Aromatherapy for a Broken Heart
The heart is a very fragile and strong organ. It is the center of
our being and a very vulnerable focal point. The heart plays a
role in every function of the body. It can be “hurt”, “lost” and
left in San Francisco. It can also “skip a beat” or be attacked
by a stroke. Our heart is our life force and in Chinese medicine
it is the fire element. Yet it can “fail” us, as in heart
failure. The heart has rhythm and can block, just not in a
football game. Sometime, our heart talks to us with sounds and
murmurs. There are some people who listen to their hearts speak
to them while others have not listened and may have taken a path
of least resistance. There is time, however, that we all listen
when our heart speaks to us. That time is when there is what is
called a broken heart.
When the heart is broken, a spectrum of feelings is manifested.
These feelings consist of hurt, pain, anger, sadness, relief
and forgiveness. In the process of living with these feelings
and going through the experience of having a broken heart, what
happens physically and emotionally to women?
In my practice, many women have scheduled an appointment with me
for an annual gynecological examination or they were returning
for their weekly obstetrical examination. Within the first few
minutes of interviewing the patient about her medical history
since the last visit, I realize there is a strong emotional and
physical component to the visit that is not directly related to
what is considered a routine exam. In essence, the emotional and
physical components are indicative of a broken heart. I make a
holistic assessment of the patient’s medical history, emotional,
spiritual, physical and clinical findings. These cases may
warrant a referral to a specialist, depending on her status at
that moment. A follow up visit is always scheduled.
Throughout time, it has been said individuals have died of a
broken heart. For instance, a wife died and then her husband
died from natural causes within a week or a sister died and her
sibling died naturally very soon thereafter. Were the
subsequent deaths just a coincidence or did they die from a
Researchers have started scientifically looking at such cases
and calling it the Broken Heart Syndrome. In health care
terminology we call this condition stress Cardiomyopathy.
Cardiomyopathy is heart muscle weakness. It can occur after
various emotional and physical stressors such as fear, surprise,
anger and the death of a loved one. Stress cardiomyopathy
affects primarily women and occurs most frequently in middle
aged women and women over age sixty. Many of the women that
have been studied have no prior history of heart disease and the
majorities are postmenopausal. There is no known reason for the
increase frequency in women in these age groups and
postmenopausal women in particular. Physical stressors can fuel
a stroke or seizure and as mentioned emotional stressors such as
fear, grief and anger can cause this condition.
Women with dis-stressed can suddenly and unexpectedly experience
a heavy feeling in the chest, shortness of breath, abnormal
rhythm of the heart, low blood pressure, congestive heart
failure and shock. It can be life threatening. She may appear
sad, express feelings of sadness, lock of concentration and
difficulty sleeping at night. The good news is there can also be
a quick and complete recovery.
Aromatherapy is a fantastic complementary therapy. One hundred
percent essential oils are more potent than herbs –less is
better than more. They are volatile oils which are obtained
directly from the root, flower petals, leaves or skins of fruit.
The price can range from approximately five dollars to several
hundred dollars for a half ounce. It takes 2000 pounds of rose
petals to make one pound of oil. Therefore there is a variance
in the cost of essential oils. The essential oils widely used to
restore the heart are Rose Otto, Jasmine sambac, Neroli,
Rosewood, and Lavender. Essential oil blends can be used through
inhalation and application methods. They can be inhaled by using
a diffuser, sniffed directly from the bottle (less expensive
oils) or they can be used in the bath/shower or through vapor
and nebulizer. They can be applied by massage or as perfume oil.
Lavender has a long history as a medicine and perfume. In
Chinese medicine it circulates heart Qi. It can restore
vitality, relieve tension and calm a person. Dried lavender buds
can be added to the bath or a tea can be made from the dried
herb. To make a single note lavender perfume oil add three drops
of 100% Highland or Bulgarian lavender essential oil to one
tablespoon of jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is a stable carrier oil,
won’t rancid and is relatively odorless.
The benefits of essential oils are numerous. However, care must
be taken in using them. Aromatherapy is very technical. One oil
can cancel out the effects of another oil. Some oils are toxic
and what may benefit one person may have no effect on another
person. One fragrance may be pleasant to one person and
offensive to another. Determine which oil is best for you. Our
behavior is affected by the aromatic scent. They also help the
body regulate itself and come into balance. Therefore the
stressors and feelings produced by a broken are relieved with
the consistent use of aromatherapy.