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in the general public that I can post this record of my EMF experiment from five years ago and not worry about it being outdated.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.
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*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.

Three months of reiki

Adventures in Nutritional Therapy

More and more health writers and bloggers, including the Low-Histamine Chef and Donna Jackson Nakazawa, author of The Last Best Cure, have found stress reduction to play a big part in their health recovery, and since my stress tolerance is pretty much in the toilet and getting worse, I decided to go get me some.

I needed something reeeeallly passive. Meditation, yoga, and nature walks were too much for me. So were about half the service offerings at my local spa. Infrared sauna, various types of massage, and the flotation tank all require removing my contacts without a sink or mirror, or doffing and donning winter clothes in a tiny space, or showering in a tiny shower. I couldn’t deal with any of that.

I decided on reiki, which in theory moves and rebalances energy in the body. Sometimes the reiki practitioner’s hands are touching the (clothed) body, sometimes not. I had two sessions a week for two months, then switched to once a week. It’s a lot of money, and as far as I know no health insurance company covers it. But I do believe it got me through the winter without killing anyone. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

  • First and foremost, it’s basic human touch free of expectations or strings or weirdness — y’all know what I’m talkin’ about — which is therapeutic right there.

  • I always look forward to it, but more so if I have nothing else scheduled for the day.

  • My sleep has not improved, but I do almost fall asleep on the table. I can’t nap, either, so that’s saying something. What happens is a lot like the sensation you get on a plane where you’re about to fall asleep and there’s a WHOOSH-CLICK and your body wakes you up again, presumably to spare you the humiliation of drooling in front of strangers. I find that I nod off only when Reiki Lady is holding her hands above a particular foot-long strip of my torso, which I discover when I open my eyes.

  • I can completely relax my body much more quickly than before. If you’re into meditation you might be familiar with the concept of relaxing to the point where you go numb. Now I can do it in about 10 minutes, where before it would take 40.

  • Reiki Lady occasionally incorporates craniosacral therapy to my head. I can now not only feel how the muscles in my shoulders, neck, and jaw are connected, pulling, and relaxing, I can also feel pressure and tension patterns throughout my skull. Imagine a May pole, where all the streamers are muscles or tension patterns that have gotten wound up and distorted and twisted, due in part to the stupid way I sit at my desk. During reiki sessions, I become more and more aware of the presence, movement, and release of each streamer. This took a lot of sessions, however.

  • As for energy movement … Of course where you’re being touched (through your clothes) you feel tingly. But there is something else, too, that I didn’t start to feel until my fifth ? session, although I don’t think reiki practitioners believe you have to feel it in order for reiki to do whatever reiki does. It was subtle and fleeting, but occurred at each session after that. After about four more sessions, it changed a bit. I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe it. Somewhere in and across my upper body, a pulse or wave changed position, angle, and amplitude. How’s that? It could be that you could get this experience just from meditating regularly. I don’t know.

  • As for my stress response … Last winter I overextended myself in terms of physical, emotional, and cognitive energy, and I was still angry and stressed well into summer. I swore I would not go through that again. I overbooked myself again this winter, mostly with home repair projects that couldn’t be put off, but am rallying much more quickly after each annoying task.

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Image: Still from The Phantom of the Opera (1925) by Universal Pictures. Film is in the public domain.

Happy trails, Seth Roberts

Adventures in Nutritional TherapyA very belated farewell to author/blogger/self-experimenter extraordinaire Seth Roberts, who died last April at 61. Seth’s review of my blog in December 2011 increased my traffic by about 19,000 percent and made me think that maybe this blogging thing was actually worthwhile.

At the time he published his review, he hadn’t realized I’d referred to him as “the fella after my own heart” in this post about self-experimenters. One of his readers pointed it out to him. Another of his readers, and a fellow self-experimenting blogger, ambled over here to comment and has since become a good online friend.

Because I was a blogging newbie, and because Seth’s review appeared on New Year’s Eve, and because the majority of the traffic went to my post on how I ended my depression, I assumed the rise in traffic was due to woeful holiday non-revelers gone a-googling. Finally, eight months later, I started rooting around in WordPress’ stats and discovered the truth.

Several months after I ended regular posting, Seth emailed and asked if I’d like to contribute to his blog. I couldn’t manage it at the time, but his reaching out made my day.

He came across as patient, thorough, fair-minded, and as interested in a suburban single mom’s n=1 investigations as in major scientific studies. I was very sad to hear he was gone.

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Image: Remix by MRhea. Photo stolen from the interwebs.

Fun with ancient psychoactives: blue lotus and African dream root

Adventures in Nutritional TherapyMy interest in the mind-bending end of self-experimentation started after reading about DMT, the active ingredient of the now-infamous ayahuasca brew*, in The Spirit Molecule. Sadly, DMT turned out to be a no-go. I wouldn’t know where to get it, and I don’t have the attention span to watch a stove for hours while rendering the plant material, or a decent exhaust fan to keep alarming chemical smells from wafting down the halls of my apartment building.

Luckily, there do exist legal, if less exciting, substances to dabble in. My first two choices, blue lotus and African dream root, were purchased from an online botanical supply store considered reputable and reliable by various commenters on erowid and reddit.

Blue lotus
The ancient Egyptians loved this stuff and memorialized it on papyrus and limestone for thousands of years, but it ain’t much to write home about. Either the Egyptians were seriously hard up for thrills, or the blue lotus recipe lost something in translation, because most current accounts describe nothing more than a gentle mellow.

I ordered a 20x dried extract, which turned out to be rich brown silt. I put the recommended dose in two muslin tea bags in a mug and steeped it in very hot water for 40 minutes. The tea bags didn’t contain the powder well, and the concoction tasted and felt like the bottom of a creek. Drinking it all in one go was impossible. It took me 30 minutes to finish it, after which I felt pretty much how you’d expect to feel after drinking a mug of mud.

The next night I doubled the dose and … nothing. It could be that I had too weak an extract or that blue lotus is best used as an adjunct to other psychoactives. Other users soak the dried flowers in wine for several days or weeks and drink that.

African dream root
This one is used as a launching pad for lucid dreaming, in which you remain aware and in control of your dreams. If you’re a sci-fi fan, you might recognize the root as the method by which two TV characters communicated with the dead. Or was it coma patients. Anyway, it made me laugh to discover it was a real thing. Most users say it took them a week of daily use before they saw results, but for me the African dream root worked right off the bat.

To prepare it, I cobbled together techniques from several different users. It didn’t foam the way it’s supposed to, so I just pulverized it and poured boiling water over it in a mug. I forgot to drink it in the morning, when it is less likely to cause insomnia, so I put it in the fridge, and then forgot about it again. When I eventually drank it a few mornings later, I found it very mild-tasting and faintly redolent of lipsticks from the sixties and seventies — whale oil, maybe.

When I dozed off that night, the advertised effects happened. The best way I can describe it: you become aware that you’re somewhere else, like you do when you wake up from minor surgery. One minute you’re looking at the doctor’s face and the next you’re looking at the ceiling of the recovery room. In my case, I found myself in a dark closet. I remained aware of my plans to attempt to lucidly dream and was a wee bit freaked out. A youngish woman in 1950s makeup and hairstyle was in there with me, but when I turned to face her to ask her why in heck we’re in a closet, she disappeared. At that point I woke up. The whole thing might have lasted two minutes, tops, but has the memory of a live experience, rather than a dream.

The rumor is that if you take African dream root every day for three months, its effects become permanent. I take that to mean that you will have lucid dreams unbidden whenever you sleep.
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* Not to be confused with the ayahuasca vine, which does not contain DMT, and is legal to own.

Illustration by MRhea.