Projects Completed Projects

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice


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? A lot is written and published about the health benefits of Western classical music. 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). With this broad objective effect of one of the ragas among those listed in literature was taken up among hypertensives and prehypertensives. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of passive listening to music on blood pressure, autonomic functions, stress and biomarkers among hypertensives and pre-hypertensives. Later the exploration was extended to 6 Hindustani classical melodies whose effect on overall electrophysiological and cognitive domains, including brain waves were studied.


For the first time, Indian music and its effect on hypertensives and prehypertensives were being explored scientifically. Further electrophysiological effects of any melodic scale among normal individuals also were not documented well enough.


A prospective, randomized controlled trial was conducted on a hundred pre-hypertensives / stage I hypertensives, randomly divided into two groups (n=50 in each). A particular raga was chosen based on ancient literature in music. 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.


  • Blood Pressure
  • Stress
  • Heart Rate Variability


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

Outcomes of project 2 are under the process of publication.


  • The study showed that passive listening to classical Indian music can serve as a complementary therapy along with other lifestyle modifications for those suffering from stress-related disorders.
  • Classical music is effective in controlling blood pressure fluctuations among prehypertensives.


  • 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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