Papers relating to disorders of the heart…




THE object of this paper is twofold: First. To show the powerful influence which the mind can and does exert over the heart, and the manner in which such influence is exerted.

Secondly. The results which may be brought about upon the normal conditions of the heart by such influence; and their value from a medico-legal and therapeutic point of view.

We will first inquire how the mind can affect the heart; or, in other words, through what nerve-channels the intellect, the will, and the emotions can affect that important organ.

The heart is supplied with nerves by the pneumogastric and the sympathetic; but we find it impossible to make satisfactory experiments with the nerves in connection with the purely emotional influences.

We are obliged to depend mainly on negative testimony, viz., the effect produced upon the heart by irritation and by division of these nerves. Even here, unfortunately, we are met by so much contradictory evidence that it really seems hopeless to arrive at any definite conclusion.

Claude Bernard, Weber, Valentine, Schiff, and Lockhart Clark disagree in many essential particulars relating to the effects of division or irritation of the pneumogastrics.

The majority of evidence, however, is in favor of the conclusion that the pneumogastrics, pure and simple, contain motor fibres, and that, through the cardiac branches, they effect the motions of the heart.

The pneumogastric may contain sensory fibres also, and may, therefore, be a compound nerve from its origin.

With regard to the influence of the sympathetic, Carpenter found that pressure on the great cardiac sympathetic nerve checks the heart’s pulsations from four to six beats, causing fearful anxiety and pain; while Weber found that stimuli conveyed through this nerve accelerated the movements of the heart.

These and other facts leave no room to doubt that the sympathetic nerves are also concerned in the motions of the heart.

Now the question is whether the emotions act through them or the pneumogastrics, or both, when accelerating or retarding the movements of the heart.

As to the sympathetic nerves of the heart, Moleschott’s experiments demonstrated that the same phenomena occurred as in the case of the vagi, when excited mildy or strongly by galvanism, and he concludes that these two sets of nerves exercise the same influence upon this viscus.

It appears fair, therefore, to conclude that the emotions act upon the heart both through the vagi and the sympathetic. Their modus operandi now accelerating, now retarding its action would seem to derive illustration from these and similar experiments.

If we were to substitute emotion for the stimulus applied by Moleschott to the nerves proceeding to the heart, we can well understand how the former should produce the various and opposite disturbances of this organ, including spasm and paralysis, with which, we are familiar. First, as a feeble or moderate stimulus of the vagus (whether electric or otherwise) causes a considerable rise in the pulse, so does an emotion which is not excessive in character. Secondly, as an increased stimulus gradually retards the action of the heart, while a very powerful one immediately arrests it from the fatigue which succeeds stimulus, just so, we can well conceive, a violent emotion would act. Thirdly, the fatigue may be gradually recovered from and the heart’s action restored to its normal frequency and force.

The ganglia of the heart appear to act in the way of communicating the condition of one of the four nerves supplying the heart to the other three. In regard to the emotional stimuli, however, it seems impossible to decide whether one is more influenced than another, and in view of Professor Moleschott’s experiments, it is evident that the emotions may act in precisely the same way through either the vagi or sympathetic.

Edwin Hale
Edwin Moses Hale 1829 – 1899 was an orthodox doctor who converted to homeopathy graduated at the Cleveland Homoeopathic Medical College to become Professor Emeritus of Materia Medica and Therapeutics at Hahnemann Medical College, editor of the North American Journal of Homeopathy and The American Homeopathic Observer and a member of the American Institute of Homeopathy. Hale was also a member of The Chicago Literary Club.

Hale wrote Lectures On Diseases Of The Heart, Materia medica and special therapeutics of the new remedies Volume 1, Materia Medica And Special Therapeutics Of The New Remedies Volume 2, Saw Palmetto: (Sabal Serrulata. Serenoa Serrulata), The Medical, Surgical, and Hygienic Treatment of Diseases of Women, New Remedies: Their Pathogenetic Effects and Therapeutic Application, Ilex Cassine : the aboriginal North American tea, Repertory to the New Remedies with Charles Porter Hart, The Characteristics of the New Remedies, Materia Medica and Special Therapeutics of the New Remedies, The Practice of Medicine, Homoeopathic Materia Medica of the New Remedies: Their Botanical Description etc.