The human health effects of singing bowls: A systematic review

Complement Ther Med. 2020 Jun;51:102412. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102412. Epub 2020 Apr 22.


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the human health effects (beneficial or adverse) of any singing bowl therapies.

Design: A systematic review was conducted.

Setting: The setting was not specified, so it could include clinical and non-clinical settings.

Intervention: Studies of any intervention predominantly involving singing bowls (e.g. playing singing bowls, listening to singing bowls) were eligible for inclusion. The comparison interventions were not specified, and studies without comparisons (e.g. pre-post studies) were also considered potentially relevant.

Main outcome measures: Any human health outcome was investigated.

Results: The effects of singing bowls on human health were investigated in four peer-reviewed studies, one of which investigated patients with metastatic cancer, and another those with chronic spinal pain. Low-level designs were used in two studies. Improvements in distress, positive and negative affect, anxiety, depression, fatigue, tension, anger, confusion and vigour were reported, as were improvements in blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, peripheral capillary oxygen saturation, cutaneous conductance, and anterior-frontal alpha values.

Conclusions: Given there were few studies and the potential risk of methodological bias, we cannot recommend singing bowl therapies at this stage. As the evidence suggests positive health effects, we recommend that future studies consider the effect of singing bowl therapies using more robust study methods, allowing for evidence-based recommendations to be made to reduce the disease burden.

Keywords: Health; Meditation; Music therapy; Singing bowl; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Symptoms
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Meditation*
  • Music Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Vital Signs