“Here’s a great lesson about the heart from my dear Friend Dr. Joel Kahn. Read how our heart is a little brain that controls more than just our emotions”. -Karin
We picture love emanating from the heart but isn’t it just a pump? I have told my patients so many times that the heart is a muscle whose job is to pump blood 100,000 times a day. Is that all it does? We have all felt moments when we were sure that joy, love, and appreciation emanated from our hearts. Is that wrong?
New research is showing that the heart controls the brain much more than previously thought. Some of these observations have profound implications and have led to practical therapies.
Some of the most important findings about the role of the heart in controlling the mind include:
- The heart is a “little brain.”
There are 40,000 neurons relaying information to the brain from the heart, leading researchers to call the heart the “little brain” and to title the field of research as neurocardiology.
- The heart communicates to the brain and the body.
The heart may speak to the body in four ways, via:
- nervous system connections
- hormones produced in the heart itself
- biomechanical information via blood pressure waves
- energetic information from the strong electrical and electromagnetic fields.
The fact that the heart produces hormones released into the blood stream affecting all of the body was first demonstrated 30 years ago and has led to tests routinely performed in hospitals across the country.
- There is more information sent from the heart to the brain on a daily basis via these four means of communications than vice versa.
Indeed, the neurons within the heart enable the heart to learn, remember, and make decisions independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex.
- The heart emits more electrical activity than the brain.
The heart emits an electrical field 60 times greater in amplitude than the activity in the brain and an electromagnetic field 5,000 times stronger that of the brain. Ever have an EKG during a doctor’s visit? How can they put the electrode by your ankle and records heart signals way up in the chest? Actually our heart field radiates at least 5 feet away from our bodies.
- Activity in one person’s heart can be measured in the brain waves of another person.
The electromagnetic field of two individuals (human or pet and human), touching or within a few feet of each other, can interact so that energy activity in the heart of one individual is measured in the brain waves of the other. The act of touch for healing therapies can be postulated to be due to this method of communication.
- The electrical activity of the heart and the brain can be guided into a synchronous electrical rhythm called coherence that is easily measured and displayed by simply focusing on positive and loving emotions emanating from the heart.
The technique is to imagine breathing through your heart with slow and deep breaths that last about five seconds each and make your heart area on your left chest rise and fall. Second, add a feeling of positive emotions by thinking about a loving experience, appreciation, or calm.
By maintaining the heart centered breathing and the positive emotions (perhaps with your eyes closed and a smile on your face), you can create a pattern of coherence showing internal harmony. One method I use at home and with patients comes from research over the last 20 years. A program downloaded to a laptop or smart phone is coupled with a cable that attaches to the earlobe. (You can learn more and buy all the tools you need at www.heartmath.org) To do this exercise, you have to buy a cable, which monitors heart rate and permits immediate measurement and tracking of HRV. Colorful graphics track the degree of coherence achieved during heart based breathing with positive emotions.
Just 5 to 10 minutes a day have demonstrated the following benefits:
1. Enhanced immune function with increased secretory IgA concentration
2. Lower cortisol levels with improved levels of DHEA (anti-aging hormone)
3. Lower blood pressure
4. Improved memory on testing in seniors
5. Improved school performance during exams in high school students
6. Improved walking times in heart failure patient
Stress is the root cause of most visits to the doctor and most medical ailments. It’s been said that the “mind is your instrument, learn to be its master and not its slave.” After 30 years of studying the heart, I am learning that exciting scientific findings are providing a dramatically different understanding of the heart and its relationship with the brain and the human body. The rich neurologic and endocrine structure of the heart make it possible to “train” the heart from acting in a frenzied and disordered manner during stress and anger to working in an optimal manner from lessons of peace, love, and harmony.
Joel Kahn MD
Dr. Kahn is a Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine