Complementary & Alternative Medicine · Health · Music

The Sound of Music- therapy for body,mind and soul

“All workings of the universe are various harmonic vibrations based on sound;the universe itself is music. Hence sound is the original and most primal of all creative and healing energies” David Frawly (renowned Vedic scholar)

Music to the ears

Music, the language that unites the world! Today we see a lot of people working, driving (or sitting in the car), walking/running, doing yoga/ exercises, studying or even sleeping, and at the same time listening to music. With easy accessibility via youtube and other portals, music has become an integral part of our existence.

Universal language

It is now accepted that music is a form of therapy (some hospitals are even employing it therapy, for example Apollo Hospitals and Gleneagles Global Hospital, Chennai) for physical ailments as well as mental.

Music therapy at Apollo Hospitals

My esteemed ex-colleague, Dr.Jothi Clara, Group Nursing & Quality Director at Gleneagles Global Hospitals, has done an entire thesis on this, and is an inspiring example of what the field of musical therapy can achieve. I was fortunate enough to see several of her workshops on Music Therapy at Chennai:

Clinical music therapy

From Indian Classical to Bhajans, from Kundalini music to Sufi kalam, music affects our mood in various ways and means. It is all very logical, since music stimulates brain wave patterns. Ragas are capable of leading to relaxation, as observed with the alpha-levels of the brain waves. They may also lead to favorable hormonal changes in the system (Crandall, 1986).

Effects of music on the brain

And this knowledge is not new.Our ancestors knew it all.  The ancient science of  “Nada Yoga”, predating the Tantras, acknowledge the role of music , recognizing that by stimulating the mood andcontrolling the brain wave patterns, music can play a very important role as a complementary therapy.

More about Nada Yoga at :

Nada Yoga

Suffering from the blues? The ragas Jaijayanti, Pooriya, Darbari Kanada, Khamaj and Sohni are known to lift up the mood (mentioned in a few Ayurvedic texts). These can be easily downloaded from Youtube. I am giving a few links at the end of this article. You don’t have to go into the grammatical nuances of it. Just listen, enjoy and feel your mood lifting up.

Music can tackle depression effectively

Some specific ragas mentioned in the classical texts for various diseases affecting the body and mind, are:

Raga                                                   Disorder it corrects

Khamaj, Puriya                                   Tension, Stress, Neurosis

Jaijayanti, Sohni                                  Stress

Sahana , Punnagavarali                    Aggression, Anger

Todi, Poorvi, Darbari Kanada          Headache, Anxiety

Deepak                                                 Stomach Disorders

Gunkali, Jaunpuri                              Constipation

Malkauns, Hindolam                        Gas, Bloating, Fevers

Malkauns                                             Low blood pressure

Pooriya, Todi                                       High blood pressure

Bhairavi                                               Sinusitis

Darbari Kanada                                 Chronic Asthma

( source: “ Healing techniques” by Dr. Hrishikesh Bhat)

This is also borne out by modern medical studies, as the following table shows:

Uses of music therapy

( Source:

Music is known to affecting the body, mind and soul, the vibrations touching our senses and colliding with the atoms of our body. Physics teaches us that our bodies are atoms in motion, and the sound waves therefore have a natural capacity to affect these atoms.

According to Hindu philosophy, the primordial sound, “Om”, is at the very root of the creation of this universe. It is said that “Om” influenced the first of the five elements of the Universe, Ether, to set off the process of creation in motion. Spiritual chants such as the Mahamrityunjay Mantra, Gayatri Mantra have been studied for their healing effects. At the heart of it, it is actually positive thinking and positive functioning in action.

Om- the primordial sound

Indian classical music has been arranged according to a particular pattern, the Alap ( introduction),Jor(Elaboration),Gat(Fixed composition), Jhala (fast tempo),Tarana (ending) etc. These correspond to the rising and descent of the human mood, and thus have a profound effect on the mind, body and soul.

Remember Tansen, who could bring rain from the sky with his amazing rendition of ragas? He is known to have cured one of Emperor Akbar’s queens with his rendition of a selected raga.In addition, there was several practitioners of the musical healing genre, namely Saint Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Sastry, who have demonstrated the healing role of music.

Tansen the musical genius

Music finds its expression in other cultures too as a mode of healing. In Chinese medical theory, the five internal organ and meridian systems are believed to have corresponding musical tones, which are used to encourage healing. And therefore, music has an important role in healing in Chinese Traditional Medicine ( TCM).

Music can be used as an adjunct to other modes of treatment for its healing effect, on both the patient and the healer. A cardiac surgeon I worked with long back, could never operate if his favourite music was not playing in the background! And this is true for many operating rooms around the world. In both the preoperative and postoperative phases, music has been known to be beneficial for patients.

And it doesn’t have to be limited to classical music. Your favourite Bollywood song may be equally effective, as may traditional/ folk music or latest instrumental music. For that matter, a large number of popular Bollywood songs are based on classical music.You just have to listen with your heart. Music touches your soul, so let the thinking take a backseat and the soul take over. Voila! That’s it!

Here are a few resources which give an insight into the emerging  field of music therapy:

If you would like to find out more about specific ragas, I am pasting a few links which might be useful:

Raga Jaijayanti:

Raga Bhairavi:

Raga Puriya

Raga Khamaj

Raga Darbari Kanada

Most of the ragas I have mentioned earlier in my article, are available on youtube and can be easily downloaded from there.

Happy listening and happy healing! Enjoy!!


Complementary & Alternative Medicine · Health · Herbs · Uncategorized

Ginger-the wonder herb

The humble rhizome, Ginger. Zingiber Officinale.Used as a herbal remedy for many centuries. Here are some of the medicinal uses of ginger, from an Univ of Maryland study, which touches upon some of these uses.Ginger is effective in controlling Nausea and Vomiting due to several causes, which means you can cut down/ stop oral medications for this purpose if suitable( commonly used drugs are  Zofer ( Ondansetron)  and Domstal ( Domperidone) and Reglan (Metoclopramide)



The uses of Ginger have been borne out by studies, for example The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology & Phytomedicine, which found ginger to be effective in postoperative and pregnancy-related  nausea and vomiting (Ref : i) Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Jan;194(1):95-9, ii) Phytomedicine. 2005 Sep;12(9):684-701 , iii) Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Apr;97(4):577-82))

In my own experience, ginger helped me tackle severe bouts of medication related nausea last year.

Key points

Key uses: Nausea & Vomiting due to various causes

Dosage: 1-4 gm daily as root extract, powder etc- it can be very nicely mixed with tea/ green tea or other food preparations

Caution/ Intercations: Use with caution when using anticoagulants , diabetic medications, antihypertensive medication etc as it can potentiate effects .Do not give ginger to children under 2 years of age. The daily dosage for pregnant women should not be > 1 g .



Ginger, the “root” or the rhizome, of the plant Zingiber officinale, has been a popular spice and herbal medicine for thousands of years. It has a long history of use in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal traditions. In China, for example, ginger has been used to help digestion and treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for more than 2,000 years. Ginger has also been used to help treat arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions.

It has been used to help treat the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and painful menstrual periods.

Ginger is native to Asia where it has been used as a cooking spice for at least 4,400 years.

Plant Description

Ginger is a knotted, thick, beige underground stem, called a rhizome. The stem sticks up about 12 inches above ground with long, narrow, ribbed, green leaves, and white or yellowish-green flowers.

What is it Made of?

Researchers think the active components of the ginger root are volatile oils and pungent phenol compounds, such as gingerols and shogaols.


Medicinal Uses and Indications

Today, health care professionals may recommend ginger to help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting from motion sickness, pregnancy, and cancer chemotherapy. It is also used to treat mild stomach upset, to reduce pain of osteoarthritis, and may even be used in heart disease.

Motion sickness

Several studies, but not all, suggest that ginger may work better than placebo in reducing some symptoms of motion sickness. In one trial of 80 new sailors who were prone to motion sickness, those who took powdered ginger had less vomiting and cold sweats compared to those who took placebo. Ginger did not reduce their nausea, however. A study with healthy volunteers found the same thing.

However, other studies found that ginger does not work as well as medications for motion sickness. In one small study, people were given either fresh root or powdered ginger, scopolamine, a medication commonly prescribed for motion sickness, or a placebo. Those who took scopolamine had fewer symptoms than those who took ginger. Conventional prescription and over-the-counter medicines for nausea may also have side effects that ginger does not, such as dry mouth and drowsiness.

Pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting

Human studies suggest that 1g daily of ginger may reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women when used for short periods (no longer than 4 days). Several studies have found that ginger is better than placebo in relieving morning sickness.

In a small study of 30 pregnant women with severe vomiting, those who took 1 gram of ginger every day for 4 days reported more relief from vomiting than those who took placebo. In a larger study of 70 pregnant women with nausea and vomiting, those who got a similar dose of ginger felt less nauseous and did not vomit as much as those who got placebo. Pregnant women should ask their doctors before taking ginger and not take more than 1g per day.

Chemotherapy nausea

A few studies suggest that ginger reduces the severity and duration of nausea, but not vomiting, during chemotherapy. However, one of the studies used ginger combined with another anti-nausea drug. So it is hard to say whether ginger had any effect. More studies are needed.

Nausea and vomiting after surgery

Research is mixed as to whether ginger can help reduce nausea and vomiting following surgery. Two studies found that 1g of ginger root before surgery reduced nausea as well as a leading medication. In one of these studies, women who took ginger also needed fewer medications for nausea after surgery. But other studies have found that ginger did not help reduce nausea. In fact, one study found that ginger may actually increase vomiting following surgery. More research is needed.


Traditional medicine has used ginger for centuries to reduce inflammation. And there is some evidence that ginger may help reduce pain from osteoarthritis (OA). In a study of 261 people with OA of the knee, those who took a ginger extract twice daily had less pain and needed fewer pain-killing medications than those who received placebo. Another study found that ginger was no better than ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or placebo in reducing symptoms of OA. It may take several weeks for ginger to work.


Other uses

Preliminary studies suggest that ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood from clotting. That can help treat heart disease where blood vessels can become blocked and lead to heart attack or stroke. Other studies suggest that ginger may help improve blood sugar control among people with type 2 diabetes. More research is needed to determine whether ginger is safe or effective for heart disease and diabetes.

Available Forms

Ginger products are made from fresh or dried ginger root, or from steam distillation of the oil in the root. You can find ginger extracts, tinctures, capsules, and oils. You can also buy fresh ginger root and make a tea. Ginger is a common cooking spice and can be found in a variety of foods and drinks, including ginger bread, ginger snaps, ginger sticks, and ginger ale.

How to Take it


DO NOT give ginger to children under 2.

Children over 2 may take ginger to treat nausea, stomach cramping, and headaches. Ask your doctor to find the right dose.


In general, DO NOT take more than 4 g of ginger per day, including food sources. Pregnant women should not take more than 1 g per day.
For nausea, gas, or indigestion: Some studies have used 1 g of ginger daily, in divided doses. Ask your doctor to help you find the right dose for you.
For pregnancy-induced vomiting: Some studies have used 650 mg to 1 g per day. DO NOT take ginger without talking to your doctor first.
For arthritis pain: One study used 250 mg, 4 times daily.



The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken under the supervision of a health care provider, qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

It is rare to have side effects from ginger. In high doses it may cause mild heartburn, diarrhea, and irritation of the mouth. You may be able to avoid some of the mild stomach side effects, such as belching, heartburn, or stomach upset, by taking ginger supplements in capsules or taking ginger with meals.

People with gallstones should talk to their doctors before taking ginger. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking ginger before having surgery or being placed under anesthesia.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with heart conditions, and people with diabetes should not take ginger without talking to their doctors.

DO NOT take ginger if you have a bleeding disorder or if you are taking blood-thinning medications, including aspirin.


Possible Interactions

Ginger may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medicines. If you take any of the following medicines, you should not use ginger without talking to your health care provider first.

Blood-thinning medications: Ginger may increase the risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor before taking ginger if you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin.

Diabetes medications: Ginger may lower blood sugar. That can raise the risk of developing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

High blood pressure medications: Ginger may lower blood pressure, raising the risk of low blood pressure or irregular heartbeat.

Supporting Research

Ali BH, Blunden G, Tanira MO, Nemmar A. Some phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): a review of recent research. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008;46(2):409-20.

Altman RD, Marcussen KC. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2001;44(11):2531-2538.

Apariman S, Ratchanon S, Wiriyasirivej B. Effectiveness of ginger for prevention of nausea and vomiting after gynecological laparoscopy. J Med Assoc Thai. 2006;89(12):2003-9.

Bliddal H, Rosetzsky A, Schlichting P, et al. A randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study of ginger extracts and ibuprofen in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2000;8:9-12.

Bone ME, Wilkinson DJ, Young JR, McNeil J, Charlton S. Ginger root — a new antiemetic. The effect of ginger root on postoperative nausea and vomiting after major gynaecological surgery. Anaesthesia. 1990;45(8):669-71.

Bordia A, Verma SK, Srivastava KC. Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum L.) on blood lipids, blood sugar, and platelet aggregation ion patients with coronary heart disease. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1997;56(5):379-384.

Chaiyakunapruk N. The efficacy of ginger for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting: a meta-analysis. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2006;194(1):95-9.

Eberhart LH, Mayer R, Betz O, et al. Ginger does not prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting after laparoscopic surgery. Anesth Analg. 2003;96(4):995-8, table.

Ernst E, Pittler MH. Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. B J Anaesth. 2000;84(3):367-371.

Fischer-Rasmussen W, Kjaer SK, Dahl C, Asping U. Ginger treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1991 Jan 4;38(1):19-24.

Fuhrman B, Rosenblat M, Hayek T, Coleman R, Aviram M. Ginger extract consumption reduces plasma cholesterol, inhibits LDL oxidation, and attenuates development of atherosclerosis in atherosclerotic, apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. J Nutr. 2000;130(5):1124-1131.

Gonlachanvit S, Chen YH, Hasler WL, et al. Ginger reduces hyperglycemia-evoked gastric dysrhythmias in healthy humans: possible role of endogenous prostaglandins. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2003;307(3):1098-1103.

Gregory PJ, Sperry M, Wilson AF. Dietary supplements for osteoarthritis. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Jan 15;77(2):177-84. Review.

Grontved A, Brask T, Kambskard J, Hentzer E. Ginger root against seasickness: a controlled trial on the open sea. Acta Otolaryngol. 1988;105:45-49.

Heck AM, DeWitt BA, Lukes AL. Potential interactions between alternative therapies and warfarin. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2000;57(13):1221-1227.

Kalava A, Darji SJ, Kalstein A, Yarmush JM, SchianodiCola J, Weinberg J. Efficacy of ginger on intraoperative and postoperative nausea and vomiting in elective cesarean section patients. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2013;169(2):184-8.

Langner E, Greifenberg S, Gruenwald J. Ginger: history and use. Adv Ther. 1998;15(1):25-44.

Larkin M. Surgery patients at risk for herb-anaesthesia interactions. Lancet. 1999;354(9187):1362.

Lee SH, Cekanova M, Baek SJ. Multiple mechanisms are involved in 6-gingerol-induced cell growth arrest and apoptosis in human colorectal cancer cells. Mol Carcinog. 2008;47(3):197-208.

Mahady GB, Pendland SL, Yun GS, et al. Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and the gingerols inhibit the growth of Cag A+ strains of Helicobacter pylori. Anticancer Res. 2003;23(5A):3699-3702.

Nurtjahja-Tjendraputra E, Ammit AJ, Roufogalis BD, et al. Effective anti-platelet and COX-1 enzyme inhibitors from pungent constituents of ginger. Thromb Res. 2003;111(4-5):259-265.

Phillips S, Ruggier R, Hutchinson SE. Zingiber officinale (ginger) — an antiemetic for day case surgery. Anaesthesia. 1993;48(8):715-717.

Pongrojpaw D, Somprasit C, Chanthasenanont A. A randomized comparison of ginger and dimenhydrinate in the treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. J Med Assoc Thai. 2007 Sep;90(9):1703-9.

Portnoi G, Chng LA, Karimi-Tabesh L, et al. Prospective comparative study of the safety and effectiveness of ginger for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003;189(5):1374-1377.

Sripramote M, Lekhyananda N. A randomized comparison of ginger and vitamin B6 in the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. J Med Assoc Thai. 2003;86(9):846-853.

Thomson M, Al Qattan KK, Al Sawan SM, et al. The use of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) as a potential anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic agent. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2002;67(6):475-478.

Vaes LP, Chyka PA. Interactions of warfarin with garlic, ginger, ginkgo, or ginseng: nature of the evidence. Ann Pharmacother. 2000;34(12):1478-1482.

Viljoen E, Visser J, Koen N, Musekiwa A. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Nutr J. 2014; 13:20.

Vutyavanich T, Kraisarin T, Ruangsri R. Ginger for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2001;97(4):577-582.

Wang CC, Chen LG, Lee LT, et al. Effects of 6-gingerol, an antioxidant from ginger, on inducing apoptosis in human leukemic HL-60 cells. In Vivo. 2003;17(6):641-645.

White B. Ginger: an overview. Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(11):1689-91.

Wigler I, Grotto I, Caspi D, et al. The effects of Zintona EC (a ginger extract) on symptomatic gonarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2003;11(11):783-789.

Willetts KE, Ekangaki A, Eden JA. Effect of a ginger extract on pregnancy-induced nausea: a randomised controlled trial. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2003;43(2):139-144.

Alternative Names

African ginger; Black ginger; Jamaican ginger; Zingiber officinale

Version Info
Last reviewed on 6/22/2015
Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

© 2016 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved. UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System, 22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. 1.800.492.5538 TDD: 1.800.735.2258 Physician Referral:

Disclaimer: This information is not to be taken as treatment advice. Please consult your personal physician before starting any therapy.

@ drabishnu2017




Insomnia. That phenomenon of tossing and turning in the bed, spending endless nights deprived of sleep, can be a debilitating problem . Sleep is a basic requirement for sound mental and physical health, and lack of sleep can cause serious problems in functioning of the human body and mind.

It is estimated that 20- 30 % of the population suffers from insomnia at some time or the other ( source : )
Insomnia is commonly divided into three types:
• Transient insomnia – occurs when symptoms last from a few days to a few weeks.
• Acute insomnia – also called short-term insomnia. Symptoms persist for several weeks.
• Chronic insomnia – this type lasts for months, and sometimes years. According to the National Institutes of Health, the majority of chronic insomnia cases are secondary, meaning they are side effects or symptoms resulting from another primary problem.


Insomnia has many causes, medical, behavioral or otherwise. Some of these causes are :
• Medical- Medical conditions such as Obstructive sleep apnoea, Restless legs syndrome (…/restless-…/restless-legs-syndrome-rls) , asthma, chronic pain, low back ache etc
•  Medication-related- medication for hypothyroidism, hypertension, depression etc
• Psychological- anxiety, worries etc can all lead to insomnia. Depression has been shown to feed in into insomnia and vice versa.
• Lifestyle habits- using computers, watching TV close to bedtime, use of stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine etc can all predispose to insomnia.


A healthy adult needs between 6-8 hrs of sleep every day. Quantity of sleep less than this can be termed as insomnia. Our brain has a sleep cycle and a wake cycle—when one is turned on, the other is turned off—insomnia can be a problem with either part of this cycle: too much wake drive or too little sleep drive. It’s important to first understand what could be causing your sleep difficulties.

Insomnia causes a general feeling of uneasiness , making it difficult to perform at optimum efficiency. Chronic insomnia has heavy repurcussions upon the quality of life of an individual.

The conventional treatment of insomnia consists of sleep medications. Some of these are: Zolpidem (Zolfresh), Alprazolam ( Alprax), Diazepam ( Calmpose) and others. These are effective in the short term, but have side effects and may lead to rebound insomnia in the long term. Ultimately, sleep hygiene , sound dietary and lifestyle habits etc are the best remedy against insomnia.
Some alternatives to these drugs are:
• Melatonin capsules- these have been seen to provide a feeling of calm and restfulness, by affecting the sleep cycle
•  Lavender oil- Lavender oil inhalation provides a sense of tranquility for the mind and body
•  Warm milk , honey and turmeric- this proves to be an effective home remedy for insomnia. Try this !!
•  Soothing, relaxing music provides a sense of tranquility, making it easier to fall asleep
•  Breathing exercises such as Chandrabhedana Pranayama

Uttimately, one has to go through a process of trial and error to find an effective cure for insomnia. Sound sleep is worth the effort taken, because a well-rested body and mind is like a machine that is kept active by proper use and proper rest.

Recommended sleep


-By Dr. Abhimanyu Bishnu, MBBS, MHA


Disclaimer: This information is not to be taken as treatment advice. Please consult your personal physician before starting any therapy.

@ drabishnu2017




You,me and the world


After blogging for several years,including instances when I have ranted on the web, I have come to the realization that what matters in a blog is what the readers want from it.

A blog must be informative, user-friendly, entertaining and useful. That’t what I am attempting in this blog, as I put together my experience and that of others, to attempt to create a blog that provides information on health/ fitness, food/diet, personal care, technology etc.

Enjoy exploring.