Rob Brown, MD

A Physician's Unique Perspective on Wellness

Tag: healthy living

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 symptoms of electrohypersensitivity 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 on electrohypersensitivity and related issues — these can help you gain a complete understanding of the current status and future trends of EMF generating technology.

Learn more about the effects of exposure to EMF in this comprehensive introduction.

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.

Man Boobs, Breast Cancer, and Plastics

I don’t often get to discuss gynecomastia — more commonly known as “man boobs” with a stranger. 

After an arduous workout, I entered the small, hot, wood paneled room which was more crowded than usual. It was one of the only times I had been in the sauna without hearing the whining of music coming through earbuds. Guys were actually conversing with each other.

The banter was initially over sports and exercise routines. But then, the discussion turned to experiences of aging and gaining weight. The men were different races and ranged in age from the mid 20s to the late 50s.

“I’m 57.” One guy said. “Once you hit 50, the weight just creeps up on you.”

“Man, that started happenin to me at 40!” another added.

My eyes were closed when I heard a crackle followed by a long wheeze. I opened my eyes and noticed that almost everyone in that room had a plastic water bottle. Wow! I thought… good for hydration, but drinking water from hot plastic?

One younger guy sitting next to me told the group how he had gained 50 pounds in the last year after he had started to work out. He was chunky, but not obese. By his side sat an oversized, purple opaque plastic water bottle with a ribbed plastic straw.

“You got man-boobs to boot!” One guy teased, laughing.

“Yeah, I got ’em too.” Another guy added. “I don’t know how that happened!”

Should I say something? I had some ideas about how to lose man boobs. But I held back.

In this pack, I didn’t feel comfortable playing teacher.

I left the room and took a shower, feeling as if I had missed an opportunity to help a few people.

What are Man Boobs?

Many people think that “man-boobs” are merely excess fat. In other words, that when a man gains weight, he deposits fat in his breast. That’s not actually correct.

Man-boobs do contain fat, but they also contain breast tissue, a condition medically referred to as gynecomastia. As a radiologist, I see men with breast tissue all the time. CT scans clearly show this condition because they allow a view through the body separating out structures of differing density. Breast tissue is denser than fat.

Twenty-five years ago, gynecomastia was something I saw once in awhile, perhaps 2 or 3 times a week. It was a condition often seen in patients with alcohol related liver disease. Now, I see gynecomastia throughout the day, everyday. It is common in children as well as in middle aged and older men.

Why is this happening?

Breast tissue develops in response to estrogen. It’s not normal for a man to produce excess estrogen — or for them to be wondering how to lose man boobs, a question that’s become more and more common in recent years. So where is this coming from?

Have you heard of estrogen mimicking compounds? These chemicals are in our plastics, synthetic fragrances, food additives, and personal care products. The scientific literature is replete with articles describing the estrogenic effects of many of these compounds. Yet, there are almost no articles calling out these chemicals as causing diseases associated with excessive estrogen, among them, gynecomastia in men and breast cancer. We know plastics contain these compounds. We also know that these chemicals leach into the food and water held within plastic containers. We know that plastic water and soda bottles are, and have been, a source of long term exposure to these chemicals for many of us, perhaps for decades.

Excess estrogen can lead to many health concerns, including breast cancer, endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, obesity, and gynecomastia. Are estrogen mimicking chemicals responsible for the dramatic increase in the incidence of breast cancer, now affecting 1 in 8 women during their lifetime in the US?! One recent article showed an association of PCB 138 with breast cancer and called for further environmental epidemiological analysis to assess the association of other chemicals such as phthalates, BPA and other PCBs with the development of cancer.

Even though it hasn’t been proved yet, it makes sense to me that these chemicals can cause noticeable hormonal effects on our bodies, and yes, may cause cancer.

So when you read about estrogen mimicking chemicals within a product that you are going to eat from, drink from, put on, or inhale, take that information seriously. Assume these chemicals ARE affecting your health and the health of your family. Although these chemicals are pretty much ubiquitous in our environment, it is possible to consciously decrease your exposure to them. Limit the frequency you drink from plastic bottles. Read up on your personal care products and try to eliminate those that contain these contaminants. A review of these product lists in the environmental working group (EWG) website is a great place to do some research.

Back in the Locker Room

After showering and getting dressed, I saw the younger guy with gynecomastia and struck up a conversation.

“I don’t mean to neb into your personal business, but I overheard you say that you gained a lot of weight this past year.”

“Yeah, man” he said. “I can’t figure it out.”

I then told him about the chemicals in his plastic water bottle and suggested that he get a glass bottle or a stainless steel bottle instead. I could see a light turn on in his eye and he said… “You know, that makes a lot of sense.”

I told him that I didn’t think it was necessarily going to be a cure for his weight gain, but it would be a step in the right direction.

He was appreciative and I went home feeling helpful.

See also: 5G: A Few Things You Should Know to Protect Your Health

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!

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