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  • Writer's pictureFranck Banza

Music and dance as medical treatment:Is it time for modern medicine to learn from traditional healer

The French philosopher René Descartes once argued that there is a great difference between mind and body, but the two are interacting with each other: the mind affects the body, and the body affects the mind. As a result, mental health and physical health are closely linked: mental stress causes physical illness, and chemical imbalances affect the mind. Consequently, we can definitely argue that a healthy mind can positively affect physical health. We also know that dance and music are used by traditional healers to treat certain conditions, and in this article, Super Bio Boost would like to explore whether these traditional healers have a point when treating physically ill patients with dance and music.

Traditional healing involves regular sessions of traditional dance and music, including intense singing, hand clapping, and drumming, and according to Buhrmann (1981, 1990), traditional African dance and music allows the body, mind and spirit, the conscious and the unconscious, to be expressed. Rhythmic movements give opportunity for the channeling of life energy into forms of activity, whether mental or physical.

Vontress (1999), states that traditional healers use music as a basic form of therapy especially in group therapy. It heals human imbalances, and causes a balance between the visible and the invisible world, and the drumming causes the human body to move with drum beats, capturing its sensation and nature itself.

Recent studies have shown that dance increases mental stamina, self-confidence, joyful self-expression, emotional exploration, setting and attaining goals, and taking on new challenges. Dance and music encourage personal well-being by permitting a direct and sincere connection with the individual’s emotions. Such a process implies a three dimensional strengthening: social (I am in a relationship); emotional (I am well); and cognitive (positive thinking) (Anna Mundet-Bolos, 2016).

Now that we know how music and dance create a strong connection between the body and the mind, positive thinking, mental stamina and self-confidence; let’s explore these effects on physical health.

The mind is a powerful healing tool when given the chance, says Harvard Health Publishing. Our brains can convince our bodies a fake treatment is real — the so-called placebo effect — and thus stimulate healing. Science has now found that under the right circumstances, a placebo can be just as effective as conventional treatments.

Additionally, Professor Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, also argued that the placebo effect is more than positive thinking — believing a treatment or procedure will work. It is about creating a stronger connection between the brain and body and how they work together. It can be seen that music and dance just like the placebo effect create a stronger connection between the mind and the body, and positive thinking.

So, is it worth giving yourself a placebo with music and dance? Definitely, yes! By engaging in music and dance it provides us some of the main elements of a placebo effect. However, the level of attention we give can enhance their benefits. According to Kaptchuk, the attention and emotional support we give ourselves is often not something we can easily measure, but it can help us feel more comfortable in the world, and that can go a long way when it comes to healing. This just shows that the traditional healers have extensive knowledge and experience on the placebo effect and they know how to empower the mind through music and dance.

In conclusion, for the best quality care, modern medicine can definitely learn something from traditional healers and include dance and music as supportive therapy. The good thing about this, is that you don’t need a prescription or referral from your GP or doctor. You can just find the nearest place where you can learn Salsa, Zumba, Bachata, or Tango and start boosting the connection between your mind and body. But personally, I would recommend the Kizomba or the Congolese Rumba, which will definitely boost your mind and body with a lot of positivity as it will help you increase your level of attention.

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