Michelle Berriedale Johnson charts her progress in dealing with her electro-sensitivity (including a run down on ES, what it is and how to manage it) and describes the oxygen treatment which appears to have made a crucial difference. If you just want to read about the oxygen treatment, click here. If you would just like to read the subsequent discussion on oxygen therapy, click here.
I am sitting in the sun on top of a mountain in the French Alps.
To get here I had to take the Eurostar to Paris, then a metro across Paris to The Gare de Lyon. A two hour wait in the station and then an electrified train with fluorescent lighting took eight hours to get me to Bourg St Maurice in the Haute Savoie from whence I took a taxi to Tignes, a French skiing village.
Once in Tignes I checked into a hotel which has wifi enabled throughout the building and which is in direct line of fire of a three ‘eared’ mobile phone mast less than half a mile away which saturates most the village with mobile phone radiation.
To get to the top of my mountain I had to take a bus to the funicular up to the ‘restaurant on the top of the world’ which has three communication masts of its own which sent my radiation detection meter into free fall. But one telepherique (cable car) ride from the restaurant and I am really on the top of the world with nothing except mountain and the odd skier whishing past me on their way down the glistening manicured slopes.
And I feel fine…..
So what’s the big deal? Why wouldn’t I feel fine, you might ask?
Well, a year ago, by the time I had made it as far as Paris, as a result of the electromagnetic radiation I would have been subjected to in the station and then in the train (wifi enabled, lit by fluorescent lights and alive with other passengers’ mobile phones etc) I would have been feeling exhausted, with an ache in my chest, and an upset stomach, and I would have started to have difficulty in remembering the words I wanted to use. Now, apart from not sleeping very well and feeling rather uncomfortable if I do not remember to keep some solid mountain buildings between me and Tignes’ mobile phone masts, I am apparently unaffected by the radiation.
So, what have I done in that year to make such an significant difference to my electromagnetic sensitivity?
A little background…
For those who are not familiar with ES or EMS (electro sensitivity or electromagnetic sensitivity) – a short primer:
ES or EMS occurs when an individual can no longer ‘repel’ or shake off the massive levels of man-made electromagnetic radiation that swirl around anyone living in a densely inhabited, especially an urban, environment.
The problem with man-made EMR (electro magnetic radiation), apart from its sheer quantity, is that, unlike the earth’s natural electromagnetic fields which are ‘smooth flowing’, man-made radiation is pulsed eg it flips on and off at very high speeds. While the cells in the human body, which communicate with each other through tiny electrical impulses, are well adapted to deal with the smooth flow of the earth’s EM radiation, pulsed man-made radiation can interfere with their delicate electrical networks.
Because of the body’s enormous flexibility and adaptability this interference does not cause much apparent harm to most people – although ever more serious questions are now being asked as to how much hidden harm it is doing to everyone. But for a small but growing group, man-made pulsed EMR interferes with their own internal circuitry causing malfunctions throughout the body and the brain. These can include anything from violent skin flushes and tingling extremities to heart arrhythmias and fluctuating blood pressure, brain fog, memory loss, headache, aches in the chest, exhaustion, depression and almost any other symptom, since the problem is systemic.
Longer term problems almost definitely include cancer and, quite possibly, many neurological problems such as Parkinson’s, MS, Alzheimer's etc
Where do you find it?
Where do we find this radiation? Well, everywhere…. Mobile phones and the mobile phone masts which connect them are the most obvious source, rapidly followed by wifi which, while it may be being banned from enlightened libraries and schools, is spreading round our streets through wifi enabled lamp posts and, very soon, ‘smart’ meters in our houses.
Within the home or work space wifi is, of course used to connect many people’s computers to the internet. The computers themselves are another source of radiation, along with hands free telephones, flourescent lights, low energy compact fluorescent bulbs, phone and battery chargers, those beautiful big plasma TV screens and, in your home, ‘radio’ baby alarms and your bedside radio alarm. And that is not counting the radiation produced by the spikes created in the flow of electricity around your ring mains by all the electrical equipment that you have plugged into it….
As yet there is no treatment for ES/EMS except avoidance – relatively easy if you live at the furthest reaches of the Shetland Isles but a lot harder if you live in an average British, European or American flat/apartment or terraced house and work in a standard office. And that is assuming, of course, that you know what is wrong with you in the first place.
Unfortunately, because ES/EMS is a relatively ‘new’ condition, very few people do know anything about it – especially doctors! And because its symptoms can also be caused by so many other conditions it is rarely recognised for what it is; many sufferers do not understand what is making them feel so ill and therefore fail to take the avoiding action which is the only thing that, in the short term, is going to improve their condition.
Avoidance and protection
Locating the source
The first thing to do is to try to establish where your major sources of radiation are coming from. You can rent or buy detectors from EM Fields
and The Health House and these will give you an idea whether you area being directly ‘targeted’ by a phone mast, a wifi system or a hands-free phone – all major sources of radiation.
Although the more sophisticated meters are obviously more accurate, I have found that the hand held A-COMED Electrosmog Detector which is relatively cheap to buy is not only useful for establishing EMR around your home or office but to carry with you on a daily basis so that you can dodge the worst areas of electromagnetic pollution.
Although phone masts emit 360degree radiation, they do also have a strong directional beam which you want to avoid if you possibly can. Although radiation can, and does, penetrate through buildings they enormously reduce its levels so moving around in your own house may even help. For example, I managed to escape the direct beams from my local masts by moving my office from the first floor (in direct line of fire) to the basement where the main beam was two floors above my head.
If you can possibly avoid it, do not use a mobile. If you have to, then text only and turn the phone off when you have finished with it.
Try also to avoid gatherings of people, all with their phones on, even if they are not actually speaking on them. If necessary, just ask people to turn them off while you are in the room – they all have answer phones so their lives will not come to an end!!
For what it is worth, I thought that I would really miss my mobile when I stopped using it but, apart from the odd occasion when I have been trying to meet someone and failing to link up, I have not missed it at all. I do now carry a mobile but only use it for texting and do not turn it on unless I wish to send a text or am expecting to receive one.
For a huge amount of research and comment on phone masts, mobile phones and their effects on health see mobile phone section of our website.
If at all possible change your computer systems to wired rather than wireless – more reliable than wifi anyhow, although less flexible. If you cannot change then turn the wifi off except when it is actually being used. Check also that the Bluetooth facility is turned off on any equipment that you are using.
Avoid the installation of any sort of smart meters or electricity usage monitoring systems all of which use internal wifi systems in your house.
Hand free phones, baby alarms and chargers
Standard hands free phone systems and wireless baby alarms are transmitting from their base station all the time whether you are using them or not. Get rid of them and replace them with an old fashioned wired phone and wired alarm.
And unplug all of those chargers (cameras, phones etc etc) when you are not actually charging them. As long as they remain plugged in they are ‘charging’ even though the device is not plugged into them.
Lighting , dirty electricity
Both fluorescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs create small electromagnetic fields all round them so get rid if them! Replace either with old fashioned incandescent bulbs if you can get them, the combined halogen/incandescent low energy bulbs or LED bulbs – expensive but very long lasting.
For more on lighting see my article from 2009 and if you really want the low down on CFL see Dr Andrew Goldsworthy’s article.
At the same time you might want to try to minimise your ‘dirty electricity’ – if you have read the article about lighting above you will already have read about ‘dirty electricity’ - if not, read now… For a more technical approach read this article.
You can buy dirty electricity filters from the UK supplier of the Stetzer filters www.ark8.co.uk and I have certainly found them very helpful.
TVs and computers
Old fashioned cathode ray TVs and computers give out a lot of radiation but although more modern flat screens are better they are not radiation free. And take care of those gleaming plasma TV screens – they produce very high EMR levels.
In terms of computers, ‘all in one’ computers such as IMacs, especially if they are in plastic rather than metal cases, tend to be bad news as you are getting a ‘full frontal’ of what ever radiation they are producing. Laptops are better but the ideal is to have a computer, in a metal container, with a separate screen so that you position the computer as far away from you as possible.
Ideally, you would also have an LED screen (see my piece on LED screens). Since I got mine I have been able to use a computer fairly normally whereas before I was having to sit about three feet away from the screen and could only work in relatively short bursts!
If you find that there are high levels of radiation coming from specific areas outside your house you can, to a certain extent, shield your home or office with paint, netting and film on windows. Check EM Fields for all three. They can be used on walls and windows.
I have either painted or netted all the rooms above ground floor level in my house that face our local phone masts. This entirely blocks the radiation coming from our masts and our neighbours’ wifi and phones. However, be careful as not only will it block radiation coming into the room from outside, but it will also block any radiation that it is in the room from getting out….
I made this mistake with the first room I tried to convert into a EMR-free office – I painted all four walls and netted the windows, then set up my computers. But although no radiation was getting in from outside, that generated by my equipment could not get out either, so I was no better off that when I started! I now work in a room at the back of the house which is shielded from outside by the well-shielded rest of the house with my computer about three metres away from me and a separate LED screen.
Screening works really well if you live in a house so do not have to worry about people above and below you but I would suggest that you take advice (EMFields are very helpful) if you live in a flat.
You can also achieve some personal shielding by using the netting and material to make clothes, hats and head nets. I have several silver net jackets (very smart they are too) and a fine collection of large brimmed hats, all lined with silver netting which I wear whenever I go out. They do not protect you entirely but they certainly help.
Dr Deitrich Klinghardt, one of the leading therapists in this area, refuses to work with anyone who has not slept in an electrically ‘clean’ environment for at least three months. His theory is that the period when we sleep is the time that the body can recharge and repair the damage done to it when we are awake. But to do so efficiently it must be in a stress-free (eg an EM-free) environment.
To achieve this you need to ensure that you sleep in a room with the lowest possible level of electromagnetic radiation – walls or windows shielded if necessary. You can also get shielding bed canopies (like a mosquito net) if it is not possible to shield the room – again from EMFields.
You should have no electrical equipment in your bedroom (no TVs, phones, phone chargers, electric blankets, radio alarms) and ideally you should not have any metal either as metal is a good electricity/radiation conductor – so, if possible, a wooden framed bed.
However, to get a really clean sleeping environment, the ideal is not just to unplug all electrical items but to be able to turn off the electricity altogether while you are asleep. Depending on how your wiring is organised you may be able to do this by installing an ‘on demand’ meter (from EMFields and others). Due to the quirky installation of our wiring I cannot turn off my bedroom without turning off the burglar alarm and the central heating… but I can, and do, turn off the ring mains on my bedroom floor every night.
Getting away from it all
If you live in a high density urban area, no matter how well you shield yourself and your house, you will never be able to entirely escape the electrosmog.
Some ES sufferers have been forced to move out of urban environments altogether as the electrosmog was always too high for them to tolerate. (Check out Gunilla Ladberg's book.) However, I have been fortunate enough to be able to create a relatively clean environment in which to live. However, when I was very sensitive, I found it very helpful every six to eight weeks, to go and bury myself in the country, far away from phone masts and all habitation, for three or four days to ‘recharge’. My most successful trip was ten days in a friend’s ‘bothy’ in the Highlands of Scotland a mile down a track from the nearest house with no electricity at all!!
Mind you, finding such a place is not easy. Sadly, even the humblest B&B these days has proudly installed a wifi system so expect to spend some time searching for your haven. At one point I thought I might have to invest in a caravan as that way I could travel by car (I could not use trains or planes because of the high levels of electricity or EMR) and could park up somewhere ‘safe’ and sleep ‘clean’ by turning all electricity off!
‘Supporting’ the system
Of course, along with all of these avoidance measures, it is good to try and ‘build up your forces’ as the French would say.
Most people who suffer from electrical or electromagnetic sensitivity also suffer from a range of other allergies, usually chemical. (I am lucky that, apart from my ES, I am in excellent health.) This probably means that their immune system is depleted and that their nutritional status is not what it might be.
If you are chemically sensitive you will already be avoiding excess chemicals in both your home care and your personal care. But even if you are not aware of being chemically sensitive it would certainly be wise to try to minimise your use of chemicals and aim for ‘freefrom’ household personal care products wherever you can. (Take a look at some of the products and the articles on www.skinsmatter.com) Meanwhile it might be wise, while having your nutritional status evaluated, to have your ‘toxic’ levels checked as many people with ES have high levels of heavy metals such as lead and mercury in their systems. (See our therapists directory for some helpful sites.)
Many people also find other complementary therapies helpful – I regularly have acupuncture from a Chinese medicine practitioner – others find many of the relaxing therapies such as yoga very good. You really need to experiment with what works best for you. See our CAM section for some ideas – and my blog post about Yoga Nidra.
Now, none of this is going to ‘cure’ you – there is, to my knowledge no ‘cure’ for ES, but, by reducing the EM stress on your body and giving it the best possible support, you will, hopefully, strengthen your resistance to the radiation and therefore be able to tolerate higher levels without too disastrous results.
It was of course, John Scott (who has largely ‘cured’ his total food intolerance and crippling rhinitis with helminthic therapy) who pointed me in the direction of oxygen therapy via an American book by Madison Cavanaugh called The One-Minute Cure: The Secret to Healing Virtually All Diseases.
The premise of the book – and the therapy – is very simple. What is the element without which we cannot survive for more than 15 minutes, which makes up nearly 70% of the body and provides us with 90% of our biological energy – that is, effectively, our ‘life force’? Oxygen.
Because most of us live in highly populated, industrialised areas the air that we breathe is polluted so that most of us are at least partially oxygen starved most of the time. Even if the air were better and we were to breathe deeply all of the time, it would be hard to get any significant extra benefit as only 15% of the oxygen that we breathe is absorbed by the blood and can therefore reach our cells.
The purpose of oxygen therapy, therefore, is to provide us with an oxygen boost which will strengthen each individual cell in the body and thereby the whole bodily system. As an extra benefit, by creating a more highly oxygenated environment within the body, viruses, bacteria and other pathogens which only flourish in an anaerobic, or oxygen-free atmosphere, will be unable to survive.
Madison Cavanaugh touches on ozone machines and hyperbaric oxygen chambers as other ways to deliver extra oxygen (see Jane Dean’s article on Hyperbaric oxygen and inflammation) but his preferred delivery system is food grade hydrogen peroxide.
For those who spent a little more time in the school lab than I did, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is just water with one extra oxygen atom. When it is absorbed by the body it releases the extra oxygen atom into the blood, thereby creating a flow of oxygen. Moreover, it ‘increases oxygen and hemoglobin disassociation’ thereby maximising the delivery of oxygen from the blood to the cells.
Relevance to EMS/ES
Madison Cavanaugh does not list electrical/electromagnetic sensitivity in his lengthy list of conditions for which the therapy is helpful (everything from Aids to warts, via almost every other condition which could be affected by cell health) but it makes total sense that it should be relevant.
In ES the cell signalling system is disrupted by pulsed electromagnetic radiation thus weakening and damaging the cells and preventing them functioning properly. (For a more in depths explanation see the BSEM 2009 conference report and Dr Andrew Goldsworthy’s article on cell membrane permeability linked from it.) Therefore anything which is going to strengthen and boost cell function has to be beneficial.
Certainly, in my own case, that appears to be the case. I started the therapy (for more details see below) nearly nine months ago – after my ten days in my electric free ‘bothy’ in the Highlands. Although I am certainly not ‘cured’ I am a great deal less sensitive than I was nine months ago when I most certainly could not have gone on the trip to the top of an Alp which I described 3,000 words ago!! An overdose of radiation, from whatever source, can still affect me but nowhere near as badly – and my ‘recovery time’ is greatly improved. Even three months after I started the therapy, my 'recovery time' was down from three to four days to overnight.
Now, to be fair, I have been combining the oxygen therapy with all of the other measures that I described above, including sleeping ‘electric-free’, but I had been doing all of that for some six months before I started the oxygen therapy and although I was definitely better than I had been at my worst, I was nowhere near as good as I am now.
Obviously, this is a deeply unscientific, purely anecdotal account of one person’s experience and I have no reason to believe, or not to believe, that it will work for anyone else. However, in an area where so few routes to any degree of recovery are on offer, it seems worth a try – especially since it is both incredibly cheap and, provided you follow the guidelines, totally safe. Hydrogen peroxide has been given a GRAS designation by the US FDA (eg Generally Recognised As Safe). However, it should be treated with respect – it is a ‘reactive’ chemical which can cause health hazards if not used properly and is toxic when concentrated.
There are a number of different grades of hydrogen peroxide available including pharmaceutical, beautician, reagent, electronic and technical, none of which are suitable because they are the wrong strength and contain a number of stabilisers, neutralisers etc.
The ONLY grade which is suitable is 35% Food Grade which is commonly used in the food industry as an antiseptic – and this must only be used heavily diluted – see below. You can buy it from a number sources on line – Google ‘35% food grade hydrogen peroxide’ to find a supplier.
It is also important that you dilute the hydrogen peroxide in distilled water so as to ensure that it is as pure as possible. Obtainable from a chemist or a hardware store.
How much to take and when
Madison Cavanaugh suggests a month long regime gradually building up the dose from three drops in a beaker of distilled water to 25 drops taken three times a day – followed by an ongoing ‘maintenance dose’.
However, he (along with other oxygen therapists) insists that it should be taken on an empty stomach – three hours after eating and one hour before the next meal. I found this almost impossible to organise so I developed my own protocol by which I took a large glass of distilled water with around 10 drops of hydrogen peroxide to bed with me and drank it during the course of the night as I woke up.
This of course works very well for a middle-aged women who tends to wake up quite often during the night anyhow – but may not work so well for others who sleep through…. Although, since insomnia is one of the many symptoms of ES, most sufferers may have little difficulty in following my regime!
I also found that over about 10 drops per glass it became unacceptably bleachy tasting and made me feel slightly ill.
However, I am not suggesting that this regime is right for anyone – merely telling you what I have done. If you are interested in experimenting I would suggest both that you bought Madison Cavanaugh’s book (I have only given a very brief overview of what he says) and check out other advocates of hydrogen peroxide oxygen therapy on the web – I found several although they all said very much the same.
I would also suggest that you only try the therapy, if you wish to do so, in combination with as many of the avoidance strategies outlined above so as to maximise your chances of improvement.
Addendum – long term fall out....
One week back from my mountain now.
I continued to feel fine for most of our stay although on the last day the phone masts on the mountain top restaurant were starting affect me on the slopes in their direct line of fire.
For the first week back in the office, I did find that my tolerance of long hours in front of the computer has been affected, but not seriously and that now seems to be improving again.
Two weeks back.....
There has been some long term fall out from eight days of exposure which the oxygen has not been entirely able to counteract.
This week I have noticed that my senstivity to EMR has been significantly heightened and that I am uncomfortably aware of things such as car radios, which have not bothered me for a long time. Yesterday (exactly two weeks since I got back) I think I had an encounter with a hidden phone mast which certainly got to me. But I went to bed (in my virginally pure, electric-free bedroom) at 9.30pm and slept for nearly 10 hours and this morning I felt fine...
Watch this space...
Six months later
I am well back to pre-ski-ing levels and probably better. I still feel uncomfortable (and even get chest pain) if I remain too close to any of the usual triggers for more than a few minutes but am much more tolerant of street level electrosmog and am able to visit theatres, cinemas, other peoples' houses, use buses (ideally not tube trains although I have done twice without too many ill effects), shop (provided the ceilings are not too low) and generally lead a more normal life. That said, I do still spend most of my time in my well shielded, low emmission home but that is from choice and because my work lies there – I am certainly no longer imprisoned in it as I once was!
1st January 2012
In a recent email exchange with Dr Andrew Goldsworthy I mentioned the success that I had had with the hydrogen peroxide. (I had previously discussed this with members of the McCarrison Society who, though interested, felt that there must be some other mechanism at work as they believed that the active constituents of the H2O2 would have been destroyed by saliva and stomach acids long before they could read the blood stream.) This was Dr Goldsworthy's response:
Your trick with the hydrogen peroxide looks interesting. It must be effective at much lower concentrations than you are drinking since your saliva (and the rest of your body) contains a very active catalase enzyme, which would destroy most of it before it entered the bloodstream.
Having said that, it reminds me of some experiments that we did many years ago in which we added a range of very low hydrogen peroxide concentrations to yeast cultures. We found that extremely low concentration stimulated growth and were arguably beneficial whereas higher concentrations inhibited growth and were arguably harmful.
It seems possible that the very tiny amounts of hydrogen peroxide you were ingesting were stimulating cellular activity, including repair mechanisms, so that it was better able to cope with the damage inflicted by subsequent exposure to electromagnetic fields.
This is just a guess, but if I am right, it will only work as as a means to build up your immunity when you are not being exposed. If you try it actually during exposure it could make matters worse since it would add to the larger concentration of hydrogen peroxide and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) and increase their harmful effects.
He then, in a subsequent email, enlarged on this in response to my comment that although I had dramatically lowered my exposure to EMFs I had not eliminated it. For those who are struggling to get their heads around the first three paragraphs of the explanation, there is a 'layman's' version below.
Regarding the hydrogen peroxide, surprising as it may seem, it is possible to have too little radiation. To all intents and purposes, non-ionising radiation has much the same biological effects as ionising gamma rays in that they both give most of their effects by damaging cell membranes and generating reactive oxygen species, albeit by different mechanisms. Consequently, our body's mechanisms for coping with non-ionising microwave radiation probably makes use of those that evolved originally for dealing with ionising radiation.
We have all evolved in a slightly radioactive background with cosmic rays and natural radio activity as C14 in the air that we breath and radioactive potassium in the food that we eat (bananas and LoSalt are especially rich in it). At present our exposure to non-ionising radiation is at a historical low; it gets several times worse during geomagnetic reversals, when the Earth loses its magnetic field that normally protects it from ionising radiation from outer space. As a result, our cell membranes and defence mechanisms are "tuned" to deal with a certain amount of leakage and any deviation from this in either direction is likely to be detrimental.
There is quite a lot of experimental evidence that indicates that this is true, at least for ionising radiation (a phenomenon called radiation hormesis), in which there seems to be an optimum amount of radiation for best performance. The same may be true for non-ionising radiation; hence the hydrogen peroxide effect, but there is no guarantee that everyone has the same optimum, which may be why some people are affected by mobile phones etc. but others are not.
With regard to why too little radiation is harmful, there have been a number of experiments on microorganisms and animals that suggest that this is true, at least for ionising radiation. The phenomenon is called radiation hormesis.
I suspect the same is true for non-ionising radiation due to the entry of small amounts of calcium into cells that have been made leaky by the radiation. Normally, the concentration of calcium in the cytosol (the main part of the cell) is about one thousandth of its concentration in the blood serum. Cells use this low internal calcium concentration for internal signalling by letting measured amounts of calcium into the cytosol from internal stores. For example, it controls the contraction of muscles and the release of neurotransmitters from neurons to make the nervous system work.
However, if the external membrane of the cell has been punctured, more calcium will leak in from the high concentration outside and is the way in which the cell senses the damage.
What we find is that this calcium entry from the outside triggers the production and activity of a whole range of enzymes needed to repair the damage and also to provide the necessary energy and raw materials. Much of this is not specific to the damage and will also stimulate ordinary growth and metabolism elsewhere in the cell. Provided that the damage has not been too great and the cell is otherwise healthy and well nourished, this may even be beneficial.
However, if the membrane damage is too severe, or the cell is otherwise unhealthy, the repair mechanisms may not be able to cope and the cell may be permanently damaged, lose its normal function and perhaps become cancerous. Based on this, there will be a particular "optimum" level of radiation exposure where cells (and by inference tissues and organs) appear to perform best.
The trouble is that we are not all born identical and this optimum will vary from person to person as well as on their state of health. Also, since radiation damage appears to be cumulative, cells will become less and less able to repair the damage, and beneficial effects will no longer occur. Consequently, the best advice that I can offer to anyone is to play it safe, eat a healthy diet and avoid mobile phones, cordless phones and WiFi, especially if you are feeling unwell. Even if there are no obvious effects at the moment, there is no guarantee that it will stay that way and, once the damage has occurred, it appears to be incurable.
January 2012 - Ed:
Sarah Dacre, a trustee of ES-UK and herself a sufferer from ES made the following helpful comment:
I have been advised that if you take H2O2 while you have dental amalgam then it will increase the leaching into the body of mercury which is a toxin known to cause various environmental diseases. As a result my own therapist advises against hydrogen peroxide therapy until all mercury amalgams have been removed.
First published in April 2011, updated January 2012
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