the benefits of healing tears and how crying brings health to our bodies

June 20, 2024


caravan sonnet

*updated from original post in 2016* 

When my health first started to really deteriorate in the summer of 2012 I found myself putting on a "fighting spirit" each day. I was convinced that (just like I had in the past) I would face the "unknown illness giant before me" with courage and and beat it just like I had with another illness in the past.


In my mind I had already lived through a season of being told before by doctors that "there was no hope" and they had been proved wrong so why wouldn't this time be any different? I decided to push tears aside, buck up and fight with all that was in me.

I had absolutely no idea what the journey ahead would look like. 

Fast forward to 12 years later (including 8 consecutive and grueling years of fighting for my life and health), over 200,000 miles of travel (to meet with nearly 500 doctors and receive a variety of different treatments), countless invasive testing (that were not pleasant),  20 hospital stays, over 3000 doctors visits, thousands of IV's,  23 claustrophobic (which I never knew I was) hard covered hyberbaric oxygen treatments, 50 soft-covered hyberbaric oxygen treatments, more than 2500 detox baths later, venturing into the land of "health fears", receiving several life-altering diagnosis' (including IBD, Sojourn's, Severe Anemia, Advanced Late -Stage Lyme , and finally learning I had Cancer -when I was thousands and thousands of miles away from my family), being told by several major and very well-known hospitals that they "just were not sure what to do with the complexity of my case", becoming bed-ridden and housebound at 33 years old, leaving a job that I loved to pursue a dream (going for additional graduate work) and having both things shattered (and being told by twenty-three different doctors: "we just don't see you ever being well enough to hold a full-time job"), having multiple friends walk away in the midst of this difficult journey (including one that ghosted me after I received a Cancer diagnosis, one who ghosted me right after my father suddenly passed away, and one telling me "I didn't have enough faith for the journey"), receiving precious gifts that I could never have afforded, being told on at least eight different occasions that "if I just had more faith I would be better", dealing with the emotional aspects of being seriously ill, trying thousands of different supplements, vitamins, and essential oils, being able to walk again (on my own), being able to hike again, being blown away by generosity of friends and strangers in this journey, surviving several severe anaphylactic reactions to different medicines and finally sometimes admitting that the "courage" to continue each day and hour wanes and instead I just take "one minute at a time". 

And in the midst of all that I just listed there have been tears. 

Lots and lots of tears.  

I read a quote somewhere around year 5 of my journey that said: 

"Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you." (You can read the entire blog post of John Piper's HERE!)

caravan sonnet

And I have learned something very important. There is actually health benefits to healing tears. Crying actually helps your body! There are times when I will let myself cry for a few minutes over bad news or good news. There are times when things are very difficult and I recognize once again the benefit to healing tears. I am not saying to spend each and everyday crying all throughout the day, but spending a few moments releasing tears helps our bodies in unique ways. 

You might remember my blog post, the importance of laughter for your health (you can read it here), where I discuss Norman Cousins who implemented "laugh therapy" into his day. The amazing healing benefits of laughter are numerous, but I did find it interesting that even Norman Cousins allowed for 10 minutes of crying each day to "release tears and toxins".

So what are these benefits? Here are just a few:  

(1) Tears reduce stress hormones.

(2) A biochemist and"tear expert" - Dr. William Frey (who works in Minneapolis at the Ramsey Medical Center) found that: "emotional tears shed hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress". 

(3) Crying stimulates the production of endorphins. 

(4) (this one shocked me!)- Tears actually kill bacteria! I know I couldn't believe it either! I was shocked but I learned that tears contain a fluid called "lysozyme" which helps kill 90 to 95% of all bacteria. In JUST FIVE to TEN minutes!! WOW!

(5) Stephen Sideroff, who is a clinical psychologist at UCLA (and who is also the director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics) says that "crying activates the body in a healthy way".

(6) Crying lowers your manganese levels

(7) Suppressing your tears can actually irritate and contribute to additional health problems that are caused by stress. The Japanese culture believes in this so much that they now have "crying clubs". The premise is that having a time to cry will actually benefit and improve your health. (Considering Japan is known to be one of the "healthiest" countries in the world this is a fascinating concept!)

So today if you need to take a few moments to cry- do so! Help your body in these ways above by releasing some of the pent up tears. Do you think that there is a benefit to healing tears? I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Have a wonderful Thursday y'all!

*this was inspired from a blog post that I wrote in 2016 which you can find HERE*

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