This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

April 4, 2012

The Healthful Effects of Music and your Future

We have long known that music reduces stress, provides distraction from pain, facilitates learning, and improves the results of clinical therapy. In fact, there is even a field called the "Neuropsychology of Music", studying how the mind processes and responds to music, and the implications of music on the brain and the mind.

Now, we find that music, particularly opera and classical music, has other beneficial effects. Music appears to prevent organ rejection.

New research published in BioMed Central's open access "Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery" "demonstrates that music can reduce rejection of heart transplants in mice by influencing the immune system".

In spite of the fact that the link between the immune system and brain function is not clearly understood, music is often used clinically to reduce anxiety after a heart attack, or to reduce pain and nausea during bone marrow transplantation. Moreover, there is some evidence that music may act through the part of the nervous system, which regulates the bodily functions that we have no conscious control over, including digestion.

Researchers from Japan discovered that music could influence the survival of heart transplants in mice. They found that opera and classical music both increased the time before the transplanted organs failed, while single frequency monotones and new age music did not.

The Japanese team pinpointed the source of this protection to the spleen. Opera exposed mice had lower levels of substances that promote rejection and increased levels of anti-inflammatory blood-borne materials. Significantly, these mice had increased numbers of some special cells, which regulate immune response.

It seems that music really does influence the immune system---although the mechanism behind this support is still not clear. Additionally, this study only looked at a limited selection of classical and operatic composers, so the full effect of music on reducing organ rejection may not be limited.

We have only just scratched the surface of our understanding between music and health. In the short term, we expect to see more health systems embrace classical and other stress-reducing music more universally in their facilities. In the long-term, expect more breakthroughs linking music, sound, and healing.

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