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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Harmonizing Medicine With Music

What do you think? 
This is another article I wrote for Interpretive Writing class. Enjoy.


The mind is just as significant as any other form of conventional therapy that may be given to patients during rehabilitation. The brain is the body’s natural drugstore. In certain states, the brain produces natural chemicals called neurotransmitters that work hand in hand with medicine to improve the patient’s health. The more positive the mind’s disposition, the more effective the patient’s rehabilitation is.

Rehabilitation calls for the restoration of body systems that have been damaged or affected by disease. In this process, treatment regimens and therapies are given to patients.

However, it is difficult to neglect the physical distress caused by traditional therapy. Patients are administered with chemical substances to stop the spread of diseases, undergo surgery to remove tumors and are required to lie in bed for a long time to convalesce. These situations give rise to depression, loss of hope, anxiety, fear and physical pain. When the mind is immersed in stressful conditions like these, it’s harder for the body to recover. This is where MUSIC THERAPY comes into play.

Music therapy encourages the brain to get involved. It’s a process in which music is used to develop the physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being of a client and improve his health. By allowing the patient to listen to music, the brain is rendered active in helping the body recover. This is due to the correlation of the facets of music – pitch, rhythm, dynamics and timbre – to the responses of the brain. 

Sounds affect the mind in very subtle ways. Songs with fast tempos excite the nervous system while songs with slow tempos calm it down. High pitches in songs result to higher vivacity in clients. The quality of sound, like that of the saxophone or the piano, may also evoke feelings of relaxation and positive thinking. Hearing is not only a mechanical phenomenon; it is also a perceptual event.

Music therapy is now an established health profession. It works by assessing the client’s medical needs and “prescribing” the appropriate musical genre to answer them.

Accessing the body’s drugstore

For cancer patients in rehabilitation, pain management could be a grueling undertaking. Dr. Deforia Lane, director of music therapy at University Hospitals of Cleveland Ireland Cancer Center, says “The brain uses the same neurotransmitter to send the sensations of both pain and music. If both elements are received at the same time, neither can reach the brain with full intensity. Hence pain is felt less intensely, so patients may experience a decreased dependence on pain medications”.

Listening to feel-good music like smooth jazz triggers the brain to produce neurotransmitters called ‘endorphins’ that serve as the body’s natural analgesic (pain-relievers). If you’re a cancer patient experiencing pain from therapy, Chuck Mangione’s jazz number, “Feels So Good” is a song highly recommended for you to listen to. The blissful, soothing sound of the flugelhorn and saxophone in the song activate the release of endorphins in the bloodstream that reduce the amount of the pain caused by surgeries or chemotherapy.

Endorphins in the blood also increase the activity of the immune system's natural killer cells which provide the surveillance system that guards the body against newly forming cancer cells of all types.
Studies indicate that classical music is able to lessen the effects of sleep disorders like insomnia by triggering the brain to produce ‘melatonin’, the neurotransmitter in charge of regulating sleep cycles. Rehab clients having sleeping difficulties due to the therapy-induced pain may listen to Johann Sebastian Bach’s classical piece “Minuet in G Major” to help them relax more easily. Classical music from the baroque period causes the heart beat and pulse rate to calm down to the beat of the music therefore making it easier to sleep.
It was discovered that slow music like “Minuet” could slow the heartbeat and the breathing rate as well as bring down blood pressure, making it possible to alleviate the troubles caused by anxiety disorders.

Psychedelic, man!

Psychedelic music is a genre of music that became popular in the 60s along with spiritual freedom, creative expression and many attempts to reach a higher level of consciousness. Psychedelic music gained notoriety for its role in enhancing the neurological effects of recreational hallucinogens like LSDs and marijuana in “expanding the mind”. In rehabilitation, one does not need these addictive drugs to enjoy psychedelic pop.

It has been found out that listening to psychedelic music such as that of Pink Floyd or The Beatles develops one’s creativity, spiritual being and optimistic attitude. Psychedelic music is an experimentation of sounds and lyrics that aim to “paint pictures” in the psyche. With psychedelic music, people become more spiritually introspective, and subsequently, create a more positive outlook on life.

When one hears the surreal lyricism and dreamlike arrangement in The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, the listener is taken to a delightful realm of different sights and sounds. Psychedelic pop has a profound effect on the brain. Recent studies say that psychedelic music sets off the discharge of both endorphins and ‘serotonin’ (neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of well-being and happiness) needed to uphold healing and pain management in patients.

Upbeat it!

Grooving to upbeat and rhythmic songs like the Michael Jackson classic, “Beat It” isn’t only a great way to find some extra energy, it’s also a useful procedure in physical therapy.

Patients who have been in car crashes, shootouts and other severe physical accidents sometimes end up having ruptured nerves or torn muscles and thus lose some of their motor skills after surgery or intensive care. People rehabilitating from these incidents have great difficulty in recovering their motor skills and thus need physical and occupational therapy to help them in retrieve the physical facilities that they’ve lost.

Rhythmic music’s role in physical and occupational therapy is vital. Rhythmic and upbeat music aid clients regain their motor skills. The music, in conjunction with physical exercises that physical therapists render, encourages the patients to move and train their movement skills.
Rhythm organizes physical movements when it collaborates with the brain and the body. For example, the body contains rhythms in the heartbeat, while running and during breathing. An autistic boy who could not tie his shoes learned how on the second try when the task of tying his shoes was put to a song. The rhythm helped organize his physical movements in time. The same principle applies with people in movement rehabilitation. When upbeat music is played, the more effectively the body is able to cooperate with the brain in making motor responses.


The task of music therapy is an indispensable contribution in today’s rehabilitation protocols. It stimulates the often untapped powers of the most profound source of medicine there is – THE BRAIN. Its array of pharmacological benefits is far more sophisticated than any capsule available in the market today.

While invasive surgery may cause pain, the endorphins released by the brain have been proven to be three times more effective as a pain-killer than morphine. Chemotherapy may kill cancer cells but it does not discriminate. It will damage even the cells in your body that isn’t cancer. Neurotransmitters, on the other hand, destroy and monitor cancer cells without compromising other essential cells in the body

Music therapy fills the gap that traditional medical procedures fail to recognize. When we allow music to invite our brain in promoting our health, we do not only recover faster, we also pay less for the therapy that our own body could’ve covered for in the first place.

The brain knows your health better than any pill. It’s never a bad thing to utilize its natural prowess.

1 comment:

  1. alam ko na ang style of writing mo. haha. i will never be wrong. cool, sana pagawin rin kami niyan next year


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