Music & the MonSter

Philosophers have long proclaimed that music soothes the soul.  There are many written references that romanticize the healing power of music. In 1697, William Congreve, a British author, wrote the play The Mourning Bride, about love, power, deception and death. This tragic play gives us two famous lines – both of which are often paraphrased or misquoted. The first is ‘hell has no fury like a woman scorned,” and the second is ‘Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.’  We have heard them so often, neither of these lines need further interpretation.

The second line is often misquoted as ‘music soothes the savage beast,’ and it causes me to associate this thought with our battle with the monster, Multiple Sclerosis. Often when I am out in my car with the radio tuned to music, I find myself singing along – fortunately,  like singing in the shower, I am usually alone in the car and my lack of musicality is not inflicted on anyone else.  The therapeutic value of singing doesn’t need to be researched – I know it makes me feel good to sing along, no matter how off key I might be. If the sun is shining, the sky is blue and I am rocking out with a favorite tune, it just feels great.

A deep breath before letting out the notes is a workout for our lungs and diaphram.  Recently I came across another story of the healing power of music. This article talked about the many ways music helps with mood, and controls pains but also said it has been shown the immune system responds positively to music, stimulating our T-cells.

If you follow or understand much of anything about T-cells, you might recognize the name and the important role they play in MS – it was thought those pesky t-cells can go rogue and begin attacking our bodies, but there is some newer thought that certain types of t-cells  actually recognize the myelin and attack other miscreant t- cells that are doing the damage.

In addition to populating my t-cell numbers, I also know that singing helps with depression, is a form of meditative relaxation and can assist with controlling pain.  There are the added benefits of socialization if you choose to sing in a group, such as a choir.  Insomnia can also be helped with music- but in the form of humming.  It seems the brain cannot construct words if it is making humming sounds – the next time you can’t sleep you might try this tip, but only if you sleep alone or your bed partner wears ear plugs.  All of these are problem areas that many of us with MS encounter and could use a little help with, especially if it comes in the form of some benign do-re-mi’s.

I don’t know about you, but it is confusing to me whether my t-cells should be stimulated or not, and the more I research online about the subject, the less I understand.  However, I do know that if singing increases their number, those t-cells might be overwhelming my immune system, and I’m not about to stop the habit.

William Congreve is also the author of another regularly used saying – ‘you must not kiss and tell,’ but that is a topic for another day. No matter where you sing, I hope you will keep the music in your life to battle your MS and soothe the breast.

Wishing you well,


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