Thanks again to Deric Bownds’ Mindblog, a study by Conrad, Claudius MD, PhD; Niess, Hanno; Jauch, Karl-Walter MD; Bruns, Christiane J. MD, PhD; Hartl, Wolfgang H. MD; and Welker, Lorenz MD:
Methods: We conducted a randomized study in ten critically ill patients to identify mechanisms of music-induced relaxation using a special selection of slow movements of Mozart’s piano sonatas. These sonatas were analyzed for compositional elements of relaxation. We measured circulatory variables, brain electrical activity, serum levels of stress hormones and cytokines, requirements for sedative drugs, and level of sedation before and at the end of a 1-hr therapeutic session.
Results: Compared with controls, we found that music application significantly reduced the amount of sedative drugs needed to achieve a comparable degree of sedation. Simultaneously, among those receiving the music intervention, plasma concentrations of growth hormone increased, whereas those of interleukin-6 and epinephrine decreased. The reduction in systemic stress hormone levels was associated with a significantly lower blood pressure and heart rate. [emphasis added]
Conclusion: Based on the effects of slow movements of Mozart’s piano sonatas, we propose a neurohumoral pathway by which music might exert its sedative action. This model includes an interaction of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis with the adrenal medulla via mediators of the unspecific immune system.
Although I’ve posted before about the effects of music on surgical patients and sedation, this study goes farther in proposing a mechanism whereby it might work. The importance of this is that it provides a way to further understand how music does what it does.
And the result for those of us who are not researchers is that here is a study to convince your health care professionals that you’re not some fringe tinfoil hat person, but rather a well-informed patient who has taken the time to read the research and provide a method for them to understand why you are making the choice to have music as a therapeutic intervention. I encourage you to educate any surgeons, nurses, or anesthesiologists you know, by emailing this article to them. Together we can get the word out, reduce the dangers of anesthesia and surgery, and save lives!