show me the science!

Got a specific health condition? Look no further.
Book a session
    • sound therapy studies.

      Clinical sound therapy studies focus on theta brainwaves, the balancing of brain hemispheres and binaural beats:

    Our emotions, thoughts and behaviours can be tracked by synchronised electrical pulses or brainwaves between neurons as they form new pathways. Brainwave speeds are measured in hertz (hz) or cycles per second:

    • Gamma waves (40 Hz to 100 Hz) Information processing and REM sleep
    • Beta waves (12 Hz to 40 Hz) Normal waking consciousness
    • Alpha waves (8 Hz to 12 Hz) Idle relaxation and light, stage 1 sleep
    • Theta waves (4 Hz to 8 Hz) Daydreaming, journeying and stage 2-3 sleep
    • Delta waves (0 Hz to 4 Hz) Deep, dreamless, stage 4 sleep

    Theta waves are commonly associated with creativity, cellular renewal, potassium sodium balance (for mental refreshment) and lots more good stuff!

    The brain is divided into two hemispheres and despite similarities in appearance, they tend to differ slightly in their function and structure.

    • Left hemisphere: language and the ability to classify/sort information
    • Right hemisphere: emotional processing, trauma responses, spatial awareness and facial recognition

    Symptoms of addiction, insomnia, stress and fatigue can be triggered by a brain imbalance from any number of physical and psychological traumas. The rebalancing effects of sound therapy can provide relief to many, as well as improving memory function and our ability to multitask.

    When a tone is played in one ear and a slightly different tone is played in the other, the difference causes the brain to create the auditory illusion of a third, internal tone, that sounds like a beat (known in scientific circles as the binaural beat[1]). When binaural beats are activated with tuning forks and gongs, nerve fibres connecting the right and left hemispheres of the brain begin to synchronise.

    The technique can be used to induce specific brain wave states which aid deep relaxation, also known as brainwave entrainment[2] (BWE).

        • breathwork studies.

          Clinical breathwork studies focus on the autonomic nervous system and vagus nerve:

        The autonomic nervous system (ANS), responsible for the involuntary functions of the human body, can be divided into two parts:

        • The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) maintains a stable internal environment and is responsible for the body’s ‘rest and digest’ functions.
        • The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) controls the body’s responses to a perceived threat and is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response.

        Conscious breathing triggers a relaxation response by activating the vagus nerve (part of the parasympathetic nervous system).

        The vagus nerve is by far the most important nerve in the PNS due to its far reaching effects. The word vagus means ‘wanderer’, because it reaches all the essential organs including the brain, gut (intestines, stomach), heart, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, kidney, ureter, spleen, lungs, fertility organs (females), neck (including the pharynx, larynx, oesophagus), ears and tongue.

        “Think of a car throttling down the highway at 120 miles an hour. That’s the stress response, and the Vagus nerve is the brake. When you are stressed, you have your foot on the gas, pedal to the floor. When you take slow, deep breaths, that is what is engaging the brake.” – Dr Herbert Benson – founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute.

        • health conditions.

          I’ve hand-picked a range of clinical studies covering the following health conditions:

        Sound therapy

        The juncture between Alpha and Theta brainwaves, reached by sound therapy, is often called the crossover point by neuroscientists. Here, subjects have experienced “seemingly miraculous resolutions of complex psychological problems[3] including a significant reduction in anxiety levels[4].

        Sound therapy has also found success in shifting patient anxiety before an operation[5].


        Vagus nerve stimulation (a process, naturally activated by breathwork), actually changes the expression of genes associated with stress, immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion[27].

        “It’s almost like yin and yang,” says Mladen Golubic of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine. “The vagal response reduces stress. It reduces our heart rate and blood pressure. It changes the function of certain parts of the brain, stimulates digestion, all those things that happen when we are relaxed.”[28]


        Breathwork is extremely effective in treating depression. It has even shown success among those resistant to antidepressant medications.[30]

        Neurons in the brainstem are constantly monitoring our breath patterns. Studies show that if these neurons are surgically removed, our natural stress responses are bypassed and we feel much calmer[31]. Changing your breathing rhythm has a similar effect, tricking the brain into shifting your mood.

        Sound therapy

        14 out of 15 patients with acute migraines (and 5 out of 6 with chronic migraines) underwent a course of ‘brainwave entrainment’ sound therapy and experienced a complete relief of symptoms in just five minutes! So a single session may be enough.[6]


        In a recent study of 40 chronic migraine sufferers, vagus nerve stimulation (a process, naturally activated by breathwork), applied for four hours a day over three months, showed a 50% reduction in persistent headaches[29].


        The part of the brain called the amygdala[32] is strongly linked to emotional processing. Studies show that stimulating the amygdala with a large inhale will allow us to identify fearful objects much quicker[33]. It therefore corresponds that when we’re in a panic state, our breathing naturally becomes faster to help us cope with dangerous situations.

        Sound therapy

        When we drift off to sleep on our journey to the unconscious, our brains pass through various brainwave cycles. The act of inducing Theta brainwaves through sound therapy can shortcut this process to achieve deep, altered states; perfect conditions for stress reduction and sleep[7].


        Clinical studies of vagus nerve stimulation (a process, naturally activated by breathwork) have shown to prevent weight gain in response to a high fat diet[39].

        The vagus nerve plays an important role in controlling metabolism and a calorie rich diet has been shown to reduce its efficiency.


        If our breathing pattern at rest varies, or becomes intermittent for whatever reason, this may eventually lead to hypertension and high blood pressure[34]. This is true regardless of age or weight.

        Conscious, regulated breathing has the effect of reversing this pattern.


        Early studies in vagus nerve stimulation (a process, naturally activated by breathwork) have demonstrated an effect on blood glucose levels by regulating the release of insulin in the pancreas[35]. These findings look promising for the future treatment of type II diabetes.

        Seated breathing exercises have also shown positive results with fifty type II diabetic patients, demonstrating a significant decrease in blood glucose and blood pressure after just two sessions over two weeks[36].

        Double take? Yes, you did read that correctly.

        Sound therapy

        Sound therapy studies found that stimulating Theta brainwave patterns can impact age related hormone production[10]:

        • Sound therapy reduces Cortisol, the age accelerating hormone, which increases stress levels in the body, impacting on learning and memory.
        • Sound therapy boosts DHEA, the immunity hormone, which determines both our physiological age and resistance to disease.
        • Sound therapy boosts Melatonin, the peaceful hormone, which promotes sleep. As we age, we produce less melatonin which has an impact on the body’s ability to rejuvenate.


        A sustained conscious breathing practice will offset age-related cortical thinning. It even enlarges the brain![37]

        Studies in sleep disruption show that a lack of oxygen to the brain can also lead to cognitive dysfunction and cardiovascular disturbances[38].

        Sound therapy

        Neuroscientists trained a group of alcoholics to enter Theta brainwave states (a process, naturally activated by sound therapy). These participants showed a much greater recovery rate than those in a separate control group[8]. Thirteen months later, the group demonstrated “sustained prevention of relapse”, these findings were again confirmed after three years[8].


        Vagus nerve stimulation (a process, naturally activated by breathwork) may help addicts overcome substance abuse. A groundbreaking study in VNS and cocaine use lead to a significant decrease in drug seeking behaviours among participants[40].

        Sound therapy

        Research has shown that regular auditory stimulation over a period of 3-5 days boosts our ability to recall word lists[9]. Interestingly, these results seem to peak at a frequency of 5hz.


        Studies show that a deep inhalation floods the hippocampus[41] area of the brain with oxygen, significantly improving memory recall[42].

        75 participants viewed two sets of images, 20 minutes apart and were asked to identify which images had been shown twice. Results showed significant improvements in memory recall when inhaling rather than exhaling and when breathing through the nose rather than the mouth[42].

        Sound therapy

        The complex layers of sound produced by gongs can actually repair the structure of the recovering brain! Studies in music therapy found that patients recovering from a stroke demonstrated, not only behaviour improvements, but ‘fine-grained neuroanatomical changes’[11].

        Breakthrough research has also shown great potential in the use of brainwave entrainment for treating Alzheimer’s Disease. The stimulation of Gamma brainwaves mobilises the immune system to clear harmful proteins from the brain[12].

        Regular exposure to sound therapy keeps large parts of the brain active, lowering the risk of dementia[13]. It’s also been shown that certain types of music stimulate the production of dopamine and serotonin, both lacking in patients of Parkinson’s Disease[14] and Huntingdon’s Disease[15].


        A pilot study of Alzheimer’s patients underwent six months of regular vagus nerve stimulation (a process, naturally activated by breathwork). Following this, 7 out of 10 showed positive results in well known, neuropsychological tests[43].

        This area of research is very much in its infancy and further studies are warranted but all signs point to a positive effect on the disease.

        Sound therapy

        A two year study proved that sound therapy is able to significantly reduce the symptoms of chronic tinnitus.

        Not only did sufferers report a significant decrease in symptoms but MRI images of subject’s brains showed that sound therapy was able to activate areas of the brain that researchers believed responsible[16].


        A 59 year old tinnitus patient underwent a daily course of vagus nerve stimulation (a process, naturally activated by breathwork) for a period of four weeks. Results showed a significant reduction in symptoms that lasted for two months after treatment[44].

        Interestingly, known treatments including pharmacotherapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, transcranial direct current stimulation, neurofeedback, and bilateral auditory cortex stimulation were previously unsuccessful with the same patient.

        Sound therapy

        In autistic children, Delta brainwaves, which are naturally elevated at night, remain over-active during waking hours. This causes symptoms associated with those on the autism spectrum as they struggle to cut through mental noise. Sound therapy and binaural beats stimulate a reduction in these Delta brainwaves, which have intense calming effects[17].

        The technique can also be used to treat ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, bipolar disorder, learning difficulties, behavioural problems and more.


        Breathwork, along with the relaxation response of vagus nerve stimulation, reduces cytokine production[45][46]. You what? 😉 In English, cytokines are substances secreted by immune system cells, which connect with other cells, in search of assistance, causing buildup and inflammation.

        Please declare any medical conditions or prescribed medication upfront and if you have any concerns, speak to a medical professional.

        Sound therapy

        High Intensity Focused Ultrasound[18] (HIFU) is a method of treatment, commonly used in hospitals, which uses an acoustic lens to concentrate multiple beams of ultrasound on a target. It is commonly used to reduce cysts and tumours, break up kidney stones and treat cataracts.

        Research showed that sound wave therapy (HIFU) successfully cured 90% of male patients that were suffering from prostate cancer, and did so without any harmful side effects whatsoever[19].

        Dr Hashim Ahmed, who led the study at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation, stated “We’re optimistic that men diagnosed with prostate cancer may soon be able to undergo a day case surgical procedure [of HIFU], which can be safely repeated once or twice, to treat their condition with very few side-effects.”


        Two recent pilot studies demonstrated that vagus nerve stimulation (a process, naturally activated by breathwork) demonstrated a 30-50% reduction in seizure frequencies among controlled groups of epilepsy patients[47].

        VNS is now a widely recognised treatment for epilepsy in hospitals[48].


        Trials of vagus nerve stimulation (a process, naturally activated by breathwork) were carried out on 14 patients with treatment-resistant fibromyalgia. Five reported pain relief and improved physical function after just three months, twelve reached this point at eleven months and two were pain free![49]

        In a separate study, three multiple sclerosis (MS) patients displaying routine symptoms of postural cerebellar tremor (PCT) and dysphagia showed sustained improvements over the course of three months[50].

        • theories.

          I’ve thrown together some topics to ponder whilst stroking your beard thoughtfully:

        When viewed up close, analog sound waves flow like water. Like nature, they’re smooth and continuous. Digital waves however, are stepping, square, and discrete. This is why there’s really no substitute for the multi sensory experience of the live gong sound.

        In the case of recorded sound, the analog/digital debate rages on. Hi-fi geeks would do well to check out the Klipsch definition[20].  

        David Mancuso (musical host at New York’s legendary Loft parties; arguably the fulcrum of today’s global dance movement) grasped the notion that there’s a harmonic structure to all reality and understood the impact of increased sound sensitivity for going deep:

        “We did a test, we took an analogue recording of a bird sanctuary. We went to another bird sanctuary and we played the recording and the birds responded—they heard all these other birds and they started making all this noise and getting all excited—something was really happening. And then they played a digital copy of the same recording and they did nothing. Like they didn’t hear anything. It’s a little revealing of the sensitivity of things.”

        Dr Hans Jenny coined the term cymatics[21] to describe acoustic effects of sound wave phenomena.

        Jenny placed various substances on metal plates and applied a broad spectrum of sounds through a device called a tonoscope. The particles appeared to re-organise themselves into stunning geometric shapes according to the frequency of each vibration.

        Geometric shape (or cymaglyph) formed by the gong sound (interesting to note that the pattern clearly maps out the cardinal/non-cardinal directions of the medicine wheel).

        Dr Masaru Emoto took these ideas to the next level In his controversial book, ‘The Hidden Messages in Water’[22]. Using high-speed photography, he claimed to show that snowflake crystal formations in frozen water had the ability to absorb human emotions. What’s more, he claimed subtle changes occurred in these geometric structures when specific, concentrated thoughts were directed at them.

        There is a common misconception that no sound exists in space (space is a vacuum and cannot transmit sound without molecules for the waves to travel through). Sound has in fact been detected in the form of electromagnetic vibrations and NASA has designed instruments that convert these wavelengths into sounds detectable by the human ear. Listen to a selection here.

        In 1978 Hans Cousto, a Swiss mathematician and musicologist, discovered a link between all kinds of natural phenomena, such as the orbit of the planets, the weather, colors, rhythms and tones. This became known as the ‘Cosmic Octave’[23].

        Paiste also manufacture a full range of planet gongs, each contributing a vital pitch to the total harmonic resonance of our solar system.

        According to data captured by the European Space Agency (ESA), Earth’s magnetic field has weakened over the past six months, raising her average frequency[24] from 7.83 Hz to 8.5 Hz (with recorded highs of 16.5 Hz)[25].

        Earth’s core contains a giant ball of iron and magnetic fields are created by changes in temperature and rotation speed, causing liquid metal to swirl around. The field acts like a giant invisible bubble, shielding the planet from dangerous radiation from the sun in the form of solar winds.

        Ancient cultures dubbed 7.83 Hz as the frequency of “om” (or sound of creation), which also happens to be the natural rhythm of Mother Earth’s heartbeat[24]. The Ancient Indian Rishis believed this frequency was chosen to block primordial memories of our “oneness” or connection with all things (if true, it fits that erasing this knowledge presents a direct opportunity to learn from the experience of free will). They go on to suggest that major shifts could begin to loosen these memory blocks, ushering in a new wave of collective consciousness. Make of that what you will!

        It’s perhaps no coincidence that recent frequency shifts are paralleled by an acceleration in world affairs. Adapting to change, particularly in the wake of Brexit, Trump and relentless propaganda can be unsettling, often reinforcing the fear-based mentality of separation.

        The rebalancing effect of sound therapy can help us adapt to these shifts on our own terms; rather like the fine tuning of a piano.

        “The secret is embracing flow, not attaching to states. Diving into the shadows can be fun too!”Rob Calcutt
        About Rob
        “Every session has given me an altered and beneficial perspective.”Oliver

        study citations.

        sound therapy studies.

        [1] Gerald Oster – Auditory beats in the brain

        [2] Wikipedia – Brainwave entrainment

        [3] Michael Hutchison – Theta brainwaves: “miraculous resolutions” at the crossover point

        [4] Clinique Psyché in Montreal, Quebec – Use of binaural beat tapes for treatment of anxiety: a pilot study of tape preference and outcomes

        [5] Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sunderland, UK – A prospective, randomised, controlled study examining binaural beat audio and pre-operative anxiety in patients undergoing general anaesthesia for day case surgery

        [6] Tina L. Huang, PhD & Christine Charyton, PhD – A comprehensive review of the psychological effects of brainwave entrainment

        [7] Lyz Cooper MA, MSc, FICNM – Sound affects: sound therapy, altered states of consciousness and improved health and wellbeing

        [8] Eugene O. Peniston, Ed.D., A.B.M.P.P., B.C.E.T.S., F.A.A.E.T.S. – The Peniston-Kulkosky brainwave neurofeedback therapeutic protocol: The future psychotherapy for alcoholism/PTSD/behavioral medicine

        [9] Centro de Magnetoencefalografía Dr. Pérez Modrego, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain – Impact of auditory stimulation at a frequency of 5 Hz in verbal memory

        [10] – Binaural beats therapy stimulates long life & wellbeing hormones

        [11] Cognitive Brain Research Unit, University of Helsinki, Finland – Structural changes induced by daily music listening in the recovering brain after middle cerebral artery stroke: a voxel-based morphometry study

        [12] Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA – Gamma frequency entrainment attenuates amyloid load and modifies microglia

        [13] The New England journal of medicine – Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly

        [14] Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami School of Medicine, USA – Music therapy increases serum melatonin levels in patients with Alzheimer’s disease

        [15] University of Rochester – Effects of music therapy on Huntington’s Disease

        [16] Sage open – Neuro-music therapy for recent-onset tinnitus : a pilot study

        [17] Brain Stimulation – Real-time sonified neurofeedback stimulation for the management and relaxation of patients on the autism spectrum

        [18] Wikipedia – High-intensity focused ultrasound

        [19] UCL Ultrasound therapy for prostate cancer developed

        [20] Klipsch – Digital vs analog audio: an overview

        [21] Wikipedia – Cymatics

        [22] Amazon – The hidden messages in water, Masaru Emoto

        [23] Hans Cousto – The cosmic octave tuning forks

        [24] Wikipedia – Schumann resonances

        [25] Kelly Dickerson, Live Science – Earth’s magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster now


        breathwork studies.

        [26] Wikipedia – Vagus nerve

        [27] PLOS – Relaxation response induces temporal transcriptome changes in energy metabolism, insulin secretion and inflammatory pathways

        [28] Jordan Fallis, Optimal Living Dynamics – How to stimulate your vagus nerve for better mental health

        [29] Klinik und Poliklinik für Neurologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany – Treatment of chronic migraine with transcutaneous stimulation of the auricular branch of the vagal nerve (auricular t-VNS): a randomized, monocentric clinical trial

        [30] The journal of clinical psychiatry – A Breathing-Based Meditation Intervention for Patients With Major Depressive Disorder Following Inadequate Response to Antidepressants: A Randomized Pilot Study

        [31] Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph – Deep breathing calms you down because brain cells spy on your breath

        [32] Wikipedia – Amygdala

        [33] Neuroscience news – Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

        [34] Clinical Research Branch, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, USA – Breathing variability at rest is positively associated with 24-h blood pressure level

        [35] Department of Health and Human Physiology, The University of Iowa, USA – Contrasting effects of afferent and efferent vagal nerve stimulation on insulin secretion and blood glucose regulation

        [36] Division of Preventive and Social Medicine, Pranangklao General Hospital, Nonthaburi, Thailand – Hypoglycemic effect of sitting breathing meditation exercise on type 2 diabetes

        [37] Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, USA – Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness

        [38] Department of Neurology, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Samsung Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI), Seoul, Korea – Localized cortical thinning in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

        [39] Dept Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, USA – Role of the vagus nerve in the development and treatment of diet-induced obesity

        [40] CSH Press, Learning & Memory – Vagus nerve stimulation reduces cocaine seeking and alters plasticity in the extinction network

        [41] Wikipedia – Hippocampus

        [42] The journal of neuroscience – Nasal respiration entrains human limbic oscillations and modulates cognitive function

        [43] Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Göteborg University, Mölndal, Sweden – Cognition-enhancing effect of vagus nerve stimulation in patients with Alzheimer’s disease: a pilot study

        [44] Section of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Otago, New Zealand – Placebo-controlled vagus nerve stimulation paired with tones in a patient with refractory tinnitus: a case report

        [45] Wikipedia – Cytokine

        [46] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA – Vagus nerve stimulation inhibits cytokine production and attenuates disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis

        [47] Wiley online library – Vagus Nerve Stimulation for treatment of partial seizures: 1. A controlled study of effect on seizures

        [48] Epilepsy Foundation – Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

        [49] Department of Radiology, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, USA – Safety and efficacy of vagus nerve stimulation in fibromyalgia: a phase I/II proof of concept trial

        [50] Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche e Cardiovascolari, University of Cagliari, Italy – Vagal nerve stimulation improves cerebellar tremor and dysphagia in multiple sclerosis


        I offer a free, 30-minute consultation, to explore your circumstances and answer any questions.