By Sarah A LoBisco, Naturopathic Doctor (ND)
I was recently inspired by an article in one of my Naturopathic Journals. The topic of the month was related to cardiovascular health and the particular article that caught my attention elated all aspects of my cognitive interests-biochemistry, emotional health, spirituality, and holistic medicine. The author perfectly connected the mind-body approach, not in the esoteric sense, but with the biochemistry to actually back up the phrase, “Go with your heart, not your head.”
Here is a summary from Dr. Mitchell’s article
1. The Heart Has a Brain!
The heart begins to receive neural cells in early pregnancy, allowing it to set up its own network to beat and pump blood on its own, independent of the brain!
Neuroendocronolgists (a cool field of neurology and endocrinology) found that 60-65% of cells in the heart are neural cells identical to cells in the brain.
The Heart and Brain talk back and forth to each other! This Heart-Brain connection has more than 40,000 neurons. The heart responds to brain neurotransmission and vice versa.
2. The Heart is an Endocrine Organ
Your heart produces oxytocin, the love or bonding hormone.
It also releases atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) which acts on the limbic or emotional portion of the brain. This hormone acts in triggering the production of urine and the excretion of sodium. This results in lower blood pressure.
I find it fascinating that the emotional center of the brain has a connection to blood pressure physiology. You really can “die of broken heart!”
3. The Heart Can Heal Cancer!
In his experiments, David L Vesly, MD, PhD, discovered 3 other Heart Hormones that may prevent Cancer Cell Formation!
- Long acting natriuretic peptide
- Vessel dilator
- Kaliuretic peptide (increases K excretion)
His experiments demonstrated that cardiac hormones kill up to 97% of cell cancer cultures within 24 hours.
In mice models, at the end of one month, treatment with the above hormones resulted in 80% reduction of pancreatic cancer cells and 66% of breast cancer cells!
These powerful results explain why focusing on your heart with deep breathing positively affect your moods, nervous system, and immunity!
Now, what to take/eat to nourish your heart physically:
Two Studies reported in the VitalChoice Newsletter showed that omega fish oil helped protect against Sudden Cardiac Death and stroke:
A combined university-industry research team conducted a new “meta-analysis” of data from eight existing population studies, and concluded that 250mg per day is the minimum dose of omega-3s needed to reduce the risk of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) by 35 percent (Musa-Veloso K et al. 2011). This double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study occurred in patients undergoing angioplasty who received standard drug therapy and were assigned to take 1 gram of omega-3s per day (30 patients) or placebo capsules (24 patients) for one month.
The patients were encouraged to increase their intake of oily fish, and to take clot-preventing/busting drugs (aspirin and clopidogrel). The authors noted that while both groups showed some blood clots, there were fewer clots in the omega-3 group, and those clots were more susceptible to destruction by anti-clotting drugs and showed less oxidative stress (free radical damage) compared with clots in the placebo group.
Another nutrient that may be good for the heart is potassium. In one meta-analysis:
Conclusions: Higher dietary potassium intake is associated with lower rates of stroke and might also reduce the risk of CHD and total CVD. These results support recommendations for higher consumption of potassium-rich foods to prevent vascular diseases.
Other heart healthy nutrients include magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin D, and B-vitamins.
What to avoid:
ISSUE: FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients that FDA continues to receive reports of methemoglobinemia, a serious and potentially fatal adverse effect, associated with benzocaine products both as a spray, used during medical procedures to numb the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, and benzocaine gels and liquids sold over-the-counter and used to relieve pain from a variety of conditions, such as teething, canker sores, and irritation of the mouth and gums.
BACKGROUND: Methemoglobinemia is a rare, but serious condition in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced. In the most severe cases, methemoglobinemia can result in death. Patients who develop methemoglobinemia may experience signs and symptoms such as pale, gray or blue colored skin, lips, and nail beds; headache; lightheadedness; shortness of breath; fatigue; and rapid heart rate. Methemoglobinemia has been reported with all strengths of benzocaine gels and liquids, and cases occurred mainly in children aged two years or younger who were treated with benzocaine gel for teething. The signs and symptoms usually appear within minutes to hours of applying benzocaine and may occur with the first application of benzocaine or after additional use. The development of methemoglobinemia after treatment with benzocaine sprays may not be related to the amount applied. In many cases, methemoglobinemia was reported following the administration of a single benzocaine spray.
Benzocaine products should not be used on children less than two years of age, except under the advice and supervision of a healthcare professional.
Happy Heart Thought to boost your mood, emotions, and immunity.
Here’s an excerpt from the June newsletter of Dr. Christiane Northrup:
Instead of the term “anti-aging,” I much prefer that we think in terms of biologic versus chronologic age. Biologically, you can be 50 going on 80—or 80 going on 50. Your tissue age will reflect this. And so will your life and all your bodily functions. Here’s what I know for sure about aging. Your vitality and state of health are largely a product of your beliefs, especially once you reach the age of 50.
There’s a famous study done by Becca Levy that demonstrated this beautifully. Becca found that those individuals who believe that aging is associated with positive factors—such a becoming wiser and more astute—live seven years longer (on average) than those who have negative associations with aging. These additional seven years were not dependent upon factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, chronic illness, or genetic factors. In other words, what a person believes about getting older has a powerful effect on longevity. In fact, the effect is so powerful that if this belief were a drug, it would be unethical not to prescribe it (unless it had unhealthy side effects, of course).
If you want to age well and even turn back the clock, I recommend that you study role models of healthy aging—and do what they do. Jane Fonda, who just turned 70, comes to mind. So do the incredible actresses Helen Mirren and Dame Judi Dench. Chances are good that you have a couple of these role models right in your own neighborhood or social circle.
Now I want to hear from you….
What do you think about this heart-brain-body connection?
How has listening to your heart affected your life?
What’s Your Naturopathic IQ? Take the quiz and find out!
HeartMath. A change in heart changes everything. www.heartmath.org
Ann Mitchell, ND. Follow your Heart. NDNR. June 2011.
Drugs.Com.Benzocaine Topical Products: Sprays, Gels and Liquids – Risk of Methemoglobinemia. April 7, 2011. http://www.drugs.com/fda/benzocaine-topical-products-gels-liquids-risk-methemoglobinemia-12941.html
Vesley DL. Heart hormones may be effective cancer treatment. VA Res Curr. April-May 2008; 7-8. http://www.research.va.gov/news/research_highlights/heart-hormones-042508.cfm
Marcelle Pick. The Power of Nitric Oxide for Cardiovascular Health. Special Guest: Dr. Zand. CoreBalance for Women. HayHouse Radio. June 7, 2011.
Christiane Northrup. Stay Young & Vital without HGH. June E-Newsletter 2011. http://www.drnorthrup.com/blog/2011/06/stay-young-and-vital-without-hgh
Wetherby, C. Omega-3 Heart News, Part I: Fish Fats Curb Clots; Death-Deterring Dose Detailed. VitalChoice Newsletter. June 7, 2011. http://newsletter.vitalchoice.com/e_article002127548.cfm?x=bjB83p1,b1h0JlRD
Lanfranco D’Elia, MD, PhD, Gianvincenzo Barba, MD, Francesco P. Cappuccio, MD and Pasquale Strazzullo, MD. Potassium Intake, Stroke, and Cardiovascular Disease. (abstract). J Am Coll Cardiol, 2011; 57:1210-1219, doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2010.09.070