How the Heart Truly Helps Us Heal

Perhaps the best part of writing a book is that once people start to read it, they send letters and emails suggesting that I look into some aspect of the subject that they have looked into or heard about. As many of you know, my heart book, Human Heart, Cosmic Heart, has been out for about three weeks, and the new ideas are already rolling in.

One of them, a remarkable insight about the heart sent to my by a doctor in Europe, I want to share with you not only as inspiration about the amazing heart, but also as a gift of gratitude because the heart is so intimately connected to this emotion. Thanksgiving week is the perfect opportunity to share my gratitude with all of you, my patients, for entrusting me with at least part of your medical care.

It turns out that inside the heart is a network of fibers, called trabaculae, which crisscross the inner chambers.   A Russian researcher was able to demonstrate with sophisticated analytical work that each little section of the trabaculae is connected to an organ or a section of the rest of the body.

For example, a section of the trabeculae near the lateral wall of the left ventricle might be “connected” to the spleen. How this process happens isn’t clear, but what is clear is that this section of the heart packages up the blood that is destined to go to the spleen (i.e., old red blood cells) in small spiral formations, and these small spirals go directly to the spleen for processing.   The freshest, newest red blood cells are packaged in another part of the heart for our brain, and if our leg gets a cut, the part of the heart corresponding to that part of the leg dissolves some of its own fibers, then sends them gift wrapped in a vortex to the area of the cut to be used as a bandage. Frankly, as preposterous as this sounds, the careful experiments described in the paper show it to be true. (This research is posted on

Unequivocally and seemingly miraculously, our hearts look after us. It senses the needs of our bodies and will even dissolve part of itself to help heal us.   If that image doesn’t evoke the feeling of gratitude for our hearts, I don’t know what will. If we truly connect heart to heart with one another, this feeling of gratitude and thanksgiving will emerge, and perhaps that is the true spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday.

With warmth and gratitude,

Tom Cowan, M.D.