The Power of Sound to Heal

Many years ago, my husband and I moved to Hawaii. We lived in the small beachside community of Lanikai on the windward side of Oahu, away from the buzz and high energy of Honolulu. Our home was a guesthouse to a larger house that overlooked the beach. When I talk about our time in Hawaii, I frequently tell people about the pristine weather; it was 80 degrees and sunny almost every day with a gentle trade wind to keep things comfortable.While the weather in Hawaii is truly the most incredible I’ve ever experienced, what I remember most are the sounds. Even now, I can close my eyes and hear the trade winds gently rattling the palm fronds in the trees overhead. And when I want to sleep, I think about the sound of the waves rolling up and back on the beach. While we couldn’t see the beach from our guesthouse, we could hear it, especially at night when the neighborhood was quiet. Listening to the waves tumble across the sand years ago may have been my first inkling that sound has the ability to heal in some powerful ways. Here are some examples of how: Nature sounds. A recent study of the soundscapes in national parks across the United States reported that natural sounds have the ability to decrease stress and annoyance levels, reduce pain, improve mood and improve cognitive performance.  This includes sounds produced by animals, such as bird song, and those produced as a part of the landscape, such as rain, water flowing and wind. Listening to nature sounds may be healing for a couple of reasons. First, whether you’re visiting a national park or listening to a recording of a waterfall, it drowns out man-made sounds such as traffic, sirens or crowds that can be annoying. In addition, listening to sounds found in nature puts you in touch with the natural world in a non-threatening way. It calms down your sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the fight or flight response) and helps you relax. The sounds of nature also help you to mentally place yourself in a pleasant spot. For example, listening to waves puts you at the beach and the sound of a rambling stream takes you to a green countryside. It’s a way to enhance visualization and reduce stress. And if you’re having a tough time nodding off at night, the pleasant repetition of recorded natural sounds can be a powerful aid in falling asleep. Music. Listening to music can evoke all kinds of moods and reactions. In the form of music therapy, sound can also provide therapeutic benefits including relief from depression, anxiety and stress, and it can help in the management of pain. Some of the physiological benefits of music include: Better mood by increasing the circulation of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Improved heart health. Scientists have found that music can improve circulation, lower heart rate, decrease blood pressure and reduce the stress hormone cortisol It can help stimulate memories, reduce agitation, improve mood and promote communication in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. It can actually help reduce pain because helps to reduce stress and it competes with the pain signals entering the brain. Soft music and lowered lights actually help people relax, slow down and eat less. Listening to energetic music can help increase motivation for exercise, enhance performance and help improve endurance during a workout. The Solfeggio Frequencies. The Solfeggio frequencies are a series of musical tones that are purported to have healing effects on your body. The term Solfeggio refers to sol and fa from the do-re-mi scale popularized in The Sound of Music. The scale is believed to have been used in ancient Christian Gregorian chanting as well as early Indian Sanskrit chants. Beginning in the 1970’s, researchers have reduced the Solfeggio scale to six measurable tones that exert healing effects on the body. Other scientists have discovered that these tones can exert therapeutic physical and emotional effects, leading to the use of the Solfeggio tones in several forms of music therapy. The reason why these tones are considered to be therapeutic is related to the frequency of the electromagnetic waves produced by the tones. The tones, measured in hertz or Hz, (a way of describing sine waves in physics and musical tones) resonate with brainwave states. Delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma brainwave states occur throughout the day as you go through normal activities, including deep sleep, relaxation and intense focus. Even though the research is still early, scientists are discovering the restorative impact that each of the six tones exert on your body. For example, the 396 Hz can help with anxiety, worry, fear and negative thinking that interferes with personal growth. Source Hypnosis. Hypnotic suggestion can be very effective in treating a number of health conditions. A hypnotherapist uses verbal repetition, relaxation and visualization techniques to help calm the person undergoing hypnosis. This induces a relaxed state in the patient,

The Power of Sound to Heal

Many years ago, my husband and I moved to Hawaii. We lived in the small beachside community of Lanikai on the windward side of Oahu, away from the buzz and high energy of Honolulu. Our home was a guesthouse to a larger house that overlooked the beach. When I talk about our time in Hawaii, I frequently tell people about the pristine weather; it was 80 degrees and sunny almost every day with a gentle trade wind to keep things comfortable.

While the weather in Hawaii is truly the most incredible I’ve ever experienced, what I remember most are the sounds. Even now, I can close my eyes and hear the trade winds gently rattling the palm fronds in the trees overhead. And when I want to sleep, I think about the sound of the waves rolling up and back on the beach. While we couldn’t see the beach from our guesthouse, we could hear it, especially at night when the neighborhood was quiet.

Listening to the waves tumble across the sand years ago may have been my first inkling that sound has the ability to heal in some powerful ways. Here are some examples of how:

Nature sounds. A recent study of the soundscapes in national parks across the United States reported that natural sounds have the ability to decrease stress and annoyance levels, reduce pain, improve mood and improve cognitive performance.  This includes sounds produced by animals

,

such as bird song, and those produced as a part of the landscape, such as rain, water flowing and wind. Listening to nature sounds may be healing for a couple of reasons. First, whether you’re visiting a national park or listening to a recording of a waterfall, it drowns out man-made sounds such as traffic, sirens or crowds that can be annoying. In addition, listening to sounds found in nature puts you in touch with the natural world in a non-threatening way. It calms down your sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the fight or flight response) and helps you relax. The sounds of nature also help you to mentally place yourself in a pleasant spot. For example, listening to waves puts you at the beach and the sound of a rambling stream takes you to a green countryside. It’s a way to enhance visualization and reduce stress. And if you’re having a tough time nodding off at night, the pleasant repetition of recorded natural sounds can be a powerful aid in falling asleep.

Music. Listening to music can evoke all kinds of moods and reactions. In the form of music therapy, sound can also provide therapeutic benefits including relief from depression, anxiety and stress, and it can help in the management of pain. Some of the physiological benefits of music include:

  • Better mood by increasing the circulation of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.
  • Improved heart health. Scientists have found that music can improve circulation, lower heart rate, decrease blood pressure and reduce the stress hormone cortisol
  • It can help stimulate memories, reduce agitation, improve mood and promote communication in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
  • It can actually help reduce pain because helps to reduce stress and it competes with the pain signals entering the brain.
  • Soft music and lowered lights actually help people relax, slow down and eat less.
  • Listening to energetic music can help increase motivation for exercise, enhance performance and help improve endurance during a workout.

The Solfeggio Frequencies. The Solfeggio frequencies are a series of musical tones that are purported to have healing effects on your body. The term Solfeggio refers to sol and fa from the do-re-mi scale popularized in The Sound of Music. The scale is believed to have been used in ancient Christian Gregorian chanting as well as early Indian Sanskrit chants.

Beginning in the 1970’s, researchers have reduced the Solfeggio scale to six measurable tones that exert healing effects on the body. Other scientists have discovered that these tones can exert therapeutic physical and emotional effects, leading to the use of the Solfeggio tones in several forms of music therapy.

The reason why these tones are considered to be therapeutic is related to the frequency of the electromagnetic waves produced by the tones. The tones, measured in hertz or Hz, (a way of describing sine waves in physics and musical tones) resonate with brainwave states. Delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma brainwave states occur throughout the day as you go through normal activities, including deep sleep, relaxation and intense focus. Even though the research is still early, scientists are discovering the restorative impact that each of the six tones exert on your body. For example, the 396 Hz can help with anxiety, worry, fear and negative thinking that interferes with personal growth. Source

Hypnosis. Hypnotic suggestion can be very effective in treating a number of health conditions. A hypnotherapist uses verbal repetition, relaxation and visualization techniques to help calm the person undergoing hypnosis. This induces a relaxed state in the patient, making them more open to suggestions on a deeper level. Hypnosis can be used to treat anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, the side-effects of cancer treatments and it can be used for smoking cessation.

Binaural Beats. This is a little complicated, but a binaural beat occurs when two tones that are near each other in pitch are played at the same time—one tone into each ear. The difference in frequency (hertz or Hz) between each beat creates a new tone with a different frequency. For example, if a tone of 500 Hz is played into one ear and a tone of 507 Hz is played into the other ear, the difference—and the new tone—is 7 Hz.

When you listen to binaural beats through headphones or ear buds, your brain activity syncs with the frequency set by the newly created tone. The ability of your brain to follow these binaural beats allows you to use binaural tones to train your brain to attain certain mental states by syncing

with brainwave cycles.

  • A tone of 1-4 Hz syncs with delta brain waves that’s associated with deep sleep, pain relief and healing.
  • 4-8 Hz binaural tone aligns with theta brain waves related to deep relaxation, a meditative state and the creative process.
  • Alpha brain waves are linked to tones between 8-14 Hz, which are associated with relaxation, stress reduction, positive outlook and openness to learning.
  • A tone of 14-30 Hz affects beta brainwaves used during high-level thinking, such as problem solving and analytical reasoning that demands focused attention.
  • 30-100 Hz syncs with gamma brainwaves, which are in play during such activities such as creative thinking and memory recall.

An increasing amount of research has been conducted on the effectiveness of binaural beats on memory, creativity, focus, anxiety and mood. While the research is promising, it’s inconclusive in the use of binaural beats as a medical treatment, with one exception. A number of research studies have consistently concluded that binaural beat stimulation can effectively reduce anxiety. Source

Ultrasound and Shockwave Therapy. This is a kind of sound therapy that you actually feel. Shockwave therapy uses low energy acoustic wave pulsations to heal injuries, decrease inflammation and promote healing. The acoustic waves are produced by a handheld machine that converts compressed air into sound waves, which are then applied to a treatment area. This technology sprang from the discovery that sound waves could break down kidney and gall stones. It works because it stimulates cellular metabolism, breaks down scar tissue and increases circulation to help repair and regenerate healthy tissue. The effectiveness of shockwave therapy has been confirmed by a number of research studies. Shockwave therapy well-suited to treating musculoskeletal injuries, especially chronic tendonopathies, such as tendonitis, that have not responded to other therapies.

Shockwave therapy shouldn’t be confused with ultrasound. Diagnostic ultrasound, also called sonography, is an imaging tool used in the diagnosis of a wide variety of health conditions. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce a picture of the structures and tissue inside your body.

Ultrasound, however, is also used as a therapy for healing soft tissue. It works through the application of sound waves produced by a transducer head (another handheld device). The sound waves vibrate at a frequency that penetrate tissue, causing microscopic vibrations deep into the affected area, producing heat and friction that encourage healing at the cellular level.

From those days in Hawaii, I’ve become more in tune with the profound effects that sound can have on your body. Whether you’re aware of it or not, sound is all around you, and those sounds affect your health and well-being. Clearly, the sound of sirens, the neighbor’s dog barking, loud music next door or honking horns can be stressful and irritating—and it ramps up your fight or flight response. But listening to relaxing music, paying attention to birdsong or the wind in the trees, or just sitting by a burbling brook can produce a calming and healing reaction in your body. Think about it; you go to restaurants because the food tastes good or visit beautiful landmarks because the view is good, so why not seek out places just because they sound good?