Rob Brown, MD

A Physician's Unique Perspective on Wellness

Tag: health

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 

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.

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Reverse Cholesterol Plaque Build-up?

Disease from too much AND too little cholesterol

I am often asked if drinking dilute apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol. Yes. I believe this is worth consideration.

Most everyone in the US has been conditioned to believe that cholesterol is bad for one’s health. Scientists have defined bad cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL) and further subdivided those categories. We all know someone who watches their cholesterol intake and takes a cholesterol lowering medication such as a statin to limit the liver’s ability to produce cholesterol. Meats, eggs, lard, bacon, and butter are considered dangerous foods because they are high in cholesterol.

What is the reason for the anti-cholesterol movement? Atherosclerosis. Cholesterol deposits adhere to arterial walls. Initially forming fatty streaks, but over time, these deposits grow and cause structural damage to the arterial wall. Progressive narrowing of the artery’s lumen, a condition termed stenosis, can eventually compromise the blood supply to the tissue or organ the vessel is supplying. If that organ is the heart, a heart attack can result. If that organ is the brain, a stroke can occur. Other conditions resulting from narrowed arteries include high blood pressure and peripheral vascular disease.

I have always had a problem limiting my cholesterol intake because I know that almost every cell in the body needs cholesterol to function properly. Each and every cell membrane  incorporates cholesterol to ensure that the membrane has proper structure and function. Our bodies also use cholesterol to make hormones, some vitamins and bile, a fluid produced by the liver to help the body digest fats. Without proper production of hormones, the body doesn’t function as well. One of the side effects of low cholesterol is depression, which may then be treated with antidepressants. With antidepressants can come many additional side effects like insomnia, requiring even more medications. Understand the slippery slope?

What do people in the rest of the world do?

After visiting Prague last spring, I was impressed by the amount of red meat the people in Czech Republic eat! We were served beef or pork at every meal of the day! In fact, during lunch and dinner, we had anywhere from one to three types of meat at each meal, including sausage. The meat was accompanied by delicious bread and/or potato dumplings, and sauerkraut at every meal. Their sauerkraut was delicious. Sauerkraut is a fermented food containing ascetic acid, and many other wonderful ingredients that enhance the immune system and support the intestinal microbiome.

During the plane ride back home, I thought about all of the foods from different cultures that eat fermented foods with their meal… yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, pickles, and so on. I began to wonder if all the cholesterol I ate in Prague could somehow have been counteracted by the acetic acid in the sauerkraut.

I had previously read many articles and blogs on the value of drinking apple cider vinegar (ACV). The most comprehensive list of health benefits from vinegar I’ve found were detailed by Chen, et.al. in 2016.  The thought came to mind that maybe one more wonderful health benefit of ACV is that it can dissolve cholesterol from the lining of an artery, and in doing so, be a natural form of angioplasty. This idea gave me the impetus to do an experiment at home.

The ‘Eggsperiment’

In preparation for my experiment to better the relationship between apple cider vinegar and lower cholesterol, I separated the yolks from 6 chicken eggs, mixed them, and placed 3 tablespoons of yolk into 4 separate pint size Mason jars. I placed each jar on its side and periodically turned them so the sides would coat with egg yolk and harden, simulating fatty streaks and cholesterol plaques

Each jar was filled with 0.9 Normal saline, the salinity of human blood, and a specific volume of ACV as follows:

1.  Saline solution with 2 oz. ACV

2.  Saline solution with 1 oz. ACV

3.  Saline solution with 1 tbsp ACV

4.  Saline solution without ACV (A control)

Each sample was placed on a hot plate with a magnetic stirring mechanism to create heat, simulating body temperature, and turbulence to mimic arterial blood flow. Each sample ran for 7 hours.

This entire experiment was run 3 separate times.

The Results

Watch the accompanying video to see that not only is the dried up egg yolk removed from the side of the mason jar in the sample with the ACV, but it is completely dissolved into what appears to be a colloidal suspension. This means that the cholesterol molecules are turned into micro-particles. Even after this suspension sat motionless for two days, there was no aggregation of cholesterol into larger fat droplets.

Compare this result with this video showing the sample run without apple cider vinegar. In this video, you can see some detachment of the cholesterol deposits from the glass jar, no doubt due mechanical agitation. But, the majority of the egg yolk remains adhered to the glass. In this sample, debris from the “plaque” swirled in the water. In a living system, these particulates would be referred to as emboli which can float downstream and block smaller arterioles and create ischemia (diminished blood flow) or infarction (cell death) of structures fed by the blood vessels. Emboli are a common cause of stroke. The experiments with lesser concentrations of ACV showed incomplete removal of cholesterol deposits by 7 hours, which were ACV concentration related, meaning that the 1 oz sample removed more of the cholesterol than the 1 tablespoon sample (videos not uploaded).

Possible Implications

Could the relationship between apple cider vinegar and lower cholesterol follow similar lines, with ACV dissolving cholesterol lining arteries in the human body? It would be simple to run a scientific experiment to study people before and after they are “treated” with a regimen drinking dilute apple cider vinegar once or twice a day for varying periods of time. Noninvasive doppler ultrasound exams could assess any interval change in the plaque burden over time.

Even if a very small amount of the plaque is removed with each dose of ACV, the cumulative effects on blood flow over time would be tremendous! After all, it takes decades of cholesterol build up to cause the ill effects associated with atherosclerosis. Maybe a cardiologist reading this blog will consider formally researching this hypothesis?! It’s crystal-clear to me that the possibilities of using apple cider vinegar to lower cholesterol deserve further, and serious, attention.

My gut tells me, in more ways than one, that the dilute ACV should be drank on an empty stomach. I suspect that if the ACV is taken while eating a fatty meal, such as in a salad dressing, the dissolving capacity of the acetic acid may be reduced. My suggestion would be to drink a glass of dilute apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach once or twice a day. I see no reason why the mixture cannot be sweetened with fruit juice or honey or even cinnamon. My bet is you’ll feel better quickly! In addition, if you are a meat eater or enjoy eating eggs and other cholesterol laden foods, add fermented foods into your diet regularly.

I just finished removing the crusted egg yolk from the samples hat hadn’t been removed by the ACV and it required quite a bit of elbow grease, a textured dish rag and detergent! Letting organic chemistry do the work was much less work!

See here for more information on how what you eat becomes you. And by the way, ACV can be useful in and around the home for many applications. For a list of suggestions, check out this article in tipsbulletin!

Tide Pods, Magnetic Laundry Tablets or the EcoWasher?

Doing the laundry isn’t a task I particularly enjoy.  It is one of those time consuming chores I continually struggle with to fit into my schedule. And now that my kids are teenagers, the laundry needs to be done 4 or 5 times a week. My interest in the technology behind washing textiles however picked up recently after I was introduced to two methods of laundering clothes without detergent, the magnetic laundry system and the EcoWasher.

Laundry Magnets?

Was it laziness or complacency? I had been given the magnetic laundry system over the holidays, but I was hesitant to try it out. Although I had been using Nikken’s magnetic technology as a tool to heal physical injuries for decades, I was unsure about the ability for magnetics to wash clothing. I played with the idea that maybe the water molecules, in being mini magnets themselves, would somehow align with the magnetic field created by the laundry magnets and that this could somehow make the water more potent at cleaning. But, I was skeptical. The blue magnets remained in their box on the kitchen counter for several weeks.

Then, jokes about the Tide Pod challenge became a more frequent, disturbing conversation in my home at dinnertime. Although we were using a less toxic detergent recommended on the EWG website, it was then that I began to think that if these magnetic discs worked, it would be great way to remove another set of toxins from the household.

You have no doubt heard that some foolish kids on the internet are videotaping themselves biting into and swallowing Tide Pods, a cute name for a pre-measured packet of Tide laundry detergent wrapped up in a shiny coating. The product is soft, colorful and swirled, and looks like a piece of candy. A similar appearing packet of dishwasher detergent is sold by Cascade, another Proctor and Gamble product. I haven’t heard of any YouTube videos of kids eating cascade, and I hope that doesn’t become the next dare!

Yes the packaging is labeled, “harmful if swallowed”, but to a teen, isn’t that so boring? I mean EVERYTHING says that?! And to a younger kid who can’t read, the packets look like flavorful, fruity treats! Tide pods are poisonous. A sampling of 5 ingredients in the Tide Pod formula includes: linear alkylbenzene sulfonate, ethanolamine, alcoholethoxy sulfate, polyethyleneimine ethoxylate, disodium diaminostilbene disulfonate etc. The idea of a child swallowing this batch of chemicals is truly frightening.

My Experience

So, I took my chances, opened up the magnetic laundry system and ran my first load of laundry. I was pleasantly surprised. The clothes did come out clean and without any odor. And trust me, my 15 year old son can make clothing unbelievably rank after a day of exercising or doing track. I did notice on a few articles of clothing that there were faint stains, so the next time I washed them, I pre-treated those items with a stain remover. I have no problem with that for I often use a stain remover with my regular detergent anyway.

I’ve been doing the laundry this way for five weeks now and I have decided that it works! Although it wasn’t something I was conscious of beforehand, I have also come to realize that our clothes no longer have the feel of, what I now recognize as being, dried detergent residue. I now realize that detergent ingredients have permeated my clothing for as long as I can remember.

EcoWasher 

Some people claim that detergent is needed to kill viruses, molds and bacteria. I don’t have any experience with this. I suppose if I have clothing or towels that have mildew in the future and the magnetic system doesn’t clean them adequately, I’ll rewash them with detergent. But, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

If you are looking for a method to wash and sanitize your clothing without chemicals, there is another product on the market called the EcoWasher. This adaptor attaches to the cold water intake valve of your washing machine and infuses ozone into the water, sanitizing your clothing in a similar method to that used in hospitals.. The basic system, The EcoWasher Pro costs around $350 and is available here.

Although I have no personal experience with this system, my good friend, who also happens to be my physician, told me he swears by the EcoWasher and calls the technology “The real deal!”

What to do?

It’s tough to break habits, and laundry is definitely an ingrained routine for many of us. In addition, advertisements and reviews often misrepresent and misinform, no doubt designed to make false claims of a product’s efficacy and to smear the reputation of competing interests. An old friend of mine expressed concern that he read on the Snopes website that the laundry magnets were proven to be a fraud. Over the years, I have noticed that this website, in particular, discredits pretty much anything and everything that isn’t status quo and pro-industry, including many products I love and have used for decades. I don’t make decisions based on the information from these types of sources. If a product sounds interesting to me, I try it out and make my own assessment. Sometimes I am disappointed, but other times I am very pleased. I have found that my joy in life often comes from my own exploration and discovery.

So, I recommend you take a moment to think about your options for laundry. Yes, there are dozens of detergents to choose from, and there are also detergent-free alternatives. It’s not a trivial decision. The chemicals in these cleansers are clearly poisonous if ingested orally, but some of these toxins come in contact with your skin 24/7 from clothing, towels and bed linens. Some of these can be absorbed directly through your skin and insidiously affect your health. Consider this, especially, if you or someone in your home suffers from allergies or other types of inflammatory disease.

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