I don't think it is simply ignorance that caused our ancestors to consider a heart could be "broken". As a practitioner of energy medicine (chi meets the nervous system) I have found that people who are grieving or have experienced a recent physical or emotional trauma often experience a change in their heart "energy".
Since I don't diagnose, I am not saying this is "heart disease". And what is considered "heart disease" in western medicine may never develop. But what I do see is very low energy levels, sadness, depression and/or anxiety, sleeping difficulties, weight gain and difficulty carrying on with the normal routines of an active life.
Sound like a broken heart? If this occurs right after a loss, through death, divorce or a break-up, as often happens, no wonder our forerunners called it a "broken heart". Did anyone ever die of one? Certainly many of us have seen people simply stop living, and slip into eventual death. The will to live, or not, has a powerful effect on our health.
Like a garden in full bloom, a happy and healthy body is pretty disease resistant. We certainly need water and nutrients, much like plants. And we also need Love.
The romantic kind of love, so celebrated, so sought after, with its ups and downs, terror and exhilaration, carries its own set of issues!
But more lasting love -- affinity, help, caring, touch -- has a very therapeutic effect and does seem to be vital to human life. Studies show that babies who are left in their cribs and not held and cuddled and interacted with do not grow and develop as they should. I have seen these children as patients in a pediatric hospital where I worked. For some reason the parents of these little ones did not seem to understand that nurturing includes touch. The nurses on this ward were some of the best I have met, and they had the happy job of cuddling babies to help them begin to thrive.
A study http://www.reuniting.info/science/healing_and_marital_conflict from my alma mater, Ohio State University, demonstrated that blisters from burns heal significantly faster among married couples who communicated to each other in a friendly fashion vs. a stress producing fashion. One could call that the healing power of love.
I have noticed that many people are germ-a-phobic and do not like to touch anywhere another human being has touched. There are literally billions of germs around us all the time, and we have hundreds of bacteria in our body. Most are helpful and there are relatively few bugs that are pathogenic. Our present mania for being germ free came about from marketing on television for household cleaning products. Of course, we should practice basic hygiene, such as hand washing before meals and after other personal rituals. But trying to kill all the germs in our environment is not only a fool's pursuit, but would be harmful. Nature has a way of balancing environmental "niches" and we would not be here at all if germs were so dangerous to us. Good old mild soap and water is sufficient for most of our household and personal cleaning needs. Harsh chemical cleaners are toxic not only to germs -- but to us. Our nervous systems may be more sophisticated than the rest of the animal and insect and microbial kingdom. But we share one thing in common. What is toxic to one is often toxic to all. Our livers have to process any chemicals we are exposed to. Rat poison kills rats. It also kills kids. The "marketing" calls it rat poison, but it could just as truthfully be called "people poison".
If you seem to pick up every flu that passes through the office, your natural health practitioner can help you strengthen your immune system. That is your best defense, and you can "bloom" without fearing contact with others.
We can be a big influence on each other's health. A warm smile, a greeting, a hug to a dear one, can brighten anyone's life -- and may have more of a therapeutic effect than you realize.
And if you are lucky enough to have someone in your life who makes your heart beat a little faster, may your romance last far into the future. Next time you feel that extra little flutter, take a moment to appreciate what a marvel is the human heart.
The heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood through the vessels every day. A lot of that is up-hill.
The human heart creates enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet, and is the strongest muscle out of 650 muscles in the body.
The average heart beats 100,000 times per day. More if you are frightened. The human heart will beat 3,000 million times in its lifetime and pump 48 million gallons of blood.
Here's to the unbeatable human heart.
And to lovers everywhere -- and all the big hearted people in the world -- Happy Valentine's Day!