Music Therapy For Immunity- Does It Work?

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  • Written by: Dr. Pramod Mane
Music Therapy For Immunity-

Music therapy is science-based and works as an immune-booster and a stress-buster. Different types of music have different effects on our health and well-being. 

Music! There’s always something special about this unique form of art. For some of us it helps to keep our mind calm, for some it may bring excitement, while for others it can be a mood enhancer, bring mind diversion, entertainment or even work as a cure for their pain. But did you know that music therapy can also play a role in boosting your immunity? Sounds like it is too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, it is true! Music does have an effect on your immune system. Let us understand a little more about how music as therapy exactly works and the different types that are beneficial for us. 

Can music be used as a therapy? 

Music therapy involves use of music by a trained professional to treat or manage a health condition or to promote health and well-being. This means that music can be used as a treatment option for certain specific conditions after thorough assessment of the individual and identification of their needs. This may help to provide physical and emotional support to the individual.  

Music therapy is all backed by science! 

A number of studies have been conducted to understand how music is processed by the brain and body, to provide beneficial effects for mental and physical health. These studies included immunological, psychological, neurological, physiological and endocrinological responses to music therapy. 

Music is a stress-buster 

  • Stress has shown to have a direct impact on the immune system by releasing hormones which suppress the activity of natural killer cells in our body. Thus, music has gained importance as a stress relieving therapy for thousands of years.  
  • Music and mental health are closely related, and music has been shown to decrease depression, anxiety, panic and other mood-related disorders.  
  • Long-term stress is associated with high cortisol levels which may be harmful for your body. When treated with music therapy, researchers noticed decreased cortisol levels, a hormone released during stress.  
  • Physiological responses showed improvements in heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. 

 Your immune system loves music! 

  • Immunological responses showed increased levels of natural killer cells and T-cells which are important immune cells.  
  • The exposure to different styles of music showed different responses.  
  • Music therapy also increased production of antibodies, particularly Immunoglobulin A (IgA) which is considered as the primary form of defence against any infection. IgA prevents the attachment of bacterial and viral cells to healthy cells of our body and counteracts the harmful chemicals produced these organisms. 

Through these processes, it is clear that music therapy does help in boosting our immunity. Some common conditions that have demonstrated therapeutic benefits of music therapy include, depression, anxiety, insomnia, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease etc. 

 Music in any form works wonders! 

There are mainly two forms of music therapy used: Active technique and receptive technique.  

Active technique: The active technique is when a person is directly involved in music by singing, composing, playing instruments and creating music. 

Receptive technique: The receptive technique involves response to music in different forms such as listening to music, dancing and noticing lyrics, etc. 

The style, intensity, technique and timing of music is decided by the music therapist based on individual needs. Some common forms include: 

  • Listening to recorded relaxing music may decrease blood pressure and stress hormone levels. 
  • Stimulating group drumming sessions may increase levels of natural killer cells and help in relaxation. 
  • Singing simple melodies and short sentences may improve speech and communication in patients facing difficulty in fluency after a stroke. 
  • Playing the piano may improve motor skills for better concentration, balance and coordination. 
  • Therapist playing music may help in identification of emotions for people with autism. 
  • Listening to specific, individual-selected music may provide stress relief and increased production of immune cells. 

 These different types of music therapy can influence your immunity in a positive way. It is important that you do not underestimate the connection of your mind and body. So, keep your mind calm, understand your body and try to include some simple forms of music therapy for exceptional health benefits. 

Source: 

  1.  Fancourt D, Ockelford A, Belai A. The psychoneuroimmunological effects of music: A systematic review and a new model. Brain Behav Immun. 2014; 36:15-26. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2013.10.014 
  1. American Music Therapy Association; Definition and Quotes about Music Therapy. 2015AMTA  https://www.musictherapy.org/about/quotes/ 
  1. Thompson, W. F., & Schlaug, G.The healing power of music. 2015; Scientific American Mind, 26(2), 32-41. 
  1. Gooding, L. F. Finding your inner voice through song: Reaching adolescents with techniques common to poetry therapy and music therapy. 2008; Journal of Poetry Therapy, 21(4), 219-229.  https://doi.org/10.1080/08893670802529209 
  1. Morey J, Boggero I, Scott A, Segerstrom S. Current directions in stress and human immune function. 2015; Curr Opin Psychol; 1;5: 13–17. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4465119/ 

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