Possibly the most important environmental health question - and problem - of the 21st century is, "How quickly can we adapt our biology to new exposures such as electromagnetic fields (EMF)?" The earth naturally produces an electromagnetic field, as do human bodies, both of which are considered natural EMFs and do not pose any health risks. But what about artificial EMFs? Do they really disturb the human body's natural energies and cause health problems? Controversy has surrounded this topic since Thomas Edison first harnessed electricity, and has grown significantly since WWII.
Modern science has shown that, in fact, EMFs come in a variety of frequencies with varied levels of potential danger, most commonly extremely low frequency waves (ELF) and radiofrequency radiation (RF). ELFs radiate from things like the 50-60 hertz power lines that feed household appliances. RFs are more dangerous and can come from common modern conveniences such as cell phones, cordless phones, WiFi, mobile antennas, broadcast towers and electrical security systems. The human body should run on about 8 hertz of power while Smart meters and WiFi systems typically run in a range of 900 hertz to 5.9 gigahertz. High-frequency voltage transients, also called "dirty electricity," are a relatively new possible carcinogen. Mostly by-products of modern energy-efficient electronics and appliances, they result from electric currents that have been manipulated in order to cut down on energy use. As a result of this manipulation, an electromagnetic field is created that is wildly fluctuating, potentially dangerous and able to travel along wiring all the way to the utility, infecting every energy customer in between.
The ever-growing overexposure to EMFs has spawned a recently identified condition called electrical hypersensitivity (EHS), which can carry symptoms including fatigue, dizziness, facial irritation and digestive issues after exposure to many modern electrical devices. EHS may significantly affect up to 3% of all people, and as many as one-third of the population to a lesser degree. Numerous studies suggest that exposure to artificial EMFs can upset the body's natural rhythms and processes, invading everything from sleep cycles and stress levels to immunities and even DNA. In 2012, the Bioinitiative Working Group, released a detailed report of the toxic effects of EMFs. The report shows a link between chronic exposure to even low-level radiation and a variety of cancers, impaired immunity, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, heart disease and many other ailments. Still, more research -- whether from disease clusters or from long-term, large-scale analyses -- is needed to know the full extent of the dangers of EMFs. If you are worried about the possible effects of EMF exposure, here are 7 strategies that may help limit unnecessary exposure. As with any potential health issue, you should discuss risks and preventative measures of EMF exposure with your naturopathic doctor, who can then help you decide on the best course of action.
1. Determine your level of electric and magnetic field exposure. Some communities now require buildings to have shielded conduits, which help protect against electromagnetic fields related to internal wiring, but this is still relatively rare. To find out if your wiring is shielded or not, run a volt sensor (available at your local hardware store) up, down and across your walls to check for electric fields. Even if you're lucky enough to have shielded conduits in your home, in general, it is likely that you're still being exposed to electric fields from appliances and other modern technologies. On the other hand, magnetic fields in your home can be caused by nearby power lines, both overhead and underground, refrigerator motors, power meters and even some old types of metal plumbing. To test for magnetic fields, you'll need a gaussmeter. There are a number of them on the market, and while they are relatively inexpensive, you may want to consider purchasing this tool with others as a group, as each building needs to be measured only once.
2. Decrease EMF exposure while sleeping. If you're sleeping in a room with non-shielded wires in the walls - and most are - sleeping with your head near a wall will expose you to electrical fields. Sleep with your head away from the wall, facing the center of the room, to combat exposure while you sleep. Make sure all of the electronics around your bed are battery powered. Or better yet, turn off the circuit breaker for your bedroom at night, eliminating the voltage coming from the electrical outlets. Make sure you are not sleeping with your cell phone under your pillow or by your bed.
3. Embrace the natural look. Hair dryers can emit greater magnetic fields than even large appliances, such as refrigerators. Instead of submitting your body to unnecessary trauma, palm a natural cream or oil (coconut or argan) through your hair to tame flyaways and let it air-dry. As an added bonus, you'll avoid unnecessary heat damage, too.
4. Avoid direct contact with high-energy-source technologies, especially while they are charging. Laptops, cordless telephone bases, cell phones, iPads, Kindles and other wireless devices are high energy sources of both electric- and magnetic fields. Avoid putting a laptop directly on your lap. Instead, use a lap pad with a reflective material or metal added to it to protect against the device's electric field and thermal energy. Don't sleep with a cell phone under your pillow. Charging devices are ungrounded, so you may also want to avoid using such technologies while they are plugged into an outlet and charging. Studies have shown that these precautions may be even more important during pregnancy.
5. Go retro. Trade in the convenience of your cordless phone - or worse, your sole use of a cell phone - with a corded telephone. Numerous studies suggest that there is a greater risk of developing brain cancer among those who begin using cell phones as a teen, when compared to those who started as an adult. While more research is needed regarding the effects of cell phone EMFs on humans, animal research has shown that such EMFs can cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the brain and damage neurons.
6. Consider proximity to electromagnetic field producers when purchasing a new home. As the saying goes, it's all about location, location, location. In this case, power lines, cell phone and WiFi towers, which operate at higher levels of electromagnetic frequency emission, could pose more risk to the health of you and your family if you live in close proximity.
7. Beware of 'Smart Meters'. Smart meters are a new type of utility meter that wirelessly transmits data about your household energy usage to the utility company. While these new meters are being marketed as a way to save consumers money, they also bring a new route of EMF exposure. The human body averages an electrical charge of about 8 Hz. Smart meters and WiFi systems typically run in a range of 900 Hz to 5.9 GHz. To protect against this new danger, you can install a reflective barrier to keep radiation from your meter from coming into your home, but you'll also need to address your neighbors' meters the same way. If you live in a densely populated area or a multi-unit building, this may be impractical. Another option for limiting EMF exposure from smart meters is to request that the utility company set up your meter to transmit information only once a day, as opposed to once every minute. If going this route, it is a good idea to ask your neighbors to do the same. Check out this interview on ElectromagneticHealth.org for more information on this growing concern.
Photo Credit. FreeDititalPhotos.com.
EMF Exposure: Worse than Cigarettes? The Silent Enemy Harming Your Health Today. Mercola.com.
Radiation From Cell Phones and WiFi Are Making People Sick - Are We All at Risk? Alternet.org.
Is 'Electrosmog' Harming Our Health? NBC News.
Bioinitiative 2012: A Rationale for Biologically-based Exposure Standards for Low-Intensity Electromagnetic Radiation. Bioinitiative.org.
Smart Grid Sensibility? Audio Interview with B. Blake Levitt and Duncan Campbell, Esq. by ElectromagneticHealth.org Founder, Camilla Rees. ElectromagneticHealth.org.
It's true that salt is vital to life, but it is also true that not all salt is created equal. Rock salts and sea salts are unrefined and contain many important trace elements that encourage healthy cellular metabolism. Table salt, on the other hand, is refined and stripped of all trace elements before anti-caking agents and iodine is added. In fact, table salt cannot be properly digested by the human body and when consumed it is toxic to the body's natural processes, leading to cellular inflammation; water retention and cardiovascular disease. A recent study out of Harvard presented such evidence to the tune of 2.3 million deaths worldwide in 2010 from heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related diseases linked to excessive salt intake. And don't be fooled, iodized salt will not increase your body's iodine levels. Instead, iodine should be supplied from seafood, kelp and seaweed, eggs, cereals and grains. In fact, research has shown that people who eat processed foods are at risk of iodine overdose and related health problems including overactive or inflamed thyroid, which can lead to tremors, disturbed heart rhythm, sleep disorders, increased blood pressure and anxiety and nervousness.
The best thing you can do for your salt balance is to eliminate canned and refined foods from your diet, and closely monitor your intake of processed salt. Stay away from foods that list "sodium chloride" on the label. If for some reason you don't have a label to guide you, color is also an indicator. Refined salt is pure white, whereas unrefined salts are greyish white or pink due to their mineral content. Consider switching to Himalayan crystal salt instead. Packed with 84 of the same minerals and elements found naturally in the human body, Himalayan crystal salt helps control water levels within the body, promotes a stable pH balance inside cells (including the brain), supports blood sugar health, improves cardio-respiratory function, and helps to reduce muscle cramps and increase bone strength. Natural sea salts, while better than table salt, come from evaporated seawater and may contain toxins and pollutants not found in Himalayan salt. Harvested all over the world, varieties of sea salt may contain different trace minerals that may alter the taste and color of the product. One thing all salts do have in common though is that they are all 40 percent sodium. And despite the average daily intake being five to six grams, we actually need only 1,500 mg of sodium per day. If you have questions or concerns about your salt intake, or the best source of salt, speak with your naturopathic doctor.
Photo credit. FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Iodized Salt: Friend or Foe? Nanditha Ram. Natural News.
Excess Salt Consumption Found to be the Cause of Millions of Heart Disease Deaths Worldwide. John Phillip. Natural News.
Does Salt Cause Hypertension and Heart Disease? Jonathan Landsman. Natural News.
Q & A Library: Selecting Sea Salt? DrWeil.com.
Herbed salts are a fantastic way to spice up pretty much any food. They are simple, relatively quick to prepare, can keep for months and when used moderately, they can also be beneficial to your health. Not only does your body need unprocessed salt to survive, salt acts as a carrier of flavor for the herbs which will provide additional health benefits in their own rites. A traditional Tuscan herb salt uses a 50/50 combo of fresh rosemary and sage leaves. A Provencal herb salt on the other hand, adds a touch of lavender to a mixture of thyme, rosemary and savory. Or, if you're feeling more adventurous, try your own mixture of herbs and see what you come up with. Try a combo of mint, lemon grass, cilantro and ginger, or play around with a mixture of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme - the possibilities are endless!
Begin by crushing and peeling each garlic clove. Garlic can have a sprout in the center, which can be bitter, so it is a good idea to remove and discard the sprout if there is one. Next, rake your salt and garlic into a pile on a cutting board. Use a chef's knife to mince the garlic, blending it with the salt as you work. Make a separate pile of herbs on the cutting board and chop them coarsely. Combine the two piles and chop them together until you have a mixture that is the texture of coarse sand. Lastly, spread the herb salt into a thin layer on a baking sheet and leave it near an open window for a couple of days to dry. Once dry, add a little to a well balanced meal and store the rest in a clean, dry jar.
Iodine is essential to life, but both deficiency and overdose can have severe health consequences. The body needs iodine - a trace mineral - to make thyroid hormones which control the body's metabolism and many other important functions. Without sufficient iodine, your body is unable to produce these hormones, opening the door for a host of health complications including enlarged thyroid, hypothyroidism, fibrocystic breast disease, and various physical and mental disabilities during fetal development. On the other hand, excessive intake of Iodine can cause an enlarged thyroid as well as hyperthyroidism, thyroid papillary cancer and iodermia, a serious skin reaction.
Environmental factors including soil concentration and use of fertilizers can affect the iodine levels of foods and most foods that naturally contain iodine typically contain only small amounts. Due to iodine additives, processed foods provide sufficient amounts of iodine, but due to the numerous downfalls of processed foods, you're better off opting for the lower iodine-containing natural foods to supply your body's iodine. Sea vegetables, natural yogurt, grass-fed eggs and mozzarella cheese are all excellent sources of natural iodine. Fish and shellfish, while rumored to be excellent sources of iodine, can actually vary greatly regarding iodine content. As such, it is a good idea to not rely too heavily on fish as an iodine source. The use of iodized salt has dramatically increased the iodine intake of people in developed countries. It is important to keep in mind when switching to a healthier source of salt - especially if you go the extra step of ridding your diet of processed foods that contain iodine additives - your iodine intake may dramatically decrease as well. Iodine levels can be a bit tricky to maintain, so be sure to talk to your naturopathic doctor before adjusting your diet or supplements for reasons related to iodine. Consultation with your naturopathic doctor is especially important if you have a history of thyroid problems, poor dietary balance and deficient intake of iodine and/or selenium. Check out this article on Nascent Iodine, do your own research and discuss with your naturopathic doctor.
A fragrant and practical herb, lemon verbena has a long history of use around the world, but today it is largely undervalued in America. It originated in Argentina and Chile and was introduced to the rest of the world in the late 1700s. Historically and globally, lemon verbena has been used in a variety of ways. In France it is known for its herbal properties and is often used in teas, culinary and liquor flavoring, and even in the production of perfumes and soaps. In Morocco, it is believed that a tea made by steeping the leaves in hot water can help relieve menstrual cramps and stomach aches. As an herbal remedy, Lemon Verbena also serves to ease tension, anxiety and stress, to reduce fever, and to ease colds, asthma, colic, dyspepsia, indigestion, flatulence and diarrhea. Additionally, while there is little scientific research, there is oral history that indicates this herb may have EMF protecting properties.
Lemon verbena should be used in moderation, as prolonged internal use or large doses of Lemon Verbena may cause gastric irritation. In general, Lemon Verbena boasts a host of creative uses. Use the leaves and flowers in culinary creations including teas, desserts, fruit salads and jams. Add a sprig of Lemon Verbena to your vacuum cleaner bag, to help freshen the air as you clean. Plant Lemon Verbena in your garden, yard or in strategically placed pots, or hang bunches of it around your patio to take advantage of its strong citrus scent, which acts as a natural insect repellant. Tuck a few leaves behind books, or place on shelves, to keep fish-moths away. Consider it for homemade perfumes, cosmetics and potpourris. And when you really need to relax, run hot water over a bunch of fresh Lemon Verbena sprigs to make a scented bath that will help soothe tired muscles and clear nasal passages.
In the overall span of human evolution, people have had continuous contact with the Earth, allowing our bodies to ground their electric energies. However, the advent and abundant use of asphalt, wood, carpeting, rubbers and plastics over the last century has greatly reduced our direct contact with the ground. The Earth maintains a negative electrical charge on its surface, and direct contact with the ground - whether walking, sitting or lying, in dirt, rock, sand or grass - will conduct the Earth's electrons to your body. In fact, the human body naturally conducts and delivers electrons from the feet to every other part of the body. This transfer of electrons grounds your body's electrical currents and can help to minimize the potential effects of exposure to EMFs, possibly including dirty electricity. Additionally, the physical health changes from grounding are usually quick, often occurring within thirty minutes of bare contact with the Earth.
Recent research has shown that grounding, or "Earthing," can positively affect a number of body systems and processes, including blood flow, heart rate, inflammation, cortisol levels, sleep, the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and even stress levels. If you are concerned about your body's electric charge, or want to see the difference made by grounding, you can measure your body's electricity levels using a body voltage meter. These measuring tools are inexpensive and can be purchased through many electronics retailers. The body of research on the subject of grounding is still growing, but initial research indicates significant short and long term health benefits. So take off those shoes and socks and connect with the Earth!
Photo credit. FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
The Ultimate Antioxidant: Fight Premature Aging for Free. Mercola.com.
Ober, A. Clinton. 2000. Grounding the Human Body to Neutralize Bioelectrical Stress from Static Electricity and EMFs. ESD Journal.
Gaetan Chevalier, Ph.D. 2010. Changes in Pulse Rate, Respiratory Rate, Blood Oxygenation, Perfusion Index, Skin Conductance, and Their Variability Induced During and After Grounding Human Subjects for 40 Minutes. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Vol 16, Number 1, pp. 1-7.
Gaetan Chevalier et al. 2012. Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health.