Music therapy for ailments

Vol VII n.10

“Give an ailing heart a song and see how it recovers,” quoted Jim Morrison, frontman of The Doors. Music has healing properties, claimed musicians and now, doctors too are singing the same tune.

According to a recent study, certain symphonies played on the piano, saxophone, harmonica, violin, Agung A Tamlang, Marimba and xylophone have shown features that can help cure ailments.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 dementia, medical professionals believe that music can reduce certain symptoms, help with healing, improve physical movement, and enrich a patient’s overall quality of life.For instance, people often seek refuge in music when they are not in the best of their spirits. Or, even after a hard day at work, some of us prefer falling asleep to soft music. It is indeed an effective mood enhancer. Music therapy has been used effectively to treat depression.”Music helps patients with Parkinson’s, dementia, autism and other disorders. For patients of Parkinson’s, it helps by providing a rhythmic beat that can work as a timekeeper of sorts for the patient’s physical system. It helps the muscles to coordinate and work together to make the patient walk,” says city-based psychiatrist Amirul Hoda. He stresses on the fact that this therapy helps the mind to calm down to a great extent. “I have had patients in the past who have suffered from anxiety and stress. Their increasing dependence on sleeping pills was not only affecting them physically but was also having a negative effect on their mind as the addiction was somewhat bad,” he informs A regular habit of listening to jazz for about 15 to 20 minutes every day primarily helped soothe and rest their racing mind. Indian folk and classical music, western – jazz, pop, rock, psychedelic and progressive music, country and African music also have qualities to alleviate mood swings. These help increase the flow of alpha-waves in brain and lessen theta-waves (detected through EEG signals), hence making brain active. Rashmi Panicker, another psychologist, points out that this therapy is not new and that it has been present in India since ancient times. “Various Indian ragas are known to have healing properties and have been practised in different cultures since ages,” she informs.