Projects Completed Projects

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice

Project Facts


2012 – Ongoing


  • Role of music in non-pharmacological management of hypertension – Exploration of health benefits of music among prehypertensives and hypertensives – a prospective randomized open-labeled control trial
  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) funded 2012-2014 – Completed
  • Evaluation of the effect of 6 Indian classical melodic scales on electrophysiological effects, stress and salivary stress markers – A prospective randomized triple-blind study
  • Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS – 2015-2019 – Completed) and

ICMR Funded (ongoing).


Collected data through a randomized, controlled trial on two groups.

Result – significant reduction in diastolic and systolic BP.

Impact – alternative and easily accessible method for relieving stress and hypertension.


2 projects – One on people undergoing treatment for hypertension and those with prehypertension (aged 30 – 60 years) and second on healthy individuals between the age group of 18 – 30 years.


Dr Kirthana Kunikullaya U


Jayashree was diagnosed with high blood pressure a couple of years ago. Since then she has been on medication and has been forced to change her lifestyle habits to bring her BP under control. Jayashree finds that listening to music also calms her.

“Music has always been my favourite therapy. All the stress and tension I feel during the day goes away when I listen to music in the evening.”

A highly prevalent problem

26% of people in the world have hypertension

45% of Indians have been diagnosed with hypertension

10.8% of all deaths in India in 2018 can be attributed to hypertension

25 minutes of Western classical music can reduce BP

Sound is a natural phenomenon but music is a human construct. It was never necessary for the survival of species. But then how do these complex acoustic stimuli make sense to our brains, bringing pleasure, joy, and different other emotional responses? Despite a lot of historical and anecdotal evidence, very few studies have used Indian classical music as an intervention for studying their health benefits. Music literature documents different health benefits of melodic scales of Indian music (ragas in an Indian context). The electrophysiological effects of any melodic scale among normal individuals had also not been documented well enough.


For the first time Indian music and its effect on people with hypertension and prehypertension was explored scientifically. A prospective, randomized controlled trial was conducted on a hundred people with prehypertension / stage I hypertension, randomly divided into two groups of 50 people each.

Group 1 received music intervention along with lifestyle modifications while Group 2 received only lifestyle modifications (according to Joint National Committee VII guidelines). Group 1 listened to raga bhimpalas played on the flute for 15 minutes daily for at least 5 days/week for 3 months.

Group 1 exhibited significant reduction in stress levels. Significant reduction in diastolic BP was observed among prehypertensives, who constituted more than 80% of sample. Systolic BP decreased in group 2 after intervention. A rise in parasympathetic parameters of HRV was seen after intervention in group 1.


Passive listening to Indian classical music decreased stress significantly

Noticeable drop in diastolic and systolic BP

Higher parasympathetic activity after listening to music

We are happy with our findings and to have joined hands with the

  • Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) , Govt of India
  • Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS), Govt of Karnataka
  • Health and Family Welfare departments

Jayashree was right. Music is a stress reliever.



  • Kirthana Ubrangala Kunikullaya, Jaisri Goturu, Vijayadas Muradi, Preethi Avinash Hukkeri, Radhika Kunnavil, Venkatesh Doreswamy, Vadagenahalli S. Prakash, Nandagudi Srinivasa Murthy. Combination of music with lifestyle modification versus lifestyle modification alone on blood pressure reduction – a randomized controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 23 (2016) 102-109.
  • Kunikullaya, Kirthana & Goturu, Jaisri & Muradi, Vijayadas & Hukkeri, Preethi & Kunnavil, Radhika & Doreswamy, Venkatesh & Prakash, Vadagenahalli & Murthy, Nandagudi. (2015). Music versus lifestyle on the autonomic nervous system of prehypertensives and hypertensives – a randomized control trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 23. 10.1016/j.ctim.2015.08.003.
Project Funders
  • A prospective randomized open labeled control trial - Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) funded 2012-2014 (Completed)
  • Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS - 2015-2019 (Completed)
  • ICMR Funded (Ongoing)
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