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Ancient Treatment Sound Therapy Rediscovered In Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- As life becomes more hectic, many of us are having a hard time reducing stress.

If taking a walk, riding a bike or going to the gym are not working for you, check this out. It is what's known as sound therapy, an ancient treatment that being rediscovered in Minnesota. WCCO's Angela Davis observed a session and gave it a try.

"I think you have to experience it before you make any determination because it's just amazing," Glenda Robicheau said.

If seeing is believing, what could hearing exotic, melodic sounds do?

"I felt like I was floating at one point. I was just focusing on letting go of all of my thoughts, and everything that is happening in my life right now," Robicheau said.

A neck injury after a car crash brought Glenda Robicheau to this dimly lit room filled with handcrafted copper bowls and metal gongs. Glenda's been to a chiropractor and an acupuncturist. Now she's listening to what a sound therapist has to offer.

One hour later, she rises from the table.

Frank DiCristina is a harmonic sound therapist with an office in Deephaven. He's studied Himalayan singing bowls for more than a decade and says the technique actually goes back more than 5,000 years.

"The sound, the vibrations have a way of going to places that physically we cannot get to. It does mean it diminishes what a chiropractor does or a massage therapist. It's just a different way of approaching the same problem," DiCristina said.

Frank says his clients have described relief from headaches, backaches, difficulty sleeping and even relief from symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

"The sounds that I use are more soothing and harmonious. They blend together. They relax the body. They relax the mind," DiCristina said.

Sound Therapy
(credit: CBS)

So what do scientific minds think of this? Dr. Hubert Lim, at the University of Minnesota, is an expert in how the brain processes sound. He says while much is known about the negative impact of loud noises, not much has been done to study the positive impact of soothing sounds.

"It is clearly doing something in the body, in the brain. When you measure signals in the body you will see the heart rate will change, people will sweat or have chills for different types of sounds, so it is clearly causing a physiological neural effect," Lim said.

Dr. Lim said he believes that people have the ability to experience the healing effects of sound. But still some people may not respond.

"In the end what really matters most is how does that person feel? If they are feeling better, some physiological brain response has occurred," Lim said.

Frank is very aware of skeptics.

"I would say what do you have to lose. You've tried everything else. Give it a shot," DiCristina said.

Frank charges $60 for a 45-minute session, $100 for 90 minutes. He charges $135 for house calls in the metro area, travel fees may apply out of the area.

The doctor we spoke with says scientists around the country are conducting research on sound therapy, like this, to provide more insight on how it works.

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