I wrote here on what electromagnetic fields (EMF) are and how they affect the body. Briefly: Many studies have now established that EMFs chronically overstimulate voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). In the brain, this looks like excitotoxicity and neurological dysfunction, though there are calcium channels throughout the body. Calcium flowing through these channels sends a signal to the mitochondria to produce more ATP, and production of ATP requires more electrons, so more electrons flow into the electron transport chain. But if the ATP isn’t needed on the other end, electrons begin to bottleneck and leak out into the cytosol, combining first with oxygen to form superoxide, and then with Nitric Oxide (NO) to form the highly damaging peroxynitrites.
When this happens, the mitochondrial membrane and mitochondria DNA (mtDNA) are the first to get damaged. Initially this results in decreased functionality, due to lower ATP production. However, when the damage reaches a critical level, the mitochondria trigger apoptosis of the cell, leading to atrophy of the tissue involved.
Approaches to Counter EMF Damage
Given the above mechanisms, calcium channel blockers may help (I wrote here on some natural options for those), as may mitochondrial support approaches. Grounding is also very useful.
Since oxidative stress is a primary downstream effect of EMF damage, we’d expect antioxidants to be effective as well. Not all of the best known antioxidants have been specifically studied for this purpose, but some have.
Turmeric or Curcumin
Curcumin, an extract of turmeric, is perhaps one of the best known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herbs.
This study shows that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties does indeed protect against EMF damage, while this animal study shows that curcumin exerts a protective effect upon the rats’ brains after EMF exposure.
Well known for its health benefits, green tea is an especially great antioxidant. This may be why it was studied for its protective effects against radiation exposure,
This animal study looked at green tea’s ability to prevent neuron cell death after exposure to radiation from cell phone exposure, and it was demonstrated to have protective effects. (It’s also a good idea to use speakerphone whenever possible, so that you don’t have the cell phone pressed right up against your head!)
This study looked at green tea’s effects upon damage from exposure to EMF from high voltage power lines. Oxidative stress in the study group was considerably less.
(As a side benefit, green tea contains theanine, which is great for mood balancing.)
Rosemary is considered a cognitive stimulant, and an antioxidant, as well.
This study shows that, while EMF exposure tends to lower androgens in male rats, rosemary offers protective effects particularly against damage to the testes. This is particularly interesting, given the data suggesting that EMF is especially damaging to sperm, and global sperm counts are on a dramatic decline.
This study also shows that rosemary offers protection against EMF-induced liver damage in rats as well.
Adaptogenic and Immune Modulating Herbs
Many common medicinal herbs help the body adapt to the varied effects of stress. We tend to think of stress as emotional, but physical insults can be stressful to the body, too—such as EMF. Quite a few of these herbs have also been studied for their ability to protect against EMF or radiation damage. Here are a few:
- Ginkgo biloba. Probably best known for its ability to aid in the symptom of brain fog due to its ability to drive blood flow to the brain, ginkgo was also studied in rats for its ability to protect against cell phone radiation damage. It, too, was found to be effective against oxidative stress.
- Ginseng. Herbs in the ginseng family also possess antioxidant and immune modulating properties. American ginseng was demonstrated to protect against oxidative injury from cell phone exposure as well. Herbs in the ginseng family generally (also including Siberian, also known as Eleuthero, and Panax, presumably) also protected the calcium balance in the brain, and protected against damage from gamma radiation as well.
- Ashwagandha. One of my favorite calming adaptogenic herbs for effects of chronic stress on the adrenals, ashwagandha is also a great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herb as well. This rat study shows that it protects the liver from damage from gamma radiation.
- Reishi. This medicinal mushroom is also anti-inflammatory, modulates the immune response, and protects the liver. This study shows that it too protects against radiation exposure.
It’s an unfortunate fact that as technology becomes increasingly faster and more ubiquitous, EMF exposure will continue to rise along with it. Some may not immediately notice the health effects enough to correlate them, but the proverbial ‘canaries in the coal mine’ certainly do—and unless we somehow manage to stay ‘off the grid,’ we’re all exposed, whether we like it or not.
Because of this, mitigating strategies are important. These include avoidance to whatever extent is possible, as well as grounding, natural calcium channel blockers, mitochondrial support, and antioxidants.