The Healing and Detoxifying Power of a Good Cry

by Dr. Patricia

When was the last time you had a good cry?

If you’re like some people you may find yourself resisting, or, like others, you may allow the tears to start flowing but soon after start apologizing.

Fortunately, no matter how hard you resist, eventually the tears will come…and you will most likely feel so much better for “indulging” in a good cry.

While sometimes judged as weak, being vulnerable and allowing a good cry can be quite the opposite. Crying is like a built-in emotional detoxification system—washing away hurt feelings, grief, disappointments, pain, or unexplained feelings of sadness.

In fact, new research has proven tears are extremely beneficial to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Unfortunately, a significant portion of our culture views crying as cowardly. Especially in boys, men, and women in positions of power.

In light of these new scientific discoveries, I would love to see this cultural view shift.

For it is in our acceptance of crying—with all the discomforts and drama that lead up to it—that we can experience powerful healing of our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Let’s take a big leap in shifting our perspective today, by exploring the science behind the detoxifying power of tears.

How Tears Prevent Chronic Disease

According to researchers, emotional stress is a major contributing factor to six of our nation’s leading causes of death, including: heart disease, cancer, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, respiratory disorders, and suicide1.

Stress is also known to promote inflammation and weaken the immune system—both of which contribute to a slew of chronic and autoimmune conditions.

While it’s not “news” that stress contributes to disease, what is not widely known is that tears are one of your body’s most powerful stress-busters.

When we experience tearfulness resulting from emotional stress, those tears help us destress by releasing specific toxins and stress hormones2 and reducing our manganese levels—which are notably higher when we are stressed out or anxious3.

Some reasons why we feel so much better after a good cry.

The Role of Tears in Liver Detoxification and Heart Health

Westerners don’t often associate tears with liver detoxification, or liver health with heart health.

However, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is directly connected to the health of the eyes and the heart.

And the liver/heart’s greatest emotional “enemy” is: unprocessed, repressed anger.

Case in point, researchers at the European Society of Cardiology have found outbursts of anger significantly increase your risk of heart attack and stroke4, while crying can reduce these effects by relieving stress.

If you suffer from a short temper or anger outbursts, you would be wise to have a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner assess the health of your liver/heart system.

I have often witnessed patients brought to tears during acupuncture or body work sessions designed to treat stagnant liver Qi. And the healing they report afterwards is often remarkable.

So, before you embark on another liver detox cleanse, be sure to consider the power of tears in cleansing your liver and strengthening your heart.

Tears Connect Us to Each Other and the Divine

It has been said, taught, and proven to some extent, that we are all connected to everything (and everyone) within the Earth.

And though every animal has some sort of tearing mechanism to protect vision and cleanse the eyes, human beings are the only species brought to tears by emotions.

Over millennia, these tearful episodes have helped build community by spurring feelings of empathy, compassion, and kindness towards our fellow man5. The fact we can be moved to tears by witnessing someone else’s sorrow is a clear indication of how deep our inner-connectedness goes.

In religious teachings, the vulnerability and humility experienced through crying was often seen as a path to the divine and unity with all things.

Hence why tears may be one of the most important biological reminders of our infinite connectedness.

Finally, Tears Allow us Greater Vision, Clarity, and Strength

One of the main physical roles of tears, is to cleanse our eyes and maintain our ability to see.

Without tears we would literally lose our vision.

The same principle applies to our mental, emotional, and spiritual vision for our lives and circumstances.

As our minds and hearts are cluttered with worry, stress, frustration, anger, and judgements, we become blind to the opportunities, solutions, and blessings right in front of us.

An honest tearful detoxification, allows you to flush out that clutter so you can get a good sleep and regain that mental and emotional strength you need to find clarity in your circumstances.

Only through a clear and expansive vision can we see our sources of true strength.

The takeaway from all this? Allow yourself the blessing of a good cry. Your immune system, liver, heart, social life, and vision will thank you.

-Dr. Patricia

  2. Tom Kovach, ‘Tear Toxins’, Omni, December 1982.
  3. Gregg Levoy, ‘Tears that Speak’, Psychology Today, July–August, 1988, pp. 8, 10
  5. Ashley Montagu, ‘The Evolution of Weeping’, Science Digest, November 1981, p. 32.

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