Can Music Help Heal Cancer Patients?

Can Music Help Heal Cancer Patients?

Our Universal Language

women playing the drum“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain” – Bob Marley. 

Music is our universal language and one of the most powerful to evoke change and emotion. Can music help in the journey to heal cancer patients? We explore the role of music therapy in the healing and coping journey. Unfortunately, families enduring the cancer journey have many stressors from managing this terrible disease. Music therapy can be considered an add-on therapy to help relieve patients from the anxiety and stress that comes with intense cancer treatments and procedures. This, in turn, leads to physical benefits, including better pain management.

A brief history

Music therapy is by no means a new concept. Its roots go as far back as Ancient Greece, where philosophers like Aristotle and Pythagoras preached the healing power of music. It’s also been recorded in the Bible and other ancient primitive and native cultures. Music has been vital to humanity throughout history. Even coined as “the soul’s medicine,” it’s no doubt that music has a powerful effect on us.

But does it have healing powers?

Yes. In a review of 400 research papers in the neurochemistry of music, studies have shown several positive physical and mental outcomes from music therapy:

  • Listening to music is more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery. Another study supports the same effects for post-surgery, in addition to reducing post-operative pain
  • Music increases immunoglobulin A, an antibody that helps attack foreign germs and bacteria
  • Music decreases cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, and can lower blood pressure
Types of music therapy

There are multiple forms of music therapy, including listening and playing music, singing, moving/dancing to music, and even analyzing music through visions and talking about the meaning of songs. It comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. Typically, a music therapist will work directly with patients, but you don’t always need formal therapy to get the therapeutic benefits of music. Bringing more music into the home can be an easy step that you can begin today. ​​If you don’t know where to start, here’s a playlist for those who have fought or are still fighting cancer.

Providing hope and harmonybaby touching guitar

There is still so much to discover in the field of music therapy. Although researchers have uncovered some of the explanations behind music’s clinical benefits, there is more and more research being done around the world on how to optimize music therapy further to promote healing.

Photo credit: Children’s National Hospital

Here to Serve

At Here to Serve, we can help bring music therapy to families going through the cancer journey. Our resource referral service can help connect families with musical therapists in their area. Music therapy is one of the many complimentary services that can help throughout the cancer journey. Our resource referrals can also assist families in finding mental health resources, financial services, transportation, lodging, organizational assistance, spiritual support, and more. Our resource referrals are only one of the many services we offer families going through cancer. If you or someone you know can benefit from our services, sign up to get help!

By Emily Rogalin

All information on this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. Always consult a medical provider in your particular area of need before making significant changes in your medical decisions or lifestyle.