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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Don’t Go Breaking Your Heart

Feb 01, 2020 09:46AM ● By J Garnett
The month of February is for lovers. On the 14th, young and old alike give their hearts away to their valentine—a special someone who brings a twinkle to the eye and butterflies to the belly. Obviously, people aren’t giving their actual hearts away, but a symbolic one that represents love. Speaking literally now, if the heart represents love, how is it that people are willing to give their hearts away, their love, if they are faulty, damaged or diseased? The adage, “you must love yourself before you can love another” can come into play here. Perhaps the best gift we can give to someone we love is a healthy heart.
   
How did the most important organ in the body become the representation of love and emotion? In ancient Egypt, the heart was believed to be the center of human emotion. It was discovered that the heart rate changed based on different emotions. Fear, sadness, happiness and love all affect how the heart beats. It makes sense that if the heart is where love is stored, it should be shared or given to someone who is loved. But how did the heart symbol that is recognized the world over get its shape? The heart muscle certainly doesn’t look anything like the ideograph that represents it.
   
The shape of the symbolic heart has a history that’s shaded in mystery. There are a number of theories surrounding how the shape came to resemble the organ and none can be proven. The first sightings of the familiar heart shape can be seen in European art dating back to the 1400s. Prior to that, the heart was depicted in more of a pinecone shape.
   
No matter how it came to be, it’s known around the world. The emoticon found on social networks is pressed millions of times a day to show that a post is loved, adored or admired. Pressing the heart button means much more than just hitting the “like” button. A heart-shaped box that’s full of chocolates, supposedly, means more to someone than just a standard rectangular box of candy. The heart has a special meaning. It has strength, both symbolically and literally.
   
If there is a defect within the workings of the heart, major health issues can occur, leading to death. It’s a serious topic and a widespread problem in the U.S. A study conducted by the American Heart Association revealed that almost half of adult Americans, 122 million people, suffer from some form of heart disease. It’s probably not the most romantic of topics given that it’s the month of love and affection, but before any symbolic heart is given to someone out of love, be certain that the heart beating in the chest is healthy. It’ll mean so much more.
   
There are many ways to keep the heart healthy and working optimally. Doctors have been saying for centuries that diet and exercise are the best way to keep a healthy heart pumping. Last month was the beginning of a new year. Many people resolved to exercise more, eat better and get healthier. Keeping a narrow focus on heart health is perhaps the best way to love.
   
The heart is primarily made up of cardiac muscle. Like every muscle, in order to remain healthy and fit, it must be worked out. Food can affect the heart in a very positive way. Fruits, vegetables and spices can help maintain the heart and can even stimulate exercise-like reactions.
   
A normal resting heartbeat for the average adult is 60 to 100 beats per minute. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in order to maintain a healthy heart, adults should be exercising it by increasing the pulse rate. On a weekly basis, we should be getting between 2 and 4 hours of moderate exercise, or 1 to 2 hours of high intensity exercise.
   
There is a way to increase the heart rate when grabbing lunch or going out to dinner. Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which is responsible for the heat from the pepper. Capsaicin is known to get the heart pumping and increase blood flow and circulation. It may not be as effective as a jog around the block, but it will induce sweating and strengthen the walls of the blood vessels. Hot peppers can also help the body dissolve blood clots. Because capsaicin slows the oxidation of LDL, or bad cholesterol, it can also help lower the chances of having a stroke.
   
There are, of course, consequences if the heart rate remains quickened. Stress and anxiety can cause this even when at rest. There are a number of herbs and spices that can help relax the body and lower the heart rate. Kava tea is the most researched and sought after tea for treating anxiety and for relaxing the heart. Purchase Kava tea from a Tea House, as the type sold in grocery stores is not potent enough. Kava should never be consumed with alcohol. Passionflower tea is like Kava-light. It has the same healthy effects, but is not as potent as Kava. Valerian, chamomile and lemon balm are teas which are also effective for combating a racing heart and helping to bring on sleep.
   
If the beating heart inside the body symbolizes love and emotion, it carries with it a sentiment of “I love you” or “Would you be mine?” These sentiments may come in a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a card decorated with beautiful red and pink hearts or a special heart-shaped diamond ring; the symbolism is that of giving love. Before any symbolic heart can be given out of love, perhaps looking at the health of the actual organ that pumps blood throughout the body is warranted. No one wants to give a broken heart to the one they love.

J. Garnet, M.Ed., is a writer, teacher, speaker and healer. Garnet’s passion is helping the public see that nature is medicine. Connect at 520-437-8855 or [email protected].
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