Over the years, several of my patients have come to me with symptoms of chronic earache, headache, sore jaw, or not sleeping very well. Though these symptoms can be associated with many medical conditions, bruxism, or chronic teeth grinding, is one problem you may not be aware of. That’s why I’d like to talk to you about chronic teeth grinding and the damage it can do to your health. Continue reading “Teeth Grinding And Your Health” »
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like some type of music. It can evoke the gamut of emotions, from happy to sad, or it can make you want to lie down and rest or get up and burn a few hundred calories on the treadmill. It can sharpen your vision and memory, quicken or slow down your heart rate, and reduce stress levels. In fact, music can dramatically impact your health and, quite possibly, your life. Let me tell you how.
The Motivating Power of Music
Recently, scientists studied the responses of study participants to various types of music. It was found that music can really affect your mood, help you concentrate and prepare for an exam, relieve stress, or run (and win!) a race. Listening to music has real effects on different parts of your brain – they actually “light up” on PET scans in response to music.
Further, their studies showed a real causal relationship between music and the reward system centers of the brain. This is part of the brain that responds to stimuli of things that are good for you, or make you feel good, – like food, light, sex – and reinforces those behaviors so that you’ll do them often.
Although everyone responds to music – whether it’s classical, rock, or New Age synthesizer – you respond differently than your friend or even your family member. Yet, a recent (2011) Canadian study showed that listening to your favorite type of music almost always positively alters mood. It does this by boosting the feel-good hormone, dopamine that gets activated in the pleasure center of your brain.
There are even new digital sound apps for your phone that you can tune into to help you focus, relax, or energize. They work by sending binaural beats – two different beats in each ear – to create a third sound that stimulates different areas of the brain. The stimulation creates different brain waves with different effects. For example, if you’re stressed out, you can stimulate your cerebral cortex to produce slow, alpha waves to calm you. If you want to concentrate, or study for an exam, you can stimulate your brain to produce faster beta waves which will energize you and help you to focus.
Music can also help you lose weight by stimulating you to exercise more. A study out of Brunel University in West London revealed that listening to upbeat, driving-rhythm, steady metronomic-beat type music can up your exercise endurance by 15%. It also helps lower your perception of effort during exercise as well as increasing your exercise efficiency 1%-3%.
How to Reap the Health Benefits of Music
When I was in my medical residency, a fellow surgeon, listened to soothing, classical music while performing surgery. She told me that it helped relax her and helped her to focus. Since then, researchers have proven through studies that, indeed, music can help calm you, elevate your mood, thereby decreasing depression; it can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and even help relieve pain and anxiety by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
One study showed that listening to classical music boosted the immune system by increasing immunoglobulin A. This positively affects your mucous membrane response to viruses, bacteria, and other microbes. The immune system association was also associated with decreased heart transplant rejections. New Age music, though, did not have the same effect.
In 4 out of 5 trial studies out of the Cochrane Collaboration, it was shown that listening to music, as a form of psychotherapy, worked better than talk or drug therapy. Listening to music seems to also work well in helping older patients express what they’re feeling.
You may already be using music to make yourself feel, or perform, better without realizing its brain-stimulating advantage. Here are some things you can use different types of music for:
- Pain management – studies show that listening to slow, calming music can reduce pain of arthritis and back pain by 21%. It is also frequently used during childbirth to decrease the need for medication.
- Reduce blood pressure – listening to calming music (Celtic, classical or Raga types) 15 minutes in the morning and at night can reduce blood pressure by 30%. People can use it as a biofeedback device to lower their blood pressure.
- Stroke recovery – listening to your favorite music (jazz, classical, etc) can boost recovery time. Recent studies from Finland showed increased recovery time in verbal memory and attention span.
- Headache improvement – slow, flowing (non-heavy beat) type music can reduce the duration and intensity of a migraine.
- Exercise/weight loss enhancement – choose driving-rhythmic beat type rock, hip-hop, trance, or New Age type music.
- Learning – playing an instrument, or listening to music often, can help you learn better. It increases reading and literacy skills, enhances spatial-temporal reasoning, boosts mathematical abilities. This occurs because of the “Mozart” effect. The 60 beat per minute pattern of Mozart and other Baroque music stimulates both sides of the brain. This maximizes learning and retention of information. The music activates the right brain while the left brain learns the information.
- Improve productivity – listening to rock or classical music helps you perform better while you work. It helps you recognize visual images, numbers and letters faster.
- Sleep aid – listening to slow, light, ethereal New Age music without driving beats, or calming classical music can help you fall asleep quickly.
Music is truly a miraculous creation. It really seems to be the universal language as it has the ability to touch all people on many levels, around the world. It’s one of the true side-effect-free treatments for anxiety, stress, depression, and high blood pressure, that I can recommend you to indulge in frequently. It will light up your brain and help your body release feel good endorphins. Pretty soon, you’ll be in a great mood before you know it.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Want to find out which fruits and vegetable made the Environmental Working Group’s good list and which ones were naughty for 2013? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released its annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce list and the results are surprising.
The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce.
This year the Dirty Dozen list has been expanded with a Plus category to highlight two crops — green beans and leafy greens, meaning, kale and collard greens – that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.
Without further ado, the Dirty Dozen List:
Everyone knows someone who’s sick or suffering. Yet when a friend or relative is under duress many of us feel uncertain about how to cope. Now, in a warm and sympathetic book inspired by her own experiences, a renowned author and journalist offers new insights and concrete advice on how to relate to, and help, our sick friends. Continue reading “How To Be a Friend To a Friends Who’s Sick” »
Flowers are blooming, the weather is warming and Spring is in the air. But instead of just cleaning up at home, why not clean out your own house (aka: your body) with a Spring cleanse?
What is a cleanse and why would you do one? Continue reading “Clean Internally this Spring!” »
If you can do it once, that might be luck. Doing it twice surely takes some skill. With Hearts Unleashed, Julia Dumont has proved that her ability to blend romantic comedy and well-crafted trips to the bedroom is no fluke.
It’s hard to pick which of her three novels in the Second Acts series is the best, but there is certainly no worst. Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about “Hearts Unleashed,” though, is knowing these characters pretty well by now. Continue reading “Julia Dumont Is Back with Hearts Unleashed” »
Hayden Panettiere is not only our “She-roe,” she played one on TV, too! In one of her most memorable roles, Panettiere portrayed a high school cheerleader with regenerative powers on the hit NBC show, Heroes. This wasn’t the first time we had seen her on the small screen, as she had recurring roles as Sarah Roberts on One Life to Live and the leukemia-stricken Lizzie Spaulding onGuiding Light. Continue reading “She-Roes: Hayden Panettiere Has Deep Mission” »
What exactly are smartphone baby monitors, and how do they work? There are several popular misconceptions and misunderstandings about smartphone monitors, and so in this article I’ll be taking a look at some of them, and making it easier for parents to know what to look out for. Continue reading “Smartphone Baby Monitors – Common Misunderstandings” »
Trying to get a good night’s sleep can be difficult as you get older. Continue reading “Restless Leg Syndrome” »
It’s normal for you to feel a little anxiety if things are not going so great in your life at the moment. You’re not sure how things are going to work out and there may be the potential for the situation to get worse before it gets better. Yet, when worry and anxiety seem to dominate your every thought and you’re always expecting the worst to happen without any real cause, you may not be just situationally agitated. Continue reading “The Signs And Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder” »