Music Therapy for IBS

Last updated: June 2018

I am a musician. Have been since the age of five. My Mother forced me to take piano lessons, which I carefully hid from my friends. I was embarrassed. I played sports and considered myself a tough guy and I certainly wanted no parts of piano lessons. My mom said I could quit when I was 12 if I wanted to, but wanted me to stick with it until then. Hated her for it. Anyway, not to get all 'Behind the Music' on ya, but the Christmas before I turned 12, my Aunt gave me a Billy Joel record. Immediately I knew that this piano business could be...COOL. From then on I became obsessed, practicing six to eight hours a day, jazz, blues, rock and roll. I was in it for life. Point is, my Mom gave me the best gift that could ever have been given; the joy of music. Music has been my therapist, my partner, my friend, my confidant and my release for all of my life. I'm not suggesting you run out and start piano lessons, although, as I will get to in a minute; it might not be a bad idea. What I am suggesting is you take a hard look at the music you care for and how it might be used as support and comfort before, during and after an IBS episode. Music has therapeutic value. The trick is finding a selection of music that speaks to you and applying it to your life as a form of support and self-soothing.

Music promotes positive feelings

I have certain music I listen to for creative inspiration. I have certain music for comfort. I have music for when I have the blues, which is, well, The Blues. I have music for hiking, for meditation, for writing, for work, for stress and anything else you can think of. We talk so much about self-care and the importance of journaling, meditation, yoga, exercise, eating and how the proper application of some or all of these things can be helpful dealing with the symptoms and stress caused by IBS. Why not add some music to these activities. When I'm working I prefer to listen to classical music. I enjoy Bach and Chopin while I am trying to get a lot done. The music promotes positive feelings and thus, a positive and relaxed mind. Look at the library, Spotify, iTunes or whatever musical medium you use to discover new music. I like Jazz to relax...Dexter Gordon and Thelonius Monk are a good place to start, but as with all things, what I might love, you might hate. There is also so many excellent choices for meditation and yoga. I enjoy world music, specifically traditional African, Indian and Pakistani music for my spiritual moments. You may like Smooth Jazz or New Age Soundscapes; who am I to judge? Just take some time to find what is best for a particular use or situation. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Take the leap

Now, I mentioned earlier that you need not run out and take music lessons. But...maybe you should. Holding my guitar and just touching the strings is very calming to me. The ability to make your own music can make a world of difference when you are not feeling well. It is a friend that you will have for life. So take the leap. Buy that old guitar on Ebay and give it a shot. With all the YouTube videos out there now, it's not really even necessary to take formal lessons to learn the basics, which in most cases is all you need. The ability to strum a few chords around a campfire might be the most wonderful thing you ever experienced. Who knows? Just keep it in mind. Music has helped me through many nights that I have not really felt very well. I hope that you can find this helpful for you as well. If you have any questions or requests for guidance...I'm your guy. Please don't hesitate to reach out. Good luck on your search for the best music for you.

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