Sound healing adherents say that listening to percussive instruments like gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, and tuning forks reduces stress and can place the listener in a meditative state. Practitioners offer their services as an alternative treatment for problems like anxiety, chronic pain, sleep disorders, and PTSD.
Sound healing is having a moment. There are sound healing Meetups in LA, London, and Chicago. More than 5,000 people are listed in the member directory of the Boulder, Colorado-based Sound Healers Association.
But are the benefits of sound therapy real? Or is this a particularly noisy form of quackery?
Evidence of using sound, music, and chants to heal the sick dates back thousands of years to ancient Egyptians and Australia’s Aborigines.
Today, a Google search for “sound healing” yields websites with auto-play music and a lot of celestial-themed clip art. It’s not a regulated industry, though several associations offer correspondence certification courses with modules like ”The Sound of Love” and “How to Achieve Dominant Outward Radiation.”
Music is a known de-stressor. Scientists from the National Institutes of Health found that subjects who listened to classical music before a stressful event recovered from the stress faster than those who listened to rippling water or simply relaxed in quiet.