Magazine article Insight on the News

Doctors Find Music Works Well with Sedatives and Anesthetics

Magazine article Insight on the News

Doctors Find Music Works Well with Sedatives and Anesthetics

Article excerpt

European and American doctors, with the aid of New Age artists, are exploring the healing powers of music. They are finding it helps patients undergoing surgery and some who have suffered strokes.

Music, we know, "soothes the savage beast," mends broken hearts, lulls children to sleep and lifts sagging spirits. According to medical researchers, however, music does more than influence emotions. It can heal the body.

Roberta Metzlar. professor of music therapy at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, helped organize a "music medicine symposium" on her campus last fall. According to Metzlar, the most significant medicinal power of music is its ability to reduce the use of anesthesia in the operating room.

"The music becomes a focal point," Metzlar tells Insight. "Rather than focusing on the procedure, patients focus on the music. It slows their breathing and produces a sedative response as they become in tune with the music's rhythm."

The process is called "entraining" and is practiced in hospitals around the globe, most notably at Sportkranken-hausen, a sports hospital in Ludenschied, Germany There each operating room is equipped with a listening station where patients can sedate themselves to the beat of their own melody.

Music also helps patients after surgery. Metzlar believes the body has a tremendous ability to heal itself, and music aids the process by acting as a stimulant to release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. By reducing the amount of pain medication needed after surgery, music allows the body to tune in to its natural healing properties.

"New Age" musician Iasos (pronounced yah-sos) provides healing music to health organizations worldwide, and French surgeon Patrick L'Echevin says it works. L'Echevin says Iasos' music allows him to halve the doses of anesthetics, cut out premedication (injecting the patient with a tranquilizer prior to surgery) and, above all, enable patients to awaken from surgery perfectly calm, without secondary effects.

Music induces healing, says Iasos, through "emotional and physical resonance." Sound vibrates the air and shakes up molecules to produce standing waves. These standing waves produce order, symmetry, coherency and stability. "Standing waves are a characteristic of any self-organizing system such as the body," says Iasos. …

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