Health Guide

Sound therapy

What is it?

Music and sounds may affect a person's health. Ancient Greek doctors, Ayurvedic doctors in India, and many other healing traditions have used sounds to help heal the body.

The most common therapeutic use of sound is music therapy. Music has been shown to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, pain, and anxiety. Hospitals use music therapy to help with pain, improve patient's mood, calm, sedate, reduce fears, and reduce muscle tension. Nursing homes use music to increase the social, mental, and physical activity of residents.

Music therapy has been studied extensively. Many studies have shown impressive positive results. Stroke patients listening to music with imbedded rhythms were able to walk better than those not receiving treatment. Parkinson's disease patients received similar results. Almost 50% of the women who were able to choose their own music during labor did not require anesthesia. A 30 minute music session caused a significant increase in the immune systems of a group of children with cancer.

The Tomatis method uses a machine called the electronic ear. This therapy has been used successfully with children that have dyslexia, learning disabilities, attention deficit, autism, and poor motor skills. Special headphones deliver sound to the child with the low frequencies filtered out. With the low frequencies missing, the child is able to hear the remaining frequencies. The sounds help to alter the hearing range which has resulted in improved attention span and improved learning.

The Berard method uses enhanced music to correct hearing problems. This treatment uses a device that adjusts all the sound frequencies so they can be heard with equal clarity. The enhanced music is played for 30 minutes twice a day for 10 days. Proponents of the Berard method claim it can help with dyslexia, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and with children with delayed mental or emotional development.

Toning is when the patient is asked to close their eyes and vocalize extended vowel sounds. The therapy is intended to provide sound vibrations to unbalanced parts of the body. It is been suggested that this technique can release excess stress, improve listening skills, improve the quality of one's speaking voice, and encourage a balance in the mind and body.

Lu Yang Fang, PhD, a scientist at the National Acoustics Laboratory in Beijing, China, was able to identify and quantify the sound waves emitted from the hands of qigong masters. She developed a machine that recreated the sound waves she detected and tested its use in over 1000 patients. Her study showed the patients received numerous benefits. These included pain reduction, increased circulatory function, muscle relaxation, increased alpha brain waves, and improvements in headaches and depression.

  • The American Association of Music Therapy (215) 265-4006
  • The Chalice of Repose Project (406) 542-0001 x 2810
  • Georgiana Institute (203) 454-1221
  • Guided Imagery and Music (215) 787-8314
  • National Association of Music Therapy (301) 589-3300
  • Institute for Music, Health and Education (303) 443-8484


1. Burton Goldberg Group: Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Future Medicine Publishing, Puyallup, WA; 1994.

2. Inglis B & West R: The Alternative Health Guide. Alfred A. Knopf, NY, NY; 1983.

3. Kastner MA: Alternative Healing: The Complete A to Z Guide to Over 160 Different Alternative Therapies. Halcyon Publishing, La Mesa, CA; 1993.

4. Sifton DW: The PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies. Three Rivers Press, NY, NY; 1999.

5. Woodham A & Peters D: Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies, 1st ed. Dorling Kindersley, NY, NY; 1997.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

All rights reserved