“Healing Waters –
The Chemistry of Tears"™
culture often influences behavior in ways that may not be healthy. The subject
of Tears or Crying is one good example. Frequently,
both men and women are encouraged to NOT cry when hurt, sad or grieving. Boys are often told, “Big boys don’t cry”.
“Don’t be a sissy”. “People will think you are weak if you cry”.
However, many doctors and scientists now believe that stifling or hiding our emotions can cause
Do tears have a purpose?
If so, how important are they?
take a close look at the phenomenon of tears or crying to see what, if any,
purpose they might serve.
Tears are the liquid product of the
process of “crying”, their main purpose is to clean and lubricate the eyes. The word lacrimation may
be used in medical writings to refer to crying. Strong emotions, such as sorrow
or elation may lead to crying. The process of yawning may also result in
Types of Tears and Their
Differing Chemical Composition
I. Normal or Basal Tears: in healthy humans the cornea is
continually bathed and
nourished by basal tears. They
lubricate the eye, and help
keep it clean from dust.
Basal tear fluid contains water, mucin, lipids,
lactoferrin, lipocalin, lacritin immunoglobulins, glucose,
sodium and potassium.
* Lysozyme fights bacterial
infection as part of the
immune system and it is capable of inactivating 90 -
95% of all bacterial that enters the eye in 10 minutes.
II. Reflex Tears: result from the
irritation of the eye from
foreign particles, or the presence of onion
gas or other chemicals in the eye’s environment. Reflex
are an attempt to wash out irritants that may have
come into contact with the
The composition of Reflex Tears is very similar to
that of Basal Tears, but in much greater volume.
III. Emotional Tears: are generally referred to as crying or
weeping, caused by excessive lacrimation due to
strong emotional stress,
suffering, mourning, or
Some people may also cry when
Tears brought on by emotional triggers have a different chemical make
up than Basal and reflex tears.
1) Researcher William H. Frey, II * led a 15-year
project studying tears.
The study seemed to indicate that stress-induced
tears might actually remove toxic substances from
2) Emotional tears contain more protein based hormones,
hormone, and leucine
enkephalin which is a natural painkiller.
3) Emotional tears
contained far more manganese and
other biological substances. Frey stated that
of weeping is possibly an excretory process, which
remove toxic substances that normally build up
during emotional stress.
4) Crying apparently reduces the body’s manganese
level. Manganese is a mineral that in high
concentrations has been shown to
disturbance in Chilean manganese miners.
This mineral is
found in concentrations up to 30
times greater in tears than in blood
Some researchers theorize that chemicals built
up in the body during
stress were being removed
by crying, which may actually reduce stress.
5) Researchers found that one of the most important
that were removed by tears was
adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), which is
the best indicator of stress in the body .
Don't Fear the Tear!
A large number of researchers, including myself, believe
that suppressing tears may
increases stress levels and
contribute to diseases aggravated by stress, such
blood pressure, heart problems and ulcers.
Dr. Frey’s hypothesis has been that the lacrimal
(tear) glands may concentrate and excrete (dispose of) excess manganese and
other harmful chemicals from the body.
He stated to me recently (via e-mail),
“However, the theory that crying removes substances that build up during
emotional stress is still an unproven theory.”
It is theorized by many, that if the chemicals
associated with stress did not discharge at all, they could build up to toxic
levels that could weaken the body’s immune system and other biological
Interestingly, according to Frey's research: men’s and women’s tear glands are structurally different (female lacrimal
glands tend to be larger).
This may account for the fact that women have an
average of 47 crying spells a year compared to men who only have an average of
7 crying spells a year.
Historical Quotes on Tears
Aristotle (a Greek philosopher,
a student of Plato
teacher of Alexander the Great, who lived 2,300
years ago) theorized
that crying “cleanses the mind
of suppressed sentiments” by a process called
catharsis – the reduction of distress by releasing
the pent up emotions.
Sir Henry Maudslay (1771 - 1831 was a British machine tool
innovator, and a tool and die maker. He is
considered a founding father of machine tool
technology.) said, “Sorrows
which find no vent in
tears may soon make other organs weep.”
Albert Richard Smith (1816 –1860, was an English author,
entertainer, and mountaineer) wrote, “Tears are
the safety valve of the
heart when too much is laid
Jules Renard (1864- 1910) was a famous French author)
“What happens to all the tears we do not
shed? They don’t go away. Holding
back the tears
is just as stressful as carrying around our invisible
William Frey, PhD (professor or pharmaceutics
University of Minnesota, author of “Crying: The
Mystery of Tears”)
wrote, “Because un-alleviated
stress can increase our risk for heart attack
damage certain areas of our brain, the human ability
to cry has survival
is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They
speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of
overwhelming grief... and unspeakable love."
* William H. Frey II, PhD Author of “Crying: The
Mystery of Tears” 1985 Winston Press,
Dr. Frey is the Director of Alzheimer’s Research
Center, Regions Hospital - St. Paul, MN.
Professor of Pharmaceutics, Neurology and Neuroscience – University of
Many thanks to Dr. Frey for taking his time to text me and send
me faxed copies of much of his research on tears. They are an invaluable
Excerpts from “Healing Waters: the
Chemistry of Tears”
Copyright © 2011- Jeff Marshall, SAW, GC-C