Music As Therapy: The Healing Power Of Music

For ages, people have turned to music to get excited, calm down, share experiences, and more. Over time, scientific research has shown that this natural affinity for tunes is much more than a feeling—music can have powerful healing qualities.

Music therapy applies those scientific findings to enhance music’s power and help people heal to improve their physical, emotional, mental, social or even spiritual well-being.

Many different groups have been shown to benefit from music therapy, including:

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Music therapy has been shown to improve social behaviors, boost focus, reduce anxiety, and even enhance body awareness and coordination for people with ASD, as detailed in a study in Journal of Music Therapy.

Oncology patients
Music therapy can enhance the quality of life of oncology patients in many ways, including by reducing pain and anxiety, boosting mood, and improving heart rate and blood pressure. cites a review of studies reflecting these impacts, and music therapists are part of many cancer management teams.

Soldiers with PTSD
Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) gained an opportunity to better express and control their feelings and build a sense of connectedness through improvisation on hand drums, as cited in this Huffington Post article.

Special needs children
Most children engage with music quickly, so it can serve as a strong motivator to encourage kids with special needs to make requests, develop motor skills, and complete challenging activities. This post from Friendship Circle shares how.

Alzheimer’s patients
For dementia patients, an aptitude and appreciation for music is one of the abilities that stays with them the longest. Music can be used to improve patients’ mood, manage stress-induced agitation, encourage positive social engagement, and prompt cognitive functioning, according to

Individuals with depression
For people suffering from depression, music can provide a catharsis and much-needed way to connect with others through joint improvisation. Creating music also enables people to positively experience their physical being. These are critical elements of depression recovery, as explained in this BJPsych article.

For pain management
Music provides sensory stimulation that causes patients with chronic pain to relax, reduces stress, boosts their mood, and reduces the patient’s perceived pain level. As explained by Everyday Health, patient learns to relax automatically while listening to music with practice.

Combining the Art and Science of Music

These are only some of the ways music therapy is improving lives. When the art and science behind music combine, they create a powerful therapy technique that can stimulate and heal us, both body and soul. With thousands of certified musical therapists in America today, many different kinds of patients experience the healing powers of music each year.

Eating Right For Asthma

If you have asthma, you probably have an inhaler which you use for daily relief of your symptoms or for emergency asthma attacks. You probably also avoid smoke or other substances that can trigger the coughing, wheezing misery of an asthma attack. You probably are also careful when you exercise. What you might not have known is that there is another thing you can do to help manage your condition. Though there is not an “asthma diet” and no specific foods are known to cause bronchial dilation on their own, a healthy diet is good for everyone including people with asthma. If you are curious how a healthy diet can benefit an asthmatic then please read on.


A Healthy Diet Reduces Obesity

Obesity is bad for everyone. Extra fat clogs your arteries and makes every cell in your body work harder to do its job. Those who are obese generally have lung problems, tire easily and become short of breath. If you are asthmatic, obesity can worsen the condition. Extra fat around the lungs causes them to not expand fully. This then cuts off the already compromised oxygen supply reaching your other organs and can make asthma attacks worse.


Avoid Allergens

Foods that you are allergic to can be really bad news for your asthma. Allergic reactions can often include swelling of the bronchial tubes in the same way that asthma does. They also can lead to coughing, which can actually start an asthma attack. That is why it is imperative that you avoid foods and other substances which you are allergic to. Your body will thank you.


Get Your Vitamins

The rates of asthma in the United States have been steadily rising over the last thirty years, and researchers are attempting to get to the bottom of this puzzling mystery. Studies are inconclusive so far but recent findings show that people who eat a diet high in vitamins E, C and Beta Carotene along with flavonoids, Omega III fatty acids and other components have less likelihood of developing asthma whereas those who eat processed foods and very few fruits and vegetables have a higher chance. If eating a healthy diet could prevent asthma in some people, then it stands to reason that it might also help lessen the condition in those already suffering. Beyond that, eating a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals helps build new cells, restoring the ones asthma damages.


Eating a well-balanced diet is very important, especially for asthma sufferers. Doing so lessens the likelihood of obesity which prevents the lungs from expanding fully or properly. This type of diet also promotes cell growth and healing, which means the body repairs the damage to the lungs asthma causes much faster. As an asthma sufferer, it is also necessary to avoid allergens as allergens can trigger an asthma attack. Asthma can be a debilitating disease, but it doesn’t have to be. With good management and a healthy diet, you can be breathing easier in no time.

Nausea: When To Seek Medical Advice

Nausea is very common symptom that is associated with a wide range of health conditions, referring to the physical discomfort that gives a person the feeling that they may be about to vomit.

Often the cause of vomiting or nausea can be determined fairly easily by looking back at a person’s recent actions (such as a particularly stressful day, or that gas station sushi s/he ate for lunch). But there are times when nausea and vomiting are very serious.

Knowing how to recognize when it’s time to see doctor can be the difference between a quick recovery and a life-threatening situation.

What’s serious enough to warrant a doctor or ER visit depends on age and condition. Here is a breakdown of what warning signs to look for by group:

When a child is nauseous, the most common causes are overeating, motion sickness, blocked intestines, milk allergy, viral infections, food poisoning, or illness with a high fever. Another common cause is dehydration, particularly for those too young to communicate the symptoms.

If a child is nauseous and vomiting, look for these signs that s/he needs to seek emergency treatment:

  • Vomiting lasts longer than 24 hours, or longer than 12 hours for infants under 2
  • S/he shows symptoms of dehydration (dry lips, drymouth, sunken eyes, rapid breathing or rapid pulse)
  • S/he hasn’t urinated for longer than six hours
  • S/he is confused or lethargic
  • S/he has a fever of 102°F or higher for children 6 or older (100°F for infants)
  • Any infant with both vomiting and diarrhea
  • Any time an infant has projectile vomiting
  • If a child has vomited continuously for more than two hours
  • S/he hasn’t been able to keep liquids down for eight hours

When an adult feels nauseous, it’s usually easy to determine the cause—motion sickness, food poisoning, a virus, or emotional stress are common triggers.

Most of these causes are not serious, and pass within a matter of hours. But there are times when it is important to seek emergency treatment. On occasion, extensive vomiting can serious damage the esophagus.

An adult should seek medical treatment if:

  • S/he suffers from nausea for more than seven days
  • S/he shows signs of dehydration
  • She suspects she could be pregnant
  • If there is a known injury such as a head injury or infection
  • If vomiting continues for more than 24 hours
  • Blood is in the vomit (red or something appearing like coffee grounds)
  • If the person experiences a stiff neck or headache
  • S/he is lethargic, confused or lacking alertness
  • S/he has abdominal pain
  • S/he is unable to eat or drink for 12 hours

Pregnant women
Nausea is common during pregnancy, especially early on. However, frequent vomiting can lead to hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition in which a fluid and mineral imbalance develops. This is a serious medical condition that can endanger the fetus.

If this nausea is affecting a woman’s everyday life, it’s worth discussing with a doctor, but if an expecting mother experiences any of these, she should seek medical attention right away:

  • She vomits several times a day
  • She is unable to eat or drink without vomiting
  • She is losing weight

Cancer patients
For cancer patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, nausea is very common. Patients should be aware of associated risks including dehydration and choking, and always call your cancer team in the following situations:

  • The patient may have inhaled some of the vomit
  • S/he vomits more than three times an hour, for longer than three hours
  • Blood, red, or a coffee grounds-like substance appears in the vomit
  • S/he can’t eat for more than two days, or can’t consume more than 4 cups of liquid or ice chips for more than one day
  • The patient cannot take his/her medications
  • S/he shows signs of dehydration
  • S/he loses two pounds or more within 48 hours or less

Know the Signs and Risks

Most of the time, nausea is not a serious health threat, and it generally passes within a matter of hours. But nausea is a symptom for a wide range of conditions, from anxiety to a concussion.

While some of the most serious causes of nausea are rarer, there are some situations in which a nauseous and vomiting individual requires immediate medical care. Know the signs to keep you and your loved ones safe, and when in doubt, seek assistance.

Is Facebook Good For Your Health?

Is Facebook good for your health? It’s a big question, and as social media continues to become more and more prevalent, an important one.

According to a 2013 study by Facebook and IDC, smartphone users check Facebook as much as 14 times a day. Any time an action becomes habitual and compulsive like this, it starts to take on traits of addiction, affecting our daily lives.

So how is all this posting and profiling affecting us?

A lot of research has been dedicated to exploring this question—and the results are conflicting. Depending on the study or article you pick up you could find two disparate answers to this question: yes and no.

Hazards of posting

A number of studies have shown that the amount of time we invest in Facebook and other social media can take a toll on our psyches and detract from our overall happiness.

A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics used the term “Facebook depression” to refer to a condition found to occur in tweens and teens who spent too much time online. The condition was correlated with increased substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, and aggressive or self-destructive behaviors in the study subjects.

However, correlation is not causation, so Facebook’s role in triggering the condition has yet to be proven. Furthermore, the article cited a second study that indicated youths with quality friendships weren’t subject to “Facebook depression,” indicating that the quality of a teen’s social connections are a significant factor.

Another study by Israeli researchers found that the more time adolescent girls spent on online, the more likely they were to develop an eating disorder.

Other studies focused on adults have come to similar conclusions.

For example, Facebook has been found to factor into the divorce rate, and posts are even used by lawyers as evidence during divorce proceedings.

Studies have found that Facebook can trigger marital dissatisfaction in multiple ways, from reigniting relationships from long in the past, to serving as a forum to air dirty laundry. The strain these behaviors place on a relationship can lead to divorce.

Spouses who check in on their partner’s page may invite jealousy if they see something they don’t like, and that can lead to conflict. In “Facebook and your Marriage,” it’s recommend spouses discuss what’s fair game for posting and what’s not.

But Facebook’s impact on our quality of life stretched beyond the status of our marriages. It can also influence our overall life satisfaction.

A study from University of Michigan and Leuven University checked in with people five times a day asking about their mood and social interactions, both online and off. The results aren’t good for social media—the more times a person had checked Facebook since their last questionnaire, the worse their mood was on the next one.

Perhaps that’s because, as a joint survey from Germany’s Humboldt-Universität and TU Darmstadt showed, the most common feeling associated with Facebook browsing is envy.

As we browse more and more of what look like perfect lives flow through our feeds, it can cause us to develop a skewed perspective of our own lives. This leads to anxiety, discontent, and in some cases depression or eating disorders.

In short, Facebook can exacerbate our insecurities, push them further, and isolate us in our time of need.

But there’s a silver lining

Despite these negative findings, it may not be time to swear off social media quite yet. The detrimental effects of Facebook are real, but they’re not necessarily the full story.

A study from Cornell University showed that when a person updates their Facebook profile, they get a boost of self-esteem associated with being proactive about the image they project to the world.

Contrary to findings that social media isolates individuals with depression, another study from Michigan State University indicated that people with low self-esteem and happiness levels felt more connected to friends and their community when they logged onto Facebook more frequently. Another study from Lancaster University showed that high use of Facebook helps cement friendships among 21- to 29-year-olds.

Another study by Pew Research Center showed that people who use Facebook frequently score higher on test measuring companionship and emotional support.

So what’s the real answer?

Which studies are giving us the real story? It may simply come down to how we choose to use Facebook, rather than inherent qualities of the network itself.

The Humboldt-Universität and TU Darmstadt  study showed that how a person engages on Facebook may be at least as important as how frequently they use it. In the study, those who used Facebook primarily to browse were more likely to experience negative effects than those who used it to communicate.

To protect your well-being while using Facebook and other social media, try to use it mindfully by managing your emotions and actions when you log in. focus on connecting with friends and loved ones, and avoid behaviors that lead to negative emotions like stalking old flames, comparing your life to the appearance of others’, and inundating yourself with media images flaunting impossible beauty standards.

In short, remember why you log in to Facebook in the first place. Pay attention to how it makes you feel, and don’t be afraid to take a break or change how you use it.

Does An Apple A Day Really Keep The Doctor Away?

Just as the age-old adage promises, it seems an apple a day really can keep the doctor away.

Apples (along with other fruits and veggies) pack a combination of vitamins and minerals that out-power supplements like artificially made vitamin capsules. These nutrients are critical for our bodies’ health—not only do they keep our immune system strong to fight off germs, but they also reduce our risk for heart disease and cancer.

Doctors believe the reason fruits and vegetables are so much better for our bodies than the bottled stuff is because supplements delve out nutrient one at a time, but the combination of many different nutrients found in natural sources like apples offers added benefits.

So while no amount of apple-eating can guarantee you’ll stay clear of the doctor’s office completely, it’s a great place to start.

The Importance of Doctor’s Check-Ups

Most of us find plenty of reasons to drag our feet when it comes time to get a medical check-up.

After all, if you’re feeling fine, why bother? You’re a busy individual, with plenty on your plate already at work and at home. Maybe the idea of finding something wrong even makes you uncomfortable, which causes you to push off even thinking about it.


Benefits of the Check-Up

While it’s easy to find reasons to push off a check-up, your health is no place to slack off. Studies have shown that being proactive about your health can really pay off. In the long run, you may be buying yourself more time, both in healthy active hours (versus those spent in bed sick or being treated in a hospital), and also in overall life longevity.

On the off chance there is something wrong, catching it early can be life-saving. But even if no health issues are found, a checkup still offers a few important health benefits.

To start, you get the ease of mind of knowing for sure that you have a clean bill of health. You also get important baseline on your health metrics in these appointments, including your weight, height, blood pressure and more, which establishes a record of what is normal for your body. If you suddenly deviate from those metrics without a reason (such as going on a diet), that can serve as a red flag that something is wrong.

A periodic check-in is also an opportunity to build a relationship with your primary physician. If you have questions about your health, this is the time to ask! A doctor can be a great time to get feedback about your diet, exercise or other self-care habits or concerns.


The Annual Check-Up Under Scrutiny

A few years ago, the annual checkup came under fire when a study revealed that recent medical breakthroughs mean the annual checkup was less necessary than it used to be.

But that doesn’t mean a person only needs to see the doctor when they’re feeling ill. Rather, modern technology allows physicians to make more personalized recommendations for individual patients. Based on factors like family history, personal history and test results, one individual may benefit from coming in every six months, while another may be fine to go two years between checkups.

Technology also enables patients to seek medical advice from anywhere, thanks to communication tools like Skype and email that allow doctors to take an initial look and let a patient know if that funny-looking mole on their shoulder is worth a closer look. Studies have shown that regardless of how patients get in touch with their doctors, the health benefits of checking in are the same.


Be Proactive About Your Health

While the annual medical checkup may be on its way out, regular communication with your physician will never be out of style. Be sure to communicate with your physician to determine how frequently you should come in for a checkup, and how to best stay in touch between office visits.

Whether you go for the traditional once-a-year approach, or work out a more customized schedule with your own doctor, be sure to be proactive about your health.

Top Reasons for Summer ER Visits

Summer is a time for outdoor adventures, travel and relaxation. But among health professionals, it’s known as “trauma season”—with good reason. With summer comes an influx in health risks and emergency room visits.

Don’t let your summer get derailed by trips to the ER. Protect yourself and your loved ones by being aware of these most common reasons for summer ER visits, and how to reduce your risk.


Sunburn/Sun Poisoning
A sunburn may sound pretty innocent compared to most things we consider major injuries, but a serious sunburn is not only painful, but also very dangerous.

Beyond increasing your risk for skin cancer later for life, a major sunburn can lead to sun poisoning, a serious condition with symptoms including dehydration, headaches, fever, nausea, confusion, and skin infections. If a person experiences these serious symptoms of sun poisoning, it’s time to get to the hospital.

To reduce your risk, always use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply it every two hours while outside. As much as possible, avoid being out in the sun when it’s strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Children under six months old should never be exposed to the sun. For children younger than a year old, always treat a sunburn as an emergency.


One of the top symptoms people report as a cause for their ER visit is dizziness, one of the most common symptoms of dehydration. It’s a serious summer health issue that can be caused by prolonged periods out in the heat and/or sun.

Additional symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, little or no urination, shriveled skin, fever, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, confusion, and in the most serous cases, delirium.

To guard against dehydration, avoid spending long periods in the sun, especially during its peak hours between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol, as well as drinks high in sugar or caffeine.

Babies and the elderly are at especially high risk for dehydration, as are individuals on certain medications such as diuretics or blood pressure medications.


Food poisoning
There are two reasons why food poisoning incidents increase in the summer. First, summer’s high temperatures are an ideal environment that allows the bacteria that causes food poisoning to thrive. Secondly, there’s a lot more outdoor cooking in summer, which means people are away from the kitchen’s controlled environment and the tools that usually help them guard against food poisoning risks.

Symptoms of food poisoning can include cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. To protect against food poisoning, follow all standard food safety guidelines no matter where you cook, and refrigerate leftovers right after eating—never eat food items including egg, milk, seafood or meat if they have been unrefrigerated for more than an hour in temperatures over 90° F.


Between slippery decks, deep waters, and a lot of horsing around, it’s easy to see how pools can become high-risk zones.

A person can drown within a matter of minutes. It’s important to always have a responsible adult supervising play carefully—and, ideally, in the pool themselves.

It’s best for children to wear life jackets any time they are swimming, and basic safety rules like no running or diving should always be upheld to reduce the risk of falls and slips. When in the pool, keep a phone nearby in case you need to dial 911.

And learn CPR—it’s one o the best things you can do to stay safe in the water. In those long minutes between when a crisis occurs and an ambulance arrives, your skills can be the difference between life and death.


Outdoor toys
Summer is a great time for kids to play outside. But know the risks, and do what you can to protect them while they play.

Trampolines, for example, can lead to a wide range of serious injuries, including sprains, fractures and concussions. Children should only play on trampolines while under careful adult supervision, and only with precautions like safety netting in place.

Bikes, scooters, skateboards and other outdoor toys come with real risks, too. Children (and everyone) should wear a helmet while using them, and an adult should be present in case of a fall. Children should also wear sturdy shoes that cover their whole feet while playing, and be aware of traffic and safety rules.


Safe Summers are More Fun

With all the fun and adventure summer has to offer, the last thing you and your loved ones want to do is waste time in the ER. The best way to ensure you spend that time together—and not with a doctor—is to be aware of the season’s greatest risk factors, and take precautions to stay safe.

Armed with this knowledge, you can kick back and focus on enjoying all summer has to offer!

The Health Benefits of Fasting

People have fasted for thousands of years, and for thousands of years, people have held testament to this practice’s health benefits. And it turns out, they were on to something—the latest scientific research shows that the health benefits are real and manifold.

Fasting is the practice of not consuming food for extended periods. There are several different diets that incorporate fasting. The type of fast that is right for you depends on what fits your lifestyle best.


Regardless of the type of fasting you choose, studies have found a number of benefits to fasting, including:

Fat burn—When the body runs out of food to digest, it turns to glucose for energy. When it runs out of glucose, it starts burning fat. This leads to weight loss.

Metabolic boost—When the body has no food in it for a prolonged period, this causes the metabolic to fire up. This can also contribute to weight loss. One study showed fasting led to a 3-8 percent decrease in weight over a period of 3 to 24 weeks.

Preserve muscle—Because fasting causes growth hormone levels to increase in the blood, weight loss through fasting has been proven to preserve muscle better than diets that involve a prolonged reduction in calorie consumptiion.

Immune system—One study showed that longer periods of fasting (2-4 days) can clear out old immune cells and regenerate new ones, which strengthens the immune system. This immunity boost has been shown to help cancer patients reduce side effects during chemotherapy, when they fasted for three days prior to treatment.

Longer life—Two studies have even found evidence of improved longevity in fasting subjects at the molecular and genetic level—signs that fasting and modify your body’s gene expressions and help you life longer.


If you’re going to fast for the health benefits, it’s important to be aware of the risks, too. UK’s National Health Service has listed several, including dehydration, increased stress, disrupted sleep, headaches, and even heartburn. Some experts also correlate fasting to an increased risk for eating disorders. For these reasons, start fasting slowly and always listen to your body if you are struggling while fasting.

The Health Benefits of Water

We all know water is important to stay hydrated, but do you know all the ways that water is helping you stay at the top of your game?

With zero calories and a long list of benefits, there are few things that are healthier or more essential for our bodies than water. Check out these lesser-known benefits to keeping your water bottle topped off.


  • Reduce Your Calorie Count
    Some confuse thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated can keep you from reaching for a snack. Substituting water for higher calorie drinks like juice or soda in your everyday diet can add up to a lot, too.
  • Energize Your Muscles
    When muscle cells get low on water, they don’t balance their hydration or electrolyte levels, so it causes you to feel fatigued. To get your muscles primed, start hydrating about two hours before exercising with about 17 ounces of water, and sip early and often throughout your workout.
  • Keep Your Skin Clear
    Water helps to keep your skin moisturized, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fights breakouts. 
  • Flush Toxins
    Your kidneys have the job of keeping the body cleansed of toxins. Keeping a good flow of water running through your body helps your kidneys process better. As a nice bonus, this reduces your risk of kidney stones.
  • Keep Yourself Regular
    Water also keeps things moving through your gastrointestinal tract, which helps you stay comfortable and avoid, well, backups.
  • Reduce Pain
    A well-hydrated body can better deal with aching joints, body cramps, and a whole slew of different bodily challenges, which means you’ll feel less pain overall when you drink more water.
  • Fight Infection
    People who are better hydrated tend to get sick less often, because water helps your immune system stay at its best and more efficiently fight germs.
  • Clear Your Thoughts
    Drinking water helps you focus and think better. One study even found a correlation between college students who brought water with them to class and those who got better grades.


The human body is about 60 percent water. So when we don’t have enough, we’re simply not at our best, and that shows itself in a myriad of ways. Fortunately, it’s easy to increase your water intake. Try trading a less healthy drink like beer or soda for a healthier option you like, or substitute a snack with water-dense fruits and veggies.

Whatever you choose, make a swap you can enjoy. You’re more likely to sustain the habit long-term, so don’t punish yourself by drinking tap water if you hate it.

Cancer: What to Ask Your Doctor

A cancer diagnosis can be hard to process at first. You may feel shock, anger, or even disbelief. But as a cancer patient, you are an equal partner with your doctor in your treatment and recovery. The more you understand what your body is going through, the better prepared you are to take care of yourself and make the big decisions necessary for your recovery.

So don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you have about your diagnosis or treatment. Helping you understand your cancer is part of their job. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some recommended questions to ask about your cancer to get you started:


Understand Your Diagnosis

  • What type of cancer do I have?
  • Where is my cancer?
  • Has my cancer spread in my body? Where did it start?
  • What stage of cancer do I have?
  • How do I get a copy of my pathology report?
  • What are my odds for survival, as far as you can tell?
  • How can I reach you if I have questions later?


Understand Your Options

  • What is your experience treating the kind of cancer that I have?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Will I need additional testing before we can determine the best treatment?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • What are the advantages and risks of this treatment?
  • Should I consider joining a clinical trial?
  • How can I learn more about clinical trials?


Understand Your Treatment

  • What is the goal for my treatment? Are we curing my cancer or controlling my symptoms?
  • Will additional specialists be involved with my treatment? Who will be in charge of my treatment plan?
  • What drugs will I be on? What will each of them do for me?
  • Will I need any additional drugs or other treatments?
  • What potential risks or side effects are associated with these drugs and/or treatments?
  • What side effects should I report immediately, should I experience them?
  • What should I do to prepare for treatment? Are there foods I should avoid? What about alcohol?
  • What changes should I expect to make to my day-to-day life? Can I exercise during treatment? Can I go to work?
  • How frequently will I need treatments? How long will each treatment last? How long will I need treatments for?
  • How will we know if the treatment is effective?
  • How likely is it that my cancer will recur?
  • How much will my treatment cost? How much will my insurance cover?


As a cancer patient, you play an active role in your fight to recovery. The better you understand your diagnosis and treatment, the better you can care for yourself during this time. So take an active role in your recovery and ask your doctor any question you have—it’s what they’re there for!