MUSIC AND YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
mind an apple a day to assure good health, try 20 minutes of
classical music instead.
the word from Fish Hoek physiotherapist Dr Frances le Roux,
who studied the use of music to improve the outcome in people
with bronchitis and pneumonia being treated at her practice.
Roux, who was awarded her PhD for the study from the University
of Stellenbosch, says the use of music as an aid to medical
treatment is new in South Africa, but is established in both
Germany and the United States, a field grounded in research
and professional standards set down by the International Music-Medicine
physiotherapy, Le Roux's speciality, music in medicine refers
to the use of music in a role that supports or enhances treatment.
Roux points to the fact that not just any music will do; specific
music has specific applications and for her study she used choral
works, specifically Bach's Magnificat.
has proved that happy and sad music is indeed the major key
enforcing a positive mood or happiness, while music in the minor
key is associated with sadness.
patients were suffering from infectious lung diseases including
bronchitis and pneumonia. Half were treated with the music playing,
and the other half in silence.
was examining the effect of the music on the immune system,
the endocrine system (hormonal changes), as well as the psychological
state of the patients, and says the intervention showed up significant
change, positively influencing emotions, decreasing the stress
hormone cortisol and improving immune markers.
research affirms the two-way reciprocal action between the brain
and the immune system," Le Roux says.
was carried out by means of blood tests, in which hormone levels
and immune markers were measured, as well as the internationally-accepted
Profile of Mood Scale, which originated in San Diego, United
Roux says it is vital for people to know that when they have
an infectious disease, the physiological process of the infection
causes changes in the body's immune system, resulting in negative
emotions -- stored in the amigdala of the brain.
negative emotions are not suppressed, the healing process is
blocked, but we proved that with a certain kind of music, positive
emotions can instead be stimulated, inhibiting the negative
effects of anger and hostility, and so improving healing,"
emotions, Le Roux says, can cause weakening of the immune system,
and result in behavioural changes, including depression, anxiety,
anger and hostility.
unhappiness causes alpha blockage in the brain, happiness boosts
brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which positively
influence the immune system.
means that music processed in the positive emotional centre
of the brain not only inhibits negative emotions, but can also
alter the brain's chemicals and hormones, so boosting the immune
system," Le Roux says.
also apparently contributes to the increase of antibodies in
the immune system and she suggests that recognizing suppressed
emotions can not only result in a healthy immune system, but
also ensure an endless supply of energy to the body.
actually strengthens the immune system's security systems, not
only giving the guards better control over their weapons, but
if choral music is listened to regularly, you'll be adding preventative
"The immune system can be conditioned, and has the capacity
to learn. It will mean that over time, the immune system will
strengthen and begin to automatically associate choir/choral
music with improvement in health," Le Roux says.
reason classical music is selected, she explains, is that its
rhythms adapt to the natural rhythms of the body -- rhythmical
inconsistency. This has been found to yield a more varied expression
of emotions than a regular beat. Classical music is more like
a roller-coaster, waxing and waning, building, falling, racing,
stopping, and then breathing, before continuing again.
report is republished with the kind permission of the Cape