Musical healing is a form of therapy used to help treat different physical, mental, and emotional problems. It has been proven to be effective because people have definite, measurable responses to certain sounds and tones. Healing music has been shown to induce states of relaxation and increased well-being, which practitioners believe makes both the mind and body more receptive to recovery.
Alternative medicine has included musical healing for a variety of conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance addiction. Music therapy has gained credibility in the medical community due to a large amount of supporting research. It is often included in hospitals to help patients heal faster from surgery. Music played in newborn intensive care units has had notable positive results with infants suffering from premature birth–related conditions. Special education programs in schools have also included musical healing therapies to help improve students' concentration.
Healing with sound is related to the effects of sound vibration. Research of the connections between the brain and immune system has shown that the nervous system provides a definite connection between emotional responses and immune function. When sound waves travel through the ear canals to the brain, these waves are converted to different frequencies of electrical energy. These frequencies then move down the spinal cord and are picked up by the nerve fibers of the autonomic nervous system.
Due to the mechanics of the ears, brain, and nervous system converting sound to energy waves in the body, healing music has produced marked changes in the body's vital signs. These include respiration, blood pressure, heart beat, and muscle contraction. Melodic, soothing tones from a harp or piano have been shown to relax certain muscles and lower blood pressure, which can have the positive effects of reducing mental anxiety and speeding up the physical healing process.
Healing with music does not only consist of listening; it also can include exercises of chanting and creating one's own tonal energies. Patients seeking to reduce stress can learn techniques of using the voice to form their own soothing sound waves. This practice is known as toning; it often begins with learning single-note tones and then progressing to multi-tone chants. Therapists who incorporate this type of musical healing focus on its benefits of bringing the mind-body connection into balance.
Advocates of musical healing believe that it has some notable advantages over other forms of therapy. Music therapy has helped some patients tap into emotions that they would otherwise have difficulty expressing in words. This heightened awareness of such feelings can often lead to positive progress in healing from certain traumas, fears, or other mental stresses.