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2 Studies: Music Heals and Prevents Disease


William P. Gottlieb [Public domain]

Elizabeth Scalia - published on 12/02/15

Looks like "Cecilia" got here just in time

How timely is the appearance of “Cecilia”, Aleteia’s World Showcase of faith-filled music?

Timely enough to seem like the perfect response to recently-published research on the power of art, as in this recent study out of Switzerland which found that music impacts healing and recovery:

Music isn’t just good for the soul, it’s also good for helping the body heal after surgery, a research review suggests. Surgery patients who listen to music may have lower levels of pain and anxiety as well as lower blood pressure and heart rate than people who don’t, according to the analysis. The benefits of music were bigger when patients get to pick their own playlists. […] To assess the impact of music on surgical outcomes, Vetter and colleagues analyzed data from 47 studies, including 26 that looked at the effect of music before procedures, 25 looking at music in the operating room, and 25 looking at music during recovery. Overall, music was linked to about 31 percent less pain, 29 percent lower odds of using pain medication, and 34 percent less anxiety. In addition, music was tied to 40 percent lower blood pressure and 27 percent lower heart rate.

That’s not all! A study in California found persuasive evidence that exposure to art can both heal a body and prevent disease:

The healing power of art and nature could be real after scientists discovered they boost your immune system. Seeing such spine-tingling wonders as the Grand Canyon and Sistine Chapel or listening to Schubert’s Ave Maria can fight off disease, say scientists. Great nature and art boost the immune system by lowering levels of chemicals that cause inflammation that can trigger diabetes, heart attacks and other illnesses. In two separate experiments on more than 200 young adults reported on a given day the extent to which they had experienced such positive emotions as amusement, awe, compassion, contentment, joy, love and pride. Samples of gum and cheek tissue – known as oral mucosal transudate – taken that same day showed those who experienced more of these – in particular wonder and amazement – had the lowest levels of the cytokine Interleukin 6 which is a marker of inflammation. Psychologist Dr Dacher Keltner, of California University in Berkeley, said: “That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests the things we do to experience these emotions – a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art – has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.”

Saint Augustine famously said that “who sings prays twice.”

Dostoevsky wrote, Beauty will save the world. The psalmist wrote, “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy”

In scripture we read in 1 Samuel 16:23 that whenever an ill-mood descended upon Saul, “David would take the harp and play, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, for the evil spirit would leave him.”

In 2 Chronicles 20:21-22, we even read that singing can even help to bring about victory.

Perhaps the old guys knew more than they was letting on. Aleteia is happy to be bringing music into the mix. Stay tuned, beauty is on the boards for a launch in the near future.

Elizabeth Scalia is Editor-in-Chief of the English edition of Aleteia

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