Current medical research conducted at leading medical centers throughout the world increasingly substantiates that music is medicine.
"Science is opening doors to medical applications of music that were unimaginable a decade or so ago…play music and Parkinson’s Disease patients walk, stroke victims speak, the aging remember and the heartbeats of premature infants stabilize…Scientists predict a future in which music will routinely be used as a prescription, when it will alter our genetic makeup, treat immune system disorders, and alter brain function in neurologically disabled and aging patients."
Harp music has a long history of use in healing and plays a central role in Healing Muses' work. Research findings specifically relating to harp music date back more than a decade to the turn of the 21st century. To note just a few:
- In a recent controlled study of several hundred patients with advanced cancer, the addition of musical interventions led to a significant improvement not only in anxiety and depression, but also decreased subjective complaints such as weakness and fatigue. These results compare and corroborate other studies in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer, which showed a consistent reduction in anxiety, stress, depression, and even physical pain. (Planas Domingo et al. Music & Medicine 2015);
- Ninety-two eligible patients participated in a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. Five symptoms—fatigue, anxiety, sadness, relaxation, and pain -- representing QOL (quality of life) -- were significantly improved following therapeutic harp treatment. Approximately 30% to 50% of patients showed an increase in ALL the QOL measures after harp treatment, and a markedly higher percentage of patients showed improvements during the harp treatment than during standard care. (D.M. Schneider et al in Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 2015);
- Sedative music and scheduled rest had significant positive effects on anxiety and pain after surgery in open heart patients during the first time in a chair, a maneuver that triggers an increase in anxiety and pain. The study recorded activity, blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety, pain sensation, and pain distress. Results revealed that patients in the music group had 72% less anxiety, 57% less pain sensation, and 69% less pain distress than the control group. (Voss, Jo, PhD. Pain, a peer-reviewed journal at UNMC College of Nursing);
- A large-scale review of over 400 scientific papers describing the physiological effects of music conducted by a group of scholars led by Psychology Professor Daniel J. Levitin of McGill University revealed that music is an effective therapeutic modality - and, in some instances, even superior to prescription medicine - for a number of clinical conditions. Chanda & Levitin. 2013. The Neurochemistry of Music| Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 17(4) p 179-193;
- It has also been shown in several controlled studies that music lowers serum cortisol and, as such, can enhance the effective functioning of the immune system. Studies have also demonstrated that after listening to music, the levels of Immunoglobin A, the immune system's first line of defense, were actually heightened.
The research described above is merely a beginning. More studies are currently underway not only with regard to harp music, but various other musical modalities as well. These modalities are applied to all aspects of physiological function, including heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate which ultimately determine states of health and disease. Please watch this space for more of these path-breaking – and paradigm-changing – developments.