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Aug 10, 15
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity
UPDATE: (9/9/15) - On 4 Sept., 2015, the World Health Organization requested recognition of EHS as a "genuine pathological entity". See the link in the articles to the right.

These are the notes on a talk that I gave on August 5, 2015, in Holiday Island, Arkansas on the topic of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.


Recently, I became aware of a condition known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS. In my effort to learn more about this condition, I ran across this case in the International Journal of Neuroscience:

This is from the abstract:
Objective: We sought direct evidence that acute exposure to environmental-strength electromagnetic fields could induce somatic reactions (EMF hypersensitivity).
Methods: The subject, a female physician self-diagnosed with EMF hypersensitivity, was exposed to an average (over the head) 60-Hz electric field of 300 V/m (comparable to typical environmental-strength EMFs) during controlled provocation and behavioral studies.
Results: In a double-blinded EMF provocation procedure specifically designed to minimize unintentional sensory cues, the subject developed temporal pain, headache, muscle-twitching, and skipped heartbeats within 100 s after initiation of EMF exposure (P < 0.05). The symptoms were caused primarily by field transitions (off-on, on-off) rather than the presence of the field, as assessed by comparing the frequency and severity of the effects of pulsed and continuous fields in relation to sham exposure. The subject had no conscious perception of the field as judged by her inability to report its presence more often than in the sham control.
Discussion: The subject demonstrated statistically reliable somatic reactions in response to exposure to subliminal EMFs under conditions that reasonably excluded a causative role for psychological processes.
Conclusion: EMF hypersensitivity can occur as a bona fide environmentally-inducible neurological syndrome.

So, while still not officially recognized as a medical condition, there is scientific evidence that there is such a thing as electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

To understand EHS properly, it's important to understand what electromagnetic waves or electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) are.

• If you've ever had a sunburn then you've been affected by EMF

• If you've ever listened to the radio or used a microwave oven, then you've used EMF

• If you've ever had an xray, then you've used EMF

• Every time you look at something, your eyes are using using EMF to interpret the world.

An electromagnetic wave can be an abstract idea, so let's compare it to something almost everyone can appreciate. Think of throwing a stone into a still pond. Wherever the stone hits, a wave propagates out from that point.

In the same way, any electric charge that is accelerating emits an electromagnetic wave that propagates out in all directions from the starting point.

We get the term EMF from electromagnetic frequency - F refers to how "frequent" a wave oscillates in a given period of time and distance.

The frequency of an EM wave has a very wide range from 10 Hertz to 10^28 Hertz (10 with 28 zeros behind it) - a Hertz = 1 cycle or oscillation per second.

The artwork above shows the electromagnetic spectrum but I've outlined it again below.

EM Spectrum
Low to high (or low frequency to high frequency)
• Non-ionizing radiation:
10 - Large power lines
10^4 - Computers
10^5-12 - AM radio, FM radio, Microwaves, Cell phones
10^k13 - Infrared
10^15 - Visible light - the various colors of the rainbow are created by EM waves that are oscillating at different frequencies
10^17 - Ultraviolet light

• Ioninizing radiation (some overlap with UV):
10^20 - Xrays
10^26 - Gamma rays

Ionizing radiation is strong enough to knock electrons off of a molecule, thus it can be fatal to a human being or other advanced life forms. Non-ionizing radiation is not considered harmful to humans - at least in low doses.

In general, the higher the frequency of the wave, the more dangerous it is to human beings.

Given that we can get a sunburn, and that we can die from too much radiation, then it follows that EM waves can be very bad for us.

But, also given that without EM waves we would not be able to see anything, then it follows that EMF can be very good for us too.

Since some people have ESH, the question becomes, is it possible that different human beings are affected differently by the various EMF?

We know that this is so. For example, if I (a fair-skinned redhead) and a person born with very dark skin go outside in full sunlight, without a shirt on, at the end of an hour, I will be sunburned and quite miserable - and will have a greater chance of developing skin cancer in the future. Whereas, the other person probably won't even be aware of any changes in their skin. The difference is that the other person has more melanin than I do, thereby protecting them from the UV EMF waves.

Knowing that, then, isn't it possible that some people, for some as-yet-undiscovered reason, are more susceptible to the effects of EM waves at lower frequency than what we normally associate with pathology-causing EMF?

Remember that non-ionizing radiation is considered not harmful at low doses while ionizing radiation is considered harmful at almost any dose.

So, non-ionizing is not harmful? Microwaves are considered non-ionizing radiation, yet, if we put you into a microwave oven and turn it on, you will be cooked just like anything else. So, it's a matter of exposure time, energy level, and/or proximity. Just like the stone being thrown into the lake, if I throw it hard enough, I can turn over a boat. But for those on the other shore, they likely will never see the waves.

Let's look now at some specific examples:

- Powerlines. These are very low frequency - in other words, there are very few oscillations per minute. No study has ever shown a definitive link between power lines and cancer (or any other malady).

- Computers/wi-fi, etc. - Again, no studies have shown a definitive link.

- Cell phones. There is much controversy on this subject. However, here's what I want you to think about with respect to cell phones: remember, it's about exposure time, energy level, and proximity. If you are walking around with a cell phone next to your body 24/7, then, in my opinion, you are putting yourself at risk for some sort of problem related to that.

A recent meta-analysis backs up this claim:


However, even this review is not without controversy. Here's a review of the above review:

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity has yet to be classified as a valid diagnosis, however, as the study from LSU shows, there are people who are more susceptible to EMF than others. Whether or not this causes pathology is still open to debate. That being said, if you consider that with the exception of the visible light spectrum, almost all EMF underneath the protective blanket of our upper atmosphere is generated by human beings, and that for the entirety of our existence on this planet other than the last 150 years, we've never been exposed to this level of EMF, then it's quite possible that pathology can be expected.

If you believe you have EHS, what should you do?

1 - eliminate as many sources of it as possible.
- Get rid of your cell phone. If you must have it, then leave it on a desk or in your vehicle. Don't carry it in your pocket. Use the speaker when talking on it instead of putting it next to your head. Keep conversations brief.
- Get rid of the wi-fi in your home. Use network cables instead.
- Limit the amount of time you use your computer and watch TV.
- Turn off and unplug all unused equipment that emits EMF.
- Get all such devices out of your bedroom.

2 - get as far away as possible
- if you live in town, move to the country
- use catalogs and mail order to shop
- use postal mail instead of e-mail

3- Build a Faraday cage if you have difficult to control sensitivity.

4 - in extreme cases, move to Green Bank, W.Va - a town in the US National Radio Quiet Zone - 13,000 square miles that has no artificial electromagnetic waves.

posted by Dr. House | 12:35:45 PM |
Posted by Rita | 9:29:31 AM | Sep 03, 15

Dr. House-

I've had a lifetime of headaches--common migraine, daily pain due to arthritis in my neck (Vioxx worked wonders for that when it was available), headache due to hypoglycemia, and light sensitivity--all as diagnosed by a neurologist over 25 years ago in my early 20s.

When I developed a completely different type of headache last year, I was alarmed. Having learned to live with headpain on a daily basis for decades, this was debilitating (worse than migraine), very intense stabbing pain, 24-7 for several weeks running.

I saw a neurologist who said it could be neuropathic, but suggested 2 MRIs to rule out other factors, one to see the damage to my neck and another of my brain.

The MRIs were done on two separate days, back to back. Within 6 hours after the first MRI the severe stabbing pain diminished by about 30%. By morning, it was merely a dull and intermittent ache. The second MRI done that same day had no additional effect.

The neurologist's "follow-up" method was merely to call his patients to go over the scans by phone. In a rushed 5 minute phone call, he said he found nothing to account for the head pain. I then told him the stabbing pain had significantly diminished after the first MRI. I asked him if that could have been the reason. He was dismissive of my question and displayed not the slightest curiosity.

That debilitating pain has never returned, although I still have an infrequent, dull to moderate pain in that same location.

Have you ever encountered EHS (via an MRI) as having a positive effect such as this?


Posted by Dr. House | 8:46:07 AM | Sep 06, 15

Rita, I haven't encountered any affect - positive or negative - from MRI with respect to EHS. However, I wouldn't discount the possibility. EHS is still very poorly understood, so until there is more known, how can a person say that something else, such as MRI, isn't affecting it?

That being said, MRI and artificial EMFs won't be around much longer. Even if industrial civilization doesn't collapse any time soon, MRIs require helium. Helium is rapidly disappearing.

Posted by | 8:42:02 PM | Sep 16, 15

Thank you for your reply, Dr. House. Okay, impossible to know whether it was something other than the MRI, could be a coincidence, though it seems unlikely. Not that it matters to the outcome, this was done by MRI equipment owned in part by the neurologist. Without insurance I had to pay the 4K myself.

I won't be disappointed when all the high-tech equipment goes the way that industrial civ goes.

Am familiar with the helium biz, was involved by way of "division of labor" in that industry when a new separation technology was patented in the 90s.

Posted by | 8:42:12 PM | Sep 16, 15

Thank you for your reply, Dr. House. Okay, impossible to know whether it was something other than the MRI, could be a coincidence, though it seems unlikely. Not that it matters to the outcome, this was done by MRI equipment owned in part by the neurologist. Without insurance I had to pay the 4K myself.

I won't be disappointed when all the high-tech equipment goes the way that industrial civ goes.

Am familiar with the helium biz, was involved by way of "division of labor" in that industry when a new separation technology was patented in the 90s.

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