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Rx: Visual Arts

The color and movement of art impacts patients' imagination in a way that encourages them to clearly visualize a positive outcome. The viewing of art inspires communication from a deep place, helping them to express experiences often difficult to put into words. The creating of art - the doodling with various colored pens and watercolor pencils, the shaping of sculpey clay, the shredding of hand-made paper to form the first layer of a canvas piece - allows for a tactile release of energy and attention to detail that transcends the pain and worry of disease.

"Art is feeling free like a child, rolling over and over, all the way down the hill, dizzy but delighted."

Intuitively, most of us know that creativity and art changes our perspective and makes us feel better. Now, research is finally catching up to intuition and experiential knowledge. A recent study conducted by U.C. Berkeley determined that experiencing art may lower inflammation in the body, the type of inflammation that leads to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. In the experiment, 200 young adults detailed how much they experienced "wonder and amazement" in a given day. Researchers then obtained samples of gum and cheek tissue (oral mucosal transudate), finding that those who claimed to have experienced greater levels of wonder and amazement had the lowest levels of cytokine interleukin 6 - a marker of inflammation. Cytokine is necessary to the body for fighting infection, but in large quantities, it can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and even Alzheimer's. For the full research on Positive Emotions and Positive Health, please click here.