Electromagnetic Fields and Radiation: A hidden source of stress on the body

Some of the most overlooked stressors are electromagnetic fields (EMF) radiation and radio frequency radiation. On a daily basis, we are bombarded with radio frequencies and EMFs from televisions, computers, Wi-Fi signals, cellular phones and other electronic devices that we carry around like an extra limb. Even when we are travelling, we are exposed through cars, buses, and airplanes. The frightening aspect of EMF and radio frequency radiation is the fact that it simply has not existed long enough to allow us to know what the long term consequences really are. While the research in this area is still young, EMF radiation has been indicated as possible contributor to multiple types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, headaches, low sperm count, impaired immune function, mood disorders, and sleep disorders to name a few. One thing we do know conclusively is if there is EMF near us, our body is completely exposed. At this point in time, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has identified EMF as a possible carcinogen. More information on EMF can be found at World Health Organization EMF Project (http://www.who.int/peh-emf/project/EMF_Project/en/). 

This image below is a great illustration of the power and frequency of different electromagneticspectrums that we all exposed to (Photo courtesy of: http://www.vortexbioshield.com/assets/images/EM-Spectrum-Colour.jpg)

Hans Selye, considered the father of the concept of stress found that our response to stress typically goes one of two ways. The first step is the alarm stage where we perceive the stressor and our sympathetic nervous system (called the “fight or flight” system) gets activated. This phase can be defined by physiologic processes such as an increase in heart rate, inhibition of digestive function, constriction of blood vessels, dilation of the pupils, and dilation of the blood vessels for muscles. The second step is the resistance phase. This phase is characterized by the body adapting to the stressor and using resources such as the body’s natural coping mechanisms to defend off the stressor and move into the recovery phase. However, prolonged exposure to the stressor can deplete our resources and literally exhaust our body to move it into the second pathway: exhaustion. Selye indicated that this stage alone can be a trigger for a myriad of health conditions such as ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and cardiovascular manifestations. If the stressor persists for long enough, it can ultimately lead to death. Since EMFs are all around us, these are stressors that are always there without our awareness and can be a hidden contributor to several pathologic processes.

One key point to remember is that not all stress is bad stress (“distress”). There is also good stress (“eustress”) which we need to move forward in our life and grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Examples of eustress include physical exercise (including sports), getting married, watching a horror movie, going shopping, travelling, and getting a promotion at work. However, for individuals with compromised adrenal function (for more on adrenal fatigue visit our more detailed article), even a positive stressor such as physical exercise may be enough to cause distress. This further highlights the importance of minimizing EMF exposure and actively working to avoid this hidden factor can be vital in achieving optimal long-term health. Below I share 10 not-so-common tips to protect you from EMF that are highly effective and easy to implement:

  1. Turn off your Wi-Fi before you go to sleep. We are exposed to Wi-Fi signals on a daily basis, from coffee shops to malls to our own homes. If it is not a life or death situation, your Wi-Fi should be turned off before bed.
  2. Turn off your cell phone or at least put it into airplane mode. This terminates all signals coming and going from your cell phone and allows you to be protected while you sleep. This action step is extremely important as the vast majority of cell phone owners keep their phone near their bed in case of an emergency call or to use the alarm clock feature.
  3. Ditch the alarm clock, especially if it has a bright backlight so you can see the time all through the night. Not only will it interfere with your sleep by constantly reminding you what time it is, the light itself from the alarm clock will inhibit your ability to get deep and efficient sleep. Sleeping in a pitch-black environment is essential to waking up rested.
  4. Switch out your cordless phones for its predecessor. While this may not be the most convenient step, sticking to a landline phone will help limit your EMF exposure.
  5. Use a wired headset for any cell phone conversations. While you can’t always prepare to have a headset plugged in and ready to go, if you know you have a call to make, use a headset. This is an extremely cheap fix with a huge return on your investment.
  6. Buy EMF filters for all your outlets. These can be found online and are relatively cheap way to prevent your outlets from creating EMF.
  7. Unplug all electronics near your bed such as lamps before going to sleep. If you require a bedside light source, I recommend a Himalayan salt lamp which is a far more natural light to get you ready for bed.
  8. Invest in EMF protective clothing, especially if you are pregnant. You can find everything from hats to underwear and maternity clothing that actually blocks EMF.
  9. Move your furniture away from the wall. Even the wiring in your wall emits EMF and this can be dissipated by simply moving your furniture 3-6 inches from the wall. If you are building a new wall (new project or renovation), putting all your wires in piping can permanently block EMF from being created.
  10. The final step is simply to practice awareness. Be aware of how much you are using your cell phone, how close you’re sitting to the router and how much time you spend surrounded by EMF.

Given the fact that we live in a time where electronics have become a requirement for basic day to day requirements such as lighting and heating our homes, complete avoidance is not the goal and that could create another stressor in itself. By practicing awareness, you are protecting yourself from the unnecessary EMF that is completely avoidable.

A Functional Medicine Approach to Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is the common name for a set of symptoms that result from the adrenal glands being worked to exhaustion. For the majority of cases, adrenal fatigue is secondary to some other underlying health issue such as chronic, hidden inflammation.  Stress can come in a variety of forms, but your body’s response is the same.  It can take years for your adrenal glands to fail to meet the demands of your daily life, ultimately resulting in adrenal fatigue.

If you’re suspecting that you have adrenal fatigue.  Ask yourself if you suffer from these adrenal fatigue symptoms;

  • get tired for no reason
  • have trouble getting up in the morning
  • need caffeine or energy drinks to keep goingAdrenal Fatigue
  • crave either salty or sweet snacks
  • either have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • chronic allergies
  • never get sick
  • get sick often
  • poor memory
  • poor concentration
  • depression
  • menstrual cycle irregularities
  • chronic pain
  • slow healing from injuries
  • bruise easily
  • inability to handle stress

If you answered yes to any of these questions then consider adrenal fatigue.

The Anatomy of Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenals are two small glands, each about the size of an almond, that are located above the kidneys. The adrenals have one of the highest rates of blood flow per gram of tissue, and the highest content of vitamin C per gram of any tissue in the body. Each adrenal gland is composed of two separate functional entities. The outer zone, or cortex, accounts for 80% to 90% of the gland and secretes adrenal steroids (cortisol, DHEA-S, aldosterone and small amounts of sex hormones). The inner zone, or medulla, comprises 10% to 20% of the gland and secretes the catecholamines (adrenaline and nor-adrenaline). Cortisol, DHEA, and adrenaline are the three main adrenal stress hormones. These hormones help you to buffer stress and adapt to everyday life demands. We’d love to talk to you about natural adrenal supplements.

Under stress, healthy adrenals increase their output of cortisol and DHEA to enable you to preserve health. They also secrete adrenaline, giving you a boost of energy when needed (ie mother lifting car off of a baby). If this becomes chronic, the adrenals can no longer keep up with the demand, and DHEA levels begin to fall, signifying adrenal fatigue.  In addition, the over-secretion of adrenaline can cause you to feel anxious and nervous.  Complaints of insomnia, fatigue, depression, irritability, and digestive difficulties are also common.  As adrenaline surges during stress, digestive enzymes are simultaneously lowered, and blood sugar levels rise.  As this becomes a more chronic occurrence, the results of high cortisol and adrenaline levels from prolonged stress wreak havoc on the body. Essentially under stress all systems that are required for rest, repair, and digestion shut down.

“Adrenal fatigue is the end-stage of a poorly adapted stress response that can take years to break down.”

Below are areas of the body that are negatively impacted by adrenal exhaustion and the chronic stress response that causes it.

Energy Production

Abnormal adrenal function can alter the ability of cells to produce energy for the activities of daily life. People who have a hard time rising in the morning, or who suffer from low energy throughout the day, often have abnormal adrenal rhythms, adrenal fatigue, and poor blood sugar regulation. The maintenance of a stable blood sugar level depends on food choice, lifestyle, adrenal function, and insulin activity.

Muscle and Joint Function

Abnormal adrenal rhythms are known to compromise tissue healing. Reduced tissue repair and increased tissue breakdown can lead to muscle and joint wasting with chronic pain.

Bone Health

The adrenal rhythm determines how well we build bone. If the night and morning cortisol levels are elevated, our bones do not rebuild well, and we are more prone to osteoporosis. Stress is the enemy of the bones. In postmenopausal women, the effect of stress worsens due to female hormone imbalances.

Immune Health

Various immune cells (white blood cells) cycle in and out of the spleen and bone marrow. The immune system trafficking follows the cortisol cycle. If the cycle is disrupted, especially at night, then the immune system is adversely affected. Short- and long-term stress is known to suppress the immune response in the lungs, throat, urinary tract and intestines. With reduction in the surface antibody (called secretory IgA), the resistance to infection is reduced and allergic reactions increase.

Sleep QualityAdrenal fatigue

In sleep-deprived individuals, the mean cortisol levels are elevated, and the quiescent period is shorter. Evening cortisol level is increased in patients with insomnia, affecting the first part of the nocturnal sleep period, increasing risk for depression. Chronic lack of REM sleep can reduce a person’s mental vitality, vigor and induce depression.

Fertility

Couples with high level of stress markers are less likely to succeed in conceiving. Stress alters the brain signals that trigger the ovaries to release eggs each month, so women under non-stop stress ovulate fewer eggs than less stressed women. Stress can also affect testosterone level and sperm production in men. Helping couples to de-stress while trying to conceive can impact their success rate.

Skin Regeneration

Human skin regenerates mostly at night. With higher night cortisol values, less skin regeneration takes place. Thus normal cortisol rhythm is essential for optimal skin health.

Thyroid Function

The level of cortisol at the cellular level controls thyroid hormone production. Often, hypothyroid symptoms such as fatigue and low body temperature are due to a stress or adrenal fatigue.  Chronic stress will convert thyroid hormone to it’s inactive form (reverse T3) and shuts down the production of TSH.

Gluten Sensitivity and Stress Response

Approximately 12-18% of the U.S. population suffers from a genetic intolerance to grains, such as wheat, rye or barley contained in cereals, breads and pasta. A high incidence occurs in people with Celtic, Nordic, non-Caucasian and Mediterranean ethnicity. The gut becomes inflamed within 30 minutes after consuming grains, and this can lead to an adrenal stress response, increased cortisol and reduced DHEA.

Diabetes - BrainMemory

Sustained stress adversely affects brain function and memory processing. Too much cortisol interferes with the functioning chemicals the brain uses for its cellular intercommunication as well as decrease the function of the hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that forms memories. Chronic long term stress, with increased cortisol level at night, makes it perplexing to think, organize, and store new memories or retrieve long-term ones.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

A common adrenal fatigue issue in CFS is impaired corticotrophin release.  As a result, low cortisol and eventual adrenal atrophy may be observed.  Simultaneous use of several therapies can help improve the debilitating effects of CFS.

Glycemic Dysregulation

Chronic low blood sugars can impair normal adrenal function by repetitive over-stimulation of cortisol production. Recurring exposure to high cortisol will impair insulin activity, and invariably lead to insulin resistance and beta-cell exhaustion (diabetes).

Allergies/Autoimmune Disorders

More than fifty years ago, Dr. W. Jefferies (author of Safe Uses of Cortisol) discovered that patients with environmentally triggered allergies and autoimmune diseases dramatically benefited when given cortisol for other purposes. More recently, German researchers reported that disruption of the adrenal axis and cytokine relationships lead to predisposition and aggravation of autoimmune diseases.

Depression/ADD

Several recent publications report a hyperactive HPA axis in depressed patients. Elevated midnight salivary cortisol is now considered one of the best tests in diagnosing endogenous depression. Other anomalies in cortisol rhythm usually accompany the midnight elevation. On the other hand, cortisol elevations and rhythm disruptions throughout the day are typical of attention deficit disorders (ADD).

 

Our Clinic’s Approach to Adrenal Fatigue

As you can see, a chronic stress response that eventually develops into adrenal fatigue has a negative impact on virtually every aspect of health. Stress is reaching an epidemic proportion due to our fast-paced lifestyle and is at the heart of virtually all chronic disease.  As mentioned earlier, adrenal fatigue is secondary to a chronic stress stimulus. These stressors can be in the form of:

  • Dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance in the gut)
  • Food Sensitivities
  • Chemical Sensitivities
  • Chronic Pain
  • Blood Sugar issues such as reactive hypoglycemia and diabetes
  • Environmental factors such as quality of air, food, and water, as well as toxin exposure
  • Fast-paced lifestyle
  • Poor relationships

As Functional Medicine Providers, it is our job to dig through the dirt to find the underlying cause of your stress response gone awry.  Not only do we tell you WHY you don’t feel well, but teach you what YOU can do about it.  Let us help you develop a strategy to conquer adrenal fatigue and restore your vitality and quality of life.

Let us help navigate you towards better health!

My Not-So-Secret Weapon to Rewire Our Chronic Stress Response

Every time I pick up to write, at first, I always imagined talking about the Adrenal-cortisol pathway, or Leaky gut syndrome,  like many of my peers, in order to educate my readers about these common themes that I see daily in my practice.  Instead, I want to go straight to offering you these effective, precious tools that were taught for thousands of years, and shared by my teacher Yogi Bhajan.  They are so simple in addressing the ultimate underlying root cause – our burnt out Nervous System, our Autonomic Response that are stuck in FLIGHT or FIGHT mode, and unable to trigger the RELAXATION response at will.

Kundalini Yoga sets are designed to reprogram our nervous system using breath, movements, sound currents and mental vibrations in short amounts of time.

This is the no.1 set I share with my patients who have fatigue and low mood.  Do it 1st thing in the morning, for 40 days, starting at the shortest time (1 minute each) and work up to full length.

A Yoga Set to Build and Stabilize your Energy – Surya Kriya

General Kundalini Yoga Rules:

  • Always tune into this practice with reciting the mantra “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” 3 times. A traditional practice for you to tune in deeply to the consciousness of this ancient practice.
  • If necessary, you can sit in Easy Pose (simple cross-legged position), instead of Rock Pose.  But feel free to use pillows and socks to prop and support your ankles and hip.
  • You can always cut down the times specified proportionately, but not make longer.  E.g.  3 mins  –> 1 min  (1/3)  or —> 1.5 min (1/2) for rest of the exercises.

1. Right Nostril Breath.

Come sitting up in easy pose with lower back tucked in, the chest high and the chin parallel to the
ground and slightly tucked in.  Raise the left hand and block off the left nostril with your thumb.  Take long slow deep breathing through your right nostril.  (3 minutes)

2. Sat Kriya.

Sit in Rock Pose.  or easy pose if need to.  Arms held up overhead with the upper arms hugging your ears.  Fingers clasped together with index fingers pointing straight up and palms touching.  Chant the word ‘Saat’ (sounds like Yacht) as you pull your Navel Point in and up.  Chant the word ‘Naam’ as you relax your Navel Point.  Let the breath regulate itself.  Eyes closed and focused at the center of your brows.  (3 minutes)

Then inhale with your nose, hold your breath, squeeze your pelvic muscles and navel point up. Then Relax.

3. Rest.

Remain in Rock Pose, or easy pose.  Rest with eyes closed and focused at Brow Point.  Breathe normally.  (1 minute)

4. Sat Kriya.

Repeat exercise 2 for 2 minutes.

5. Rest.

Remain in Rock Pose, or easy pose.  Rest with eyes closed and focused at Brow Point.  Breathe normally.  (1 minute)

6. Spinal Flex.

Hold your shins with your hands firmly.  Inhale through your nose as you lift your chest high, and tilt your pelvis forward.  Then, exhale through your nose as you collapse your chest down, and tilt your pelvis gently the opposite way.  Continue this fluid movement, and keep your chin level without bobbing it up and down. Like riding a horse.  (3 minutes)

7. Frog Pose.

  1. Come standing up slowly and place your feet close together with heels touching, and feet pointing out at an angle.  Squat down on tiptoes with fingertips touching the ground in between the legs. Knees apart, and heels remain touching.  Head is up.
  2. Inhale with nose, and straighten your legs, keep fingertips touching the group.  Bring the chin to the chest.
  3. Exhale and move to a. position again.
  4. Repeat 26 times.

8. Head Turns.

Come into Rock Pose.  Rest a moment.  Fold your hands on your lap and turn your head to the Left as you inhale with your nose slowly.  Then, turn your head to the Right and Exhale with your nose slowly.  Low Slow Deep Breathing.  (3 minutes)

9.  Side Bends.

Remain in Rock pose.  Bring your hands to your shoulders, and thumbs in back, fingers in front. Without twisting, inhale as you bend to the left and exhale as your bend to the right. Like a pendulum.  Slow Deep Breathing.

10. Slow Meditative Breath.

Sit now in Easy Pose.  Hands on your knees in Gyan Mudra – touching your thumb with index finger.Keep a firm concentration at your Brow Point.  Apply a light Root Lock, pulling your pelvic floor muscles and navel point muscles in and up. Begin Slow Deep Breathing. (6 minutes)

11. Deep Relaxation.

Come lying flat on your back, and your arms by the sides with palms facing up.  Your eyes gently closed, and breath soft and normal. (7 minutes)



 

Set taken from Master’s Touch Teacher training manual.

Better Mood, Naturally: Mindful Eating with the Brain in Mind

It’s all about Food As Medicine.

If you live in the East bay, check out this wonder group class on How Food can improve your Brain chemical run by a wonderful colleague who use Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in her groups.

http://www.centerforstressreduction.com/better-mood-class-oakland.html

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Meditation for Balancing Nervous Energies

This meditation teaches you to become aware of your breath.

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When you are paying attention to your breath and practicing control of your breath, whether you are holding it in, or holding it out, you bring your nervous system into balance.  When you have control over your breath, you have control over your emotions, hair trigger reactions, addictions and apprehensions.  

Practice this every day for 3 minutes.  Build it up to 5. Do it first thing when you wake up, or right before you go to bed, or both.  Try doing it for 40 days, and see what effects you feel.

Posture:   Sit in a chair with a straight spine and both feet touching the ground, or sit in easy pose, a simple cross-legged position on the floor.  Place the palm of your right hand against the back of the left hand.  Press the thumb tips together.

Raise your hands up until they are a few inches in front of the heart. Hold the hands, forearms and elbows in a horizontal line, parallel to the ground.

Eye focus: The eyes are nine-tenths closed.

Breath: Inhale deeply through the nose. Calmly, hold the breath IN for 15-20 seconds.

Exhale deeply through the nose. Then calmly, hold the breath OUT for 15-20 seconds. Concentrate on the breath.

Time: Continue for 3 minutes.  
This meditation “Balancing the Nervous Energies” is taken from from The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan.  For more information about Yogi Bhajan and his teachings, check out www.3HO.org.

Fist of Anger: Meditation for Releasing Anger

8037828855_8016f84c2d_zHave you ever felt so overcame with emotions and anger that you just can’t stop turning and turning inside.  This is a great tool for just that.  It channels this uncontrollable and disturbing energy through your breath, and release it. Try it for as little as 1 minute and build up to 3 minutes.  

You body position:

Sit in Easy Pose (sitting on floor with legs crossed) or in chair, with a light neck lock (tilt your chin gently down and lengthen your neck upwards). Eyes are closed.

Your hand position:

Touch each thumb to the base of the pinky fingers. Close the rest of the fingers over the thumbs to form fists. Raising the arms, begin a backstroke type movement over the head, alternating each side (right/left) as you swing up, over and back around again.

Your breath:

Make an O-shaped mouth and breathe through it with a strong, rhythmic inhale/exhale that is in sync with your arm movements.

Begin the backstroke movement and the coordinated breath with a strong and continuous movement. Intentionally think about anything and everything that makes you angry. Continue this laser focus on bringing up the anger throughout the meditation, increasing the movement and breath.

To End:

Interlock the fingers, stretch the arms up over head, palms facing up, deep inhale through the O mouth- picture yourself surrounded in white, healing light- exhale out the O mouth.

Repeat 3 times.                      Time: 3 minutes.


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fist of angerfist of anger 2

This meditation is learned from Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan©.  For more infomation visit the Kundalini Research Institute.