There is no doubt that music can make us feel better. But is it purely a mental thing? Or there’s something more to it? Time to find out how music affects our health, then!
It’s important to remember that the brain and the body coexist in harmony. What goes on in the brain can make a huge difference in the body.
One way that music is good for our health is that it makes us less stressed. Being relaxed can protect us against infections and inflammations that might lead to depression, rheumatism, and other conditions.
Here’s how music affects our health
Stress is not necessarily a bad thing – sometimes we really need it. But the problem is when a stressful situation doesn’t pass. We might be having a hard time at work or financial problems that make us worried. Adrenaline and cortisol levels stay up and lead to an increased flow of blood to the heart and other muscles, and a decreased flow to the brain. This sends a signal to the immune system that fighting infections isn’t a priority.
For this reason, it’s easier to get sick when you are stressed out. Research shows that listening to calm music makes the levels of adrenaline and cortisol go down, which in turn makes it less likely for you to get an unwanted infection. Studies have been conducted on music listeners, not necessarily musicians.
Other studies show that musicians and music listeners get an increase in different kinds of white blood cells. Listening to music (as well as playing) increases the number of antibodies known as IgA (that we have in our saliva). They deal with bacteria in the mouth and the intestines, so that they don’t go to the rest of the body.
Unnecessary inflammations can start when the body senses an irritation and tries to deal with it using different chemicals, such as interleukin 6. This attracts white blood cells that start different measures of protection. When somebody plays or listens to music, their levels of interleukin 6 decrease. Hence, music is a great way to prevent unnecessary inflammations – they can cause depression and even clogging of the arteries.
Two studies have shown that music can even help with allergic reactions. The first study showed that the amount of histamine that was released when the test subjects had food they were allergic to was lower if they were exposed to music. The other study showed that listening to Mozart lowered the amount of IgE antibodies in the case of allergic reactions to latex.
Even those who already have fallen ill can benefit from the healing power of music. A Finnish study showed that stroke patients recovered more quickly if they listened to music they liked. It was both good for their cognitive abilities and temper.
Music can also be effective in treating MS, dementia, and other conditions. This likely has to do with how it decreases inflammation.
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
It’s almost common knowledge that singing in a choir is good for our mental health. But did you know that it can also help with IBS? One study included a test group with IBS singing in a choir, and another test group taking part in discussions and listening to lectures.
The results? The choir group’s immune system became stronger and they experienced less pain. This is likely because the intestines are “getting a free massage” by the diaphragm while we’re singing.
Treat yourself to some music
When you think about it, music is very similar to exercise – it’s beneficial to most aspects of our health. So make sure to give yourself a good dose of music every single day. Chances are, it will make you a healthier person overall.
Some music a day keeps the doctor away!