Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

The Healing Properties of Tears: 7 Good Reasons to Cry Your Eyes Out


New York Times reporter Benedict Carey referred to tears in a recent piece as “emotional perspiration.” Given that I sweat a lot and hate deodorant, I suppose it makes sense that I weep often. But I’m not going to apologize for that, because after a good cry, I always feel cleansed, like my heart and mind just rubbed each other’s backs in a warm bath.

In his intriguing article, “The Miracle of Tears” (, from which I’ve lifted some of the research for this post, author Jerry Bergman writes: “Tears are just one of many miracles which work so well that we taken them for granted every day.” Here, then, are seven ways tears and the phenomenon we call “crying” heal us physiologically, psychologically, and spiritually.


1. Tears help us see.

Starting with the most basic function of tears, they enable us to see. Literally. Tears not only lubricate our eyeballs and eyelids, they also prevent dehydration of our various mucous membranes. No lubrication, no eyesight. Writes Bergman: “Without tears, life would be drastically different for humans–in the short run enormously uncomfortable, and in the long run eyesight would be blocked out altogether.”

2. Tears kill bacteria.

No need for Clorox wipes. We’ve got tears! Our own antibacterial and antiviral agent working for us, fighting off all the germs we pick up on community computers, shopping carts, public sinks, and all those places the nasty little guys make their homes and procreate. Tears contain lysozyme, a fluid that the germ-a-phobic dreams about in her sleep, because it can kill 90 to 95 percent of all bacteria in just five to 10 minutes! Which translates, I’m guessing, to three months’ worth of colds and stomach viruses.


3. Tears remove toxins.

Biochemist William Frey, who has been researching tears for as long as I’ve been searching for sanity, found in one study that emotional tears–those formed in distress or grief–contained more toxic byproducts than tears of irritation (think onion peeling). Are tears toxic then? No! They actually remove toxins from our body that build up courtesy of stress. They are like a natural therapy or massage session, but they cost a lot less!

4. Crying can elevate mood.

Do you know what your manganese level is? No, neither do I. But chances are that you will feel better if it’s lower because overexposure to manganese can cause bad stuff: anxiety, nervousness, irritability, fatigue, aggression, emotional disturbance and the rest of the feelings that live inside my happy head rent-free. The act of crying can lower a person’s manganese level. And just like with the toxins I mentioned in my last point, emotional tears contain 24 percent higher albumin protein concentration–responsible for transporting many small molecules (which has to be a good thing, right?)–than irritation tears.


5. Crying lowers stress.

Tears really are like perspiration in that exercising and crying both relieve stress. For real. In his article, Bergman explains that tears remove some of the chemicals built up in the body from stress, like the endorphin leucine-enkaphalin and prolactin, the hormone I overproduce because of my pituitary tumor that affects my mood and stress tolerance. The opposite is true too. Bergman writes, “Suppressing tears increases stress levels, and contributes to diseases aggravated by stress, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and peptic ulcers.

6. Tears build community.


In her “Science Digest” article, writer Ashley Montagu argued that crying not only contributes to good health, but it also builds community. I know what you’re thinking: “Well, yeah, but not the right kind of community. I mean, I might ask the woman bawling her eyes out behind me in church what’s wrong or if I can help her, but I’m certainly not going to invite her to dinner.” I beg to differ. As a prolific crier, especially on video, I always come away astounded by the comments … the resounding support of people I know all that well, and the level of intimacy exchanged among them. Read for yourselves some of the comments on both my self-esteem video and my recent death and dying video and you’ll appreciate my point. Tears help communication and foster community.


7. Tears release feelings.

Even if you haven’t just been through something traumatic or are severely depressed, the average Jo goes through his day accumulating conflicts and resentments. Sometimes they gather inside the limbic system of the brain and in certain corners of the heart. Crying is cathartic. It lets the devils out. Before they wreak all kind of havoc with the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Writes John Bradshaw in his bestseller “Home Coming”: “All these feelings need to be felt. We need to stomp and storm; to sob and cry; to perspire and tremble.” Amen, Brother Bradford!

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  • Your Name


  • margie

    this is for the person that just lost her dear cat, I too have lost a very dear furbaby this past nov. It’s such a profound loss.
    hector is probally running around in heaven w/all the other furbabies.
    God bless you. fyi, you can goto to look at some kitties waiting for there new family. we adpoted a 5 year old dog
    1 month after losing our “daisy” and she’s been a true angel helping
    us thru our greif.

  • Elizabeth Powe

    There are some things here that I didn’t know about tears, but it makes sence that tears would be of benefit to our bodies. I am one of those persons who cries alot.My grandmother used to tell me that my bladder laid too close to ny eyes. Ha! Ha! Well all I know is that I feel better after a good cry. No I know why. Thanks for your article.

  • sweetgrass68

    to the person who just lost her cat. i have been there and it hurts like you cant believe. i have lost a dog and cat in the past year. And i still cry when i think of them. Just know they enjoyed you as much as you them. it is so great that pets can give us so much joy. i always thought of my dog and cat a part of my family. they really can be mans best friend…. God love you and i feel for your loss. cry all you want if it makes you feel better or just lifts your heavy heart..

  • Your Name

    I’ve had a lot of reasons to cry this year and last. I lost my beloved mother in April 2007. I miss her so much. Everyone keeps telling me it will get better, but crying does make me feel better. I don’t know why, but just to let it all out with a good cry seems to be a good step toward the healing process. Thank you for confirmation that I’m not crying too much! God Bless everyone who has had a recent loss. Cry, it will make you feel better.

  • Gevinn P. Banks

    When you are really BLUE, it is typically expressed through the steady flow or stream of your own, personal tears. Usually, it a way of revealing to others that YOU ARE HUMAN!

  • Laura Scott

    One other reason – “It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” THAT, is a really good reason.

  • Kimberly

    I’ve cried a lot the past couple of months, as I had to put my 11 year old Golden Retriever to sleep. The Vet and I have to assume he got some kind of cancer to which we have no control. But crying does help me some days, it does cleanse me in someway. i hope to stop crying so much, as i miss my dog so much but he wouldn’t want me to be so sad. In hopes of a better day!!

  • Lupe

    Crying doesnt always make it better. When I cry, yes very often, it is as though I am in the eye of a great storm slowly ebbing to the outside of the most violent and darkened areas of that storm. If I dont fight it, I will never stop. I slip into the darkness and am engulfed with horror and dread. Then I will sleep and feel worse for it.

  • Katiria

    i lost my mother and I cry every time I think of her and that is very often. I missed her and I know that I will never see her again, just in my heart. But the good thing about crying, it helps me ease the pain and feel refresh every time after.

  • Your Name

    Thank you for the grate article on crying and tears. I cry tears of both pain and joy. I find that the emotional tears to be the most healing. I always feel better inside and out, after a good cry.
    Our tears nave the same salt content as the salt in the sea. We
    cannot drink sea water, no wonder I find crying to have such a
    nealing power. This article alone brought tears to my eyes.
    Amen and thank you once again for letting the truth be known.



  • Your Name

    A year ago last October, I met a wonderful man (who happened to be a psychologist), and he taught me that “tears are our friends.” My mother died when I was 7, and our father forbid our tears. This good man held me in his arms a year ago in November while I finally cried about my mother’s death. He died one week short of our having one year together, but my life has been changed completely by the gifts of love we gave one another during that year. I’m very thankful for this article today, because I’ve been reminded, again, that tears are truly our friends, and have just realized that in my grieving his death, I need to cry. Thanks!

  • Your Name

    I cry alot because I lost my Sister, she was my best friend. Everytime I think of her, or see her Picture, or I see one of her e-mails that she sent me. ILove her so much. I know God has given everyone Tears, to help cleanse our Hearts. And I also know that by Crying it also helps us to get the dirt out of our Eyes.I will always miss my Sister, but I know I’ll get to see her again when my Father in Heaven comes to take me home with him. And I’ll probably Cry when I see her there. I Cry and Hug her so much I won’t let her go. I know she’ll always be in my Heart. She’s my Best Friend 4/ever.

  • Your Name


  • Your Name

    Tears even the word is sad. But the results are indeed cleansing.
    Crying makes us whole when our hearts are broken.
    Water soothes us when we are stressed or tired or even thirsty.
    Our skin needs water and our hearts need tears.
    Tears of laughter are another expression of joy and saddness combined.
    Hurray for tears and for a whole again heart.

  • Your Name

    It’s wierd that I recieved this subject in my email today because my grandmother passed away yesterday and I just got home from the funeral home. I cried as I stood there by her casket and looked at her as she laid there peacfully. She was suffering from lung cancer and I went to see her at the hospital day before yesterday and just saw her lay there helpless which also made me cry. It it just so sad see that especially when it’s someone close to you. But yes crying most definatly helps with pain and sadness and i’m so glad that we can cry because what else would we do if we couldn’t? So I thank the man above for giving me my tear ducts and allowing my tears to flow.

  • pamylla

    I agree that crying can be cleansing and good for the soul. Yet I have to disagree with you on one count. Maybe it’s just me, but too much crying makes me sinusy and headachy, and eventually makes me feel sick! And I hate the way I look with my eyes all puffy and nose all red afterward.
    So yes, there’s a time and place and certainly benefits from crying. Yet some of us have to avoid it for the above-mentioned reasons.

  • Your Name

    I love this article! I’m a highly sensitive person, so you just never know what will make the tears run down my face, but I totally find it therapeutic. Aside from crying over losses in my life, I cry for joy, for stress, for anxiety, for hope. Sounds like I’m just one big mess, and I feel like that sometimes, but it’s not true. It does make me feel better afterwards.

  • Your Name

    Yah, some of the reasons given for crying are good but i don’t believe is healthy to cry always. Too much of everything is bad. When u cry too much u loose ur sight, you gradually become a saddist and weak.
    Instead of crying why not practice laughter, laughter does more good than crying. Even the bible says a joyful heart does good like medicine. If you practice laughing always, you will discover that you are always high in your spirit and nothing can put you under. It written “rejoice always again I say rejoice”.
    I t is better to laugh than to cry. Try both and you will agree with me that laughter does more good than crying.

  • Shanda

    tears release stress, feelings, and anger. crying also helps the way you feel about people

  • Your Name

    I agree that a good cry can make one feel a lot better and
    see things more clearly. I need a real good break down cry
    my heart and eyes out. I have needed it for sometime now, however,
    I can’t get myself to cry. I know I must feel the pain in order
    to get past it, I want to. Any ideas? I’ve tried certain songs
    and tried but cant get it out. Any advice out there to get it

  • Kim Frakes Rust

    Hello, Can you please tell me how I can print this so that I can read it at my group meeting of the “Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance” ? I tried to print it and all that showed up on the paper were the titles and advertisements. :~( Some of your articles are so good I wanted to read them to share them with the group. Many of them do not have home computers. You can respond to my email address above if you would. Thank you so much. Kim from Nash.TN

  • Your Name

    my husband once asked his older boss, after “I” had been thru a big lose, when he had been thru one, “women can cry, what are men suppose to do?”

  • carmen

    I can not cry as much as I try the tear do not come I’m
    feeling very much anger with what life has dealt me could that be way
    I can not have a good cry?

  • Mario

    But it is not necessary to cry to get all those things done, except maybe No 1

  • Your Name

    When the preacher was done preaching his sermon, I felt conpelled to go to the altar.I knelt and began talking to God. As I was praying, my heart became so heavy and I just couldn’t hold back the tears. I must have cried for thirty minutes. I felt such a cleansing. Don’t ever hold back the tears.

  • Marian Calago

    I cried almost every night for no good reason. Sometimes in my dreary day, I feel like crying and then I cry. I go to church.
    I’ve observed that after i cried for a long nights, i feel better.
    hi.. can we exchange links?
    I am going to link ur blog now in my linkexchange portion. Hope u’ll link mine. thanks

  • Debora Waddell

    i believe there is an actual “gift of tears”. i have cried ofton and easily all my life whether with a good book, a tearful movie, or a good sermon, or a real torrent at family sorrows. i believe that tears are beneficial and that they do have a healing benefit, especially as i always feel better physically and emotionally afterwards. and i do not think that it is a weakness for men to cry, i feel that if more men were able to express their emotions through tears(whether these emotions are mad or glad)as women do that they would most likely also have a longer lifespan. and as for me i plan to keep right on crying when the need hits me right on up until the time Jesus calls me home.

  • Marie

    Correction Ashley Montagu was male not female.

  • Jon Bishop

    To Debora Waddel. I just found this in my Bible Psalm 56:8 8 “(You have kept a record of my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. They are already in your book.)” Yes God keeps all out tears in his bottle they are all precious to him!

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Therese,
    How would you respond to someone who sends you an e-mail that says something like …”maybe you shouldn’t focus so much on your OCD. I mean you aren’t just your OCD.”
    I feel rather insulted since it is only within this last year that I have begun to really deal with this overwhelming disease I have suffered from my whole life. In therapy I am learning to become aware of all my symptoms and deal with them… to focus on my OCD to learn to cope.
    Yet, I got this e-mail from a friend who said I shouldn’t focus so much on it and I feel …oh, I guess I feel cut down or something. It has really bothered me and I want to respond but I am not quite sure what to say.
    Any suggestions?

  • Bridge

    This website is such a blessing to me. Monday night I went to a service and after hearing the message. I got home and was very depressed. Today, I made it to work and after about 4 hours here, I broke down and started crying. All the emotions inside that made me feel depressed went away. By the way, the message at church was about women being submissive to thier husbands. Accept my husband and I have been separated for around 9 months. Because, of domestic issues. Because, I still love him and want the marriage. The message made me feel guilty; that maybe I could things differntly or applied the things I heard Monday and we would still be together. I stayed home from work yesterday; hoping he would call. Wow! Thank God for this website and thank God for tears.

  • http://http LaToya Beaman

    I want to thank you about tears.About a week or so I was driving to work and I said to myself. ” why do you feel the need to cry?” After early this morning I found out why I needed to cry. I started to pray in the restroom and it appeared to get a little more intense. I being to ask God why do I feel so strongly for this young gentlemen. I also started to ask for forgiveness for this. I kneeled down on the side of my bed and started to pray again and once again I began to cry (sobbing) and thanking him for the growth in me. Please that knows the true meaning of prayer please pray that I grow stronger in the Lord.

  • Tracy

    I have just read your book The Pocket Therapist and I really enjoyed it! You made me laugh out loud NUMEROUS times and also made me stop to think about many things. Thank you for writing this book, it kept me entertained while riding the transit!
    Uhmm.. I only have a few reasons to cry, and one is that I have recently quit smoking. Yep, it brings me to tears sometimes, those urges to want to smoke. I have been good though and not relented.
    There are times though, where the littlest thing brings me to tears. I am going to guess these are issues buried deep inside me that must be discovered and resolved some day, but it really has a lot to do with death and people leaving.
    Although the very first concert I watched my daughter fully enjoy at the age of two brought me to tears. Love for a child is the most strongest love I have ever felt.
    Namaste. (yes, I was NOT a good block player either. I was thinking the same thing as you while trying to enjoy dolls or blocks.. it JUST didn’t work out for me to the point that when my daughter got older, she wanted to enlist me into “play school” which in her mind, was school that taught me how to play.. *sigh*)

  • Brenda

    After just crying for almost 6 hours over a really stupid issue I can hardly believe, an article on tears!!Once again, the timing is perfect . . .

  • Jules

    Great post today. Now when the tears come we can let them and figure out what they are about later… thanks..

  • Derek C. Nordbye

    I wish to express my gratitude for the person who posted this! I find myself crying quite often, especially since I became a father some 3 years ago. I cry out of joy, mainly. Because I can find no other way to express my sincerest gratitude for what our Lord has done for us and, for what He continues to do for us!! In a small way, I can see my Heavenly Fathers’ love for me through my love for my son, Anthony! The nice thing about this is that it keeps on getting better and better as the days go by. AMEN!! I also cry out of sadness, sometimes, because, as usual, I’m human and my sadness can get in the way of my Father’s love for me. However, those times of sadness are not as frequent as the times of joy in my life; Hallelujah!!

  • Bee

    I fully understand the need, as well as the experience of crying constantly. However, a friend recently experienced a condition I had never heard of – that of literally crying her eyes dry. She had cried so much over a situation that could not be resolved that when she woke up one morning she had only blurred vision. Got to the ophthemologist immediately and was given antibiotics and steroids for her eyes and was told she would then be using Artificial Tears. I haven’t verified from her if this is a permanent condition, but I believe anyone would be very frightened by finding the possibility of constant and ongoing crying had resulted in blurred vision. So “cry your eyes out” may have a meaning that none of us have ever thought about!

  • Noah B.

    What if I can’t cry? I don’t remember the last time I actually cried. The only thing that really makes me choke up – and this is so sappy – is watching Extreme Makeover:Home Edition. And I’m a guy. You can imagine why I’ve never told anyone this in person.

  • Brenda

    Tears are good.

  • Uneva

    Tears are a healer for innumerous maladies. The more (tears, not maladies) the better. I’ve cried a few painful rivers full myself. Very few people, though, have mentioned the opposite side of this… tears of joy. I cry frequently, but, anymore, the tears I cry are those of pure joy, in gratitude for the numerous personal blessings our Heavenly Father bestows upon me each day. It’s sad how many people feel sorry for me (I can tell by their facial expressions), because they don’t understand that tears can be expressions of undefined joy. Also, I despise the fact that for many decades…at least…boys and men have been taught that it’s immoral, unethical, unmanly, impractical, etc., for people of the male gender to cry. Balderdash!! Men need emotional releases just as badly as women do, if not more so. They would be a much happier, healthier, easier-to-get-along-with breed if they’d learn to let loose and let the tears flow freely. C’mon, guys! Give it a try!

  • SuzanneWA

    A couple of years ago, I had a “dry-eye syndrome,” which required eye drops to keep my eyes lubricated. Now, I find myself with “wet-eyes,” that flow, unbidden, at the experiencing of a great emotional nature. It’s not that I cry at EVERY little thing, sad or not, it’s just that I have an overwhelming NEED to cry and, as you say, “let the demons out.” I just turned 63 – never really believing I would live THIS long – and feel emotionally “charged up.” If it weren’t for my readily available tear ducts, I would have no outlet for emotional healing. Good work, Therese, on WHY the tears come so easily!

  • Sherry

    I was involved in a serious car accident a few years ago and as a result of the accident, I am a “TBI survivor.” One of the ways I am still affected by my head injury is…I cry sometimes. I have always been an emotionally charged person, but now with this head injury, I can cry over a T.V. comercial! It’s never out and out bawling, and it’s usually over just as suddenly as it begins, but as I’m sure anyone can imagine…it has caused me some discomfort and embarassment. I used to see crying as a sign of weakness, but it’s honest, and honesty is quite a courageous thing. It freaks me out a bit when I hear some people say they CAN’T cry. I think it’s just weird that a human being can be so emotionally shut-down. It seems almost robotic. Although I sometimes wish I had a better handle on it, I would much rather FEEL things…than live in cold dark world. So, I guess after thinking about it, i’m okay with it!

  • http://cryingforalovedone mynxbaby

    I too have lost many dear furbabies. Dogs and cats and miss them as I miss my dear departed Husband. It is so sad to have them for so long and them God take them to Heaven. Sorry for all your loses.

  • http://Sherry mynxbaby

    Sheery, I too had TBI and cried when others laughed, but it did me good. I still cry over traumatic events or shows on TV. It does help and I want to cry now because things aren’t going well. I won’t at this time. Maybe later. It will get better. Take care.

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