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Brain Cravings, Music and Pain

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Reprinted with the kind permission of Sue Ingebretson
 
Does your brain have music cravings? You may not think so, but music has a greater impact on your wellbeing than meets the metronome. What can it do for you? Music can have positive impact on your chronic illness and fibromyalgia pain, so read on.
 
You’ve probably heard that music soothes the savage beast. And, there’s nothing more beastly than pain, right?
 
I’d like to introduce this powerful topic with an obvious example, Cloris Leachman. Or, perhaps the connection is only obvious to me. If you recall your favorite comedy classic movies, she was the enthusiastic violin playing Frau Blucher (cue horse whinny) in the cult classic, Young Frankenstein.
 

This frau knew how to fiddle!

 
There’s hardly a better portrayal of the effects of music on the brain. Frankenstein’s monster had an “Abby-Normal” brain which required all the help it could get.
 
And, speaking of brains – how’s yours?
 
Could yours use a nudge or two in a healthier direction? You may be surprised to learn that music does more than simply soothe.
 
It turns out that the brain actually craves the benefits of music. Yes, craves. In a healthy way that’s addictive, the brain gets an emotional boost from music that generates feel-good hormones and much more.
 
According to Joseph Mercola, MD, “Music triggers activity in the nucleus accumbens, a part of your brain that releases the feel-good chemical dopamine and is involved in forming expectations. At the same time, the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotion, and the prefrontal cortex, which makes possible abstract decision-making, are also activated.” (1)
 
Have you ever heard a song that absolutely makes you feel energized or pumped up? There’s good reason that a powerful music playlist is one of the most impactful parts of a healthy fitness routine.
 
So, we know that music is good for reducing anxiety, feeling good, and feeling energized and motivated to hit the gym.
 
But, what about pain?
 
While there are hundreds of studies on the subject of pain, one recent collection of data specifically reflected on music’s effect on surgery patients. Pain levels were monitored pre-op, during, and post-op. The results were quite interesting.
 
Dr. Mercola has this to say, “Given that music is non-invasive, safe, and inexpensive – and most people find it enjoyable – the researchers suggested hospitals should routinely offer it to patients. The study found music helped patients drop an average of two points on a 10-point pain scale, while also using significantly less pain medication.” (2)
 
Of course, music has a positive impact on pain levels that reach beyond the hospital operating room. How could you apply it to your own health care plan?
 
In summary, here are my — 
 
Top 5 Reasons to Listen to Wellness Music 

  1. Reduces anxiety (better than medications!)

  2. Improves and boosts overall mood

  3. Motivates and invigorates the body during workout routines

  4. Reduces pain sensitivity which enables a state of healing

  5. Encourages a feeling of community and wholeness

What is Wellness Music? I’m so glad you asked!
 
This is the best part. Wellness Music is as individual as you are. One man’s bagpipe is another man’s electric guitar.
 
What’s your favorite type of music? Symphonic, pop, classic rock and roll, ska? The world is your orchestra (or synthesizer). And don’t stop there. Add music to your favorite healing modalities including prayer and meditation for stress management, aromatherapy – using quality essential oils, and of course, healthy nutrition. 
 
What type of music soothes you? What type galvanizes you to action? What songs bring up fond memories? You get to actually CREATE your mood and the soundtrack to your wellness plan with the tunes that you love most.
 
I’m not a fan of all the ads on this page, but this site has some helpful tips on how to create your own workout playlist.
 
Got favorites? Please share in the comments below!
 
References:

  1. Why Your Brain Craves Music

  2. More Evidence:  Benefits of Music Easing Pain and Anxiety After Surgery


Sue Ingebretson is the Natural Healing Editor for ProHealth.com as well as a frequent contributor to ProHealth's Fibromyalgia site. She’s an Amazon best-selling author, speaker, and workshop leader. Additionally, Sue is an Integrative Nutrition & Health Coach, a Certified Nutritional Therapist, a Master NLP Practitioner, and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. You can find out more and contact Sue at www.RebuildingWellness.com. 

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