By: Jule Klotter
A music therapy program raised melatonin levels and improved behavior and sleeping problems in 20 male Alzheimer's patients. The Alzheimer's patients underwent music therapy for 30-40 minutes, 5 days a week for one month. Blood samples were taken before the first session, at the end of the four weeks of therapy, and 6 weeks after the study's conclusion. Dr. Ardash Kumar and colleagues at the University of Miami School of Medicine (Florida), who reported the study in Alternative Therapies (1999;5:49-57), checked the levels of melatonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin, and prolactin. These brain chemicals are known to affect mental state. They found that melatonin, epinephrine and norepinephrine blood levels had risen significantly by the end of the 4-week therapy program. Moreover, melatonin levels remained high 6 weeks after the program had stopped. Epinephrine and norepinephrine levels, by that time, had returned to their original readings. Serotonin and prolactin were not affected by music therapy. In addition to the hormonal changes, the participants in the study also became more active and cooperative and slept better.
"Relaxation with the type of music that calms you down is very beneficial," said Kumar. "To promote a sense of calm and well-being, you can listen to your favorite soothing music when you eat, before you sleep, and when you want to relax. Music therapy might be a safer and more effective alternative to many psychotropic medications. Like meditation and yoga, it can help us maintain our hormonal and emotional balance, even during periods of stress or disease."