, and REM sleep.
• Alpha pattern: Binaural beats in the alpha pattern are at a frequency of 7–13 Hz and encourage relaxation.
• Beta pattern: Binaural beats in the beta pattern at a frequency of 13–30 Hz help promote concentration and alertness.
• Gamma pattern: Binaural beats in this pattern occur at a range of 30–50 Hz and promote stimulation while a person is awake.
What Do Binaural Beats Do?
Using binaural beat therapy is beneficial to many people. Some believe it helps decrease anxiety and others increase concentration, focus, sleep and meditation. Other benefits include:
• Reduced stress, anxiety and nervousness
• Increase in focus and motivation
• Improved confidence
• Improved moods
• Better long term memory
• Enhanced psychomotor performance
Research from 2001 suggests binaural beat therapy suggests that it helps people with mild anxiety, although the authors stated that it warranted further study as a therapeutic measure to support conventional treatments for anxiety.
A 2005 study reported a decrease in preoperative anxiety after exposure to a delta wave binaural beat.
Scientists from the National College of Natural Medicine in Oregon conducted a study in 2007. Study participants listened to delta wave binaural beat therapy every day for 60 days. Results showed a variety of benefits: A decrease in anxiety, insulin-like growth factor (a factor in cancer), and dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical. Participants also reported an increase in quality of life.
Another 2019 review of 22 studies found a significant link between longer exposure to binaural beat tapes and reduced anxiety. It also found that practitioners did not need to mask the beats with white noise for the treatment to have an effect.
Some researchers have even suggested that only 10 minutes of exposure to a 6 Hz frequency brought on a brain state normally only achieved through meditation.
Binaural beats therapy report few, if any, negative effects but further research is necessary.
Music therapy has the ability to promote a healing, relaxed, more creative state of mind. It’s a proven fact that music has a definite effect on people’s moods, physical state, and health and its history as a healing, restorative factor in health and well-being is well documented.
Both Solfeggio frequencies and binaural beats are easy to try. All they require is a decent set of stereo headphones and music, which can be found easily on YouTube, Spotify or Pandora.
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