Research suggests music as a possible medicine

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Music can be one heck of a drug. Literally, once you’re hooked on a certain song or album, there’s no telling what plethora of emotions you’ll be experiencing. For students here at Berkeley, music is a quintessential part of the culture. Just look around Sproul and count the number of headphones and invisible drum solos you can spy. Music is also one of our favorite stress relievers. No paper assignment gets done without some tunes, whether it’s Mozart or Blink 182. Now, music is taking on another role.

Research from Canadian psychologists at McGill University has suggested that music can actually be used as an effective and legitimate alternative to medical drugs. The study indicates that neurochemical benefits of music can physically help manage mood, reduce stress, create social connections and boost your immune system. Their research found that 15 studies showed people’s stress hormone — cortisol — actually dropped after they listened to relaxing music. Currently, the use of tunes in a medical setting has been limited to calming patients before surgery or during dental procedures. Going further, the researchers state that music-based treatments can be considered a better alternative to medical drugs, citing their benefits as being “noninvasive, having minimal or no side effects, are inexpensive, convenient, and completely ‘natural.'”

Peculiarly, the study also suggests that forming drumming circles can boost immunity, which in turn reverses age-related declines in health. Well, if this is at all true, then the Clog suggests busting out some bongos now and getting together with your friends to drop some mad beats. That or maybe join the campus Taiko drum group.

Ultimately, the researchers state that the study still doesn’t have the most resounding irrefutable proof just yet. However, they suggest that the current evidence provides enough “preliminary support for the claim that neurochemical changes mediate the influence of music on health.” So at least the use of music as a beneficial medical drug is making steps in the right direction. Regardless, the effects seem pretty positive.

Anyway, when the going gets tough with stress and illness resulting from life, massive studies, midterms and a crap-ton of essays, remember that music can always do the trick in a pinch. If what this research says is true, then music might as well be the most well-conceived natural medical drug on the planet. So plug in those headphones, and start feeling the healing!

Contact Matt Espineli