Nowadays, anyone who doubts that the heart is a pump is at best merely dismissed with mild amusement. But in fact there are numerous experiments and observations that seriously challenge this dogma. The well-known anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner (†) said: “As long as the heart is perceived as a pump, a real spiritualization of medicine is impossible.” And with it real health.

By Dipl.-Phys. Detlef Scholz, Wolfratshausen

“The pump” is a popular name for the heart. It says something about our materialistic civilization to reduce this organ to its (supposed) mechanical function.

Mechanics is something that man believes he can control. It suggests reparability. If the circulating pump breaks down, you call the heating engineer. If the heart has problems, a stent or pacemaker is inserted, medication is taken or the entire organ is replaced. However, cardiovascular diseases are still the number one cause of death in the western world, despite all the supposed progress in modern cardiological medicine.

One reason for this lack of success could be that the function of the heart is not primarily to pump. The anthropologist Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) saw the heart as a kind of stasis organ or mediating organ between the upper and lower half of the body. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hearts-900-x-900_0000s_0003_sacred-geometry-heart-flower_sghf-4-900x900.jpg

The actual dynamics of the blood flow happen from within the blood itself.

The actual dynamics of the blood flow happen from within the blood itself. According to Steiner, blood pressure is not generated by the heart, but rather from the closing of the heart valves. In this case, the blood is temporarily dammed up and consequently has a higher pressure. Of course, Steiner’s argument fell on fell on deaf ears. The dogma of the heart as a mechanical pump was around in the middle of the 19th century, when scientific materialism took over and had become so deeply anchored in the minds of biologists and physicians that no doubt was tolerated. 

False sketch of Leonardo

The assumption that the heart is a mechanical pump goes back to Galileo (1564-1642) and Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), as can be seen in the paper “The heart is not a pump: A refutation of the principle of the pumping of the heart”1 by Ralph Marinelli et al. 

Galileo’s student and close friend Giovanni Borelli was of the opinion that the heart absorbs blood like a rag with water and then squeezes it into the aorta by contracting. Apparently, Borelli had taken a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci to heart. In one of Leonardo’s sketchbooks, there was a drawing of the heart (Fig. p. 31), in which the left ventricle was erroneously depicted as being of uniform thickness, just as one would expect a pump chamber to be. The incorrect depiction in the sketchbook reappeared, with slight variations, in most anatomical textbooks up to our own time, according to Marinelli et al. In fact, however, the thickness of the left ventricle varied by 1 800 percent. In the apex of the heart it is millimeters at the apex of the heart, but several centimeters in the equatorial plane. The wall at the apex is so weak that it can be pierced with a finger. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png

This fact does not fit a biological pump at all, because the pressure would destroy the thin wall. According to the researchers, this kind of structure of the ventricle suggests that it functions without static pressure. 

The thin, cone-shaped apex of the ventricle and the obstruction in the aorta suggest a special vortical function, especially if one considers the spiral structure of the seven muscle layers. Marinelli et al. describe the spiral structure of the seven cardiac layers as comparable to a kind of torsion pendulum, which supports the spiraling motion of the blood. The spinning motion of the heart, arteries, and blood, they say, has been measured by various researchers.

Dr. Manfred Kögel (Chemnitz, Germany), a physician, says something similar: “The fiber direction and the layered structure of the heart emphasize that the blood is not pumped out laminarly, but spirally.”2 A laminar flow, Dr. Kögel said, would stop after a short distance. 

In contrast, the spiral blood flow, which is constantly being accelerated by the arterial system, occurs almost frictionless. It is assumed that the cardiac muscle layers show the same flow pattern as the concentric flows of a free vortex in order to synchronize the heart and blood movements.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hearts-900-x-900_0003s_0000_geflo-1__-900x900.jpg

Blood flow without heartbeat

Proof that blood flow can occur without a heart was provided by biologist J. Bremer. In 1932, he published a paper in the American Journal of Anatomy that should have been considered a biological breakthrough. Bremer had observed that blood circulated in chick embryos even before the heart had begun to beat. The blood apparently moved of its own accord, in spiral paths. Nowadays, such work probably wouldn’t even be published in a scientific journal. And this is a monstrosity, because if the laws of mechanical physics are valid, it becomes obvious that the heart cannot possibly do the work on its own.

The heart weighs about 300 grams and is the size of a fist. Every day it “pumps” about 8,000 liters of blood through the finely branched network of veins 40,000 km (other estimates are 100 000 km) long in the resting human body, and far more in the active human body. In terms of mechanical work, the constant overcoming of the difference in altitude alone is roughly equivalent to lifting a weight of 50 kilograms to an altitude of 1,500 meters. To make matters worse, blood has a viscosity up to 25 times greater than water, which dramatically increases the “pumping” effort. Dr. Kögel speaks of a daily workload equivalent to lifting a 500 kg weight to an altitude of 1,000 meters. This would mean hauling a 50 kg bag up a 1,000 m tower ten times a day.

To date, it is not possible to calculate the exact peripheral flow resistance of blood vessels in even one organ, let alone the whole body, due to the complexity of the variables involved. However, given the total length of 100,000 km, the pressure loss is so high that the circulation would practically come to a standstill. It becomes obvious that an organ weighing 300 grams cannot possibly do this alone. R. Berne and M. Levy wrote: “The problem of describing the pulse blood flow through the heart with mathematical precision is practically insoluble.”5 Some biologists and physicians are even trying chaos theory to get a handle on the “mathematics of the heart.” However, blood circulation cannot be explained with the assumption that the heart is a pump.

Editor’s note: Part two will be published within the week. This portion will be updated with a link to the article.