The disorder Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome, or EHS, is a physiological condition characterized by certain immunological and neurological symptoms. Exposure to electric or magnetic fields, as well as certain forms of electromagnetic radiation, precipitates the condition. Much of the electromagnetic radiation comes from common sources that surround us all the time.
Typically, someone afflicted by electromagnetic hypersensitivity shows a marked improvement in their health once they remove themselves from the cause, and in time, the symptoms might even vanish. Although the condition is not widely accepted as a medical diagnosis, many countries accept it as a functional impairment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed over thirty studies relating to electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Their finding was that, although electromagnetic hypersensitivity was real, and could have a disabling effect on people, the symptoms experienced could also be the result of pre-existing psychiatric problems or the result of stress due to worrying about the effects of electromagnetism.
Certain countries, however, such as Sweden, take the condition more seriously. The Swedish Association for the ElectroSensitive is an organization that both produces and distributes educational literature on electromagnetic sensitivity to Swedish residents in an effort to raise awareness about the condition. Australia and the United Kingdom have followed suit, and acceptance of the condition seems to be spreading, especially in Europe. In Paris, France, for instance, one library has reportedly turned off their WiFi after reports that their staff was contracting health problems.
We are permanently surrounded by an electromagnetic field. This is because the sun constantly bombards the earth with electromagnetic waves, and the earth reflects it right back. These waves are all around us and have been since the moment we were first conceived. The addition of manmade electromagnetic radiation, however, bombards us at ever-higher levels. This radiation is emitted everywhere in modern society: from television sets, appliances, cell phones, and even your home’s electrical wiring.
The biggest source, however, is WiFi. This is because the radio wave emitted by WiFi is either 2.4 gigahertz or 5 gigahertz. This is higher than your cell phone, because you hold that next to your ear. These high-frequency radio waves allow for the transmission of exceedingly large volumes of data, but they also emit much more electromagnetic radiation.
Despite the current controversy on the matter, electromagnetic sensitivity first came to light in 1932. Erwin Schliephake, a German medical doctor, published data in a German magazine, the German Medical Weekly, in which he discussed what he termed ‘radio wave sickness’ or ‘microwave sickness.’ He also described the symptoms.
His work was supported over thirty years later by a Russian doctor, Zinaida Gordon. In 1966, she published a study of over one thousand people who worked in different fields where they were exposed to high levels of electromagnetic radiation. According to her, the symptoms intensified with prolonged exposure.
Her findings, as well as subsequent research by scientists in other countries, all point to the various, common symptoms experienced by people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Cancer was one of the symptoms included.
Effects of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome
Humans are electromagnetic beings. Your body conducts electricity and grounds the electromagnetic radiation that is present all around you. In fact, each cell in your body is made up of energy—electromagnetic energy. Similarly, everything around us is made up of the same. The problem, however, is the ‘new’ man-made frequencies we are being exposed to. Our bodies are simply not designed to cope with them.
A typical example of how this radiation affects us negatively is in the pineal gland, a tiny endocrine gland situated in the brain. This small gland, together with our eyes, are the organs most sensitive to electromagnetic radiation. The pineal gland also controls our body’s hormone levels, including melatonin. Low levels of melatonin have been linked to fibromyalgia as well as chronic tiredness, two conditions that are accompanied by sensitivities to chemicals and other environmental factors. When the pineal gland is placed under undue stress, it is unable to produce sufficient melatonin for the body’s needs. Constant bombardment by these electromagnetic waves at a frequency our body has difficulty coping with puts extra stress on the functioning of the pineal gland.
Constant exposure to these electromagnetic waves also causes excessive cellular vibration that can lead to muscle tension and a heightened stress level. The more intense and persistent this radiation, the more stressed the body becomes. The adrenal glands are kick-started to respond to this threat and your body goes into fight mode.
Joe Hall, the founder of Clarus Systems, in San Clemente, California, has been instrumental in exploring the effects of electromagnetic field radiation. He has found that when a number of people are taken to a remote location in nature and hooked up with EKG sensors, in order to record their stress levels and muscle tension, for a period of fifteen minutes, some were relaxed while others are stressed. If they were then subjected to electromagnetic stimulation such as they would encounter in a normal suburban home, they exhibited a physiological response. Their stress levels jumped. When the radiation level was increased by an additional three to five milligauss per square meter, such as would be the situation in a normal office environment, the jump in stress levels was even higher.
Hall explains that this may be one of the reasons that many people do not like their jobs and why they find their work environments so stressful. Every electrical appliance, of whatever nature, that is added to your immediate environment adds to your physiological stress, pushing your body into survival mode. And once the body’s intrinsic anti-stress mechanisms have been overwhelmed, you begin a downward spiral.
Magnetic radiation is constantly passing through us, the sub-particles causing irritation to our limbic brain. The limbic brain then perceives this constant bombardment as a direct physical threat. This, in turn, results in an adrenal response through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormonal axis.
Those living in industrialized countries have an increased risk and weakened adrenal system due to a sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation. Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) can be triggered as a result. What makes matters worse, is that children too are affected.
Signs and Symptoms of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome
The director of Electrical Sensitivity Network, Lucinda Grant, makes a direct comparison between electromagnetic hypersensitivity and chemical sensitivities, such as intolerances to perfume and gasoline. Chemical sensitivity was once also attributed to a psychological problem, much like most people now view sensitivity towards electromagnetic fields. The comparison, however, is quite apt in that both of these sensitivities are due to environmental factors.
It is certainly the case that those who are electromagnetically hypersensitive or who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome also tend to have increased sensitivity towards chemicals. Those who experience mercury toxicity (usually due to dental amalgams) are also at a higher risk of developing a sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation.
This is because the electromagnetic field and chemicals both have an impact on your nervous system and the extracellular matrix (ECM). If your nervous system is already suffering due to toxic exposure, you may be more susceptible to the onslaught of electromagnetic radiation. The ECM is the space between the cells and is the cellular communications network. Like highways that connect our organs, it can be congested and become polluted with electromagnetic bombardment.
There are a number of symptoms that are quite common in those who show signs of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. These include:
- Headaches: Most notably tension headaches.
- Heart: Heart palpitations are common, as is a feeling of pressure in the chest.
- Tinnitus: A constant ‘ringing’ in the ears.
- Sleeping problems: Difficulty sleeping through the night or waking up tired.
- Constant fatigue: No matter how much you may sleep you feel tired throughout the day.
- Brain fog: You have difficulty remembering things and keeping focused (cognitive decline).
- Skin problems: You may develop rashes, your skin may redden, or you may feel a tingling or burning sensation. These skin issues are usually prevalent on the face and arms.
- Panic attacks: Panic may be accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, etc.
- Seizures: Links have been established between certain electromagnetic frequencies and epilepsy.
- Dizziness (frequently and/or unexpectedly).
Those who have a hypersensitive reaction to electromagnetic radiation usually go through four phases of increasing severity.
- First phase: This phase is usually accompanied by a few mild symptoms which include headaches and concentration problems, usually while working with any electronic equipment, such as a computer. Brain fog is a frequent complaint, along with mild anxiety.
- Second phase: The symptoms last longer and may require medical attention.
- Third phase: Symptoms are such that you require frequent absences from work. Headaches can become severe, accompanied by vomiting or dizziness. Heart palpitations can surface despite having a normal cardiac profile.
- Fourth phase: You have an extremely adverse reaction to both indoor and outdoor electromagnetic pollution and are no longer able to go about freely. You might also be unable to continue working due to your exposure to electromagnetic radiation. You may be housebound or severely limited in your activities.
Risk Factors for Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity
There are a number of factors that can increase your chances of developing electromagnetic hypersensitivity and radiation worsens its effect.
Heavy Metal Toxicity
According to Dr. Theresa Dale, the body works like an antenna, constantly sending and receiving information. The presence of heavy metals in your body makes you more susceptible to the symptoms of electromagnetic radiation. The heavy metals act as amplifiers, increasing the severity of your symptoms.
Additionally, research conducted by Dr. Yoshiaki Omura, indicates that metal contamination concentrates radiation, making the affects on your body ever-increasingly destructive. His research showed that people are constantly contaminating themselves with metals by eating contaminated fish, living downstream from power plants, and having fillings inserted into our teeth.
The problem is compounded when there is an accumulation of these toxic metals in your brain. The brain’s ‘antenna function’ increases and it picks up more cell phone radiation. This causes certain microbes in your system to overreact and produce more mycotoxins. The end result is an ongoing cycle involving the metals and microbes and your exposure to electromagnetic radiation. This could lead to the development of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
High Magnetic Fields in the Home and/or Workplace
A high magnetic field is usually the result of errors in alternating current (AC) wiring, living in close proximity to power lines, or close proximity to an AC power meter. A gauss meter is used to measure magnetic fields. The field is considered high when it is 60Hz and measures above 3 milligauss. Most people that have electromagnetic hypersensitivity need the electromagnetic field to be below 0.3 milligaus. Anything above this may exacerbate the condition.
“Dirty Power”/Manmade Electromagnetic Frequencies
The primary man-made electromagnetic fields are wireless radio frequency signals, dirty power, and extra-low-frequency alternating current. Dirty power refers to any form of electromagnetic field generated due to any sort of error that causes higher than normal or safe frequencies. A malfunctioning street lamp is a simple example of dirty power.
Cell phone towers and Wi-Fi hubs emit inordinately high amounts of electromagnetic radiation, and those living closer to them are more exposed. Wi-Fi in the home or proximity to a cell phone can have the same effect. In fact, even a baby monitor or home security system intensifies the electromagnetic radiation. Working in front of your computer for prolonged periods of time or watching television sensitizes you to the electromagnetic field. Many speakers/surround-sound amplifiers also radiate a strong, long-reaching magnetic field, especially when the volume is turned up.
The majority of electronic devices have a switching power supply. With a switching power supply, an appliance uses a switching regulator so that it controls the conversion of electricity efficiently. This type of power supply is common in computer and phone battery chargers. The majority of these power supplies emit a high electromagnetic field.
In addition to your microwave oven, there are a number of commonly used household appliances that also add to the electromagnetic radiation in your environment. These include your hairdryer, electric blanket, electric shaver, electrostatic air purifier, mosquito zapper, and the seemingly innocuous dimmer switch.
Exposure to certain chemicals can trigger or re-trigger your electromagnetic hypersensitivity and all its associated symptoms. Any type of inflammation a person may experience, such as an allergic reaction to food or an infection, can also increase your electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Sources of chemicals that are believed to be triggers for the condition include air fresheners, herbicides, pesticides, and gasses emitted from electronic devices.
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is a subclinical condition used to describe a list of what conventional medicine might describe as unrelated symptoms.
The onset of adrenal fatigue is a slow process, and the condition should not be confused with Addison’s disease. With adrenal fatigue, the adrenal glands are physiologically normal. Adrenal fatigue is a complex condition, and AFS has many and varied symptoms. Symptoms encountered by those with AFS include brain fog, depression, insomnia, unexplained weight gain/difficulty with weight loss, frequent bouts of influenza, allergies, dizzy spells, trembling when under pressure, lack of energy, inability to handle stress, low body temperature, heart palpitations, constipation or diarrhea, and unexplained hair loss.
It is, however, only after you have ruled out other reasons for your symptoms that you should start looking at adrenal fatigue as the culprit.
Many of these symptoms correspond with those of someone who has a electromagnetic hypersensitivity. This is because there is a direct correlation between the two.
Adrenal fatigue is the result of the body being put under stress, whether physiological or emotional, for a prolonged period. The adrenal glands are the body’s stress-control centers. These two small glands are each situated at the top of one of the kidneys. Each gland has two compartments. The inner compartment, or medulla, secretes and regulates epinephrine and norepinephrine and modulates the sympathetic nervous system. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are hormones that are responsible for the body’s flight-or-fight response. The outer compartment, the adrenal cortex, makes up 80% of the adrenal gland’s size and produces over fifty different hormones, including a variety of mineralocorticoids such as aldosterone, the salt regulating hormone, and glucocorticoid. Cortisol is the most important glucocorticoid because the body is not able to respond to stress properly with a lowered supply of cortisol. Adrenal fatigue sets in when the production of cortisol is insufficient to combat the stress you are experiencing.
The Cortisol Problem
The fact that electromagnetic radiation hampers cortisol production is especially disturbing. Cortisol plays an important role in normalizing the body’s blood sugar levels. It acts so that the blood sugar levels are increased in times of stress, thereby providing the body with the energy it needs in order to escape from any threat it may encounter. Cortisol works together with insulin, manufactured by the pancreas, and ensures that cells get the glucose they need to sustain proper functioning. If more energy is needed, cortisol ensures it happens. The early stages of adrenal fatigue involve more cortisol being produced, but by the later stages, cortisol production is severely reduced.
Cortisol also plays a role in the reduction of inflammation in the body. Its anti-inflammatory properties prevent swelling in most tissues, while its antihistamine action prevents allergic reactions from getting out of hand.
The hormone is also involved in immune suppression, as it affects many cells that produce immune reactions, including white blood cells. The more cortisol the body has to produce, the weaker your body is, and the harder it has to fight to stay healthy.
Lastly, cortisol enables the body to cope with psychological stress. If the levels of cortisol manufactured by the adrenal glands cannot keep up with the demand, the body is no longer able to handle stress properly.
The Adrenal Fatigue – Electromagnetic Field Link
Prolonged exposure to electromagnetic radiation causes oxidative damage and results in the depletion of antioxidants and hormones, such as Glutathione and Melatonin. This leads to increases in infections and bad cholesterol, as well as premature aging. Additionally, the normal influx of calcium into the cells is compromised, and when this happens, histamine is produced. In this way, prolonged exposure to electromagnetic radiation can actually aggravate or trigger allergic reactions and add stress to the body.
Electromagnetic radiation also interferes with the mitochondria’s ability to produce energy, thereby exacerbating fatigue. Electromagnetic radiation’s affect on red blood cells prevents them from functioning optimally; the result is less oxygen reaching the brain and other organs. This causes dizziness and difficulty concentrating.
Electromagnetic radiation causes metabolic vibrations within the extracellular matrix, leading to congestion within the extracellular space and reduced metabolic clearance, resulting in toxic metabolic buildup. You may feel slumpy, drained, experience brain fog, and feel increased fatigue with motion.
People exposed to electromagnetic radiation take longer to recover from infections and are more susceptible to contracting both viral and bacterial infections. This causes many symptoms that are indicative of adrenal fatigue, such as persistent fatigue and feelings of weakness. It also leads to subliminal stress. This causes the adrenals to secrete larger quantities of adrenaline and cortisol. The constant, overproduction of these two substances ultimately leads to adrenal exhaustion. There is also a decrease in the 5-HTP in blood. This results in lower levels of serotonin, which is linked to anxiety and depression.
Over time, constant exposure to electromagnetism results in abnormal norepinephrine production, which can result in autonomic nervous system disorders. This will cause problems with everyday functions such as regulating body temperature. Other symptoms include short-term memory loss and depression. The production of melatonin, which is necessary for normal sleep, is also compromised. Insufficient melatonin production has been linked to the occurrence of breast cancer.
Electromagnetism: The Affect on Adrenal Fatigue Recovery
Although adrenal fatigue cannot be ascribed to the occurrence of a single symptom, the broader picture and the list of multiple symptoms that are identified with both adrenal fatigue and electromagnetic hypersensitivity, paints a startling picture. In order for one to recover from adrenal fatigue to the fullest degree, you would definitely have to reduce your exposure to electromagnetic radiation.
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity and the NeuroEndoMetabolic Stress Response: What Part Does EHS Affect?
Martin L. Pall , in a review of how ‘Microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produce widespread neuropsychiatric effects including depression,’ highlights a number of relevant observations from tests done on animals, especially rats:
‘Nervous system regions impacted by non-thermal microwave and lower frequency fields include: cortex, diencephalon (including the hypothalamus and thalamus), hippocampus, autonomic ganglia, sensory fibers, pituitary gland (including neurohypophysis).’
‘Neuroendocrine changes seem to undergo change over increased time of exposure. Neurosecretion in the hypothalamus and in the pituitary each go through a complex sequence over time, where EMF exposure initially produces increased hormone secretion but where over time, the neurosecretory cells become “exhausted”, leading to lowered secretion and in some cases cell death.’
‘Sensory neurons, following exposures, developed changes characteristic of irritation, with “marked tortuosity of the nerve fibers.” Many histological changes are seen in the hypothalamic cells as their neuroendocrine function becomes impacted.’
Most of the burden of our stress response in the neuroendocrine system involves the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormonal axis. The HPA axis is the primary neuroendocrine system used by the brain to receive and interpret signals. It converts them into neurotransmitters and hormones, which are then delivered to the targeted organ to prompt the required action. The adrenal glands are the main stress response control center. A ‘malfunction’ of any sort in the HPA axis means that the body’s stress response cannot function optimally. If the adrenals are overburdened for too long, they reach the later stages of adrenal exhaustion, with debilitating consequences.
The job of the hypothalamus is to maintain a stable internal environment. This is done by secreting hormones that either stimulate or inhibit hormone production in the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland stores the hormones secreted by the hypothalamus and then releases them into the bloodstream as needed. When a disruption in the hypothalamus or pituitary gland occurs, such as what happens with electromagnetic hypersensitivity, a chain effect is put into place, causing the eventual disruption of the whole HPA axis. This ultimately hinders the body’s natural stress response.
The hypothalamus is the initiator of the body’s stress response. If the hypothalamus is prohibited from carrying out its designed function, the other processes in the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system do not function as they should.
The NEM Stress Response is how your body handles stress as a whole. It involves many organs and systems that act synergistically, in an orchestrated fashion, to remove stress. Each organ and system plays a part in handling stress, and when one part of the response becomes deregulated, the whole system can be thrown into jeopardy.
The body’s hormonal response is affected, and the thyroid, gonads, and adrenals do not function as they should. Their response is regulated by the hypothalamus. As their dysfunction increases, the NEM response becomes increasingly disrupted.
The metabolic responses may also be affected. One of the body’s first reactions to stress is the activation of the metabolic response. The organs that regulate the metabolic process are the thyroid, liver, and pancreas. As the thyroid is impacted it slows down and cannot maintain optimal metabolic speed.
When the metabolic responses become deregulated, the first stages of adrenal fatigue set in and sugar cravings and weight gain are often experienced. As adrenal fatigue advances, further complications arise, such as the onslaught of hypoglycemia. Loss of muscle mass is also common.
How to Protect Against EHS
The good news is that it is possible to protect yourself from electromagnetic radiation and electromagnetic hypersensitivity. As discussed previously, toxins and heavy metals play a major part in electromagnetic hypersensitivity. The connection with stress is clear as well. It is therefore important to also make sure the detoxification pathways are functioning properly. If not, toxic buildup can often worsen the effects of both electromagnetic hypersensitivity and AF.
Nutrition and lifestyle are the two most important factors to take into consideration when countering or protecting yourself from the effects of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. They can either cause you to accumulate more toxins or help you eliminate them from your body over time. One of the most common AFS recovery mistakes, from self-navigating, is improper use of nutritional supplementation, which can trigger adrenal crashes and worsen or retard the recovery process.
Diet and lifestyle
With regards to diet and lifestyle, a healthy, nutritional diet is the first step on the path to recovery. Added to this are regular exercise and a detoxification program designed to rid you of toxins. You need to be very careful with any detoxification program when your body is weak. The more advanced the stage of AFS, the higher the risk that retoxification will occur. Always consult a knowledgeable practitioner before proceeding.
Enough sleep and sunlight are also important, as they are needed for the production of melatonin. Melatonin helps eliminate metals from the brain and can be easily and naturally increased if you sleep in a darkened room, expose yourself to at least an hour’s worth of sunlight each day, and reduce the electromagnetic radiation in your bedroom as much as you possibly can. This means removing any cordless, wireless, and electrical gadgetry from your room. Besides its detoxification ability, melatonin also has an anti-inflammatory function. Those in advanced stages of AFS may find melatonin triggers a hangover effect. This is an indication that this compound is causing exaggerated or hypersensitivity, often an underlying sign of EHS.
Many people, especially in an office environment, are constantly bombarded by electromagnetic radiation. By grounding yourself with a grounding sheet or mat, many of the effects can be negated. This does not always work, however, as there are a number of factors that can cause an increase in radiation. It is thus best to use a gauss meter to check whether it is effective. The best option is to always ensure all equipment is grounded as this will reduce radiation significantly.
Charcoal is a great detoxifier, and wearing charcoal patches or clothing made of fiber containing charcoal helps with the detoxification process. Those in advanced stages of AFS should not self-navigate with this approach without professional supervision due to potential retoxification reactions triggering adrenal crashes.
Limit the use of electronic gadgets
Whether it is your cell phone, the WiFi, your laptop, your microwave oven, or any other electric gadgets in your home, try to limit your usage as much as possible. If not in use, switch it off. There are also special harmonic-modulating pendants that you can use to help reduce harmonic disturbances resulting from EHS
Silver is a natural deterrent against the effects of electromagnetic radiation. Clothing containing silver fibers deflects the radiation and protects you. The more sensitive you are to electromagnetic radiation, however, the more silver you need to incorporate into your immediate surroundings.
Although most people would find it nearly impossible, removing yourself to a place where there is no electromagnetic radiation is ideal. This is a form of desensitization. This requires going somewhere far out in nature where there are no manmade electromagnetic fields. This would, however, imply no electricity, television, cell phone reception, etc. It would also imply no access to medical attention. (After all, hospitals have a lot of electromagnetic radiation from all their machines, e.g. electrocardiograph machines, ultrasounds, MRI machines, life support equipment, and even medical monitors.)
According to Dr. Neil Cherry, ‘The only safe exposure level is zero.’ An Environmental Health Scientist, Dr. Cherry’s study of electromagnetic radiation and the effects of exposure on the human population has shown that electromagnetic fields damage DNA, enhance cancer rates as well as cardiac problems, and play a role in reproductive and neurological diseases.
Exposure also seems to cause symptoms closely matched with those encountered due to adrenal exhaustion, and in fact, may actively contribute to the condition. This can clearly be discerned when investigating the effect of radiation on the hypothalamus, which, as part of the HPA axis, plays a major role in the body’s neuroendocrine system. The HPA axis is, in turn, tied to the NEM Stress Response. Impairment can wreak havoc throughout the body.
Because electromagnetic radiation is affecting an ever-increasing portion of the population, it seems a reasonable hypothesis that it is either directly or indirectly responsible for the increase in adrenal exhaustion sufferers.
Practitioners of alternative medicine, however, who look at the entire body with its associated symptoms, understand that addressing one symptom is not as effective as understanding the root cause of the problem. They therefore recommend that those afflicted by mysterious symptoms gain an understanding of the reasons for the condition and address the problem holistically by means of diet, lifestyle, and removing the environmental stressors. Because most electromagnetic hypersensitivity sufferers have concurrent underlying stress intolerance issues, it is imperative to seek professional help, as self-navigation can worsen EHS. Recovery from electromagnetic hypersensitivity is often possible, but takes a comprehensive approach, time, and patience.