When I started having persistent health issues but came up empty-handed, I started wondering whether something in my house could be causing my low energy, brain fog, poor sleep and dizziness. Crazy, right?
On paper, I was in good health. So, why the symptoms? And why did I feel so much better the minute I stepped outside?
We lost power one day and that’s when the penny dropped that my house could be causing these health issues. As I sat there in the dark, it was like somebody had flipped a switch inside me. The constant buzzing in my body and ringing in my ears had stopped, and the strangest sense of stillness washed over me. My mind was sharp. I felt great.
Once everything was up and buzzing again, I started Googling and stumbled across a phenomenon called electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). Basically, some people feel awful when they’re surrounded by too many electrical and wireless (WiFi) devices, which emit electric and magnetic radiation, or electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
EMFs are invisible zones of radiation produced by electricity that fall into two categories: ionising, mid-to-high-level radiation that can cause cellular and DNA damage (think x-rays and ultraviolet rays); and non-ionising, low-to-mid-level radiation that’s generally considered harmless to humans.
Some non-ionising EMF sources are mobile phones, laptops, tablets, microwave ovens, smart electric and gas meters, WiFi routers, Bluetooth devices, power lines, hairdryers, electric shavers and electric blankets.
Symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity
Symptoms of EHS can range from the ones I’d been experiencing, to headaches, skin irritation, musculoskeletal pains, heart palpitations, anxiety, depression, and many others.
Frustratingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges EHS but says that there’s no scientific evidence to back it up. Say what?? The implication is that it’s all in our heads. Fortunately, other scientists disagree and are pushing the WHO to classify EHS as a real medical condition so that doctors can start diagnosing and treating it, and sufferers can get some relief.
EMFs may be wreaking havoc on your health, too
The more I kept digging, the more I learned about the potential negative effects of EMFs on everybody, not just people suffering from EHS. According to the Environmental Health Trust (EHT), magnetic fields, which are found wherever electricity flows, are linked to childhood leukaemia, miscarriage, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, obesity, and asthma.
Although the official line is that non-ionising radiation is safe in small doses, there are plenty of experts who think otherwise, especially when it comes to WiFi, which relies on radiofrequency (microwave) transmissions.
Even the WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radiofrequency EMFs as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.
This is especially relevant with the rollout of super-fast 5G wireless technology, which uses higher levels of radiation than is currently used. It’s hard to believe that the benefits of faster internet will outweigh any negative health implications.
In the UK, there’s an ongoing battle between the government, which says 5G is safe, and groups like the EM-Radiation Research Trust, which say that there’s a whole body of scientific evidence supporting health concerns about 5G/EMFs. Similar arguments are happening all over the world.
So, where does that leave us?
Tips for reducing EMF exposure in your home
I’m not trying to be a fearmonger, but I don’t think we should bury our heads in the sand, either. There are plenty of easy actions we can take to minimise EMF exposure and promote better health. Here are ten tips from the EHT:
- Keep laptops, tablets, and cell phones off your lap and away from your body. Always use them on a table or desk. Even if WiFi is off, they still emit magnetic fields.
- As much as possible, use laptops running on battery rather than while charging.
- More distance means less exposure. Don’t stand close to a microwave oven when it’s on. Keep your computer monitor at least 24 inches (60 cm) away.
- Avoid sleeping next to appliances, or a wall with the electric meter or electric panel.
- Clocks and radios with electric cables expose you all night. Get an alarm clock with a battery.
- Remove electronics/screens from the bedroom and especially around the bed and cot. No electric or extension cables underneath/near your bed.
- Replace Bluetooth and WiFi with wired connections; no WiFi baby monitors. If you aren’t wired, then turn off your WiFi at night.
- If you use an electric blanket or heating pad, always unplug it before you get into your bed. If you only turn it off, fields will still be present.
- Remove fluorescent lights and strong LEDs and replace dimmer switches with on/off switches.
- Measure the EMF levels in your home. There are companies that do this or you can hire a device that measures EMFs. Sometimes high levels are caused by faulty wiring that an electrician can fix.
Natural ways to counteract the impact of EMFs
The debate over the safety of EMFs has been raging for decades and it’s not likely to end anytime soon. While the scientists are battling it out, I’m not taking any chances, because I want to do everything I can to feel my best and protect my family, too.
With that in mind, and being holistically inclined, I’m also trying these natural suggestions:
- Spend as much time as possible in nature – a daily dog walk or a stroll in the local park can work wonders. In Japan, ‘forest bathing’ is widely promoted for its health-boosting benefits. With a strong immune system, your body is more able to fight free radical damage caused by EMFs.
- Take a weekly sea salt and baking soda bath – throw equal amounts into the tub, with the water as warm as you can take it without feeling faint, and soak for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a bathtub, soak your feet in a basin for 40 minutes. Be sure to rinse off afterward. Holistic healers swear by this for neutralising radiation and drawing toxins out of the body.
- Get barefoot outside (earthing), ideally every day – When we are in direct contact with the Earth’s surface, negatively-charged ions transfer into our bodies, which can help neutralise the effects of EMFs.
- Place crystals near devices and around your house, especially your bed – black tourmaline is said to protect against EMFs because it emits negative ions and absorbs radiation; shungite is another crystal whose powerful properties are believed to absorb and neutralise EMFs.
Like it or not, EMFs are here to stay, so why not cover all bases?
The original version of this blog post appeared in GloWell Magazine.