The Power of Music
I used to play in the symphony when I was living in San Francisco. Since I’ve been a doctor, I’ve played a lot less. But I’ve picked up my violin frequently within the last few months. One day, I was feeling a little overwhelmed with my “to do list”. Since I was not up for tackling my pile of paperwork, decided to give the fiddle a bit of attention. After playing classical music for half an hour, I felt as if I had just received an energy healing session. I felt, calm, clear, grounded and unattached to the pressure of all those things in the future. The area around my heart felt light.
In the Mood for Music
The other benefit was that after playing some classical violin, I was in the mood for paperwork and completed it quickly. It would have taken me longer in my previous state to do the paperwork than the time it took me combining the paperwork and the music playing! So is it just feel good music, or does classical music change something in our body and brain? I decided to do some scientific investigation about the effects of music on the brain.
Can We Use Physics Therapeutically?
So much focus has been on using drugs, medicines, supplements, and herbs to treat neurological diseases. These are all biological therapies. But what about therapies that utilize physics? They can be quite powerful, but often ignored. The law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change form or be transferred. So what about the energy in the form of a sound wave transferred to a cell, creating a change within the cell? Modern medicine already uses non-audible sound such as in the ultrasound to visualize an unborn baby in prenatal care. Ultrasound is also used frequently in sports medicine to relieve pain. The frequency of ultrasound is in an inaudible range 1-3 million Hz, where sound frequencies the human ear can hear is between 15-20,000Hz.
Listening to Mozart and IQ
A human study exposing subjects to 10 minutes of Mozart’s music showed significantly increased spacial reasoning skills compared to those exposed to silence or even to relaxing music designed to lower blood pressure according to a Nature publication in 1993.
Mice and Mozart
Another study exposed mice to Mozart, contemporary composer Philip Glass (his music is very dissonant), silence, or white noise. The 4 different groups of mice were exposed to their respective music in utero and then for 60 days after birth. The group that was listening to Mozart was able to complete a maze more quickly and with significantly fewer errors than the other groups. It appears that exposure to Mozart’s music increases perception of spacial relationships, directions and IQ. Other studies show that exposure to certain types of classical music, such as from composers Bach and Mozart, also increases memory and test taking scores.
Mozart Increased Alpha Waves
A study published in 2015 by Consciousness and Cognition hooked some adults up to an EEG, which measures brain wave activity. After listening to Mozart, there was a significant increase in alpha wave activity in the brain. Alpha waves are a state of mind helpful for problem solving, higher levels of cognition, and increased memory.
Mozart Decreases Epilepsy
In a study by Clinical Encephalography in 1998, 29 epileptic patients had EEGs done before and after being exposed to Mozart’s music. 23 of the 29 patients had a significant decrease in epileptic activity in the brain after exposure to Mozart. One patient had a decrease from 90% epileptic activity to 50% after exposure to Mozart’s music. Another unconscious patient with 62% status epilepticus ictal patterns had a reduction to 21% after listening to Mozart. Because the brain activity changed even on an unconscious patient, the Mozart Effect cannot merely be explained by enjoyment of music (conscious pleasure), but that in fact the patterns of its rhythm, melody, pitch has an effect on the frequencies of the brain.
One pathophysiology behind epilepsy is an excess of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. There is abnormal firing in the brain with epilepsy. Other neurological diseases such as anxiety, depression, OCD and ADHD are often associated with excess of glutamate caused by oxidative damage. Epilepsy is a much more severe state of excess firing in the brain than the other diseases mentioned and it is the authors opinion that if Mozart’s music has an effect on calming the electric activity of the brain, that this may also be helpful in other neurological conditions. There are some studies to back this up.
Biology and Physics Bridged
It turns out that exposure to the sound waves of Mozart’s music increased BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and TrkB (Tyrosine kinase receptor B). Both of these biological molecules are associated with the acquisition of information as well as memory consolidation of information, which is important in bringing short-term memory into long-term memory. So we see that waves in the form of sound waves can alter biology.
Mozart for the Mind
We often look to substances we can take orally in our culture as cures for illnesses. I have experienced profound healing effects that involve sound waves, light waves, and subtle energies and found in my practice that when used correctly, therapies that involve traditional physics and quantum physics unlock difficult cases that do not seem to improve much with the use of biological medicine. This offers hope for patients. Sometimes what we least expect to work can be the very thing right in front of us that is the key to making a significant positive change and relief to a problem.
Dr. Emily Chan ND, received her doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University. She is a board licensed naturopathic doctor and founder of Modern Integrative Medicine. She currently practices in San Diego, CA and consults around the world.
Dr. Chan specializes in chronic medical conditions that have an impaired body memory component to them. She integrates the immune/nervous system and physiological relationships in treating her patients. She is published in medical journals, and magazines. She is a speaker, and has presented at medical conferences training doctors, and has appeared on television. She also authors and teaches health, and body memory reprogramming courses.