How Sound Frequency Healing Works
When was the last time you really listened to a sound? Perhaps music, a movie, birds chirping, or maybe even loud construction noises outside your window.
Probably not that long ago.
How about the last time you thought about the wavelength frequency of that sound vibrating in your eardrums?
Most likely, never.
The truth is that the frequency of the vibration from the sounds in your environment can have an impact on your health, mood and wellbeing. Understanding this can empower you to use the beneficial qualities of sound wave energy to improve the quality of your health and life.
What Is Sound Healing?
Sound healing is the deliberate use of audible and inaudible sound waves and vibrational frequencies to improve health and wellbeing.
Sound has been used as a healing method for centuries across a wide range of ancestral traditions.
The didgeridoo, Tibetan singing bowls, tuning forks, drumming, and chanting are just a few examples of ancient tools that are still used today in many alternative healing modalities.
But the use of sound waves for healing isn’t just some ancient tradition that has been revived by new age practitioners. It’s a primary method of diagnosis and treatment in conventional western medicine as well.
Sound Wave Therapy as a Form of Energy Medicine
I know what you’re thinking...but energy medicine isn’t all woo-woo.
Energy medicine is the use of energy fields for therapeutic benefit. There are two categories of energy fields within energy medicine: “putative” and “veritable”..
“Putative” energy fields (often referred to as biofields) are theoretical and cannot be observed or measured with current technology.
“Veritable” energy fields, on the other hand, can be observed and measured and are used across many medical disciplines.
Veritable energy fields include things like vibrational energy, electromagnetic forces such as visible light, and magnetism.
While it sounds a little out there, there are actually many well-established uses for veritable energy fields in modern medicine.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Laser eye correction surgery
- Cardiac pacemakers
- Radiation therapy
- UV light therapy
The interesting part is, sound waves are also veritable energy fields and emit measurable vibrational energy. This energy has been shown to have impacts on the body’s natural frequencies, which is the theory on which “sound healing” is based.
With that in mind, let's get into the specifics of what sound is and how it physically interacts with your body.
What Are Sound Waves?
A sound source causes a disturbance to the surrounding air molecules which creates ripples of molecules that travel away from the sound source in waves.
Audible sounds waves, like those you can hear from music or ambient noise, vibrate at a frequency ranging from 20 Hz to 20 KHz.
Inaudible sound waves, like those from an ultrasound machine, vibrate at frequencies outside of the audible range.
Those waves of vibrating air molecules can in turn vibrate the matter that they come into contact with, including your body.
How Do Sound Waves Affect the Body?
Let’s start with the most obvious example...Music.
Simply stated, “music” is the name we give to certain recognizable patterns of audible sound waves. Music not only impacts our mood and sense of wellbeing but it has also been shown to improve immune function and decrease stress.
However, to understand how sound waves affect the body, let’s examine a well studied but complex form of sound therapy: therapeutic ultrasound.
Therapeutic ultrasound has been shown to improve the delivery of drugs across the skin and into targeted tissues like tumours and blood clots. It’s also been shown to facilitate the healing of wounds and bone fractures. And one of the primary ways by which it works is its interactions with cells and tissues.
All molecules, including the ones that make up your cells, oscillate at a specific frequency, whose intensity is dependent on temperature.
Ultrasound elevates the temperature of the target tissue cells and in turn changes their frequency which signals the initiation of certain destructive or restorative processes.
Another interesting use of ultrasound is “cellular cavitation”. Cavitation bubbles form when high-amplitude ultrasonic pressure waves travel through liquid. When the bubbles occur in close proximity, they rupture, and the resulting jets can rapidly stretch cells, poke holes in them or even obliterate their membranes, leading ultimately to cell death.
This is what makes ultrasound so effective against unhealthy, damaged, and tumorous cells. By targeting them, the ultrasound waves cause them to rupture and be consumed by the surrounding tissue cells.
From waves that vibrate our eardrums to make the music that elevates our mood to inaudible ultrasonic waves that obliterate aberrant cells, sound waves are powerful forces of nature that can affect us on multiple levels.
But how about the brain?
Can Sound Waves Tune Our Brainwaves? Vibrational Sound Healing and Brain Entrainment
Brainwaves are electromagnetic waves that are produced by the synchronized electrical pulses of large groups of neurons. They are categorized by frequency and each brainwave has an associated brain state.
- Gamma Brainwaves (32-100 Hz) are associated with heightened perception and problem-solving.
- Beta Brainwaves (13-32 Hz) are associated with alert attention and active thinking.
- Alpha Brainwaves (8-13 Hz) are associated with physical and mental relaxation.
- Theta Brainwaves (4-8 Hz) are associated with reduced consciousness like daydreaming and are also observed while dreaming in sleep.
- Delta Brainwaves (.5-4 Hz) are associated with deep sleep.
It has recently been proposed that specific brain states can be induced and trained by a method of cross-wave tuning. The proposed theory is that sound waves of a specific frequency can tune brainwaves to the same frequency, and thus produce certain desirable brain states.
For example, a song engineered to play at a frequency of 10 Hz would theoretically result in the brain switching into an Alpha brainwave range and therefore result in mental and physiological relaxation.
This is also the intent of a sound therapy known as “brain entrainment” via the use of binaural beats.
Most of the current research on binaural beats is based on the early 1970’s research done by biophysicist Gerald Oster, who showed that when a tone is played in one ear, and a slightly different tone is played in the other, the difference between the tones causes the brain to create a third, internal tone, which is the binaural beat. This syncs up the brain waves in both hemispheres, a process duly dubbed “brainwave entrainment”.
In 2008, the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine published a review of twenty studies of brainwave entrainment and patient outcome and concluded that it may be an effective tool against cognitive functioning deficits, stress, pain, headaches, behavioral problems, and premenstrual syndrome.
Sound healing is a form of energy medicine that has been used by ancient wisdom traditions as well as modern medical science.
Whether the intent is to make mood boosting music, promote the healing of specific tissues or optimally tune our brainwaves, the process is the same — a given sound source produces sound waves of varying frequencies which then impact the biological systems and energy fields they come into contact with.
The specific impact to our health will vary depending on the frequency of the sound waves and the tissues and energy fields being targeted.
The simplest, safest and most obvious way to use sound wave therapy is to listen to music that enhances your mood and wellbeing. As science shows, this can also improve your health.
To experiment with different frequencies and their effects, consider brain entrainment (binaural beats) or musical compositions that tinker with different wavelength frequencies. Although the proposed mechanism of action for these therapies is not yet understood, they may be helpful for some. And at the very least, they’ll drown out that pesky construction racket.