Healing from the Ear
by Steve Rees, Ret. RN, Harpist
A new acquaintance that found my Calming Harp music online, introduced me to a goldmine of information that helped me to understand why the music I produce has such amazing effects on people for health benefits, sleep apnea, easing tensions, and so much more. Until I was introduced to this research, I was mostly dependent on anecdotal accounts of the benefits of the Calming Harp music and the frequency work that I have identified over the past decade and more.
This article is a synopsis of an article: THE THERAPEUTIC EFFECT OF HIGH-FREQUENCY AUDITION
The full text is available at http://weeksmd.com/?p=714
© Bradford S. Weeks M. D. 1986:
To be clear, the frequency work was not my original discovery as I attribute much of the information to Dr. Leonard Horowitz and Dr. Joseph Puleo. However, even Leonard called me one time and told me that they knew the frequencies had to do with music, but they didn’t know what to do with it. He then told me, “But you know what to do with it musically.” That has been my contribution to this fascinating field of discovery; bringing specific frequencies into music and identifying types of music that bring the desired results.
But what does music have to do with the ear? What may seem like an obvious answer, is much more involved than I had ever understood. Yes, we must “hear” music to receive the benefits it offers, and the ear is what we hear with. I discovered that there are two kinds of hearing. There is active hearing, or listening, in which we are focused on what the music is doing. There is also passive hearing in which our ear apparatus is receiving the energy sound waves from the source, but we are not paying attention. Each has different effects.
The article begins by acknowledging that there are different schools of thought and research connected to the study of the ear and its mechanisms.
“Orthodox: It is commonly understood that the ear is divided into three parts – the external ear (meatus and canal), the middle ear (tympanic membrane, ossicles, middle ear muscles) and the inner ear (vestibule and cochlea).”
“Unorthodox: An appreciation of embryology suggests that there are, practically speaking, only two ears – an external and an internal ear. We know that the embryo originally consists of a series of five branchial arches . The adult ear develops from the first two. More specifically, the first brachial arch will develop into the first two ossicles of the ear (the malleus with its muscle and the incus) and falls under the enervation of the trigeminal nerve (5th cranial nerve). The second brachial arch produces the third ossicle (stapes with its stapedius muscle) and is innervated by the facial nerve (7th cranial nerve). More can be made of the other organs which arise from these first two brachial arches (lower jaw with adductive muscles from the first and upper part of the larynx, the hyoid bone, and the anterior ventral segment of the digastric muscle with opposes the jaw adductors) …. My point here is that the ear is functionally understood as tripartite while comprising a polarity. This distinction becomes therapeutically significant in terms of high-frequency audition.”
This is just a look at the anatomical differences in understanding how the ear works and is structured. There are also other anatomical considerations as well. “The ear is now understood to be neurologically involved with the optic or 2nd cranial nerve, the oculomotor or 3rd cranial nerve, the trochlear or 4th cranial nerve, the abducens or 6th cranial nerve and the spinal-accessory or 11th cranial nerve which is responsible for posterior-lateral musculature of the neck.”
The writer went on to describe the anatomy of the nerves that run through the area of the ear in our bodies, likening it to a look at the roads that lead into and out of Rome. Everything leads everywhere else, and everything is interconnected. One cannot affect one nerve without involving at least one other and usually more. In other words, the ear is Grand Central Station for all communications and functions of the body. The longest nerve, the vagus, runs through the ear as well.
“What is the significance of vagal and acoustic interaction? Let us track this path throughout the body. The vagus wanders on contacting next to the postural back muscles via an anastomosis with the spino-accessory or 11th cranial nerve, then sensitizes that part of the larynx responsible for vocalization via the upper laryngeal nerve before delivering motor innervation via the recurrent laryngeal nerves. Subsequently, the vagus innervates the bronchi and heart before joining the opposing vagal nerve and diving through the diaphragm to innervate the entire viscera including the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the anus (via anastomosis with sacral nerves 2, 3, and 4).”
Much of the unorthodox view stems from the research of Dr. Tomatis. Born in 1920, Dr. Tomatis earned his M.D. from the Faculte de Paris before specializing in oto-rhino-laryngology. En route to establishing the International Association of Audio-Psycho-Phonology. His research led him to develop therapies for a multitude of pathologies that were related to these cranial nerve-to-vagus nerve connections.
“As a clinician, Tomatis has achieved a reputation for successful and unorthodox therapies whose scope exceeded the scope of oto-rhino-laryngology. The list of maladies successfully treated via high-frequency auditive therapy includes Ear, Nose, and Throat disorders: (hearing and voice loss, stuttering, tinnitus, otitis media, scotomas); Neurological disorders: (toe walking from vestibular nuclei problems, drooling, strabismus); Psychiatric disorders: (depression, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity); and Learning disorders: (dyslexia, inability to concentrate); and a variety of balance/coordination problems related to the ear’s vestibular disorders. These therapeutic coups occur via retraining the ear muscles using another Tomatis invention, the electronic ear.” (References are given for all these case studies in the original article.)
A whole network of Tomatis clinics has been established worldwide and their website is:
Dr. Tomatis once said, “The ear builds, organizes, and nourishes the nervous system.” With that understanding, the various therapeutic modes offered are all based on these amazing connections between our process of hearing and listening and how they affect all the other conditions within our bodies and minds.
Dr. Tomatis also found that different frequencies had different effects on different organ systems and different levels of nerve connections to the spinal cord. Many therapies utilize different frequencies to address specific areas of pathology.
What I have found to be most interesting in all these research and therapy modalities is the underlying fact that our ear’s structure and anatomy are so designed that every part of our body is somehow connected to our ear. As we listen to the proper frequencies, our ears detect these frequencies and carry the benefits of those frequencies to the various parts of our bodies that are connected to the nerves that pass through the area of our ears. This, then, begins to explain how and why so many people are so positively affected by music either as a therapy modality or even as entertainment. It explains why so many people write to me and tell me their stories of how positively the music I present has affected their lives.
Another fascinating aspect of this article is the research into intrauterine sound production and reception with the fetus. “Dr. Tomatis asserts that the brain receives more stimuli via the ears than from any other organ. He considers skin to be differentiated ear rather than vice versa. In his two-volume work, ‘Towards a Human Listening,’ he builds an intriguing defense of this radical departure from orthodoxy which involves, for example, phylogenetic data suggesting, paradoxically, that the ear preceded the nervous system.”
“The most exciting theory of Tomatis, and the one which led me to consider the role of sacred music as therapy, is the concept of cortical charge. Experience tells us that some sounds put us to sleep (lullabies) and some keep us awake (traffic); some calm us down (surf on the beach) and some make us dance all night (rhythm). A hard-driving beat practically forces us to tap our feet. The screech of chalk on the blackboard makes us scream and contract in discomfort. We are constantly bathed by sound, and Tomatis has devoted his career to analyzing the effect which various components of sound exert on our physiology. The claim that music exerts a profound effect on us is beyond question. What remains is only to establish the correlations, perhaps psychosomatic, perhaps vagally innervated, of these sound components to our physiology.”
Dr. Tomatis said, “The ear is primarily an apparatus intended to provide a cortical charge in terms of electric potential. Sound is transformed into a nervous influx by the coliform cells of the cochlear-vestibular apparatus. The charge of energy obtained from the influx of nervous impulses reaches the cortex, which then distributes it throughout the body toning up the whole system and imparting greater dynamism to the human being.”
Therapeutically, “the aim will be to provoke, with sonic training made of high frequencies heard in a listening posture, this cortical charge to energize the individual. The effect of the training generally manifests themselves in the following ways to the greater subject: -greater motivation and competence in working -lower susceptibility to fatigue -awareness of dynamism -better possibilities of attention and concentration -better memorization.”
In summary, the benefits of music for improved health have much to do with the way we hear and the mechanisms and anatomy of the ear. The music and frequencies we select to listen to have much to do with affecting the whole nervous system which is the basic communication apparatus for every system of our bodies. If we choose wisely our health benefits. If we choose poorly, we suffer. In the end, the choice is ours!