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#6 Revealed Secret of Health from the 12th Century

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series Health Secrets From The 12th Century


Maimonides’ sixth health secret offers advice for caregivers of family members or other loved ones who have fallen ill. Not only do the infirm need nourishing foods to restore their health and vitality as Maimonides’ fifth health secret suggests, they also need to maintain their mental and spiritual health. The sixth secret states:

“One should never forget to strengthen the patient’s physical vitality with nourishing foods and to strengthen his spiritual powers with fragrant odors, with music [and] by telling him happy stories to expand the heart and distract his mind with things to make him and his friends laugh. The people chosen to take care of him should know how to cheer him up.”

What Maimonides means when he refers to “spiritual powers” is open to personal interpretation. One possible interpretation acknowledges the spirit as the life force that animates every living being. Many systems of medicine have a name for this animating force. In Chinese medicine, the energy is known as Qi. In homeopathy, it is called the “vital force”, and in Ayurvedic medicine, it is referred to as “prana”. Regardless of which name of the energy matter goes by, it can be balanced and re-energized through acupuncture, homeopathic remedies or Ayurvedic herbals.


Aromatherapy has been in use for many centuries. When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils stimulate the olfactory nerves, directly impacting the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. Numerous studies have shown that aromatherapy can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Music also has the ability to deeply affect emotional states and improve mood. Music can trigger the release of specific neurotransmitters that signal pleasure in the brain, such as dopamine. Music can provide energy, motivation, and inspiration. It can be soothing in times of worry and encouraging in times of struggle.


Many studies have demonstrated the benefits that laughter has on overall health. A Japanese study published in April 2020 in the Journal of Epidemiology by Sakurada et al. found a significant association between the frequency of a person’s laughter and their risk of heart disease and overall mortality. The study gathered data on a large Japanese cohort that participated in annual health checks beginning in 2009. 

At the beginning of the study, the participants completed a questionnaire that asked how often the participant laughed out loud. Over a six-year period, adequate data was collected on 17,152 participants. During the study, 257 (1.5%) of the subjects died, and 138 (0.8%) had cardiovascular disease incidents. Evaluation of the data showed “all-cause” mortality to be significantly higher in subjects who laughed out loud at a low frequency (about once a month). A similar outcome was found for cardiovascular disease incidence

Laughter occurs much more often when people are engaged in social interactions than when they are alone. Robert Provine, a researcher at the University of Maryland, found that people are 30 times more likely to laugh when they are with others than when they are alone. Cheering up ill family members or other loved ones could pose a challenge for those who tend to be more reserved by nature. However, overcoming this nature would not only contribute to the health of others but also to oneself.


In Chinese medicine, the heart is the emotional center of the body. The heart expands when a person expresses love, joy, affection, pride and sometimes, even sorrow.  While all emotions are healthy and normal to experience and express, physical illness arises when a person dwells on negative emotions, such as anger, grief, and anxiety. If you or a loved one are struggling with mental or spiritual health, Renaissance Health Centre may have a solution. Please call 702-258-7860 to schedule an appointment today.


Copyright © 2022 Terry Pfau D.O. H.M.D. All rights reserved.


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