Rob Brown, MD

A Physician's Unique Perspective on Wellness

Category: The Essentials (Page 1 of 3)

Making Safe Drinking Water at Home

Water is a medium, an aggregation of tiny H2O molecules, each with a positively charged end and a negatively charged end, functioning like a mini magnet. Billions of water molecules naturally align with each other to form a 3 dimensional matrix. Water is an electrical conduit transmitting electromagnetic frequencies in addition to allowing the dispersement of chemical compounds through diffusion. Both processes are needed for almost every bodily function.

Water is referred to as the “universal solvent” because it has the important chemical property of being able to dissolve a vast number of materials. Not only can water dissolve salts, minerals and chemical compounds such as sugars, essential to life, water can also dissolve toxins. Both naturally occurring inorganic compounds, such as heavy metals and radioactive particles, as well as organic compounds, ranging from simple carbon dioxide to benzene, phthalates, formaldehyde and many others produced by the chemical industry can dissolve in water. Dissolved contaminants may cause discoloration or an odor, but this isn’t always the case. In some instances, water can look clear and be odorless, yet be poisonous.

Water in some parts of world is so clean you can quench your thirst directly from the runoff of a melting glacier. In other parts of the world, water is scarce and/or dangerously polluted. As a nation, the US water supply is somewhere in the middle. We are extraordinarily fortunate to have municipalities that can supply fresh drinking water into the homes of larger communities while others have the ability to get water directly from aquifers through their private wells.

Fresh drinking water distributed by local water authorities has had some toxins and heavy metal contaminants removed. But, the main emphasis of the water authority is to sanitize the water. For this purpose, chemicals such as chlorine or chloramine (a compound mixture of chlorine and ammonia) are added to the water to kill bacteria and other potential pathogens, protecting our communities from waterborne illness. Water authorities are unable to filter out many contaminants that have infiltrated our water table and reservoirs and therefore your fresh drinking tap water may contain traces of medications, pesticides, herbicides, etc., in addition to sanitation byproducts. If you are relying on your public utility to provide you with clean, healthy water that you can drink straight from the tap, you are being too trusting. The water source itself, the piping from the source to your home and the piping within your home are all potential sources of contamination.

Even though you shouldn’t drink your tap water as is, regardless of its source, that doesn’t mean you should consider it unusable and instead spend your cash on bottled water.  Bottled water is either sourced directly from a well or merely treated tap water. Unfortunately, the water sources for the majority of these bottled water companies contain the same contaminants that your tap water at home contains, including traces of medication, industrial chemicals and disinfection products. In addition, water should not be stored in a plastic bottle. The ingredients used to make plastic, along with impurities and byproducts can leach all kinds of chemicals into the water as it is stored, especially if the bottle is exposed to sunlight or a heat source.

The most economical solution, and certainly the healthiest alternative, is to skip the plastic water bottles except on rare occasion, and get a reliable water filter for your home. Then, you can filter your home’s tap water and drink it with confidence. By using activated charcoal and other filter components, a good quality countertop gravity drip purifier can remove most of the contaminants from your water source, including chlorine. Some chemicals, such as chloramines may require more extensive filtration to eliminate. Popular plastic canister systems containing only an activated charcoal filter are not nearly as efficient at removing contaminants as a more substantial system with multiple filters. A good quality counter top drip system can be an excellent method to purify your drinking water.

Store your water in a glass container such as a carafe and drink from a glass or a ceramic cup. If you purchase a glass or stainless steel water canister, you can bring your own water with you when you go to work, school, the gym or to any other activity thereby ensuring that you have clean drinking water throughout your day. There are plenty of glass containers with protective rubber sleeves on the market to allow their safe transport. If you use a metal container, make sure it isn’t lined with any type of plastic material. Due to massive public outcry over the negative health effects caused by Bisphenol A (BPA), many companies now advertise their products as being BPA free. But, even if your container says “BPA free”, scrutinize the interior of the vessel to make sure there is no coating. The industry has figured out alternative replacement chemical compounds to BPA, such as bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF), which have also being implicated in causing hormonal damage to the body. Quill.com has a helpful post covering this topic and also offers suggestions for ways to optimally clean your water storage containers. I agree with their content with the exception of their recommendation of BPA free plastic containers for the reasons I just explained. Their blog can be reached here.

So what are the potential negative health effects that one can have from drinking water laden with chemicals such as BPA, chlorine, chloramine, phthalates? Everything from endocrine disruption to cancer. These products of the chemical industry are not nutrients and shouldn’t be dissolved in your drinking water, in any concentration. Even minute amounts will become absorbed into your body’s tissues, bioaccumulate over time, and cause unknown and certainly unwanted health effects. The more frequently you are exposed to these chemicals, the greater the concentration build up in your body’s tissues over time.

Finally, but no less important, there is growing support for the idea that water has the ability to store frequency and therefore has a form of memory. It is unclear how the memory of water can then change its energetic properties. The field of homeopathy is based on this concept. Some believe that even focussing your mind on a thought such as gratitude, love or joy while holding and looking at your glass of water before drinking it can cause a harmonizing effect on the water by transmitting unseen energetic frequency to the water. When you drink water with this coherence, the water may have an even more powerful, mysterious effect on nurturing and healing your body. Try it. You have nothing to lose and perhaps a lot to gain!

Take time to research and find a good countertop water purifier for your home. After you make the purchase and set up the system, relax and be thankful that you will not only have healthy glasses of water to drink each day, you will now have started down the path of ridding your body of unwanted chemicals.

Check out the following infographic from Quill.com for more guidance on storing and transporting your purified water!

If you have any questions or comments regarding this posting, please feel free to email me at rob@robbrownmd.com

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF): A Beginner’s Guide to Assessment and Remediation

Tech companies are flooding the marketplace with an abundance of wireless gadgets. Meanwhile, many health care practitioners around the world are raising the public’s awareness of the damaging health effects associated with chronic EMF exposure. This blog series is designed to help clarify some of these health effects and to recommend simple ways you can reduce your EMF exposure as much as possible. But where to start?

Bandwidths of EMF

To protect your health, and the health of your family, a systematic evaluation of your daily EMF exposure should be performed. Living spaces at home and in the workplace are important areas to study. Four categories of EMF should be evaluated.. These include:

  • Extremely low frequencies electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) 

These frequencies are generated by electrical wiring and appliances. Most are familiar with the potential danger of electrical and magnetic fields emanating from high tension power lines, but internal wiring within our home’s walls is a source of potentially harmful ELF-EMF.  This form of radiation can also infiltrate our homes through ground currents traveling via water pipes and even emanate from radiators! Although the intensity associated with ELF-EMF from internal wiring drops off over a relatively short distance, these fields have been implicated in sleep disturbances, especially when the head of the bed is positioned in front of an outlet and/or power cords.

  • Magnetic fields 

Magnetic waves are generated when current moves through wires and appliances. Turn on your blender or a hair dryer, and a strong transient magnetic field is produced. Some of us are exposed to constantly fluctuating magnetic fields generated by neighborhood power lines. Magnetic fields penetrate through windows and walls and vary in intensity with depending on local power consumption. Exposure to magnetic fields are becoming much more prevalent with the rapid implementation of electronic utility meters, such as the SMART meter. These devices report your usage data throughout the day and night to the utility company.

SMART meter

I have heard many people report that once a SMART meter had been applied to their house, their days of sound sleeping ended. I personally experienced a scary episode of uncontrolled hypertension which required hospitalization soon after a SMART meter was placed on my home. It was after the episode that I learned the old analogue meter had been recently removed and replaced by a SMART meter. I know two individuals who suffered atrial fibrillation requiring cardiac ablation after SMART meters were installed on the exterior of their home. Although the scientific community has not yet confirmed these cardiac associations, it has been reported that chronic exposure to high magnetic fields has been linked to an increase in neurodegenerative diseases including ALS and Parkinson’s disease  Ironically, magnetic fields are also being used to help treat Parkinson’s disease.

  • Dirty electricity

Generated from modern appliances, dirty electricity results from the common manipulation of the 60 Hz electrical current to run gadgets. Many appliances, dimmer switches, fluorescent lights, circuit breakers, and others cause surges and spikes of current, emitting radiofrequency EMF (RF-EMF).

  • RF-EMF

Microwave oven, smart appliances, wireless communication, cell phones, wifi routers, smart homes, Bluetooth devices, etc. are all examples of devices that produce RF fields. Microwave frequency (a subset of the RF band) has been shown to produce neuropsychiatric symptoms, including depression. 
 

The Engineering approach – Measure, eliminate, reduce, shield and remeasure again.

A complete EMF assessment requires the use of 4 different meters, each capable of detecting different bandwidths. A survey can be a complex task, especially as our environments become more infused with overlapping, concurrent frequencies. Although purchasing a detector or two will certainly help you become more aware of the presence or absence of some ambient EMF fields in your home, it may become necessary to hire a specialist, referred to as a building biologist, to come into your home to do an assessment and create a plan for remediation. 

Remediation 

With the aid of detectors, EMF fields can be measured and sourced. Afterwards, remediation techniques can be implemented. Methods of remediation vary depending on the frequency, location, and power of the source.

Typical methods for reducing EMF-ELF include unplugging appliances and turning off circuit breakers in the bedroom before sleep. Kill switches can be installed that not only turn off power to the bedroom but also disconnect the ground, removing any potential for dirty electricity to migrate into the bedroom. 

Magnetic fields from appliances such as alarm clock radios, which often emit strong magnetic fields, can be moved away from the bed, unplugged during sleep, or replaced by battery operated clocks. Magnetic fields emanating from electrical transmission lines cannot be remediated in most instances. Unfortunately, the only way to reduce exposure to these magnetic fields is to move further away from the wires.

Cleaning up dirty electricity may include the removal of appliances creating this contaminant or the installation of filters, such as Stetzer or Greenwave filters, or similar technology, plugging at least one filter into an outlet within each room of the home. 

The application of shielding fabrics, paints and window films help reduce RF from within your home as well as from neighbors and outdoor sources. People often joke about wearing a tinfoil hat to shield your brain from EMF. It is true that foil can reflect and deflect EMF. But seriously, shielding requires some know how, including suitable grounding, and should be done with the aid of a building biologist so that hot spots of concentrated EMF aren’t inadvertently created. A bed canopy composed of EMF shielding fabric, can be an effective way to eliminate RF exposure during sleep. 

After remediation, living areas should be reassessed to ensure that EMF intensity has diminished or been eliminated altogether.
 

Pendants, Crystals, etc.

There are many products on the market designed to ameliorate the symptoms and health effects of EMF. These products range from pendants and stickers containing various metals or circuitry to electrical devices that produce specialized EMF signals designed to lull the brain into a sense of calmness, improving sleep. I have experimented with several of these products over the years, but unfortunately, no peer reviewed studies have shown that the deleterious cellular effects of EMF are reduced by these gadgets. More concerning is that by improving anxiety, these products may provide a false sense of security that the phone or other wireless gadget is safer to use and result in greater EMF exposure thereby potentially increasing the risk of disease. A product that improves your sleep will be beneficial, but I believe the best way to reduce EMF related health risk is to limit and/or eliminate exposure.

Professional Contacts

Building biologists are specialty trained to address unhealthy indoor environments. From mold eradication to EMF detection and remediation, a building biologist can be a valuable resource. An EMF specialist will have detectors to measure each band of frequency, and will survey every room in your home. Following, they will prepare a detailed report and make suggestions as to how you can mitigate exposure. In rare and unfortunate instances, they may tell you to move! Some people hire a building biologist in addition to the usual home inspection team, to assess interior EMF levels before purchasing a new home. EMF is not something the usual home inspector will test for. The Building Biology Institute has a certification program for training biologists in the field of electromagnetic radiation assessment. Their database can be accessed here.

Having an increase in strange and nonspecific symptoms? You may be electrosensitive to EMF

Energy currents in an environment infused with electromagnetic fields (EMF) are not readily detectable by our 5 senses. Yet, more and more people are experiencing a variety of nonspecific physical symptoms when exposed to EMF. A subset of individuals even experience an intense reaction, a condition known as electrohypersensitivity syndrome (EHS).

Because EMF can affect the workings of any given cell. EMF exposure can induce a wide variety of nonspecific symptoms in a person with electrosensitivity and EHS, in particular, including:

  • Headaches
  • Pressure and/or sharp pain in the head/ears
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Dizziness/Vertigo/Tinnitus
  • Visual/hearing disturbance
  • Short term memory loss
  • Insomnia/disturbed sleep/Circadian rhythm reversal
  • Tremors/vibratory sensation/seizures
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Sense of urinary and/or bowel urgency
  • Increased chemical sensitivity
  • General sensory up regulation

Courtesy of Dr. Erica Mallery-Blythe Electromagnetic Fields Conference Diagnosis and Treatment: Effects of Electromagnetic Fields Exposure – 2019

It is important to understand that electrosensitivity is not a disorder, dysfunction or disease. An individual who can sense EMF will adapt and make lifestyle modifications to avoid exposure the rest of us don’t perceive. Living in neighborhoods and cities has become increasingly uncomfortable for people with extreme sensitivity and many must move out to remote areas where EMF is minimal or absent. EMF free zones are slowly disappearing as industry broadens its network across the globe.

Medical Treatment

If you are suffering from headaches, depression, tinnitus, vertigo, or any of the other conditions associated with EMF, a very real solution might be to make lifestyle changes that diminish your daily and nighttime EMF exposure. 

Several years ago, a close family member was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism by a physician after serial blood tests documented persistently abnormal values. After discussing the surgical and radio-ablation treatment options available to her with her physician, she apprised me of the situation. Being aware that the thyroid gland is extremely sensitive to radiation, I asked her where her wifi router was located. She replied that it was in her bedroom. I suggested she move the router down to the basement before undergoing any treatment and to have her bloodwork repeated one more time. She agreed, and at her follow up doctor visit, her lab values had normalized. Her thyroid function has remained normal ever since without any surgical or medical treatment. 

Certainly, some medical conditions in the above list, such as cardiac arrhythmia require prompt medical attention, but excessive exposure to EMF may cause debilitating, non emergent conditions, such as insomnia, even in children. My teenagers have proudly shared with me that when their school friends complain of insomnia they’ve told them not to sleep next to their cell phones. It’s a start…

At this point in time, most physicians know nothing about EMF or its negative health effects. But, if you have EHS symptoms and need guidance, there is a growing community of physicians aware of this condition. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine and the International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness are organizations with online searches for knowledgeable physicians. As this condition becomes better understood by the general medical community, the number of physicians available for advice will undoubtedly increase.

Finally, The Environmental Health Trust is an exceptional online resource providing a large number of educational materials and more to help you gain a complete understanding of the current status and future trends of EMF generating technology.

EMF, Cancer, and Chronic Disease

Miscommunication within a cell or between cells is a common cause of disease. Mixed messages and altered signals can result from biochemical contaminants as well as electromagnetic interference. Most people scan down a list of potential adverse health effects to see if a toxin can cause cancer. The risk of developing a chronic inflammatory condition such as autoimmune disease or a hormonal disorder like diabetes doesn’t raise the hair up on most people’s necks like the thought of potentially getting cancer. 

Do electromagnetic fields (EMF) cause cancer?
In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified EMF as a Group 2B carcinogen, i.e. possibly carcinogenic. This determination was based on the potential increased risk of developing brain cancer from mobile cell phone use. That means, as far as the World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned, EMF may cause cancer. We might have thought that over the years, with thousands of peer reviewed journal articles in the scientific literature, this uncertainty would have been resolved. But unfortunately, for political and economic reasons, the WHO placed a majority of members tied to industry on this important influential core research committee. Their conflicts of interest render the indecision suspect.

What causes cancer? 
At a most basic understanding, two conditions can lead to cancer. The first is an improperly functioning immune system. The second is an agent causing an excessive number of cells to go rogue and reproduce uncontrollably. Most of us think of something “causing” cancer as being the latter. Studies on EMF have shown the radiation can play an influential role in both processes.  

EMF and the Immune System
In a real sense, the cure for cancer has always been within ourselves. A properly functioning immune system is designed to knock out crazed, uncontrollable cancer cells before they get a foothold. Immune cells called natural killer cells are tasked with this chore. Short term exposure to EMF can excite the immune system and increase immune reaction, but prolonged, chronic EMF exposure has been shown to cause a drop off in the immune system’s response and a reduction in the number of natural killer cells. Most of us now live with chronic exposure to radio-frequency (RF) EMF through our cell phones, wifi routers, and other sources, ELF-EMF emitted by 50 Hz and 60Hz electrical currents running through our homes also negatively impact the immune system. Magnetic fields over 1 microtesla generated by some appliances and neighborhood power lines have also been found to cause a drop off in NK cells.  

EMF, Cellular Miscommunication, and Oxidative Stress
Cancer starts with one cell going haywire and loosing its “sense of purpose and community. The diseased cell no longer communicates properly with its surroundings and begins to incessantly reproduce itself. One of the important mechanisms by which this can occur is through an internal imbalance called oxidative stress. When a cell is experiencing oxidative stress, molecules within the cell are missing electrons. These charged molecules then look to steal electrons from other sources in the cell, setting off a cascade of events potentially damaging DNA, mitochondria (the energy generating powerhouses of the cell), and the cell membrane, among other important intracellular structures. 

EMF causes oxidative stress even at non-thermal levels! Yes, EMF, along with many other environmental toxins, can cause oxidative stress. Many diseases, including ALL inflammatory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, can arise from oxidative stressChronic oxidative stress in the brain can also lead to mental illness, stroke, and dementia. There is evidence that cardiovascular disease is increasing because of oxidative stress from chronic EMF exposure. And, some researchers have uncovered evidence that the diabetes and childhood obesity epidemics may also be the result of increasing EMF fields in our society.  

What can you do?
1. Limit your exposure to EMF as much as possible during the day and at night.
2. Hardwire your computer and accessories including keyboard, mouse, and printer.
3. Use ethernet cables for all internet based appliances you utilize most often, such as smart TVs, to directly connect them to the internet router. 
4. Turn off wifi while you sleep. Cable companies typically provide a router that emits wifi 24 hours a day. Much better to turn off this capability (ask your cable provider how to do this). With wifi disabled, your cable router will remain in communication with the cable company and hardwired devices will still have internet access. A second wifi router can then be plugged into the cable router when wifi is needed and unplugged before heading for bed. Alternatively, the accessory wifi router can be plugged into an appliance timer so it automatically shuts off 30 minutes before bedtime, and turns back on in the morning.
5. Distance yourself from EMF emitting devices wherever possible. As technology becomes more pervasive in our society, this is becoming increasingly difficult.
6. Place wifi routers far away from the living spaces you spend most of your time in. 
7. Increase your daily consumption of antioxidants. These foods and supplements provide extra electrons to cells undergoing oxidative stress and can help mitigate damage. There are tons of great antioxidant rich foods. I recommend you eat a variety of them and often.
NutrientSource
Vitamin ACarrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli
Vitamin ESunflower seeds, almonds, leafy greens
CysteineCheese, sunflower seeds, chicken
CoQ10Organ meats, spinach, oranges
FlavonoidsTea, Citrus fruit
GlutathioneAsparagus, avocados, squash
Additional suggestions:Artichokes, dark chocolate, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
A Few Recommended Antioxidants 

COVID-19, Blood Clots, and Possible Exacerbation from Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

This past week, the New England Journal of Medicine published a report that an increased number of strokes are being seen in young patients with COVID-19. Coincidentally, while working last week, I read the CT scans of 3 emergency room patients who had uncommon blood clots. I found the cluster of cases to be unusual. The first patient was a 54-year-old man with a blood clot in the artery supplying his spleen. The loss of blood flow killed (infarcted) a portion of his spleen. The second case was a 71-year-old woman who clotted the artery supplying her intestine (the superior mesenteric artery (SMA)). Her small intestine died. Gas from the dead gut was then pushed into the liver, shown in the following image, and she soon passed away.

Portal venous gas due to SMA thrombosis and ischemic bowel

Portal venous gas due to SMA thrombosis and bowel necrosis

The third patient, a 57 year old man, developed a clot in his portal vein, a large vessel that carries blood and nutrients from the intestine to the liver. Although I didn’t have clinical history providing a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, I did speak to the ER physician and recommended she test these patients for the virus.

Blood clots in veins versus blood clots in arteries

Many people understand that veins can become clotted if you are inactive. Laying in bed for days and sitting for prolonged periods, such as when on a long plane flight or car ride can result in a deep venous thrombosis (DVT). These venous blood clots are dangerous because they can dislodge and float downstream to the heart where they are propelled into the artery leading to the lungs. It is here these clots can block blood flow to the lungs and cause serious health problems, including death.

Blood clots in arteries are different. An arterial clot doesn’t typically come from blood stagnation. Instead, an abnormality in either the clotting characteristics of the blood or a disease of the blood vessel lining which then incites an immune response, can both cause clotting. The parts of the body receiving diminished blood flow become deprived of nutrients and oxygen, a condition called ischemia. In time, the affected structures may die. This process can occur in the arteries supplying the brain (a stroke), those supplying vital organs, the limbs, or anywhere else.

It is now recognized that COVID-19 causes blood clots, both in arteries and in veins. The cause for this appears to be multifactorial. The virus damages the cells that line the blood vessels, the endothelium, and causes an immune response which, in itself, may cause increased viscosity of the blood. Dr. Maria Pavlis, a cardiologist working in a suburban hospital of NYC, told me last night that most of their patients with COVID-19 are now being placed on blood thinners.

Where does EMF fit in?

Evidence that EMF can cause a reaction in endothelial cells, increasing the risk for blood clot formation, was first described in 2004. EMF exposure may also induce Rouleaux formation, a reversible condition where red blood cells adhere to one another and become stacked, one on top of the other like a stack of coins. This phenomenon may occur with many conditions, including infections, connective tissue diseases and cancer. Rouleaux formation can be associated with increased viscosity of the blood and can cause the blockage of small arteries.

Normal Blood Cells
Same Patient – Rouleaux formation of red blood cells after 10 min exposure to 2.45 GHz

Dr. Magda Havas, PhD and Professor Emeritus at Trent University in Ontario, provided me with the following images. Both slides demonstrate blood smear specimens from the same patient and were collected within twenty minutes of each other. The first image was obtained before EMF exposure and is a normal blood sample. The second image was obtained after exposure to 10 minutes of EMF from a 2.45 GHz wifi router (at levels considered safe by international standards and well below FCC guidelines). Red blood cell stacking in the irradiated sample is easily appreciated.

My concern is that given the prevalence of the COVID virus and the ubiquity of EMF in our society, could it be that EMF generated Rouleaux formation is exacerbating the propensity for thrombosis in some patients with COVID-19?

Whether or not you have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, we should all seek ways to reduce our EMF exposure, particularly during sleep. Hardwire computers, accessories, laptops and TVs wherever possible. Turn off EMF emitting devices, such as wifi routers and cell phones at night. Rouleaux formation should reverse, sleep will improve, melatonin production will increase and we will wake up better refreshed and healthier. I’ve made these changes in my own life and highly recommend you do the same!

For more information on possible interrelationships between EMF and COVID-19, please read Dr. Havas’ blog here.

Careful! Don’t Mistakenly Poison Yourself at Home

The American Medical Association (AMA) disseminated several media reports, including this AP news report describing a disturbing national increase in the number of accidental poisonings of adults and children in the US. The authors believe these incidents are related to the use of disinfection products in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Most of you are keenly aware of how to avoid inhalation and contact injuries from toxic household cleansers. But, many others have no idea how damaging these chemicals can be to human health. The pervasive fear of catching COVID-19 is certainly understandable, but it is very important to take simple precautions when cleaning your home so you don’t do unnecessary harm to yourself or your family.

First, I rarely recommend harsh chemicals such as bleach as a household cleaning solution. Hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol can both be used to clean surfaces in the home and will both destroy coronavirus. Hydrogen peroxide requires a long contact time ( 6 to 8 minutes) to be effective and is therefore impractical for many surfaces. However, a concentration of >70% isopropyl alcohol will inactivate the virus in 30 seconds. If you choose to use a strong disinfectant like bleach, it is imperative to wear proper gloves made out of a material such as latex or nitrile. This will protect the skin on your hands and prevent chemical absorption through the skin. It is also important to turn fans on and open up windows to provide cross ventilation whenever you use any disinfectant. Fumes from bleach and other harsh cleaning products can damage the airways leading to the lungs, become absorbed into the bloodstream, and make you and your family sick.

Some people are disinfecting their produce with dilute bleach. Please don’t do this. If you have fruits and vegetables you want to wash, use a non-toxic fruit and vegetable spray designed to clean produce. Or, you can simply use a dilute solution of vinegar in water.

Hand sanitizers should be thoroughly washed from your hands before eating. Be aware that videos are circulating on the internet, showing that hand sanitizers are highly flammable. If you are going to cook on an open range or grill, be sure to first wash the sanitizer from your hands, wrists and forearms before engaging an exposed flame.

If you are attempting to disinfect a makeshift face mask by spraying it with bleach or another disinfectant, please don’t! Breathing in these toxic, concentrated vapors may poison you. Clean your mask with soap and water if it is washable. If your mask material is not washable, you’ll need to replace it often. Hospital masks also need to be replaced frequently. Please don’t attempt to spray your mask with alcohol to sanitize it, for the alcohol will damage the mask’s coating, and render it more penetrable to water droplets.

As always, remember to keep all cleaning and sanitizing products away from children. I suggest you place hand sanitizer gel on your children’s hands when appropriate. But otherwise, keep these bottles and dispensers out of their reach.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. 

Take care and stay well this spring!
 

Can’t Sleep? It Might be EMF

This is the 2nd in a six part blog series on the health effects of electromagnetic frequency (EMF). In the first post, I described thermal related health effects from EMF.

Aside from heat production, there is a common misconception that lower frequencies of EMF, including those used for wireless communication, cannot cause any physical harm. Yet, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of scientific papers from around the world documenting damaging non-thermal health effects from EMF. One important impact is on the sleep-wake cycle.

In the beginning, there was light!

The sun is our solar system’s EMF generator. It produces light along with the gamut of electromagnetic radiation comprising the electromagnetic spectrum. Although gamma rays do not escape the sun’s surface, X-rays and ultraviolet rays make it to Earth where they are absorbed by the atmosphere and ozone layer, respectively. Visible light and lower frequencies of EMF are able to pass through the atmosphere.

At any given time, half the planet receives this energy, while the other half is put into darkness. As the earth rotates, the activities of plants and animals change. All living beings on Earth have biological systems designed to respond to cycles of light and dark. Humans are no exception. We are awake and alert during daylight and sleep when the sky is dark. During slumber, our bodies relax, reassess, and heal. The body’s immune system goes to work during sleep. Cancer cells are suppressed and destroyed.  Injuries are repaired, and life’s puzzles are solved. It is a critical time for  rejuvenation.

Melatonin

One of the most important consequences of sleep is the production of a hormone by the brain’s pineal gland called melatonin. This hormone is produced and released during darkness after prolonged exposure to daylight. Melatonin is critical for a properly functioning immune system, especially during the winter months in the northern latitudes when nights are long and Vitamin D levels are low.

The eyes report ambient light conditions to the pineal gland. If the eyes report that there is light, even dim light, melatonin production and release may be delayed and even suppressed. If, for example, one is sleeping with the television on, even if the eye lids are closed, light will be sensed through the eyelids, and melatonin production and secretion will be delayed or prevented.

Blue frequencies of light suppress melatonin production more dramatically than reddish light. This makes intuitive sense. Bright blue skies tell us it is daytime and readies us for action! The beautiful, calming reddish glow of a setting sun signals us to relax. The day is over.

LED screens on tablets, cell phones, and flat screen TVs produce bluer frequencies of light akin to a blue sky. Watching an LED screen before bedtime including an E-reader, has been shown to suppress and delay melatonin production by over 1.5 hours! .

EMF Suppresses Melatonin Production

Lower frequencies of EMF penetrate the skull and can directly impact pineal gland function and suppress melatonin production just like light. For our pineal gland, living amidst constant EMF emission is like living on a planet where the sun never sets. Melatonin production is dramatically reduced and immune health suffers. It seems that nowadays, human health IS suffering everywhere.

What can you do?

1.  Bask in the sunlight during the daytime hours for at least a few hours. Exposure to daylight is associated with increased melatonin production at night. If you are relegated to the indoors for the better part of the work day and do not have a window in your office, illuminate your work room and/or office with full spectrum lights. Full spectrum and/or blue frequency enriched lights are not ideal, but they may help!

2. Pick a bedtime you can stick with. Over time, your body will adapt to your chosen sleep-wake cycle.

3. Avoid full spectrum lights, blue lights, and LED screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime. So for all you e-book readers, better to read from a real book before bedtime than from an illuminated screen.

4. Choose a warmer reddish bulb for a bedroom lamp rather than a cool blue variety. Light bulbs are now labeled in this manner.

5.  After turning off the lights, make sure there is no ambient light in your bedroom. Any illuminated diodes on equipment should either be unplugged or covered. Have black out liners placed on shades and curtains if light enters your room from outside. If needed, wear a sleep mask to prevent any light from coming into your eyes while sleeping.

6. Turn off all EMF sources. Depending on your location, urban versus rural, this may be more difficult. But, here are a few suggestions. 

  • Place Wifi router on a timer so it automatically shuts off prior to bedtime.
  • If you keep a cell phone in your bedroom while you sleep, place the phone in airplane mode. Otherwise, move the cell phone to another room, far away from your bed.
  • If you suspect there are external sources of EMF entering your bedroom from a nearby cell tower or power line, they will ultimately need to be addressed. Look for further info in future blogs.
  • Consider unplugging lamps, clocks and other appliances next to your bed while you sleep. Circuit breakers supplying electricity to the bedroom can be turned off to cease extremely low frequency (ELF)-EMF emanating from electrical lines within walls and cords.

Pick one modification at a time and work your way through this list. As you do, I am certain you will find yourself having much more restful nights than before. You will be MUCH healthier too!

One final suggestion… 

7. If you have a loved one in the hospital, rehab or nursing facility, provide them with ear plugs and a sleep mask. These health facilities notoriously provide an atmosphere polluted with noise and ambient light, precisely the opposite of what the body needs to heal. A sleep mask will encourage melatonin production and allow their body to heal faster.

An Introduction to EMF: Basic Cell Phone and Tablet Precautions

What is electromagnetic frequency (EMF)?

Everyone everywhere interacts with EMF everyday. Radio waves, microwaves, wifi, and sunlight are all everyday examples of EMF. These bandwidths of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) exist on a continuum spanning from extremely low frequency (ELF) waves to X-rays and gamma radiation with higher frequencies harnessing greater energy. 

The term EMF is now commonly used to represent the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum, and includes extremely low frequency (ELF), very low frequency (VLF), and radio frequency (RF) waves. Visible light, a narrow band of higher frequency, is the only part of the electromagnetic spectrum we can “see” with our eyes. Understanding that visible light is part of the same electromagnetic spectrum as ELF-EMF and RF is important. 

EMF sources

The sun irradiates Earth with a broad array of EMF, warming the planet, and providing plants frequencies with which they can generate chemical energy. Human generated EMF fields were first created during the advent of electricity in the 1800s. Today, EMF is produced from technology utilizing electricity and devices that send and receive wireless communication. We have learned how to modulate EMF, meaning attach information to these various frequencies to fully harness the power of this technology. Human generated EMF is emitted by numerous sources including :

        Wifi routers
        ALEXA and other SMART home devices
        Baby Monitors
        Cell phones, Tablets, smart watches, smart TVs
        Microwave ovens
        Smart Lights
        Smart meters
        Ground currents
       “Dirty” Electricity  
        Power cords
        Light bulbs
        Electrical transmission lines
        Gaming consoles
        Blue tooth devices and wireless ear buds
        CPAP machines and health monitoring equipment
        Hybrid vehicles and electric cars
        Cell phone towers, radar, 5G small cells

If you live in an urban environment, you are more than likely surrounded by devices that produce overlapping EMF fields throughout your day, everyday. These fields travel invisibly through the air and penetrate the walls of our homes, businesses, and our bodies. Depending on the frequency and signal strength, the EMF’s energy may pass through your body or become absorbed. The signal strength, referred to as the amplitude, is much greater at the energy source, so standing right next to a microwave oven or a wifi router is going to blast you with much more EMF than if you are 20 feet away from the same source. 
 

Why we should all care about EMF

We are living through an explosion of technology generating EMF. The extent to which our environment has been infiltrated by EMF from electricity and wireless communication is truly mind-blowing.

Consider these two maps of the Continental US and Canada showing wifi networks in 2003 and 2019 (from www.wigle.net)


2003                                                  2019

This technology is coming at us with a cost most of us are unaware of. Perhaps your vision is deteriorating you received a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism,  or you can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep anymore. For other’s, it may mean irregular heart beatsAre you or your children depressed? Yes, this too could be the result of too much EMF exposure. Unfortunately, many more increasingly common conditions  have also been associated with EMF exposure. We should all care about EMF. Our bodies absorb this energy and react in different ways. All frequencies of energy are biologically active. Like chemical toxins and toxicants, EMF can damage the body’s functionality. Learning about electropollution is important for every one of us.
 

Penetrating and potentially damaging heat

If you have ever held a cell phone up to your ear (something you will no longer want to do after reading this blog series), you have undoubtedly noticed that your ear and cheek heat up quickly while you are using the phone in this manner. Did you know that the temperature rise you experience is not limited to the skin surface? If you hold a cell phone against your ear to talk, the heating effects from EMF penetrate deep into the skull and warm the brain!  For children, this effect is more dramatic than for adults. The heating effect is significantly less when you hold the cell phone away from the skin surface. Similarly, the warmth you feel in your lap where your tablet has been sitting, is EMF produced by your device penetrating and becoming absorbed. Water is the most effective absorber of EMF and our bodies are composed of mostly water. Consider that a microwave oven heats up food with frequencies not much higher than those used for wireless communication! 

 The human body is held at a specific temperature, 37 degrees C (98.6 degrees F) for an important reason. Living systems are composed of proteins which perform critical life tasks such as maintaining a genetic code through the formation of DNA. Proteins also compose enzymes which work as little three dimensional machines accomplishing innumerable important functions in every cell of the body.

The ability of an enzyme or protein to do its job is determined by its physical shape which is only able to be maintained within a specific temperature range. When temperatures rise above 40 degrees C (104 degrees F), (only 5 degrees over our normal body temperature), proteins begin to lose their shape and functionality, a process called denaturing.

EMF exposure from the common usage of devices, won’t cause an increase in the body’s core temperature, but can generate local hot spots within the body’s tissues which may cause local proteins to denature and compromise the functioning of the affected cells. This is a dangerous and scary proposition.


Recommendations:

Follow this basic rule of thumb…If you feel warmth from an electrical device, turn it off and/or move it away from your body. 

  • Never hold your cell phone up to your head. Cell phone manufacturers include an information sheet with their packaging that specifies not to keep the cell phone within 1 inch of the body when in use. This is an important precaution. Get in the habit of placing your cell phone in speaker mode and laying it on a desk or countertop when in use. 
  • Do not place an EMF generating device on your lap, especially if you are pregnant! I dread walking through an airport and seeing a young expectant mother with a portable computer on her belly knowing she has tapped into wifi and her unborn child is being irradiated. Research has shown that prenatal exposure to EMF may affect brain development, future learning, and memory. Industry renamed the “laptop” a “tablet” because these machines belong on a table and not on a lap. If you need to put a device on your lap, make sure it is in airplane mode with Bluetooth turned off. 
  • Do not walk around with a Bluetooth device, including wireless earbuds, in your ear. These devices bring EMF directly to the brain via the ear canal. EMF has been implicated as a cause for the increase in acoustic neuromas (a benign form of brain tumor) over the past decade! Although research on Bluetooth devices has not yet been published, why take the chance? Best to listen to music through an external speaker. If you need to use a headphone set, find an accessory that breaks off the electrical current and associated EMF away from the ear canal by interposing a segment of plastic tubing. These devices are a much safer way to go for even wired headsets bring EMF currents into the ear canal. 

Changing cell phone and tablet habits may seem like a burden, but new routines become engrained quickly. I strongly suggest you apply these recommendations and begin limiting EMF exposure. Your future health may depend on it.

Preparations for an Incipient War on the Corona Virus COVID-19

As a health care professional, I’ve been receiving daily emails and updates on the state of the latest corona virus, known as COVID-19. As we all know, the disease is spreading. I am sending out this blog to my readership to provide suggestions for optimizing your immune system. If you acquire the virus, it will be a battle fought from within. Even though our bodies have never been exposed to this virus, and therefore have no antibodies to it, there are a few things we can do to help our immune systems combat the effects of the virus. My children asked me this morning if the corona virus was something they should be worried about. I told them no, but then gave them a list of simple precautions they should take starting today. I want them to be ready to combat the effects of the virus should it eventually get to our neighborhood and their school. I’d like to propose the same suggestions to you, my readers and your friends and family members so you all can be prepared for the “just in case” scenario. I suggest you start implementing these practices ASAP so you give your body time to fortify its defenses.

1. Proper Hygiene

Try your best to prevent the virus from gaining access to your nose, mouth, and ultimately, your lungs. Corona virus attacks the respiratory system, i.e. the lungs. If an infected person coughs,  the virus is expectorated and contained within the tiny droplets that flee the mouth and land on tables, chairs, handrails, door knobs, the floor, clothing etc. I have read a report from the CDC that the virus can reportedly lay on a surface from a few hours to a couple of days and still remain virulent (CDC.gov. However, a recent letter from James Robb, MD, a retired professor of pathology from UC San Diego, and an expert on corona viruses,  recently wrote a letter to the media expressing his concerns about the virus, in which he states that he believes the virus may remain virulent on surfaces for up to 1 week! When an uninfected person puts their hand on a contaminated surface, the virus can be picked up on the skin surface or on a piece of clothing. The virus gains entry to the respiratory system if a person then touches their nose or mouth with their hand or other colonized material. 

To limit your risk for exposure, wash your hands frequently during the day, especially after you have put your hands on public handrails, door knobs, and other surfaces. Try your hardest not to touch your face with your hands. If you are in the habit of touching your face, like most of us are, putting a mask on may help remind you to do otherwise. Although I am not typically a fan of hand sanitizers, if you are exposed to public markets, buildings or other surfaces, and do not have access to a sink and soap to wash your hands, a hand sanitizer is a decent way to go. Note that antibacterial soaps do not kill the virus. A virus is a protein and not technically alive. It therefore cannot be killed like a bacterium. Proteins can be denatured after which they no longer function, which is why the alcohol in hand sanitizers will eliminate the virus.

Keep your home clean. Take your shoes off at the door and wash your hands as soon as you get home. If you were exposed to public spaces in which you might have come in contact with the virus, you may consider shedding your clothes and placing them into a hamper upon arrival home. It might seem like overkill, but it may also help keep the virus out of your living space.

2. Reduce Environmental Toxins

COVID-19,  corona virus, causes severe oxidative stress in the cells lining your lung. Oxidative stress is a condition in which atoms and molecules within our cells are robbed of electrons. It is because of severe oxidative stress that some people land in the hospital on respirators. There are many environmental toxins that cause oxidative stress and reducing environmental toxicity is my main push for this blog and my book TOXIC HOME/CONSCIOUS HOME. One of the most easily avoidable is that caused by electromagnetic frequency (EMF). EMF causes oxidative stress! (Yakymenko, I, et al.) Turn off your wifi router when you are not using the internet. Put your phone on airplane mode when you are carrying it in transit. Unless you must react real time, I recommend placing your phone in airplane mode for 30-60 minute intervals and periodically check for messages rather than having the phone on continuously while it is in your immediate vicinity. (For more information about the health effects of EMF, sign up for my newsletter at robbrownmd.com.)

3. Boost your intake of anti-oxidants

The cure for oxidative stress is to increase your intake of anti-oxidants. These are molecules that generously donate electrons to molecules that are deficient. There are many anti-oxidants. Blueberries, strawberries, kale, carrots, oranges, dark chocolate, tea, are among the extensive list. A quick google search will provide you with lots of options. Think of fruits and vegetables. Incorporate at least 5 servings of anti-oxidants into your diet each day and remember to wash your produce with a fruit and veggie wash to remove wax and underlying pesticides and fungicides.

4. Take supplements

There are many excellent supplements designed to help support immune health. Of these, there are 3 I strongly recommend you take daily. In my experience, these will effectively bolster your immune system. 

    1. Vitamin C – Take 1000 mg twice a day, once with breakfast and once with dinner would work well. Vitamin C is water soluble and will be excreted if you don’t need all that you take. By taking this vitamin twice a day, you will ensure you have a fairly continuous supply of Vitamin C on board for your cells during the day.

    2. Vitamin D – Take 2000-5000 iu each day. I recommend 5000 units for most people, but if you are petite, you may want to lower that number to 2000. Vitamin D is fat soluble and can become toxic if taken in excess. At these levels, toxicity will not occur. Vitamin D is incredibly important for the immune system.

    3. Zinc – I have received word that corona virus replication is inhibited by zinc. Sucking on a zinc throat lozenge will help reduce the chance of the virus making it to your lungs, should you become exposed. Alternatively, take an oral zinc supplement. I take a 50 mg zinc capsule orally each day. 

5. Get a Good night’s sleep each and every night

If you haven’t read my blog on how light and EMF affect your sleep and melatonin production, I suggest you take a few minutes to read it now. It is crucial to optimize your melatonin production every night, especially during the winter months in the northern latitudes. Ambient light and EMF in the bedroom will suppress melatonin production. Turn off night lights, TVs and anything else in your bedroom that produces a glow in the darkness of your bedroom. In addition, eliminate all sources of EMF in or near your bedroom. Wifi and other sources of EMF suppress melatonin production just like light.  Eliminating sources of EMF can be a tricky proposition and I suggest you read my upcoming blog series on EMF for further information. But, for now, there are a few things you can do starting tonight:

  1.  Turn off your wifi router when you head to bed. 
  2. If you have a wireless printer, go into settings and turn off wireless capability before bedtime.
  3. If you have a cordless phone in your bedroom, turn it off or unplug it.
  4. If you keep a cell phone in your bedroom while you sleep, either turn it off or place it in airplane mode.
  5. If you have a loved one in a nursing facility, hospital, or rehab center, provide them with ear plugs and an eye mask so they can get a good night’s sleep. These facilities notoriously have machines that beep and multiple sources of ambient light in patient rooms, exactly the opposite of what the patient needs to optimize melatonin production and regain health.

6. Relax

    This is not a time for panic. The overwhelming majority of people that catch this virus will experience mild cold symptoms and that’s it. Only a very small percentage of unfortunate people will suffer catastrophic respiratory failure from this disease and will require hospitalization. Take time to relax for at least 30 minutes every day. Sit in a quiet room with a good book, listen to music, meditate, pet your dog or cat, and/or take a walk. Frequent relaxation will reduce stress and strengthen your immune system.

I trust you will find these suggestions to be helpful. If you take the time to incorporate each of these practices into your daily routine, you will feel healthy and be better fortified to combat the COVID-19 virus should it come in to your community. Please share this information with your friends and family and feel free to forward them this blog and a link to the blog on my website. 

Thank you and stay well this spring and beyond.

Yours in good health!

Rob Brown, MD

A Metal for the Heart

Magnesium Deficiency, Glyphosate, and Coronary Artery Spasm

Last summer, the mainstream media brought our attention to the presence of glyphosate in the nation’s food supply. Testing proved that even beloved breakfast cereals, like Cheerios, contain traces of this chemical, the active ingredient in Round-up. The information that our bodies absorb glyphosate from contaminated food now needs to be disseminated. 

This popular herbicide has been under intense international scrutiny for the past year. Each research study details yet another harmful effect one may suffer from chronic exposure. Concentrations of glyphosate in human urine have been increasing over time. So, many of us have been absorbing residue of this herbicide for years. Glyphosate can damage the intestinal microbiome before being absorbed. In fact, a recent lawsuit is based on this claim that Roundup kills healthy gut bacteria and causes intestinal disease.  The latest scientific research analysis shows a “compelling link” between glyphosate exposure and the development of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Are there other systemic effects we can expect from increasing our consumption of glyphosate? A recent health scare got me thinking.

Chest Pain

The phone rang at 5:30 am. Suspecting it was serious, I quickly answered the call. I listened as a friend told me her concerns. The week prior, she had spent an evening at a friend’s house in a room filled with lit scented candles. The intense odor, likely a plethora of volatile organic compounds, made her sick. She experienced a chest pressure and felt as if she had an air bubble in the middle of her chest. It had passed, but now, she was feeling a more localized chest discomfort in her lower chest and increased belching. She was concerned she might have suffered a mild heart attack.

In women, the signs of heart disease are often atypical and may too often be dismissed as heartburn or other unrelated conditions in the chest. I told her, “I’m not sure if your symptoms are related to your heart or if you may have a hiatal hernia. But, the first thing you should do is go to the emergency room and have them exclude heart disease.”

An EKG showed an abnormal wave pattern. Immediately following, the medical machine went into high gear. A cardiologist, called in for consultation, quickly re-examined the EKG and checked the lab results. He was quite confident that she had a significant blockage, one that would require a stent. In fact, he had pinpointed exactly which one of the 3 major arteries supplying the heart was involved. She signed the required consent paperwork and was prepped for an immediate heart catheterization.

After the procedure, the cardiologist called me, the designated contact, with surprise. Her arteries were completely clean… normal.  She had absolutely no plaque or narrowing at all. 

The cardiologist gave her a diagnosis of coronary artery spasm and placed her on nitroglycerin, a medication often used to treat this condition. Follow up tests showed no damage to the heart muscle.

For the cardiologist, the problem was solved.

But, I had questions. Why did she have coronary artery spasm? I was concerned for her as well as for myself. I had been having similar symptoms, but had ignored them. Did I also have coronary artery spasm?

After discussing these symptoms with my integrative physician, he intuitively suspected that I may have a magnesium deficiency and recommended I take a mineral supplement. It made sense. A few nights earlier, I had woken up with a “Charley horse”, a condition also associated with decreased magnesium. Arteries can also spasm because their walls contain muscle. My discomfort subsided within the same day I started taking the new supplement. 

I began to wonder… how common is this? Magnesium deficiency is a recognized cause of coronary artery spasm, but this condition has historically been uncommon. Glyphosate is known to chelate many metals making them unusable, including magnesium.  So, is there a connection between glyphosate, magnesium deficiency and coronary artery spasm?

It is unrealistic to think that anyone can truly avoid dietary consumption of glyphosate, including those who choose to eat mainly organic food as even organic products have shown on occasion to be contaminated with glyphosate.

What Can We Do?

In order to decrease your risk of health consequences associated with the depletion of trace metals like Magnesium:

  1. Increase your ingestion of foods containing minerals. Bananas, avocado, chocolate and others have higher levels of magnesium. Although grains should have higher levels of magnesium, conventional grains are now often sprayed with glyphosate prior to harvest. 
  2. Consider a daily mineral supplement and take it with a meal to optimize absorption.

Important Note:

There are many causes of muscle spasm and coronary artery spasm in particular. Magnesium deficiency is an easy fix. But, if you are experiencing chest discomfort, you need to get checked out by a physician ASAP. It is crucial to know if you are experiencing ischemia (diminished blood flow) to your heart from plaque lining your arteries, coronary artery spasm, or worse yet, a heart attack. Non heart related conditions like esophageal spasm and a hiatal hernia can cause similar symptoms. If you are diagnosed with coronary artery spasm, inquire to see if your magnesium level is low. Magnesium supplementation is easily achieved and less costly than taking a prescription medication.

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