Category Archives: symptoms and conditions

Operation Electrosmog Reduction, Part 2

Adventures in Nutritional Therapy

For the past five years, since reading Zapped by Ann Louise Gittleman, I have tried to control my exposure to electromagnetic fields aka EMF as much as I can without going batty. Such is the glacial progress of EMF awareness in the general public that I can post this record of my EMF experiment from five years ago and not worry about it being outdated.

I have definitely sensed EMF’s effects. I wrote about a few of those experiences in part one of this experiment. In another episode I spent a week suffering from mysterious waves of fatigue, similar to blood-sugar drops, after I moved my TV-binge-watching spot from one side of my couch to the other (because adventure). When I realized I was sitting 18 inches from the 85-year-old fuse box — the 1929 building I was living in still had its original wiring — I moved back to the other side of the couch, five feet away, and voila, problem solved.

One day last year I seemed to notice the moment a wi-fi signal turned on at an empty Starbucks patio. I had been there alone for almost an hour when my mood switched abruptly to agitation and restlessness. I looked up to see that a patron about ten feet away had just opened her laptop.

What follows herewith is a belated followup report to that first 2012 experiment. About a year later I finally got around to buying EMF measuring gadgets from lessemf dot com and spent a few weeks analyzing the radio, microwave, magnetic, and electric fields — which we’ll just collectively call “electrosmog” — in my apartment. For information on safe ranges for these fields, I referred to Zapped, FAQs on the website lessemf dot com, and the label on one of the meters.

Most of Zapped’s EMF-sensitive profilees had been exposed to whopping big amounts of the various radiation types, or were very young. That was not my situation. I seem to be in the same boat as moldies in discussion forums who report that their EMF sensitivity seems linked to mold and/or metals poisoning. Some have reported that it significantly abated once they detoxed thoroughly, which can take a couple of years.

The meters I bought for part 2 of the electrosmog reduction experiment were a flat-frequency TriField meter, model 100XE ($150), and a 3-Axis RF Meter ($200). While researching them, I discovered that lessemf’s staff were knowledgeable but not really customer-service material, so there were a few frustrating moments. The site now features a meter FAQ page, which might save you some of that aggravation, especially if you are suffering from cognitive —-eduppedness. Amazon reviewers of the same gadgets also had valuable info and recommendations on their own electrosmog projects.

Very basically, the TriField meter measures the magnetic and electric fields of power lines, electricity, wiring, etc., and the RF meter is for wi-fi.

Although I did measure most of the parameters and living areas recommended in Zapped, my records were lost in a move, so the following account is by memory only. I don’t even remember the name of the energy units for each type of meter and I’m too lazy to get up and find them. A brief investigation of my two autos since then indicated they were more EMFfy than my domicile, and I wasn’t ready to handle it just then or now so I pray that my minimal commute time will protect me.

In my apartment, the area around the fuse box was very high, as was the front half of the bathroom. Luckily I was able to avoid these areas much of the time. Various appliances registered as high when they were on, but were easily avoided and the EMF dropped off quickly with distance anyway. I was especially worried about the white cylindrical transformer on a utility pole 100 feet from my fifth-floor dining-room window, but the meter did not register anything alarming. I detected the wi-fi from each next-door neighbor and the downstairs neighbor’s ceiling fan registered in the center of my bedroom floor, but the levels were not horrible and I didn’t spend much time in either area.

My sleeping area had sort-of-high RF, presumably due to my neighbor’s wi-fi, so I purchased wire mesh material sold by lessemf dot com to block this. It did indeed significantly reduce the RF levels in my sleeping area to a negligible level but I didn’t use it long enough to determine an effect. In my next apartment, minimal wi-fi RF registered in the bedroom and I did not notice a difference. I now use a similar mesh barrier over my wi-fi router, since routers tend to blast out a lot more power than is required.

In the new apartment, the fuse box was in a less avoidable place but luckily the levels were nowhere near as high. The wi-fi around the AT&T Universe router was astronomical and a high-traffic area, so I switched to an ethernet connection and turned off the wi-fi. I lived alone so I could do that without arguments. For many people, the biggest obstacle to reducing EMF exposure is not technical difficulties but obtaining cooperation from housemates.

In addition to all that, I asked the staff at Mama’s Minerals in New Mexico about minerals or crystals with EMF-blocking or -transforming properties, because I will take any excuse to buy a new rock. I went home with a handful of small polished tourmalines (about $2 each) to carry on my person, and larger chunks of malachite, pyrite, and lapis lazuli. I gaze at them in their pretty little semi-circle behind my keyboard and forget for a few seconds that 5G is coming like a demonic wave to crush our psyches so that our shapeshifting reptilian overlords won’t have to bother hiding anymore.

The summer of my frozen shoulder *

Adventures in Nutritional Therapy

In 2014 I stumbled on a staircase, reached out to balance myself against the wall, and was rewarded with a breathtaking pain in my left shoulder that I tried to ignore for a year. For all that time I was unable to raise my hands over my head to wash my hair, but because of the chronic exhaustion that colored my life for a good two decades, the idea of simply arranging a doctor’s appointment was overwhelming, never mind a series of physical therapy sessions.

By the summer of 2016 I had moved out of my moldy apartment and regained enough mental and physical stamina that I felt I could tackle the issue. I went to the local pride-of-the-town clinic — globally-recognized, POTUS-praised, and nicknamed “The Machine” by my acupuncturist — where a doctor explained that the offending muscle was either just tweaked, or actually torn like the meat on a piece of bacon separating from the fat, drying out, and shrivelling up. She also said that “the policy” was not to use an MRI to determine which type of injury was involved, because the treatment for both injuries would be the same, mostly stretching.

I found this disturbing. To keep such information from a patient seems shitty to me. I paid for the MRI myself in order to know what I was dealing with and to minimize the mental energy I’d have to expend on wondering how bad it is or will get. Luckily the muscle was not torn.

I was sent to a compassionate, patient and articulate physical therapist who ran me through exercises that revealed that the majority of the muscles were tight and needed stretching, but two in particular produced a different kind of pain and felt more wrong with each session.

After receiving a bill for $700 for just two of the sessions, I bailed on the PT and looked for a new acupuncturist, since my old one had left town. Such a search is usually pretty frustrating, especially when your state government has a history of changing certification laws every other year. I lucked out and found a good one ten minutes from me, who trained at hard-core acupuncture schools and has a calming zen kinda vibe.

At $90 an hour, I could afford to follow the recommended treatment schedule of twice a week for six weeks. In the first treatment, I realized that the focal point of the pain was underneath the left shoulder blade, which I believe is one of the spots on either side of the spine where a bunch of nerves traverse like a huge freeway interchange. That pain turns out to be a not-uncommon complaint amongst the mold-afflicted. I can remember it bothering me for at least 25 years.

Stabbing sharp pointy things into that messed-up cesspool of nerves felt horrible and good all at the same time — one of the joys of acupuncture. You give the acupuncturist directions to where it hurts the most and when the needle gets to the right place you’re all, “KILLLL IT KILL IIIIITTT KILL OHHHHHH aahhhhhh.”

Within the first five treatments, I learned to recognize and release tension in my shoulder and neck area as I went about my day. I changed my sitting habits so that I am as symmetrical as possible, with both feet on the floor, elbows not resting on anything, and leaning back a little rather than forward. On airplanes I use a rolled-up blanket behind my back and sit as symmetrically as possible for as long as I can in the torture chamber known as Economy. These changes had a definite effect on the shoulder pain.

18 months later, I wouldn’t say I was limber or strong in the shoulders, but I’m not favoring one side any longer, and there is no pain. I was supposed to keep stretching at home and to get regular massages, but I was pretty lazy about the former and my two experiences with the latter were at a franchise retail massage outfit staffed by idiots and reeking of microwaved fast food so I quit that.

If I take a large dose of the anti-inflammatory herb boswellin, my other various aches and pains go away completely for a day, but after two days on it, the frozen-shoulder-related area starts to hurt as if things were rubbing against each other. This is one of the reasons I’ve concluded that the big-picture view of my health is that I’ve got major inflammation in a lot of places and have for years, but it has since been reduced on a large scale. Knock on wood.
____________________
*Ten points if you get the reference.

I tried to detox lead and all I got was this stupid vertigo

Adventures in Nutritional TherapyI developed vertigo after my second dose of DMSA treatment for lead chelation. For the next four weeks I had trouble moving quickly, standing up, going down stairs, etc., with no signs of it abating.

Eventually I happened upon a comment on a heavy metal detox forum (on Yahoo, where untold gazillabytes of valuable information are inaccessible due to craptastic design) indicating that some people can’t process sulfur due to insufficient body stores of molybdenum. Most approaches to lead detox involve sulfur, and DMSA is a walloping dose of sulfur. In fact, one study I found says that eating a whole lotta garlic can chelate lead. So I took 2,000 mcgs (2 mgs) of Mo the next day and the vertigo was gone the following evening.

More notes on molybdenum:

  • It is used to reduce copper in the brain, which is a problem in some mental illnesses.
  • It is used to break down acetaldehyde produced by candida and which causes brain fog, fatigue, malaise, etc. For about 18 months I used it regularly for that. I later ran across a few self-experimenters who’d discovered that once they got to a certain place in their heavy metal detox treatments, their longstanding candida issues disappeared.
  • Resist the urge to call it “molly”, the street name for MDMA aka Ecstasy. Those of us on the supplement-popping path are fighting enough suspicion and misperception as it is.

All the pills I’ve loved before

Adventures in Nutritional TherapyHere’s a roundup of the vitamin and mineral supplements that have had the most dramatic effect on my various health annoyances. After the recent media exposure on the Target/Walgreens/GNC supplements debacle, allow me to reiterate that I operate on the theory that nutritional deficiencies are often behind health issues and that correcting the deficiency can correct the health issue. Unfortunately, with a very few exceptions — ferritin, vitamin D, B12 if you know what you’re doing, a few others — there is no way to test for deficiencies except to try a supplement and see what happens. The medical establishment would love to have you believe otherwise, but alas, it is not true. And we won’t even get into the problem of gauging what a normal test result is, even if the test measures the nutrient level accurately.

See also two earlier posts on deficiency symptoms and reactions, here and here.

Calcium/magnesium: Caused a reduction in anxiety I hadn’t even realized I had until it disappeared. Big improvement in sleep, too. Big improvement in, uh, eliminational motility.

Folic acid/folate/methylfolate: My second experience with nutritional therapy, if you exclude the Flintstones vitamins of my childhood. (The first was during my grandfather’s vitamin C kick in the early 80s.) My mother, who flew every week for work, had discovered it got rid of restless legs within 30 minutes. I used it for the same thing for years, then switched to folate/methylfolate shortly after starting this blog, I think. I’ve found that if 800 mcg of folate doesn’t get rid of it in 20 minutes, it’s probably a B12 issue. If that doesn’t work, it’s a calcium issue. If my entire body is restless — arms, too — I know it’s a B12 thing.

GABA: Turned off overactive mind at night. Also helped tinnitus. After a while, didn’t have to take it anymore.

Hyaluronic acid: Improves maddening eye floaters in a few days. Improves eyesight in general as well. Makes my skin look better and my neck a whole lot easier to swivel around while reversing out of parking spaces.

Lactoferrin: Cleared up my sinuses. I want to say that regular iron supplements did the same but took a lot longer and without as pronounced as effect. In other words, iron deficiency can screw up your sinuses.

Methionine: Normalized horrific periods at doses of about 3,000 mg a day. Also made me look about five years younger, probably by vacuuming out my crappy liver.

Vitamin B6: This was my second success and pretty much got me started on the nutritional therapy road. If you’ve never had carpal tunnel syndrome, you have no clue what anxiety this can cause when your career depends on keyboard use. Later, much higher doses of the P5P formulation of vitamin B6 put a dent in my sugar cravings, improved my sinuses, and ended years of increasingly itchy skin. However, that might be a methylation thing more than a B6-specific thing.

Vitamin C: Big doses — we’re talking 2,000 mg three times a day — lowered my histamine levels and radically improved my mental concentration. After several months I didn’t have to take it anymore. Made eye floaters worse, though.

Vitamin D: Increased my nightly sleep from three hours to 5 hours, if only for five months.

Vitamin K: Like methionine, it normalized the god-awful menorrhagia I’d had for 20 years. Commenters on a paleo blog somewhere — Mark’s Daily Apple? — alerted me to its use for what I guess you’d call TMJ pain. About once a month I get the feeling that my upper and lower palates are collapsing inward. Weird. Vitamin K gets rid of it.

____________________
Image: Remix of 1952 Eames House of Cards by MRhea.

Weird niacin deficiency symptom: perceptual changes

Recently I came across a discussion forum referring to the use of niacin for social anxiety at multi-gram doses. One commenter mentioned that based on her experience, either niacin has to be repleted in much larger amounts than commonly believed, or plays a much more important role in the diet. Or both.

This intrigued me. I’ve never experimented with niacin in any big way, because I never found any mention of big doses used for anything but heart disease or schizophrenia, the latter application made famous in the 60s by Dr. Abram Hoffer. Another issue was the annoying and unpredictable flushing. Somehow I had mistakenly concluded that niacinamide, a form that does not cause flushing, and no-flush niacin were the same thing, and since no-flush niacin definitely gives me flushes, I never bothered trying niacinamide. Duh.

I started looking around for more information on niacin deficiency. I came across this 1970 report by Dr. R.G. Green on orthomolecular.org, a site which is probably familiar to you if you’re really into nutritional therapy. Dr. Green, a family doctor in a poor area of Saskatchewan, described his experiences diagnosing subclinical pellagra among his patients, many of whom were Native Americans living below the poverty line. That is, they displayed symptoms that resolved with niacin, even though the symptoms did not manifest as the classic niacin deficiency disease of pellagra.

Pellagra is associated with poverty and low-protein diets and/or diets based on corn that has not been prepared in a way that releases the niacin for absorption. (The traditional way is to add ash to the cooking water.) Pellagra occurred in epidemic proportions in the U.S. at the turn of the 19th Century following the introduction of cheap, prepackaged cornmeal. The most famous pellagra sign is a red, rough rash wherever the skin is exposed to sun.

After spending some time with Dr. Hoffer, Green began looking more closely at patients who kept returning again and again with vague complaints of feeling unwell, despite having no physical problems. These complaints included difficulty learning, lack of interest in food, and fatigue. “X-rays and laboratory tests show nothing abnormal,” he wrote,” “yet still the patients complain. For the past 20 years I have been diagnosing them as neurotic, having flu, neurasthenia, sore throat, backache, etc. etc., for want of something better.”

Does that sound familiar?

He started asking these patients this list of questions (I’m copying from the article):

1. Does your face seem to change when you look in the mirror?
2. Do words move when you try to read?
3. Does the ground move when you walk?
4. Do you feel you walk on the ground or off the ground?
5. Do pictures move when you look at them?
6. Do you hear someone calling your name when you are alone?

If the patient said no to all of the above, the doctor would ask if they sometimes occurred. If the patient answered yes to some or all questions, Dr. Green proceeded with the Hoffer-Osmond Diagnostic (HOD) test, which is a list of 145 questions designed to evaluate the likelihood of schizophrenia. If the patient took longer than so-and-so many weeks on 1,500 – 3,000 mg of niacinamide a day to recover, Green would consider the possibility that they had schizophrenia. In that case, the treatment tended to be for life, rather than a simple matter of repletion and an improvement of diet. In the article he goes into more detail with three case histories.

I tried to find the HOD test online, but only found a paraphrasing — someone made an epic poem of it. It’s about halfway down this page on Hoffer’s website.

Dr. Green’s article is another example of the phenomenon I discovered over the years I’ve been investigating nutritional deficiencies: that after the mid-70s, the amount of information on the subject disappeared almost to nothing as prescription drugs gained prominence. As I’ve said elsewhere on the blog, I’ve got a list going of books on the topic written before then, but they’re so rare, I can’t afford them – $125 for a book is out of my league.

TMJ: a total PIA

I have never been officially diagnosed with TMJ. I’m just assuming that the term applies to the condition I experience every few years or so wherein sitting in one place longer than 20 minutes makes want to rip my jaw out and stomp on it. I keep moving it around, trying to get it to fit together in a way that will stop the dull pain that spreads into my cheeks and face.

After the last miserable episode of this during a layover at the airport, which found me contemplating how one goes about locating strangers willing to share their prescription opiates, I looked TMJ up online. The TMJ page on Sandy Simmons’ Connective Tissue Disorder site mentioned magnesium, so I added that to my daily regimen. I also began doing this yoga stretch, but holding a yoga block between my hands and pressing into it. I think I also took vitamin B12. It stopped bothering me after a week or so.

In the meantime, thinking that my less-than-movie-star-quality teeth alignment was one of the contributing factors, I visited an orthodontist who specialized in adult braces. He took X-rays of my jaws and spent an hour with me discussing them and different treatment options.

His explanation of why teeth misalignment happens made a lot more sense to me than the “it’s genetic” line everyone else throws at you. He said that breathing with your mouth open, as people with allergies are wont to do, puts your tongue in a different place than when the mouth is closed. Tongue placement influences the way your teeth grow and shift. Mine definitely lean in a bit, although in a very tidy and straight way thanks to two years of orthodontia. When my teeth bite down they’re not actually crown to crown but bottom-outside-edge to top-outside-edge. Which causes shocks to the enamel, which travel upward and cause damage that results in my gums receding, among other things.

He described a process whereby a digital model of my mouth would be taken, some sort of device would be fitted, I’d occasionally come in to have the device adjusted, and after a year my teeth would be aligned more optimally.

I don’t actually remember what he said about the TMJ connection. I don’t remember much of anything that happened after I heard the $4,200 price tag, which was not covered by insurance and was not even remotely a possibility for me. But at least the appointment was free and the information interesting.