My hand was on the door handle to exit the treatment room. My patient was lying on the table, needles in, under the heat lamp, all ready to relax under the influence of the acupuncture needles for the next 30 minutes. My hand was on the door, and she said, “Um, Marcie? Can acupuncture cure a broken heart?”
Can acupuncture cure a broken heart? What a question. My own heart went out to her, as she lay there and told me about her recent break-up, the confusion that came after, the sadness, the emotional pain.
I’ve had dozens of patients come in for acupuncture treatment during divorces, after a significant loss, when they are unable to sleep because of grief or sadness or fear, when they are working through some incredibly tumultuous time. And I’ve seen the way that acupuncture can support them through these challenging life transitions.
A “broken heart” is – like any pathology – a disruption in the balance of energy within our body. A sudden emotional trauma can wreak havoc on our body’s energy and manifest in all sorts of physical, emotional, and spiritual discomfort or pain. Going through something like a break-up or a divorce can weaken our natural energy systems, cause energy to get stuck, and damage our ability – in the short-term – to heal ourselves.
Acupuncture exerts its influence on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of ourselves, and helps us to integrate these multiple aspects of our beings. During a time of emotional heartbreak, then, acupuncture can help bring us back to ourselves. It can help treat the physical symptoms of the emotional crisis – including but not limited to a heaviness in the chest, a knot in the throat, loss of appetite, digestive upset, headaches, muscle tension, trouble sleeping, palpitations, crying spells, or fatigue. But perhaps more importantly, by bringing our body into balance on multiple levels, acupuncture can help to balance the emotions, calm the mind, and relax the spirit. By opening up the pathways between these various parts of ourselves, it reminds us that we do have the power within us to heal, to get through this crisis, to assimilate it into our being and step forward into whatever comes next.
No, it can’t. Perhaps it is true that only time can do that. But acupuncture can support our healing along the way, making that time more tolerable and less painful. And it can remind us – in every level we exist – how to heal ourselves.