The heart is presented as a complex energetic and information modulator capable of influencing the cells and tissues of the body through a variety of mechanisms. These include electric and magnetic fields, magnetic vector potentials, magnetic currentsoperating through principles of SU(2) electrodynamics, bulk conduction ionic currents, hormones and biochemical mediators produced inside the heart, quantum holograms, visible biophoton emission, and entrainment to the earth‟s geomagnetic field through acupuncture meridians. There is evidence that emotions and beliefs may even be transferred as cellular memory during heart transplants in conformity with general systems theoretical perspectives. A new field called “energy cardiology” may arise in the future as a specialty area within the new field of energy medicine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karl Helmuth Maret practices Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), specializing in nutrition, functional medicine and Energy Medicine at the Dove Center for Integrative Medicine in Aptos, California. He holds an M.D. from the University of Toronto, a Masters in Biomedical Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He completed a four-year post-doctoral fellowship in pulmonary physiology at UCSD and developed the biomedical instrumentation for the successful 1981 American Medical Research Expedition to Mt. Everest. Dr. Maret lectures extensively in Europe and America about electromagnetic healing approaches, new water technologies, electrosmog challenges, and new integrative energy medicine therapies. As president of the Dove Health Alliance non-profit foundation, he promotes global research networks in Energy Medicine. Dr. Maret is President-elect of the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (www.issseem.org).
An Expanded View of the Heart
by Karl H. Maret, M.D., M. Eng.
Karl Maret, M.D., M.Eng. serves as president of the Dove Health Alliance. You can visit his website here:
The term “energy cardiology” was first coined by Russek and Schwartz in two 1996 papers where they suggested that the heart can be viewed as a dynamical energy-generating system. The energy aspect of the heart has received only scant attention compared to the hearts mechanical “pumping” function. Yet, the heart also “pumps” patterns of biochemical nutrients, hormones generated inside the heart, and other signaling molecules
to every cell in the body. Simultaneously, the heart also generates unique patterns of electrical fields, magnetic fields, electromagnetic energy and subtle informational fields
that modulate the bodys tissue matrices. This essay will describe the energetic nature of the heart and propose several mechanisms by which it may influence biological function.
To understand the importance of the heart from an energy medicine perspective invites a reexamination of its essential function in the body. To overcome the entrenched belief that the heart is merely a pump requires an investigation of the energetic and informational nature of living systems. The legacy of contemporary medicine has been a profound appreciation of the molecular and biochemical mechanisms within living organisms. However, molecules and atoms cannot alone describe the nature of life without an appreciation of the energetic dynamics associated with their complex interactions. Electromagnetic fields, potential fields and quantum fields appear to give a more complete description of the global bioenergy field inside the body. These endogenous fields regulate biochemical processes and precede the physical and chemical changes which manifest as disease (Rein, 1998).
The heart plays a modulating, perhaps even coordinating, role in the bodys electromagnetic, potential and quantum fields acting through the living matrix described in detail by Oschman (Oschman, 2000, 2003). From the perspective of an energy cardiology, the energetic, informational, and even spiritual nature of the hearts activity is valuable in understanding healing processes in the body. Biological systems, including the heart,
exhibit non-local, global properties which are consistent with their ability to function at the quantum level. It is hypothesized that due to the central location of the heart and its reaction to emotional states mediated through the autonomic nervous system, as well as by a series of other mechanisms outlined below, implicit emotional memories could be stored within the field associated with the heart cells. The electrical and magnetic fields generated by the heart interact in unique ways with different tissues and their constituent cells based on their dielectric and magnetic permeability properties. Only an expanded biophysical approach that includes these considerations is capable of beginning to explain the many anomalies that confront the biomedical researcher seeking to understand the nature of life.
The Heart from a Systems Theoretical Perspective
Living systems are dynamic organizations of intelligent information expressed in energy and matter (Russek & Schwartz, 1996a). It is a truism of classical physics that information contained in energy, once produced, does not spontaneously vanish (Orear, 1962). The electromagnetic pattern generated by the heart as the largest electromagnetic signal generator in the body, also travels into space and continues indefinitely. The question is whether this energy and information has the capacity to interact with other dynamical systems and influence them significantly.
The example of water serves to illustrate the importance of a systems perspective in the emergence of higher levels of order. Studying the nature of hydrogen and oxygen gases gives little predictive ability of the unique properties of water once these two gases are combined in a chemical reaction. This reflects the fact that studying the component parts of a more complex system, as is the norm in contemporary reductionist science, does not describe or predict the emergent properties of higher-order systems. Similarly, looking at the heart as a muscular pump, as is currently the norm, misses the possibility of a new role of the heart as an energy and information transducer.
From a general systems theory perspective, the heart may play a coordinating role for emotional memory that is not unlike patterns of mental memory associated with the brain.
General systems theory, first developed in the 1940s by Ludwig von Bertalanffy and others (von Bertalanffy, 1968) as well as living systems theory (Miller, 1978) serve as conceptual tools to organize and integrate knowledge within and across disciplines. These approaches offer an interdisciplinary approach spanning the physical, biological, behavioral, and social sciences and have been applied to cardiovascular psychophysiology (Schwartz, 1982). Dynamic energy systems and information theory have become key elements in the reemergence of an expanded, integrative mind-body medicine (Schwartz,
1996; 1997). Schwartz has suggested that systemic concepts involve patterns of interdependence, dynamic relationships, interactive connectivity, complex order, and the emergence of memory patterns that are state-dependent. All higher level systems demonstrate some type of inherent memory as an emergent property. The distinguished neuroscientist, Dr. Karl Pribram, the developer of the holographic and holonomic theory of memory storage in the brain, is also favorably inclined to the value of the systemic memory hypothesis proposed by Schwartz (Pribram, 1998).
For example, the current scientific perspective has no capacity to explain, how after heart transplant surgery, the transplant recipients frequently report having experiences of memories, speech patterns and behaviors, potentially associated with the donor of the transplanted heart (Pearsall, 1998; Schwartz, 1999). Russek and Schwartzs concept of an energy cardiology (Russek et al, 1994; 1996a; 1996b) offers a new systems theoretical approach that may be helpful to explain systemic memory, the capacity of all cells to store information (Schwartz et al, 1998, 1999). Siegel (1995) has reported on changes in a heart recipients perceptions and preferences that sometimes occur. Pearsall (1998) describes a series of case histories that give credibility to the idea of systemic cellular memory which, in some cases, are quite startling. For example, a little girl who received a heart donated by another girl who had been murdered was able to identify the killer of the donor and assist the police in having him convicted. There are many other cases in which heart transplant recipients take on new dietary and behavioral habits, use new words or expressions that were later confirmed to have been used by the heart donors. These observations reflect the fact that transplant recipients lives sometimes change in strange ways after their transplants. It may even represent a type of information retrieval from the organs the recipients inherited.
These observations have deep implications for modern heart transplant surgery. It is well known that a transplant recipients body typically treats the donors heart as foreign matter
requiring immunosuppressive drugs to prevent this observed reaction. However, what if this rejection response is not simply due to biochemical and immunological messenger molecules triggering this reaction, but also a potential rejection of stored energy and information contained within the transplanted heart? Future research in this regard from the emerging energy medicine paradigm may offer new answers. It is interesting to note that Rudolf Steiner already spoke in the early part of the 20th century about the importance of an etheric heart (Steiner, 1922), a concept that has recently been reexamined by other students of Anthroposophy (Haertl, 2000).
Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Heart
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart is considered to be the most important of all internal organs. In The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (1979 edition), the heart is referred to as the ruler, emperor, or monarch, of the internal organs and it governs the mind (Shen). In the Chinese classic, Spiritual Access (1981 edition), it states, “The Heart is the Monarch of the five Yin organs and the 6 Yang organs, and it is the residence of the Mind (Shen).” The word shen can have many different meanings and, in Chinese medicine, it is used in two different contexts. In a narrow sense, shen indicates the complex of mental faculties which are said to „reside in the heart. In this sense, the shen corresponds to the mind and is specifically related to the heart. Secondly, in a broader sense, shen is used to indicate the whole sphere of mental and spiritual aspects of a human being. In this sense, it is not only related to the heart, but encompasses the mental and spiritual phenomena associated with all other Yin organs; specifically the Ethereal Soul (Hun) associated with the liver, the Corporeal Soul (Po) associated with the lungs, the Intellect (Yi) associated with the spleen, the Will-power (Zhi) associated with the kidneys, and the Mind (Shen) itself.
From the Chinese perspective, the state of the heart (and blood) will affect the mental activities of a person including his or her emotional state. In particular, all consciousness, memory, thinking, emotional activity and sleep are affected by the state of the heart. Only if the heart is strong and blood abundant will there be normal mental activity and a balanced emotional life. If the heart is weak and blood deficient, there may be mental- emotional problems such as depression, poor memory, dull thinking, insomnia, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness.
The complex of the five mental and spiritual phenomena associated with the five Yin organs outlined above together represent the Chinese medical view of the body, mind and spirit. The five aspects together form the “Spirit” which is also called “Shen.” In summary, the heart is the chief residence of shen, which corresponds to the mind while simultaneously also being aligned with the complex of mental and spiritual aspects of a human being which might more appropriately correspond to the overall “spirit” aspect of the human being. The view that the heart is simply a pump was never held in the East. This view is also changing in the West, where scientists have recently discovered that the heart also acts as an endocrine organ.
The Heart as an Endocrine Gland
The heart creates its own hormones and since the early 1980s, it was recognized to be an endocrine or hormonal gland. One of the hormones produced by the heart is called atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) (de Bold 1981). This hormone has a wide effect influencing blood vessels directly, the kidneys, adrenal glands, and a large number of regulatory regions in the brain (de Bold 1981; de Bold 1989). Specifically, this hormone has powerful diuretic and natriuretic effects as well as decreasing blood pressure by smooth muscle relaxation, and influencing hematocrit values. ANF has a modulating action on the renin-angiotensin- aldosterone system by inhibiting the secretion of aldosterone (Ballerman 1985; Cantin 1985). Many of its biological actions are mediated, at the cellular level, by its interaction with guanilyl cyclase, which turned out to be a cellular receptor of ANF as well (Chinkers 1989). Today, ANF is also referred to as atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP).
The heart also produces small amounts of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) in the secretory granules of the myocytes (Nakamura 1991). In addition, the heart contains intrinsic cardiac adrenergic (ICA) cells that synthesize and release catecholamines, norepinephrine and dopamine, neurotransmitters that were formerly thought to be produced only in the brain and ganglia outside of the heart. It is also now established that the rat heart secretes oxytocin, a hormone involved in pair bonding, besides its more well-known function in childbirth and lactation (Jankowski 1998). Oxytocin acts to release ANP from the heart as well as acting on the oxytocin receptors in the heart to induce cardiomyogenesis (Jankowski 2004). Oxytocin is also involved in cognition, adaptation, tolerance, and complex sexual and maternal behavior.
Electromagnetic Considerations of Heart Activity
Every cell membrane consists of an electrically-insulating double phospholipid layer with a charge gradient of around -100 millivolt from inside to outside, i.e. there is a net excess of negative charge on the inside of the cell. With a membrane thickness of only 10-6 cm, this corresponds to a field strength of 100,000 volts/cm. Such extremely high electrical field strengths, and their constant variation, cause the cell membrane components, which are essentially electrical dipoles, to exist in a state of resonant oscillation. These oscillations are thought to propagate as longitudinally-polarized waves with high resonant frequencies.
Every cell membrane may thus be seen as a highly charged electrical field with field fluctuations and oscillations that interact with the surrounding tissues in a complex manner.
It is our hypothesis that the powerful electromagnetic signal generated by the coordinated activity of the myocytes in the living heart creates a continuous electrodynamic rhythmical impulse capable of being a subtle information carrier for the entire organism. This coordinating biological signal is propagated through the entire connective tissue matrix and fulfills a subtle biocommunication function within the matrix. All cells are in constant communication with the heart, not simply through the rhythmical delivery of blood, but also through much faster electromagnetic field phenomena and coherent quantum physical processes. The ECG that can be obtained on any skin surface of the body is a measurable electrical field correlate of this coordinating field and not simply the by-product of the muscular contraction of the heart. Embedded in the ECG signal are complex frequencies and harmonics that can be decoded through specialized spectral analysis algorithms. These signals are powerful modulators, if not carrier waves, within the bodys biofield.
The bioelectric field generated by the heart takes the paths of least electrical resistance, therefore patterns measured at the body surface are intricate and may be difficult to interpret. Because the magnetic permeability of various tissues are quite uniform, biomagnetic measures of heart function provide a picture of heart biomagnetic activity with much higher spatial resolution. The biomagnetic signal from the heart was first measured in 1963 using induction coils with thousands of turns (Baule and McFee, 1963). SQUID technologies introduced in the early 1970s showed a close parallel between the magnetocardiogram and the electrical cardiogram (Nakaya, 1984).
The electromagnetic pulses generated by a healthy heart vary from beat to beat in a complex manner depending on the combined activity of the hypothalamus, temperature regulation, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity. The resultant heart rate variability (HRV) signal can be analyzed by spectral analysis to demonstrate patterns of autonomic nervous system health or dysfunction. Fouriers spectral analysis of the actual electrical or magnetic signal demonstrates the complex nature of frequency components in the range of 0-100 Hz. The ECG spectra also changes during different emotional states (McCraty, 2004).
It is hypothesized that the heart has a regulatory role for the entire connective tissue matrix through its capacity to generate coherent impulses of electromagnetic radiation. The electrical impulses generated by the heart have the capacity to affect the living matrix, which has semiconductor-like, liquid crystal properties. The semiconductor nature of biological tissue was investigated by Freeman Cope (Cope 1973, 1975) and is analogous to the semiconductor properties of computers. When a wave of energy in the form of electric, magnetic, or electromagnetic pulses emanating from the heart is conducted along proteins, it will cause adjacent water molecules to vibrate or spin about their axes capable of creating soliton waves (Davydov, 1986). The coordinated water molecules along the fascia and structural collagen fibers then become channels for information flow throughout the body.
The coherent vibrations in living systems give rise to coherent fields which allow some biological tissues to exhibit superconductor-like properties. As a result, weak magnetic fields, such as those produced rhythmically by the human heart, can influence biocircuit elements such as Josephson junctions that are thought to exist inside tissues. In this way the body is capable of using subtle information for information storage and processing. Since every protein molecule is surrounded on average by 15,000 water molecules, the magnetic signature of the heart has the capacity to modulate information flows throughout the body and potentially support a tissue and cellular regulatory function.
The quantum physicist Herbert Fröhlich suggested that stable, large-scale, coherent vibrations would be conducted through the living matrix and even radiated into the environment (Fröhlich, 1968, 1981). The hearts emanations communicate regulatory information that is responsible for the integration of biological functioning taking place at various levels within the organism. Fröhlich predicted that coherent signals would be found in the microwave and visible light portions of the electromagnetic spectrum which has been confirmed by numerous biophoton researchers (Fröhlich, 1988).