Six Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Drumming
Drumming has been proven in human clinical research to do the following six things:
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine enrolled both middle-aged experienced drummers and a younger novice group in a 40-minute Djembe drumming sessions. Their blood pressure, blood lactate and stress and anxiety levels were taken before and after the sessions. Also, their heart rate was monitored at 5 second intervals throughout the sessions. As a result of the trial, all participants saw a drop in stress and anxiety. Systolic blood pressure dropped in the older population post-drumming.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease found that two months of drumming intervention in Huntington’s patients (considered an irreversible, lethal neurodegenerative disease) resulted in “improvements in executive function and changes in white matter microstructure, notably in the genu of the corpus callosum that connects prefrontal cortices of both hemispheres.”[ix] The study authors concluded that the pilot study provided novel preliminary evidence that drumming (or related targeted behavioural stimulation) may result in “cognitive enhancement and improvements in callosal white matter microstructure.”
A 2012 study published in Evolutionary Psychology found that active performance of music (singing, dancing and drumming) triggered endorphin release (measured by post-activity increases in pain tolerance) whereas merely listening to music did not. The researchers hypothesized that this may contribute to community bonding in activities involving dance and music-making.
A 2001 study published in Alternative Therapies and Health Medicine enrolled 111 age- and sex- matched subjects (55 men and 56 women; mean age 30 years) and found that drumming “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.”[xi]
A 2004 study published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis revealed that drumming enables participants to go into deeper hypnotic states,[xii] and another 2014 study published in PLoS found that when combined with shamanistic instruction, drumming enables participants to experience decreased heart-rate and dreamlike experiences consistent with transcendental experiences.
A powerful 2001 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that low-income children who enrolled in a 12-week group drumming intervention saw multiple domains of social-emotional behaviour improve significantly, from anxiety to attention, from oppositional to post-traumatic disorders.
Taking into account the beneficial evolutionary role that drumming likely performed in human history and prehistory, as well as the new scientific research confirming its psychosocial and physiological health benefits, I hope that it will be increasingly looked at as a positive medical, social and psycho-spiritual intervention.
Considering the term recreation in its root etymological sense: re-creation, drumming may enable us to both tap into the root sense of our identity in the drumming-mediated experience of being joyous, connected and connecting, creative beings, as well as find a way to engage the process of becoming, transformation and re-creation that is also a hallmark feature of being alive and well in this amazing, ever-changing universe of ours.
New to drumming and want to try it? Contact Serge on 07910 126663.