Hearty Health Care Tips
Written by Dr Arien van der Merwe
‘My heart’s not in it anymore’; ‘my heart is sore’; ‘my heart is breaking’. We have all uttered these phrases. They are not simply figures of speech, but very often unconsciously uttered, based on our intuitive understanding of the heart as seat of the emotions and soul. In all cultures and religions, the experience of peace, love, healing and harmony are seated in the heart and thymus (responsible for immunity) region in the chest. Feelings of love also have a positive influence on the immune system, hormones and cognitive brain function.
The heart has receptor sites for, and manufactures, peptides that are identical to the neurotransmitter message carrier molecules inside the brain. It is now crystal clear that the heart is a very important endocrine gland, making and releasing the major hormone, ANF (atrial natriuretic factor). ANF has a profound effect on the brain’s limbic structure and function. The limbic system is the seat of the emotions and stress survival reaction, and is also called the emotional brain. The limbic system includes the hippocampus where the memory, learning and control centers for the entire hormonal system reside.
60-65% of heart cells are neurons (nervous system cells), and not cardiac muscle cells as previously believed. These neurons are identical to brain neurons. 50% of the heart neuron cells translate information from the whole body to keep it functioning as a harmonious whole. The other 50% have a direct, unmediated neural connection with the emotional brain inside the head, with a 24/7 heart-brain-heart dialogue we are completely unconscious of.
The heart is a powerful electromagnetic generator that creates an electromagnetic field that encompasses the body and extends 3-5 meters away from it. One can actually take an ECG (electro cardiogram) reading 1 meter away from the body, with no wires attached. This electromagnetic field has a profound effect on the brain, furnishing radio wave pattern from which the brain draws material to create an internal experience of the world. Ultimately everything in our lives depends on our emotional (i.e. feeling) response to events.
Stress accelerates your heart rate through secretion of the adrenal stress hormones adrenalin, noradrenalin and the long term stress hormone cortisol. Stress is initially experienced as emotions or feelings within the limbic system of the brain. ANF influences not only the heart muscle contraction, pressure in blood vessels and kidneys, but also the mood-influencing adrenal glands, as well as the brain. In the brain, parasympathetic or sympathetic impulses coming from the heart help trigger the onset of either calming or excitatory thoughts and emotions.
Heart centered meditation
Sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair, in a quiet place, or outside in the greenness of nature, with soft pink candle light, rose quartz crystal and soothing music if you prefer. Hold your back straight, chin parallel to the floor, hands relaxed in your lap, eyes closed. Breathe deeply and slowly and feel yourself relaxing with each exhalation. Do this for 5-20 minutes until you’re completely relaxed. As you breathe in and out, know that when the heart beats, it pumps blood to itself first, and from there to the rest of the body. If it didn’t do this, the rest of the body would die. This is an example of self love. It is not a selfish act. Give appreciation and deep love to your own heart, for its lifetime service.
As you breathe in, feel the breath entering your nose and mouth, extending into your heart, and from there to the rest of your body, into every cell of your being. As you breathe out, feel the breath exiting the cells, moving to the heart, and from there to the mouth and nose. Repeat the ‘ah’ sound of gratitude as you breathe out. Do it softly or aloud, whichever feels comfortable to you. Notice the deep sense of peace and calm infusing your whole body and mind. You can envision this sense as a blanket of green and blue enveloping your heart, your whole body, your loved ones, all sentient beings, the earth and the universe.
Then, in your mind’s eye, imagine a bright, healing light shining into your heart. The light becomes softer, changing to hues of pink or green, associated with feelings of love, peace, reassurance, forgiveness and acceptance. The light dissolves all tension from your heart and chest. Feel all heaviness, sadness, regret, pain and seriousness lift and release, leaving you light hearted and joyful. Feel your heart developing its own radiance as though an inner flame is being rekindled. Allow this light from inside your heart to spread to every part of you, into the far reaches of every cell, molecule, thought and emotion. Imagine yourself filled with this light’s purity and wonder; your body, mind, emotions and soul healed by the radiance inside your own heart. Sense this light spreading into your feet and eyes to illuminate your path with love. Repeat the positive affirmations, and actually feel them infusing your heart: my heart is light and free; I am always being guided in love; my life is filled with love, lightness, laughter and infinite wisdom; my heart opens with love, peace and forgiveness. Bathe in love’s feelings and light for as long as you can. Then slowly become aware of your body, move and stretch your limbs, notice your breathing, experience the calm and peace inside. Gently come back to normal awareness.
Spices, Food, Medicinal plants/herbs for the heart
- The Basic 3 Food Supplements: Heart Brain Body Support (containing antioxidants, Co-enzyme Q10, herbs and B-complex vitamins), Calcium and Magnesium Balance and Super Omega
- Kiwifruits, broccoli, cucumber, green beans, peas, juicy figs, lettuce and dark green spinach: Improves endurance physically, mentally, emotionally. Eating rainbow coloured fruit and vegetables helps allay panic, fear and anxiety. Broccoli is rich in sulphorafane that suppresses cancer cell growth and neutralizes carcinogens, also carotenoids, folic acid, potassium, vit C. Spinach is rich in folic acid, lutein, carotenoids, magnesium, manganese, protein, quercetin and vit K
- Crateagus oxyacantha (Hawthorn berry) to balance blood pressure and reduce water retention
- Ginkgo biloba to balance mood, concentration and blood pressure
- Tarragon and saffron as culinary herbs/spices
- Melissa and Whitehorn as infusions
- Thyme honey wine is an excellent heart-healing elixir. Mix 4 tablespoons of dried thyme (8 of fresh) with one liter of red wine. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 4 tablespoons of honey. Allow to stand for 1 week, pour through a sieve and take 2 tablespoons 3 x per day.
- Echinacea helps your immune system cope with viruses, bacteria and other potential pathogens, or disease causing organisms
- Antioxidants support all systems, including the heart, respiratory and immune systems.
- Bach’s flower remedies: red chestnut, willow, chicory.
- Essential oils: rose, ylang ylang, basil, marjoram, geranium, cypress, ginger, lavender and rosemary.
Read more about Heart Health in the two links below: