Listening for Better Health

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For as long as I can remember, music has played a vital role in my life as a cure-all, feel-good, natural mood remedy. My favorite songs and artists have lent me a hand, a shoulder to cry on, and most importantly, that warm, fuzzy feeling—you know what I’m talking about.

It’s that song you can’t get out of your head, your favorite artist’s new tune, or the anthem you thought said it all when you couldn’t find the words.

Based on research, I know I’m not alone. Many cultures have used music, singing, and dancing as healing rituals for centuries, and by that standard, it’s hard to ignore music's healing properties.

The best thing about music as medicine? There are no side effects—unless you count impulsive foot tapping.

So go grab your favorite album, and check out these facts from specific studies about music relating to your health:

Physically:

Music can ease the pain.
Studies have shown that music can reduce the perceived intensity of pain, especially in geriatric care, intensive care, or palliative medicine.

Music can help you eat less.
A study found that playing soft music during a meal can help people slow down consumption, therefore they consume less food in one sitting.

Music can improve sleep quality.
Classical music can actually treat insomnia, so stop reaching for the benzos, and start reaching for some Bach!

Music can enhance blood vessel function.
Scientists discovered that emotions felt while listening to music had a healthy effect on blood vessel function. The study participants felt happy, which resulted in increased blood flow.

Mentally:

Music reduces stress.
Music triggers biochemical stress reducers.

Music relieves depression symptoms.
Research suggests that classical and meditative sounds seem to be uplifting, while heavy metal and techno have adverse effects and can make depression symptoms worse.

Music can improve cognitive performance.
Background music can actually enhance performance on cognitive tasks. A study found that listening to music allowed test takers to complete more questions in the time allotted and get more answers right.

Music can reduce anxiety.
Music’s effects on anxiety levels is similar to getting a massage.

Grab your headphones, crank-up the car stereo, or fire-up the record player. Listen your way to a happier, healthier you.

Samantha Fischer is an editor for Natural Solutions Magazine. Follow Natural Solutions on Twitter at @NaturalSolution, or follow Sam at @samanfisch.