Music 'better than drugs' at reducing pre-surgery stress

A recent review of 400 research papers about the neurochemistry of music found that playing and listening to music has clear benefits for both mental and physical health.

Researchers found that music both improved the body’s immune system function and reduced levels of stress. Listening to music was also found to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety prior to surgery.

“We’ve found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a health care role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics,” says Prof. Levitin of McGill University’s Psychology Department. “But even more importantly, we were able to document the neurochemical mechanisms by which music has an effect in four domains: management of mood, stress, immunity and as an aid to social bonding.”

The 400 studies showed concensus around several different aspects of music therapy, namely that music increased both immunoglobulin A, an antibody that plays a critical role in immunity of the mucous system, and natural killer cell counts (the cells that attack invading germs and bacteria).

Levitin and his postgraduate research fellow, Mona Lisa Chanda, also found that listening to and playing music reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body.

 

Image is credited to Army Medicine from Flickr.

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