Before the time that humans discovered that they could manipulate genes, and even before the New World was discovered, humans have been diligently seeking a drug that could heal all hurts, ease all pain. Today, as before, people have spent large quantities of money in the search for this "wonder medicine." However, it appears that such a medicine does exist. It could even be said that this balm existed before humans began their search. If this remedy has existed, why has it gone unnoticed? The answer: perhaps mankind has not had the time or ability to look until recently . . .
Music has existed in one way or another for over thirty thousand years. Archeologists discovered that early Neanderthals were able to create simple flutes. However, early humans most likely did not have the ability to do much with music since they were hunters and gatherers. As a result, early humans were probably much too concerned with making sure that they did not wake up one morning and discover that the herds of wild game that they had been hunting had moved on. Not until much later in history did humans begin to connect music with the ability to heal. Ancient Egyptians thought that their gods gave them music so they could heal and purify their souls. The ancient Greeks connected music with the power to heal the body. This is represented in the god, Apollo, and his son, Asclepius, a patron of the healing arts. Because of this, the ancient Greeks played music in Asclepian temples to refresh and renew the body. Yet, music was not explored in greater detail with regard to its healing abilities until about thirty years ago. Since then, people have dedicated more time and money into researching the physical effects of music on the mind and body.
Today, the area of science that deals directly with the physical effects of music is music therapy. Music therapists, in hospitals around the United States of America, use music to rehabilitate people and to ease their minds. Before the 1960's, therapists knew of only one way to get people's physical motions back into some level of normality. Therapists did this by making the patient go through series of painful exercises. Today, however, therapists have the ability to use music to get the desired movements out of patients. For instance, if a patient is recovering from a stroke, a therapist might decide to use disco music to retrain the patient's brain on how to make rapid movements. Similarly, to get fluid movements, that same therapist will probably use waltz style music. Furthermore, if a patient has problems opening and closing their hands, a therapist will try to get that individual interested in playing instruments, like the guitar. Finally, if a surgeon thinks that it would be better for a patient not to have an anesthetic injected during surgery, the surgeon will have a therapist select comforting music to be played into the subject's ears to put them into an almost calm trance.
How do therapists get these desired results from only using music? Simple. People respond to music in some way or another. The human brain connects slower and softer pieces of music to slow but fluid motions. The faster and louder the music, the more the human brain is likely to connect it with rapid movements. Moreover, it is not the whole human brain that is connecting these movements with these different types of music, only the right side of the brain is. This is where all music functions reside in the brain. Another reason that therapists get the results that they want is that music that will get the most attention from the right side of the patient's brain. Attracting the brains attention with pleasurable music will induce the patient's brain to produce serotonin, which causes pleasure, and melatonin, which affects sleep. This is the main reason as to why patients will either react with body movements to music, or will fall into clam trance like states when they undergo surgery.
It is true. Music can induce almost any type of mood from humans. It can make people really happy, and it can make them really sad. This is perhaps why music is a "wonder drug." If music induces people to be happy or think faster, this will help rehabilitate peoples physical motions. Or if music makes people sad this will cause the healing process of the body to take longer. Unlike recreational drugs like cocaine and ecstasy, music has more than the ability to make people happy. Music has the ability to do almost anything to people, whether it is good or bad. However, and thankfully, music more often then not, only causes people to do things that are beneficial to themselves. What an amazing thing this drug is, music.