Human Heart, Cosmic Heart
A Doctor's Quest to
Understand, Treat, and Prevent
Cardiovascular Disease

Thomas Cowan, M. D.
(Chelsea Green)
A study of "heart disease" by the Mayo Clinic in 2003 concluded that:

    1. Bypass surgery relieves symptoms (chest pain);
    2. Bypass surgery does not prevent future heart attacks;
    3. Only high-risk patients, those whose life is in acute danger, benefit from bypass surgery.

The reason for this, says Cowan, is that "large, stable blockages - - - those that block more than 90 percent of the vessel - - - are in almost 100 percent of the cases completely compensated for by collateral blood vessels."

Thus, Cowan says, if you have blockage in any one of the four arteries that surround the heart, and you have a bypass operation, or stents placed, or angioplasty, these might well be unnecessary because of collateral circulation where "the heart does its own bypass" by utilizing tiny veins called capillaries.

Cowan is opposed to most drugs, especially statins. He tells of a colleague who was advised to take the medicine for high cholesterol, and who subsequently experienced amnesia when he was flying (he was a pilot). After a few of these attacks, ended up writing a book on the "dangers of statin drugs."

Cowan begins Human Heart, Cosmic Heart by telling of his life-long interest in the way the heart operates, and what he discovered about it as he continued his studies. First, the heart is not "heart-shaped." Technically, it is a "chestahedron," which is seven-sided, with twelve edges. It lies in the chest at an angle of 35°.

Furthermore, the heart is not a pump. According to Cowan, it is a "hydraulic ram." The proof of this is the action of the aortic arch - - - the exit point - - - which should straighten with each forceful push, known as the "systole." Instead, the arch "bends inward, forming a more acute angle." The author calls this negative pressure: the "suction created by a hydraulic ram."

§   §   §

Cowan is a doctor, and he is also a practitioner of anthroposophy. Not to be confused with anthropology. Nor philosophy. Nor Theosophy. But, perhaps, it is an exotic blend of all three.

As far as I can figure it out, anthroposophy demands that we apply rigid logic to all things spiritual. We are who we are, and with our rational thoughts, we can understand spirituality. But "humanity has progressively evolved an increasing reliance on intellectual faculties and a corresponding loss of intuitive or clairvoyant experiences," as one critic had it.

Thus, we have lost the primitive intuition that defined our early ancestors, with their instinctive understandings, "a clairvoyant perception of spiritual realities."

Later in his medical practice, Cowan had valiantly tried to integrate his faith in anthroposophy with his medical endeavors, but he soon found something missing, as did his patients. The big change occurred when he and his "soul mate" Lynda went off to Ely, Minnesota, for a canoeing trip on the lakes.

Before they even started, he had a serious attack of SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia). Thus, a fanatic student of the heart and all its troubles finds, at an inconvenient time in his life, his heart speeding up, going into overtime. When he recovered, the two of them moved to San Francisco and he came up with his current theories of the heart, and the most common threats: "angina, unstable angina, and myocardial infarction."

Most doctors believe that these three appear because of a build-up plaque in the four arteries about the heart, but Cowan believes that, even with extensive plaque, there are mini-capillaries that will take over the process of supplying blood to the heart. He has patients who, after new stents or bypasses are in place, are left feeling that something is missing.

    Their energy is not the same; they feel less vitality, or something simply feels missing. They often chalk it up to aging, but the feeling is nevertheless clear and unsettling to most of these people.

Another problem, he suggests, is the medicine that these patients are prescribed, "Statins, leave us feeling weak, unable to do our usual activities. Our memory feels less sharp; we feel an unfamiliar lethargy." Beta-blockers leave us tired,

    often with erectile disfunction and a new, unfamiliar depression. The blood thinning medicines . . . leave them bruised and anxious about the risk of potentially fatal internal bleeding.

Cowan suspects that our very language conveys the truth of the heart being the center of our feelings. Phrases like "he broke my heart" or "she won my heart" tell us that the heart is the center of feelings. And he is concerned that for our peers, the heart, is profoundly affected by what we eat, what we drink, and what medicines we take.

For instance, water? Who thinks about the water we drink. We easily read about the foods we eat, "Yet, almost without exception, none of the literature mentions, even in passing, the type of water that readers should drink or use in cooking, even if water is the single largest 'food' substance we ingest."

Cowan notes that modern water purification introduces toxic choloramines and fluoride, and "that most municipal water contains relevant amounts of pharmaceutical drugs, metals, and the chemicals used in the production of sunscreens."

In addition, he reminds us that "fresh, moving water or water bubbling out of a spring has an elusive life quality that defies chemical analysis but that can be perceived by any reasonably sensitive person." The word for it is "healthy" or "mature" water, and it might be the bellwether for what we should be drinking. "Overheated, stagnant water is a breeding ground for disease and, as any hiker knows, should be avoided."

    The goal, then, is to provide all of us an abundant source of mineral-rich, toxin-free, cool, spiraling water . . . [but] the systems I have heard of that most closely approximate what would be needed to produce such water are often prohibitively expensive for most people.
Instead, he suggests that we try what he uses himself in his own home. A Nikon under-the-sink filter filters out most contaminants except fluoride. The latter he removes by adding an "Adya Clarity mineral solution" to a gallon jar of water, and, after forty-eight hours, eliminating the residue by means of a simple carbon filter. He finally puts the clean water into a vortex machine and refrigerates the product in Flaska bottles. He recommends a visit to

for further information.

On two pages of Human Heart, Cosmic Heart, Cowan offers sample menus for healthy living, which include much of what you would expect in the way of eggs, vegetables, soups, rice and salads. But then he comes up with some surprising extras. He believes firmly in coconut oil, which he will even add to his green tea. He also suggests that we use it as an oil to sautée vegetables, and, furthermore, encourages the use of this oil with butter or ghee. Miso and natto should be used for flavoring, salad dressings can be made from beaten egg yolks and créme fraíche, along with fermented vegetables and raw milk cheeses.

Contrary to other health food specialists, he encourages the consumption of "natural" sausages, and, instead of white potatoes, offers the common sweet potato as a rich source of vitamin, minerals, and protein.

He suggests at least thirty minutes of walking barefoot, best on beaches. He recommends "high-intensity training" utilizing a expert. He says that as a physician, he has found it helps his patients if they can speak to him openly about what is going on in their personal lives, and it occurs to me that he is advocating psychotherapy, but Cowan does not use that phrase.

He uses "emu oil," takes six capsules a day. The reason: it includes vitamin K2 "which helps to soften the blood vessels."

Finally, he advocates something called g-strophanthin - - - also called Stropanthus extract - - - but admits that this is only to be found in Germany or Brazil. A peek at Google advises us that it was originally used in West Africa to poison tips of arrows to plague grubby colonialists, so for my own part, I probably will be avoiding this.

Some of Cowan's ideas may seem a bit out in left field. However, since I'm already out there, have been for many years, I might as well go with them in the future. Such as being very careful if I ever need a heart transplant.

He cites a book by Dr. Paul Pearsall called The Heart's Code, which says that with one, you may find yourself taking on some of the personality traits of the donor. He offers up a case study of a highly bigoted factory worker who ended up with the heart of an African American who studied classical music, but died very young, leaving instructions for doctors to use his heart for others.

After he recovered from the operation, the recipient found himself becoming friendly with some of the black workers at his job (those that he scorned before), and listening to classical music on his radio (previously he had been a fan of country & western).

§   §   §

Cowan also stresses the importance of letting the body experience sunlight, moonlight, and personal contact - - - e. g., touching or being touched by another. This I like. It reminded me of my friend Franklin who insisted that his lady friends (me!) should join him in "moonbeam dancing" on the beach. Yes.

We tried it several times, especially during the full moon, and neither it, nor Franklin, hurt me in any way at all.

Until he dumped me for a younger and he claimed, "more ecogenic" (whatever that means) young lady. She was, perhaps, more mooney if not money than I, and worst of all, didn't seem to mind sand joining as partner in their midnight pleasures.

That is where, ultimately, I gave up on him and his dotty ways.

--- Lolita Lark
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