Music as Medicine

Music As Medicine For Breast Cancr RecoveryBy: Dr. Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

We’ve been playing music since back during the Paleolithic times, 40,000 years ago, with music as therapy documented at least since biblical times. The first such experiment was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1914. Phonograph in Operating Room “as a means of calming and distracting patients from the horror of the situation” as they lie awake during surgery.

Now that we have anesthesia, music is used to calm nerves before surgery. Normally we use valium-type drugs like midazolam, sold as Versed, but it can have a variety of side effects including sometimes making people even more agitated, so this study was performed to see if relaxing music has a greater anxiety reducing effect than a standard dose of the drug.  So, they whipped out some Kenny G. and the music worked significantly better than the drug:  lower anxiety scores, lower heart rate, lower blood pressure. Perhaps the first report of any anti-anxiety therapy working not just as good as, but better then benzodiazepine drugs. And the difference in the side effects of relaxing music compared to the drug is obvious. There were none. Soft jazz causes no post-operative hangover, so the researchers suggest we should start using music instead of midazolam.

Music may be effective in reducing anxiety and pain in children undergoing minor medical and dental procedures, helping with blood draws, getting their shots — even reducing the pain of spinal taps, though evidently Mozart is powerless against the pain of circumcision.

But it doesn’t take a randomized controlled trial to demonstrate that listening to music can be relaxing. Tell me something I don’t know. Ok, this I did not know. If you take someone with a latex allergy and inject their skin with latex, they get a big, red, angry bump. But, if you repeat the test after they’ve been listening to Mozart for 30 minutes, they develop a much smaller bump. They had less of an allergic reaction. And if you think that’s wild, Beethoven didn’t work; same reaction before and after. Schubert, didn’t work either, nor did Haydn, or Brahms, both failed to reduce the allergic skin response. Thus, the reducing effect on the allergic responses may be specific to Mozart. So, Mozart’s looking pretty good—but wait a second, maybe Mozart suppresses the immune system in general?  That wouldn’t be good, so they also injected a chemical that causes reactions in everyone, not just allergic people, and Mozart had no effect.  So it seems to just suppress the pathological allergic reaction, and if that isn’t crazy enough for you, they drew people’s blood after the music and stuck their white blood cells in a petri dish with a little latex and measured the allergic antibody response. The white blood cells from the person exposed to Mozart had less of an allergic response, even outside the body, compared to cells taken from Beethoven blood. That is cool.

Music may even impact our metabolism. It all started with this study that found the resting energy expenditure, the resting metabolic rate, the amount of calories burned just lying around was lower in preemies when they piped in Mozart; which may explain why infants exposed to music put on weight faster, so much so they were able to go home earlier. Gaining weight faster is great for premature babies, but not necessarily for adults. Could listening to music slow our metabolism and contribute to weight gain? No, this study found no effect on adults. But, they used Bach, not Mozart, and Bach doesn’t work for babies either. A drop in energy expenditure on Mozart, but not on Bach. This would suggest that it may be more of a ‘Mozart specific effect’ than a universal ‘music effect’. What if you just listen to music of your choice—does it affect our metabolism or not? We didn’t know until now. And it turns out that listening to music appears to actually increase our metabolic rate, such that we burn an average of 27.6 more calories a day even just lying in bed, though that’s only about six M&M’s worth. Better to use music to get up and start dancing or exercising. Music can not only improve exercise enjoyment but performance as well – a way to improve athletic performance, that’s legal.

Male body builders may be less enthused by this effect, though. After listening to music for just 30 minutes, testosterone levels drop 14% in young men and go up 21% in young women. All kinds of music or just some types of music? 30 minutes of silence had no effect, same testosterone levels before and after. But a half hour of Mozart suppressed testosterone, as did jazz, as did pop music, as did Gregorian chants (no relation). What about a half hour of people’s personal favorites? Testosterone levels cut in half. Testosterone decreased in males under all music conditions, whereas testosterone increased in the females. What is going on? Well, in men, testosterone is related to libido, dominance, aggressiveness, whereas women get a bigger boost in testosterone from cuddling than from sex and so, maybe we evolved using music as a way to ensure we all got along.  Like a melodious cold shower to keep everyone chill.

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.
Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Photo Source: Finding Your Place

How Does Yoga Help Those Undergoing Treatment for Breast Cancer?

Yoga For Breast Cancer Treatments

By Breast Cancer Yoga Staff.

Yoga addresses the side effect distresses of (breast) cancer. These side effects can include lymphedema (swelling), cancer-related fatigue, nausea, pain, weight loss, sleep disorders, stress, fear, anxiety, depression and restlessness. In current studies of women managing these symptoms of distress the following was reported: those doing yoga therapy showed a significant reduction in side effect and symptom distresses. Their (QOL) Quality of Life was shown to be significantly higher when practicing yoga. Anxiety, emotional stress, fear and negative moods are common causes of poor (QOL). The entire recovery process can disrupt routines, relationships, careers and other aspects of life. Yoga offers the opportunity to alleviate these obstacles and decrease there interference with recovery. Yoga assists in diminishing suffering from common chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Depression is also important to address with (breast) cancer patients. The uncertainty about prognosis and treatment, concerns of pain or even death, lack of physical and functional abilities and social changes contribute to depression. Patients who practice yoga appear to cope better with symptoms of illness, and the side effects and distresses of treatments. It is sited that the physical poses, breathing exercises, meditation techniques are especially helpful components of a yoga practice.

Where do you begin? Not everyone is disciplined enough to do their yoga at home and others thrive with a home routine. Here are some suggestions on how to start a yoga practice:

  • Start slow, make sure you create a practice that can grow as you regain strength and stamina.
  • Find a place at home that is quiet and well ventilated.
  • Set a time each day or every other day that encourages a routine.
  • Find a competent yoga teacher that teaches to the cancer community or a special breast cancer yoga DVD.
  • Dress comfortably, there should be no constriction for the breath.
  • Eat a light breakfast at least a hour beforehand.
  • Don’t be hard on yourself just persevere. It does get easier, and it is important to manage a self care practice.

One of the many benefits of yoga therapy is that the practice awakens positive emotions, builds self-confidence and reduces depression. There is an openness of spirit that leads to greater understanding when the practice of yoga is embraced. This all can be achieved but there must be determination and fortitude.

Yoga can be a lot of fun. Enjoy every deep, slow breath while moving your arms, legs and torso. It is so important to evenly pace the movement with the breath. The breath is key to your wellness. It too balances the mind, body and spirit. It is the cosmic gas station. “If the mind wanders the breath will follow.” Take it slow, take a big conscious breath, come into the present moment and just Be.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at if you have questions.

Rain Barrels – Watering Remedies

By Diana Ross, E-RYT 500 Certified Yoga Therapist and Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga

Can you believe that we keep reaching back in the past to bring our gardening tips and techniques forward? It is the new age thing to do, to capture your own rain water in rain barrels. Just like canning your garden vegetables and making your own berry jams ~ now collecting your water is back and it is great.

Conservation of our water consumption during the hot or dry summer months could decrease 40 percent if we were to use rain barrels. We lose this much when we water just lawns and gardens. Did you know that just an inch of rainfall on a 1,000 square foot roof will accumulate over 600 gallons of fresh water? Now this is motivation for using a rain barrel as part of your lawn and gardening system.

You could be the first in your neighborhood to show your rain barrel off. Encourage others to take charge and be inventive just like our grandparents and their parents. Water is such a valuable resource to waste.

I have included this great garden, compost and rain barrel system video.  This should get you excited. I also have some watering tips for you to use along with incorporating a rain barrel system. First always water early in the morning or late at night. This will help reduce water loss through evaporation. Secondly, use a drip hose so that the roots get a good wetting. Next, recycle water from your kitchen. Washing veggies, boiling eggs or excess water from the dehumidifier would do nicely on your plants. Conserve water whenever possible and compost and mulch. My beds are so rich with nutrients that you can practically put a saddle on the worms, they are so big.

Other suggestions for having healthy and colorful gardens are in the use of native plants and herbs. They typically use less water and are adapt at the environment so they stay hardy. This means that you do not need to use chemicals. They will also attract seasonal birds and butterflies. Who knows you may even attract humming birds. Growing native indigenous plants can save 50 percent of the water used to maintain other plants, and choosing drought tolerant natives is even better.

You got to love it. Taking charge of your own gardens and lawn whereby you help the planet is a pretty cool thing to do. I think so.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at if you have questions.

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