Beth Israel Medical Center in New York uses music therapy to sooth their premature babies and trauma patients. The hospital finds that music eases patients’ pain, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety and depression and allows patients to get well, faster and is less expensive than medication. Beth Israel is not alone. In 2007, nearly 600 facilities offered music therapy to their patientsMusic therapy is not a new idea. Aristotle and Plato wrote about it. Primitive healers and witch doctors employed drums and rattles in their healing work. Ancient Egyptian doctors used incantation and sound healing. The Bible records the influence of David’s singing on King Saul. “And it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand and all shalt be well. “(1 Samuel 16:14-16) In the twentieth century, musicians visited veterans hospitals after both World War I and II.
Entertainers continue to bring healing to troops on the ground and in hospital settings to this day. Patients on breathing machines in intensive care units listened to Mozart sonatas in a study at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Those listening to music had reduced stress hormones and more growth hormones, better metabolic regulation and better sleep. The group had lower blood pressure, lowered heat rate and needed less medication.Mozart’s music is also played to premature babies at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The infants display lowered heart rates and better sleep. All it takes was two hours a week of Mozart to obtain these healing benefits.Is it the music or is it the listening that makes the difference? Severe stroke patients listened to either music or audio books in a study in Finland. A recent issue of the journal Brain reported that the patients who listened to music for at least one hour were less depressed and had faster memory restoration and recovery from stroke symptoms.Music therapy has been used with terminally ill patients to ease their anxiety and drowsiness, and has even been used to reduce pain perception. Music play lists are common now, in maternity wards, as mothers-to-be know all too well the soothing sounds that music brings to the delivery room. Music has been used to treat addictions, and even cancer.A type of group drum playing, called composite drumming, has been shown to increase Natural Killer (NK) cell activity, the cells that fight cancer and viral infections.Alternative Medicine By: Melanie Grimes Published: Friday, 3 October 2008