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Impact on the Immune System Study
Strengthens the Immune System

Composite Effects of Group Drumming Music Therapy on Modulation of Neuroendocrine-Immune Parameters in Normal Subjects (2001)
Bittman BB, Berk LS,Felten DL,Westengard J,Simonton OC,Pappas J,Ninehouser M
Alternative Ther Health Med 2001: 7:38-47

Context • Drum circles have been part of healing rituals in many
cultures throughout the world since antiquity. Although drum circles
are gaining increased interest as a complementary therapeutic strategy
in the traditional medical arena, limited scientific data documenting
biological benefits associated with percussion activities exist.

Objective • To determine the role of group-drumming music therapy
as a composite activity with potential for alteration of stress-related
hormones and enhancement of specific immunologic measures associated
with natural killer cell activity and cell-mediated immunity.

Design • A single trial experimental intervention with control groups.

Setting • The Mind-Body Wellness Center, an outpatient medical
facility in Meadville, Pa.

Participants • A total of 111 age- and sex-matched volunteer subjects
(55 men and 56 women, with a mean age of 30.4 years) were recruited.
Intervention • Six preliminary supervised groups were studied using
various control and experimental paradigms designed to separate
drumming components for the ultimate determination of a single experimental
model, including 2 control groups (resting and listening) as well
as 4 group-drumming experimental models (basic, impact, shamanic,
and composite). The composite drumming group using a music therapy
protocol was selected based on preliminary statistical analysis, which
demonstrated immune modulation in a direction opposite to that
expected with the classical stress response. The final experimental design
included the original composite drumming group plus 50 additional
age- and sex-matched volunteer subjects who were randomly assigned to
participate in group drumming or control sessions.

Main Outcome Measures • Pre- and postintervention measurements
of plasma cortisol, plasma dehydroepiandrosterone, plasma
dehydroepiandrosterone-to-cortisol ratio, natural killer cell activity,
lymphokine-activated killer cell activity, plasma interleukin-2, plasma
interferon-gamma, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, and the Beck
Depression Inventory II.

Results • Group drumming resulted in increased dehydroepiandrosterone-
to-cortisol ratios, increased natural killer cell activity, and
increased lymphokine-activated killer cell activity without alteration
in plasma interleukin 2 or interferon-gamma, or in the Beck Anxiety
Inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory II.

Conclusions • Drumming is a complex composite intervention
with the potential to modulate specific neuroendocrine and neuroimmune
parameters in a direction opposite to that expected with the
classic stress response. (Altern Ther Health Med. 2001;7(1):38-47)



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