EMF's are a tricky issue to talk about. There is increasingly a ton of research coming out of academia confirming negative health effects associated with EMF exposure. Yet, for whatever reason, when EMF's come up in conversation, a lot of people will roll their eyes in the same way they would if you were talking about extraterrestrials or chem-trails or an equivalent "conspiracy" theory. (not to dismiss those theories...)
Why is this? Perhaps because we don't interact with EMF's with our 5 primary senses? Maybe because the effects of EMF's are subtle and cumulative rather than immediate? More likely is that few people understand what EMF's are, how ubiquitous they are and how they effect the body. If more people knew this information, I'd guess there would be a lot more attention paid. I view EMF's as one of the biggest drains on health, energy levels and performance than almost no one talks about.
What's an EMF?
EMF stands for Electromagnetic Field. I'll just paraphrase wikipedia's definition here for simplicity:
EMF's are generated by essentially anything metallic that is in motion or interacts with an electrical current. Practically speaking, any and every electronic device around you is generating an EMF almost constantly.
EMF's vary in both frequency and intensity. When two EMF's interact, there is an attunement between the two, and the frequency and intensity of both naturally tend to average.
EMF's In The Body
What else generates an EMF? The human body. Yep, the human body is, at one level, an electrical machine. The nervous system sends signals via electro-chemical impulses. Really, the nervous system is just the most observable example of a phenomena that is occurring in every cell in your body. Millions of chemical reactions are occurring every minute in every part of your body, collectively referred to as "metabolism". Each of these chemical reactions produces a tiny electrical charge. While the electrical charge generated by a single reaction is insignificant, the cumulative charge produced by all of the reactions in the body becomes quite significant. This cumulative electrical charge is the body's electromagnetic field.
This is important because many of the body's processes are sensitive to the electromagnetic environment. The body's cumulative EMF stays relatively constant in the absence of outside influence, and these metabolic processes require the body's EMF to be within a narrow frequency range for optimal functioning.
The earth also generates an EMF, which is almost aways has a frequency of around 10hz. Because our bodies and metabolisms evolved at a time where the earth's EMF was easily the dominant one in the environment, the thinking is that metabolic and neurological function is healthiest when the body is attuned to this 10hz frequency. I tend to be skeptical of this type of "harmony with mother earth" -type thinking, but in this case my own powerful personal experience and the documented experience of countless others makes be a believer in the idea that the human body is healthiest when attuned to the earth's EMF.
Negative Effects Of EMF's
It seems that enzymes and hormones are the most effected by EMF exposure. This makes sense, given that both are proteins. Proteins use the electrostatic interaction between different amino acids to take their exact shape. Enzymes and hormones are non-functional unless they have their precise intended shape. If EMF exposure disrupts even one of these electrostatic interactions in the protein, the result is a non-functional enzyme/hormone and a disrupted metabolic process.
The following have been shown by academic research as effects of hormone/enzyme disruption as a result of sustained EMF exposure:
- reduced immune function
- altered gene expression
- increased stress response (hormonal)
- disrupts melatonin production (sleep-regulating hormone)
- risk of DNA damage
As troubling as these potential effects are, it is the potential effect on nervous system function that worries me the most with EMF exposure. Our nervous system is fundamentally an electrical one, so the potential for disruption by EMF's is significant. The following neurological effects have been correlated with EMF:
- sleep disruption (less time spent in REM, etc)
- impaired cognitive function
- increased risk of autism (in children)
Most Significant Sources Of Disruptive EMF Exposure
- Wireless Home Electronics - cordless phone base-stations and wireless routers are notoriously bad emitters of disruptive EMF's
- Laptops - particularly bad because we touch them, allowing for greater EMF disruption. even worse when plugged into the wall.
- Cell Phones! - you know your phone sends the signal to a cell tower (sometimes many miles away), and not vice versa...right? That's a pretty strong electromagnetic signal being generated in your pocket. Apart from the antenna, the battery and other electronics create their own EMF. Cell phones are particularly a concern because they stay so close to our bodies for so long.
- TV's, Stereos, Dimmer Switches, Desktop Computers, Microwaves - And any other appliance that pulls a large amount of power for a sustained period. Also, EMF's are just one on a long list of reasons why microwaves suck. Please stop using them if you haven't already.
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Forgive the John Candy reference. But take a moment to consider what all of transportation modes are at a fundamental level. Big steel containers powered by large engines and electrical systems, almost never with any metal-to-earth contact to disperse the electromagnetic fields being generated. Unsurprisingly, these vehicles create powerful EMF's.
Protect Yourself - Avoiding Contact
The best way to protect your self from the negative effects of EMF exposure is to avoid exposure whenever possible. Here are a few tips:
- Keep Your Distance - The further you are from an EMF, the less the less potential it has to disrupt your body's natural field. Whenever possible, stay away from electronics listed above. This can include moving a wireless router to a less-trafficked corner of the room or keeping your cell phone in a bag rather than in your pocket.
- Unplug! - Look around your house, and when an appliance is not in use, unplug it. This is the best way to significantly reduce EMF's in the home.
- Use An External Keyboard/Mouse - Using a passive (USB) external keyboard and mouse when you're on your laptop will drastically reduce your exposure. I often see my productivity and focus go up when I do this, which I attribute to less disruption of my body's EMF and thus, cognitive function.
- Keep EMF's Out Of The Bedroom - Sleep is a particularly sensitive energetic state our bodies enter into on a daily basis. Keeping electrical appliances out of the bedroom altogether can do a lot to improve speep quality.
Protect Yourself - Grounding
It's an inevitability of living in society that we will be exposed to disruptive EMF's every day, one way or another. Our body's natural field is fundamentally no different than any other EMF. When we're exposed to external EMF's, our body's field attunes to the external one just like an artificially-created field would. This attunement to an external field is what we refer to when we talk about disruption. Avoiding EMF's is a critical first step, but you should make it a priority to ground periodically throughout your day, and particularly after you've encountered a strong external EMF. Grounding is the practice of using direct contact with the earth to at once disperse any electromagnetic pollution held in your body -and- allow your body to attune to the strong, low-frequency EMF the earth produces. Here's a few tips for how to practice grounding:
- Get Your Hands/Feet On The Earth - Our skin is slightly electroconductive, so allowing it to make direct contact with the earth will allow electromagnetic pollution to be dispersed and facilitate the process of attunement to the field emitted by the earth. Walking in the grass or making direct contact with other plants in the ground is the best way to do this grounding. If you've been in front of a computer for a while or been in an automobile, taking even a couple minutes to hang out in a patch of earth will do a lot to balance your body's field. The gains in focus, productivity and emotional state will be well worth the time invested.
- Grounding Products - If grounding proves to be a powerful practice for you and you're inspired to take the next step, there is a whole industry around creating and distributing products designed to facilitate grounding or protect you from EMF exposure. LessEMF.com and Groundology.com seem to be the big players in the industry. It's amazing the diversity of products here (I'm skeptical of most of them). I'd suggest starting with grounding mats if you're looking to make a foray into this world of EMF-reduction products.
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Graham Ryan is the creator and lead writer for Synchro Life Design. Biochemist and nutritionist by training. Athlete, yoga teacher and integral thinker by passion. Google