Part II: Human Heart, Cosmic Heart. Say What!? The Heart is NOT a Pump!?
Listen to Part I: The Psychophysiology and Neurocardiology of the Heart: The Research of HeartMath Institute in 7 minutes below.
Listen to this blog in 8 minutes below.
We are beginning to understand the implications of heart health beyond clean arteries. The prevention currently in place with the generalized advice to “move more, quit smoking, monitor lab values, and eat healthy,” doesn’t seem to be producing greater quality or longer lasting lives for cardiovascular patients.
In Part I, I explored the philosophy and research of the HeartMath Institute. This more integrative approach to what optimizes the heart and body health is based on the psychophysiology and neurocardiology of the heart (the heart-brain) and science-based applications.
Many “health hackers” may be familiar with these tools that include coherence and heart rate variability for better performance and brain functioning. The discoveries that the HeartMath Institute offers demonstrate how being mindful of our heart’s emotions influence our social connections, well-being, stress management, and our overall physiological health. You can get more information on the HeartMath Institute here.
Another researcher is digging even further into why heart disease is still so prominent and offering a different perspective on how to treat the cause of various cardiovascular disorders. Rather than considering and bridging more factors on how to improve heart health, he is questioning our very understanding of the anatomy of the cardiovascular system! Dr. Cowen’s book, Human Heart, Cosmic Heart: A Doctor’s Quest to Understand, Treat, and Prevent Cardiovascular Disease, is proclaiming that the heart isn’t a pump at all, but rather more of “a hydraulic ram!”
Dr. Cowan believes this is the reason why heart disease interventions to fix the “plumbing” are failures. He explains that the heart being compared to a machine does not make physiological sense. In a blog on Chelsea Green Publishing he explains in more detail:
“Consider this: There are enough blood vessels in the human body to encircle the globe three times. How is it even remotely plausible that a one pound organ that is oddly shaped with only one later think at its highest ‘stress’ point is able to ‘pump’—meaning generate enough pressure—to push highly viscous fluid with stuff floating in it, i.e. red and white blood cells, this entire distance,” Cowan told Chelsea Green. “Not only that, but in its travels around the body, the blood stops at the halfway point and only then gets going again. Not only that, but at the exit of the heart when the ‘push’ must be tremendous if it’s a pump, the aortic arch bends inward, exactly the opposite of what would and should happen if the heart was a pressure generating pump. The whole idea is really absurd.”
So, if that’s absurd – then what makes sense?
“Rather, the heart is a muscle that holds back the blood like a dam and then converts the flow into a vortex,” he adds. “This creates a suction effect, which sucks the aortic arch—as one sees—and without generating pressure helps the blood on its way. The reason for the vortex creation is complex but that is the ‘generative’ shape in nature. When nature wants to create or enhance life it uses vortices. It is no surprise, then, that this vortex is what is created by the heart.”
Dr. Cowan believes that the flow of our vessels is based on the concept of a vortex, which is often present in nature. In his viewpoint, the properties of water ((i.e., pH, its fourth phase (see research by Gerald Pollack), and surface tension)) explain this hydraulic mechanism of the cardiovascular system. As a result, the “force” that pushes our blood through our vessels lies within the capillaries, not the heart, which is more of a ram.
Although this explanation has not be validated, it is something to consider as one reason we are doing so poorly in “treating heart disease” by simply bypassing its main routes.
Dr. Cowen explains this in greater detail in an interview with Dr. Mercola. Cowen states that the reason heart disease remains the number one killer is because we are not looking at the root issue that drives heart attacks. Below is the summary of the article:
- Recent research shows stents do not improve angina, thereby negating the sole remaining medical indication for angioplasty or the placement of a stent to unblock a blocked artery
- Earlier research showed angioplasty does not reduce mortality, nonfatal myocardial infarction or hospitalization rates for acute coronary syndrome
- Coronary artery disease is not a disease per se. It’s a symptom of “a diffuse systemic disease,” caused primarily by poor diet, inactivity, insulin resistance and stress
- The largest study done on heart attack incidence revealed only 41 percent of people who have a heart attack actually have a blocked artery. Of those, 50 percent of the blockages occurred after the heart attack. This means at least 80 percent of heart attacks are not associated with blocked arteries at all
- Three primary causes of heart attacks are decreased parasympathetic tone followed by sympathetic nervous system activation, lack of microcirculation and lactic acid buildup in the heart muscle
You can read more about Dr. Cowen and/or listen to his interview with Ben Greenfield here.
Putting it Together: Epigenetics and Essential Oils for Heart-Mind Health
As I learn more about various philosophies and “new approaches” in healthcare, I am never let down by the ability of essential oils to fit right into it.
One theme that is common between the HeartMath Institute and Dr. Cowen is the aspect of the heart-mind. HeartMath Intersitue emphasizes the importance of emotions, relationships, and coherence for physiological and neurological support of our heart. Dr. Cowen urges a balanced nervous system response and influencing dynamics of its tone on our cardiovascular system and circulation.
These are all important aspects when considering health outcomes. They can affect the heart at the physiological level and also by their influence on our epigenetics (altering genetic expression without changing our genetic blueprint). This may be the ultimate prevention.
We can apply what we learned on using lifestyle factors and releasing negative emotions with essential oils to change our cellular functions at the level of our genes in combination with the HeartMath Institute techniques for even more wellness benefits! Furthermore, we can balance our nervous system tone and modulate our circulatory flow with these secondary metabolites.
Another way to enhance connection using essential oils. Essential oils pleasant and appealing aromas relax the body, soothe the mind, and create more desire for closeness. (
I provided more resources for how to calm the brain, modulate stress, and balance emotions here
Next week, I will take this information of dynamic forces, coherence, and “wisdom of the heart” and examine more actions that we can take to make movement through our vessels smoother. We will explore more on the genetic, biochemical, and physiological level to integrate the whole body and heart for optimal health in a personalized approach.
Please post your comments below.
My best from my heart to yours!
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)