Love is medicine

While Valentine’s Day is generally associated with romantic love, there are so many other forms of love that we can give and receive. And one that is essential yet often the most difficult for many of us is self-love. It can seem so much easier to love someone else, a pet, a place, an experience or an activity than ourselves.

In the book Love is the Strongest Medicine: Notes from a Cancer Doctor on Connection, Creativity, and Compassion oncologist Steven Eisenberg, MD shares how he learned about the importance of love, especially self-love, from his patients. Suffering from burnout early in his career he was inspired by one of his patients, an 84 yr. old woman dying of lung cancer. She admonished him to take better care of himself by having more fun and then insisted he dance with her in her hospital room. That experience prompted him to realize

“If I could help my patients move away from the shadows of disease and treatment – back to the core of who they were before and would be after – I could make a difference.”

He started bringing the core of who he is – singer, songwriter, musician – to his practice and transformed his experience and that of his patients. He wrote songs for and with individual patients as well as playing his guitar in the treatment rooms, becoming known as ‘the singing oncologist’. While the healing benefits of music have been well documented, there are lots of other ways we can be touched at our core. It’s about finding what is meaningful and sparks joy within you – your unique love medicine.

I believe this applies to emotional/psychological healing as well physical. We can become so fixated on our health challenges that we forget who we are and what brings us joy. When we are in pain, it can be difficult to focus on anything else; yet engaging in little moments of joy can not only take our mind off our condition but can also trigger a positive immune response, and those little moments can build on one another. There is now a critical mass of scientific studies demonstrating that happiness can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems stronger, and our lives longer. Even simply thinking about who and what you love can generate positive health improvements. And sending oneself kind, loving thoughts puts the body in a state of safety and relaxation that contributes to regeneration.You can write your own prescription to bring yourself back to your core where real healing can happen.

Prescription for love medicine
card by Jane Norton

“All healing is first a healing of the heart.”

– Carl Townsend


What do you love doing/ what brings you joy? Are you doing enough of this?

Think of people, pets, places you love; notice what you feel in your body

 Send kind, loving energy to yourself; how does this feel?


Imagine someone or something you love, feel the energy that is generated in you. Notice where you feel it in your body. Now increase the intensity of that energy, seeing it emanating from you to the other.

Then bring that energy back in and fill yourself with that feeling of love. Keep breathing!


In addition to the book Love is the Strongest Medicine: Notes from a Cancer Doctor on Connection, Creativity, and Compassion oncologist Steven Eisenberg, MD also has a blog and a podcast.

For more information on the connection between happiness and health.