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11th May


How Drumming Relieves Stress

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Dr. Barry Bittman, MD and his collaborators from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California tested the blood chemistry of 111 healthy men and women. The participants were divided into several groups. Two control groups either listened passively to music, or simply sat and read. Four groups of active drummers each practiced different drumming styles. Stress levels, as measured by a drop in the stress hormone cortisol, fell in all 111 participants.

Only one group, however, experienced an increase in “natural killer” cells (T-cells), an immune system response to cancer cells and viruses. The group participated in active music making (drumming) session including guided imagery and visualization. “We know stress takes a toll on the immune system,” says Ann Webster, PhD., the director of the Mind-Body Cancer Program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“When you’re under stress, blood levels of stress hormones go up, and your body is no longer able to make killer cells and other cells of the immune system in the amounts it normally would. In addition, that can lead to disease progression. Reducing stress is very restorative. It gets the system back into balance.”

Music therapists and music lovers alike have all seen anecdotally the impact music making can have on a person. Some participants of the drumming group remarked:

“It made me laugh and open up. Now I don’t feel so nervous all the time”
“It lifted my spirits above and beyond what I thought possible”
If you feel like drumming up some good health, the circle is open!
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