Have you ever listened to a piece of music that made you feel better? If so, then, you already know the benefits of sound. Sound therapy, often called sound healing, has been used for centuries to help with many ailments. For instance, the ancient Greek civilization used music as an effort to treat mental disorders, and throughout history, sound has been used to help people be more productive and creative as well as improve morale. Today, many people use sound healing as a means to help with physical, emotional, and psychological health. What exactly is sound healing? It is the use of sound with specific frequencies to improve one’s health. For instance, different sound frequencies can actually stimulate the cell’s production of nitric oxide, a vasodilator that widens blood vessels and therefore increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Let’s explore some forms of sound healing and their effect on the body.
Music therapy is one of the most common forms of sound healing that is used to benefit mental and physical health. Many studies have been published that support the use of music as a tool to help manage and treat various disorders and conditions such as anxiety, depression, dementia, and an autism spectrum disorder. Studies have found that music appears to selectively activate neurochemical systems and brain structures linked to feel-good states, emotion regulation, and attention in a manner that encourages beneficial changes. A 2013 review looked at hundreds of studies investigating the effect of music on the brain and found that overall, music improves the function of the body’s immune system as well as reduces levels of stress.
Besides music therapy, there are other forms of sound healing. One form is a sound-based vibration treatment known as vibroacoustic therapy (VAT), which involves the use of low-frequency sound waves to produce mechanical vibrations that, when applied directly to the body, can penetrate to the cellular level and help manage pain, improve mobility, reduce muscle stiffness, and increase blood circulation. A 2018 pilot study found that patients with chronic back pain had less pain and better functional abilities after a four-month treatment period involving low-frequency sound wave stimulation (between 16-160 Hz) through both hands and feet.
Another form of sound healing is Solfeggio frequencies – electromagnetic musical tones that are believed to promote deep healing. Long associated with meditation music, each Solfeggio frequency has a distinct purpose and balances the body's energy. Examples of Solfeggio frequencies and their believed benefits include:
174 Hz – relieves pain and tension (natural anesthetic)
396 Hz – liberates fear and guilt
417 Hz – releases negativity and past trauma
528 Hz – promotes clarity, peace, and repairs DNA
639 Hz – reconnects and balances relationships
741 Hz – improves problem-solving skills and emotional stability
852 Hz – promotes harmony with the universe and oneself (awakening intuition)
936 Hz – creates room for oneness and unity
The scientific inquiry into the effects of Solfeggio frequencies on health is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, in a 2018 Japanese study, the authors looked at the effect of 528 Hz frequency on the endocrine system and autonomic nervous system. The results suggested that 528 Hz frequency had a strong stress-reducing effect, even after only five minutes of exposure. Additionally, the study showed that music of different frequencies had different effects on the endocrine system. This study is one of the first that provides scientific evidence supporting the use of Solfeggio frequencies as a form of sound therapy.
A different type of sound healing that is currently gaining momentum on mainstream platforms especially to help with stress, anxiety and cognitive function is based on the concept of “binaural beats” or “brain entrainment”, which hypothesizes that listening to certain frequencies can synchronize brainwaves to achieve deep states of relaxation, which consequently helps restore the normal vibrational frequencies of the cells in our bodies. Binaural beats were first discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove; however, it was not until 1973 when Dr. Gerald Oster, a biophysicist, published an article in Scientific American titled “Auditory Beats in the Brain” that offered new insights into this phenomenon. Binaural beats can be referred to be an auditory illusion – that is, simply put, when two slightly different tones are played to each ear separately (via headphones), the absolute difference between the tones is perceived as a new tone called a binaural beat. The binaural beat introduces a new frequency to the brain, wherein the brainwaves are forced to sync to it – therefore, the frequency can be used to “hack” brainwaves to change the state of consciousness and alertness as well as promote healing. For example, binaural beats can be used to lower brainwave states from beta (i.e. normal waking consciousness) to alpha (i.e. relaxed state) to theta (i.e. deep relaxation/meditation) to even delta (i.e. deep sleep state where pain relief and internal healing occurs). The opposite is true as well, that is binaural beats can also increase brainwave states to gamma, which is a high-level cognition state where memory recall and peak awareness occur (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1. The Brainwave States and Associated Activity
Studies have shown that there are several benefits to listening to binaural beats such as increase focus in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) , reduce stress in patients having surgery , improve sleep , help cognition , treat anxiety [7,8], reduce chronic pain [7,9], and modulate mood . This IC demonstrates what binaural beats sound like.
Even though science is still catching up to understand the mechanism behind how sound heals, there are plenty of promising studies showing the positive health effects of various forms of sound therapies and therefore, sound healing is a great addition to anyone’s therapeutic toolkit.
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2. Lim, E. et al. Treatment of chronic back pain using indirect vibroacoustic therapy: a pilot study. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2018, 31, 1041. DOI: 10.3233/BMR-171042
3. Akimoto, K. et al. Effect of 528 Hz music on the endocrine system and autonomic nervous system. Health 2018, 10, 1159. DOI: 10.4236/health.2018.109088
4. Kennel, S et al. Pilot feasibility study of binaural auditory beats for reducing symptoms of inattention in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Pediatr Nurs 2010, 25, 3. DOI: 10.1016/j.pedn.2008.06.010
5. Padmanabhan, R., Hildreth, A. J., and Laws, D. A prospective, randomized, controlled study examining binaural beat audio and pre-operative anxiety in patients undergoing general anesthesia for day case surgery. Anesthesia 2005, 60, 874. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2005.04287.x
6. Abeln, V. et al. Brainwave entrainment for better sleep and post-sleep state of young elite soccer players - a pilot study. Eur J Sport Sci 2014, 14, 393. DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2013.819384
7. Garcia-Argibay, M., Santed, M.A. & Reales, J.M. Efficacy of binaural auditory beats in cognition, anxiety, and pain perception: a meta-analysis. Psychological Research 2019, 83, 357. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-018-1066-8
8. Le Scouarnec, R. P. et al. Use of binaural beat tapes for treatment of anxiety: a pilot study of tape preference and outcomes. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001, 7, 58.
9. Zampi, D. D. Efficacy of theta binaural beats for the treatment of chronic pain. Altern Ther Health Med. 2016, 22, 32.
10. Wahbeh, H., Calabrese, C., Zwickey, H. Binaural beat technology in humans: a pilot study to assess psychologic and physiologic effects. J Altern Complement Med. 2007, 13, 25. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2006.6196
Post created: May 08, 2020, by: Anton Sheikh-Fedorenko 985   3
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