Definition & Causes
Electromagnetic Radiation Sensitivity Syndrome (ERSS) is a descriptive term for symptoms purportedly caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields. Other terms for the syndrome include Idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF), electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), electro hypersensitivity, electro-sensitivity, and electrical sensitivity (ES). There are a growing number of scientific studies demonstrating how the excessive exposure to EMF/EMR can cause heart arrhythmias, corrupt cellular activity, increase risk of Alzheimer’s, childhood leukemia and other diseases.
Although the thermal effects of electromagnetic fields on the body are well established, the diagnosis remains a controversial one. With the ever increasing presence of electronic and electromagnetic devices and the increasing presence of Wi-Fi internet connections in everyday life, it is to be expected that the syndrome will grow in significance – and in controversy – in the years to come.
Self-described sufferers report responding to non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (or electromagnetic radiation) at intensities well below the limits permitted by international radiation safety standards. Some studies have found that sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity are unable to distinguish between exposure to real and fake electromagnetic fields, and the problem is not recognized as a medical condition by a majority within the medical and scientific communities. Since a systematic review in 2005 showing no convincing scientific evidence for it being caused by electromagnetic fields, several double-blind experiments have been published, each of which has suggested that people who report electromagnetic hypersensitivity are unable to detect the presence of electromagnetic fields and are as likely to report ill health following a sham exposure, as they are following exposure to genuine electromagnetic fields.
One very recent informal study, however, widely reported online demonstrated that plants grown near Wi-Fi routers showed significantly reduced health and vigor, with substantially reduced numbers of healthy seedlings sprouting. Students at the Hjallerup Secondary School in Copenhagen wanted to know why sleeping near their mobile phones resulted in their having markedly difficult times concentrating at school the following day. The experiment was designed to determine whether the electromagnetic energy associated with mobile phones and Wi-Fi could interfere with the growth and functioning of living cells. The results were so dramatic that the experiments will be repeated in more sophisticated university laboratories to confirm their results.
Some researchers believe a proportion of the population does suffer ill health, with symptoms including fatigue, severe headaches and skin problems, because of exposure to electromagnetic fields. Britain’s National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) is carrying out a review of existing scientific studies into “electromagnetic hypersensitivity “(EHS). The Swedish government, which has recognized EHS as a physical impairment since 2000, calculates that 3.1 per cent of its population - 200,000 people - suffers from the condition.
Dr David Dowson, a former general practitioner in England who is now a complementary medicine specialist based in Bath, said he had seen around 10 patients he believed to be suffering from ERSS. "I think the condition is increasing in prevalence, because we are living in a more electrically polluted environment.”
Dr. Olle Johansson, associate professor of neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, has been studying ERSS for 20 years. He has shown in experiments that there is an increase in the number of mast cells near the surface of skin when exposed to electromagnetic fields, a similar reaction to that when it is exposed to radioactive material. He states: that "If you put a radio near a source of EMFs you will get interference. The human brain has an electric field so if you put sources of EMFs nearby, it is not surprising that you get interference, interaction with systems and damage to cells and molecules.
Signs & Symptoms
The reported symptoms of ERSS are very wide-ranging, and among others often include:
Accentuated increase or decrease in hunger/appetite
Bowel movement changes
Diminished or absence of libido
Disruption of mind/body coordination
Excessive or unusual burping, belching or eructation
Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
Pains and muscle aches, especially on the marma points
Panic attaches and anxiety
Prickling, burning or crawling skin sensations
Sharp shooting pains
Tachycardia and other cardiac arrhythmias
Whatever their cause, ERSS symptoms are a real and sometimes disabling problem for affected persons.
Ayurveda’s Understanding of ERSS
EMF toxins were not as prevalent 5,000 years ago, or in remote villages of India, but they were recognized. The monsoons would bring months of lightning, whose discharged energies along with the production of massive quantities of ozone affected the populous with anxiety, depression, insomnia, menstrual irregularities, and the host of symptoms detailed above. They called the toxins released Indra Vajra Abhinjaya Visha, which means the Poison of Indra’s Thunderbolt.
The basic premise explaining EMR’s virulent toxicity is thus: EMR is a vibrational toxin that affects the nadi, the delivery channels of prana or life energy. When these energetic channels or meridians are corrupted due to EMR overload, the flow of prana is deregulated: it either cannot reach its targeted tissues and organs or is delivered in overabundance. Many things can affect the nadis — bad diet, improper routine, stress - but EMR toxins create a direct and immediate effect because they, like the prana that is conducted over the nadis, are vibrational in nature and can therefore directly and rapidly enter the channels, “piggybacking” with the circulating prana. The body is extremely sensitive to electromagnetic energies, more so in some individuals than in others, and this toxic form of energy is pervasive today in low but consistent doses due to the presence of computers, cell phones and in fact any electrical devices in the environment.
This “vibrational pollution” or toxicity that invades the nadi disturbs the marmas as well. Marmas are vital points on the body’s surface and just inside its orifices that function as trigger points for pranic flow. An analogy might be drawn between marma points and electrical switches, which regulate the flow of electricity as opposed to prana and also serve as delivery points for electricity and, by extension, prana.
EMR’s gunic attributes include agneya (its fire like-quality) and maruteya (its air-like quality). These disrupt the elemental balance of the bodily environment by interfering with soma, the liquid-based balancing and stabilizing energy which possesses opposing qualities (i.e., it is earth-like and water-like in nature).
The organs and systems related to specific marma points are affected by EMR. The primary area affected is the susuhmna nadi, the central column that is coterminous with the spinal cord through which these corrupt energies enter the spinal cord and are thereby distributed throughout the physical body.
Exposure to EMR thus can pollute the nadis, the vibrational channels which in turn, can disturb the physical channels and create imbalances throughout the physiology’s entire cellular network. The vibrational channels connected to the main nadi (susuhmna nadi) are linked to the spinal cord and through the spinal cord prana is delivered to all the body’s organs and systems. EMR enters into the sandhi (synaptic clefts) and disturbs the agnis (digestive fires or metabolic functions) in various areas of the anatomy and processes of physiology including:
the cellular system (deha)
the stomach (jathar agni)
the liver (bhutagnis)
the metabolism (dhatu agnis)
the brain (medhya agni)
the chest area (sadhaka agni)
the orifices of the reproductive and genitourinary tracts
the skin (bharjaka agni) and,
the eyes (alochaka pitta)
When the body is exposed to EMR-contaminated prana, it is unable to produce ojas (a manifestation of soma) because its disturbed soma precursor (the raw material for ojas) is not coherently organized, in other words it is unable to execute its normal functions efficiently.
Ayurvedic Treatment of ERSS
Ayurveda’s approach to the treatment of ERSS can be categorized into mechanical, manipulative and material modalities, including marma therapy, i.e., manipulation and other treatment of the marma points, including the application of medicated oils to the marmas; the use of herbal medications; and the removal of causative agencies from the sufferer’s environment.
Herbal medicine and marma therapy for ERSS
Some practitioners suggest manipulating specific marma points (listed below) with a mixture of sandalwood essential oil and cold-pressed castor oil which is rubbed into the marma points, and which directly cleanses the nadis. Other herbal creams and essential oils might be massaged in specific patterns atop the marma points, usually while chanting a mantra. The herbs (taken internally or used as topical oils) used for this purpose may include:
Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) and Ashoka (Sarca indica): deliver prana to the heart and balance the emotions. (Sadhaka pitta is the subdosha of pitta related to the emotional state and expression of the heart).
Brahmi (Indian pennywort, Bacopa monniera): enhances flow of prana to the mind and power of dhi (learning), dhriti (retention), and smriti (recall).
Chandan (Sandalwood, Satalum album): cools bhrajaka pitta, rehydrates the channels and soothes the eyes.
Gulab (Rose, Rosa species): rehydrates the skin.
Jatamansi (Spikenard, Nardostachys jatamansi): useful in quelling neural deregulations resulting in spasm, convulsion etc.
Prasarini: a multi-herbal formulation that cleanses and opens the channels.
Lajjalu (Sensitive plant, Mimosa pudica): useful in regulating menses and endocrine functioning, benefits some inflammatory skin eruptions.
Shankapushpi (Evolvulus alsinoides): useful in enhancing cognitive integration and functioning and in treating anterograde and retrograde amnesia associated with electroconvulsive shocks.
Tulsi (Holy basil or Ocimum sanctum): Increases resistance to environmental pollution.
Yashti Madhu (Licorice, Glychorrhiza glabra): re-establishes balance and supplies soma-predominant prana to the deeper cellular system.
In addition to their other functions, all of the foregoing support the primary prana-receiving vibrational channels and the nervous system, remove pollution and enhance reception and flow of prana.
Marma points to be treated include:
Adhipati, at the topmost point, or crown of the skull;
Krikatika, on the left and right of where the neck joins the head;
Sthapani on the center point between the eyebrows;
Kanth on the sternal notch;
Talahridaya on the center of the palms and soles of the feet;
Ansa on the shoulders, at the topmost points of the scapulae just medial to the shoulder joint;
Katik taruna on the lower spine;
Ani on both the elbows;
Urvi on the thighs (front and back) of legs;
Janu on the knees (front and back) of both legs.
The marma points are treated, beginning at Adhipati and moving downwards to massage all the above points in order, by applying the oils chosen with a clockwise circular motion using the finger (with very gentle massage strokes clockwise in a circular motion as if the clock were within the body). After the marma massage, a complete full-body massage using gentle pressure should be given and the subject allowed to rest for 20 minutes.
Vibrational Cleansing Massage
Each morning and evening a whole body vibrational cleansing massage should be performed without touching the body, in a swiping motion with hands, starting from head and moving to the toes. In other words, with the right hand about a palms-width above the left side of the head, make repeated sweeping motions above the body’s surface and extending from the left side of the head moving all the way diagonally across the body and terminating at the right foot. Repeat the same process with hands reversed and treat both the front and back of the body. This procedure should continue for about 5 minutes.
Dietary Recommendations for Reducing ERSS
Eat sattvic, somagenic and soma-enhancing, organic fresh foods, especially summer squashes, okra, fresh organic greens, fresh sweet juicy fruits, fresh yoghurt, cow’s ghee made with organic grass-fed cultured butter (butter derived from buttermilk) and fresh paneer made with organic milk.
Cook with soma-enhancing, channel-opening and cleansing spices such as cumin, coriander, fennel, black pepper, green cardamom and turmeric in proper ratios suited to one’s constitution, being careful to prepare meals with proper samyog (combinations) and samskar (cooking methods).
Here is one herbal tea compound useful in balancing the effects of EMR:
¼ teaspoon coriander seed
¼ tsp. organic rose petals
1 pinch bacopa / herb-of-grace or water hyssop (Bacopa monieri)
1 quart spring or purified water
Boil the water then add the spices. Cover and let the spices and herbs steep. Drink at room temperature by sipping slowly throughout the day.
Other Measures for Reducing ERSS
Those who feel they are sensitive to electromagnetic fields generally try to reduce their exposure to electromagnetic sources as much as is practical. Complete avoidance of electromagnetic fields presents major practical difficulties in modern society, although the flowing measures can afford considerable relief depending on the faithfulness with which they are replicated:
Use indoor plants wherever EMR-generating devices are kept to purify the air.
Walk outside under moonlight, especially when the moon is full or nearly full.
Lay down on the ground (clean sand or clay soil is the most beneficial ground surfaces).
Walk near water (lakes or rivers) or spend time under big, green trees.
Hug and hold a tree. Put your chest (heart area) against the trunk for a few minutes.
Take a break every two hours and go outside in the fresh air.
Rinse your face with cool water three to six times per day.
Remove Wi-Fi networks and go back to cable or at the very least turn them off before going to bed.
Eliminate microwave usage
Remove digital clocks and other electronics from the bedroom and most frequented living space, confining them to a more distant part of one’s residence.
Pregnant women and children should especially limit cell phone and computer usage.
The evidence base concerning the clinical reality of and treatment options for electromagnetic radiation sensitivity syndrome (ERSS) is limited and more research is needed before any definitive clinical recommendations can be made or conclusions drawn from the perspectives either of biomedicine or Ayurveda. However, evidence currently available suggests that several of the foregoing steps advised by Ayurveda may be effective for individuals who report being hypersensitive to weak electromagnetic fields.
Article provided by William Courson, BVSA, D. Ayur., an Ayurvedic Practitioner, faculty member and the College Dean of Institutional Development at Sai Ayurvedic College & Ayurvedic Wellness Center.