Psychologists once maintained that emotions were purely mental expressions generated by the brain alone. We now know this is not true. Emotions have as much to do with the heart and body as they do with the brain. Of all your body’s organs, it is the heart, a growing number of scientists theorize, that plays perhaps the most important role in our emotional experience. What we experience as an emotion is the result of the brain, heart, and body acting in concert.

HeartMath studies define a critical link between the heart and brain. The heart is in a constant two-way dialog with the brain. Our emotions change the signals the brain sends to the heart and the heart responds in complex ways. Today we now know the heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart, and the brain responds to the heart in many important ways. This research explains how the heart responds to emotional and mental reactions and why certain emotions stress the body and drain our energy. As we experience feelings like anger, frustration, anxiety and insecurity, our heart-rhythm patterns become more erratic. These erratic patterns are sent to the emotional centers in the brain, which recognizes them as negative, or stressful feelings. These signals create the actual feelings we experience in the heart area and elsewhere in the body. Erratic heart rhythms also block our ability to think clearly.

Many studies have found that the risk of developing heart disease is significantly increased for people who frequently experience stressful emotions such as irritation, anger or frustration. These emotions create a chain reaction in the body: stress-hormone levels increase, blood vessels constrict, blood pressure rises and the immune system is weakened. If we consistently experience these emotions, it can put a strain on the heart and other organs and eventually lead to serious health problems.

Conversely, HeartMath’s research shows, when we experience heartfelt emotions such as appreciation, love, care and compassion, the heart produces a very different rhythm – one that has a smooth pattern and looks something like gently rolling hills. Scientists consider harmonious, or smooth heart rhythms, which are indicative of positive emotions, to be indicators of cardiovascular efficiency and nervous-system balance. This lets the brain know the heart feels good; often we experience this as a gentle, warm feeling in the area of the heart. Learning to shift out of stressful emotional reactions to these heartfelt emotions can have profound positive effects on our cardiovascular systems and overall health. As you begin to understand and appreciate the important link that exists between the heart and emotions, you will start to see how it is possible to shift the heart into a more efficient state by actually monitoring heart rhythms.

Visit the HeartMath Institute webpage for a wealth of information on the role of the emotions and heart health heart at

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The following is an abstract of a study that was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In this study, patients who received a 20-minute Reiki treatment within three days after suffering a heart attack showed improved mood and heart rate variability (HRV).

Reiki treatment given in an acute cardiac care setting significantly improved mood and HRV within 72 hours after a heart attack. A heart attack is a stressful event that, like other stressful events, also causes a stress response. A stressed body is less resilient, less able to cope with more stress. This means a patient who has just had a heart attack has a higher risk of having another one. Doctors are well aware of this dangerous cycle, and helping the body recover its resilience is a primary goal in cardiac care. That is why standard hospital care after a heart attack includes beta blockers, drugs that help the body recover its resilience. But beta blockers work slowly, and some patients cannot tolerate them.

The Yale researchers wondered if a non- pharmacologic intervention might be just as effective, work faster, safe for all patients – and even help patients feel better? In the high-tech acute cardiac care setting, why would doctors be interested in patients feeling better? Subjectively feeling better is known to have objective effects on health. It is well documented that emotional stress negatively affects autonomic nervous system (ANS) function, and therefore heart disease (ANS controls heart rate).

This randomized controlled study looked at non- invasive, non-drug interventions to help patients recover faster from a heart attack. The study had three arms: Group 1 (12 patients) rested quietly without interruption. Group 2 (13 patients) listened to slow tempo, meditative, classical music. Group 3 (12 patients) received 20-minute Reiki treatment from Reiki-trained staff nurses. Patients were measured initially for baseline, and again after the intervention, and the two sets of measurements were compared. The measurements from all groups were then compared to the others.

The impact of the intervention (rest, music, or Reiki) was measured in two ways, emotional state and heart rate variability (HRV), a physiologic measure that indicates if the patient’s body is recovering from the stress response. The patients rated themselves on both positive states (happy, relaxed, calm) and negative states (stressed, angry, sad, frustrated, worried, scared, anxious). Reiki treatment improved all positive emotional states and reduced all negative states. Comparing the three groups, the Reiki group had the most positive changes in emotional state, and the resting control had the least.

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Sodium lauryl sulfate, a surface-active agent used in shampoos, was found to increase the absorption of certain chemicals. Simply put, SLS in your shampoo could be increasing the rate of skin absorption of other chemicals in your shampoo and conditioner that may include preservatives, fragrances and color additives. (Cosmetic and the Skin, F.V. Wells, Reinhold Publishing Corporation, New York, 1964)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a harsh (caustic) detergent. Also known as a surfactant, which breaks down the surface tension of water. It can actually damage the outer layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, causing dryness, roughness, scaliness, fissuring, loss of flexibility and reduction of the barrier functions of normal healthy skin. (Cosmetic Science, C. Prottey, 1978). Sodium Lauryl sulfate (SLS) is used in personal care products including probably every major brand of toothpaste you can find.

A report from the Journal of the American College of Toxicology; Vol. 2, No. 7, 1983 (Final Report On The Safety 
Assessment Of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) states,

  • SLS is routinely used in clinical studies to irritate skin tissue.
  • SLS corrodes hair follicle and impairs ability to grow hair.
  • Carcinogenic nitrates can form when SLS interacts with other nitrogen bearing ingredients.
  • SLS enters and maintains residual levels in the heart, liver, lungs and brain from skin contact.
  • SLS denatures protein and impairs proper structural formation of young eyes.
  • SLS can damage the immune system; cause separation of skin layers and cause inflammation to the skin.

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) 2000 Compendium, of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, admits that SLS “causes severe epidermal changes–of the skin of mice– (indicating) a need for tumor-enhancing activity assays,” (1). The Compendium also admits that SLS containing products are “designed for brief discontinued use, following which they are thoroughly rinsed from the surface of the skin.”

 Furthermore, as reported in model studies, published by the Danish Institute of Public Health, a single 24-hour exposure of SLS to human skin damages skin protein and causes prolonged disruption of “the skin barrier integrity of the skin,” to allow the penetration of carcinogens such as nickel and chromate (2,3). Thus, skin absorption of the multiple carcinogenic ingredients commonly found in mainstream industry cosmetics and toiletry products (4), including shampoos, could be greatly increased by SLS type detergents. 

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