Relying on WiFi, scrolling your phone, and using technology are part of your everyday life. Chances are, you are reading this on your phone, tablet, laptop, or computer. But did you know that EMFs may harm your health?
Unfortunately, we can’t completely escape EMFs. Technology is part of our lives. This does not mean that you shouldn’t get smarter about it. You can still learn more about the risks of EMFs and reduce your exposure to improve your health.
There is increasing evidence suggesting that EMF hypersensitivity and EMF-related symptoms may be connected to mast cell activation. In this article, I want to discuss this connection in detail. I will go over what EMFs are, the types of EMFs, and the symptoms of EMF hypersensitivity. You will learn more about mast cells and mast cell activation. I will discuss how sensitivity to and symptoms related to EMFs may be connected to mast cell activation. Finally, I will offer some simple strategies to reduce EMF exposure, calm your mast cells, and improve your health
What Are EMFs
You’ve probably heard about the potential harm of EMFs. But what are EMFs? Many people throw this term around without having a full understanding of what EMFs mean.
Electric and magnetic fields or EMFs for short are also known as radiation. EMFs are invisible areas of energy linked to electrical power, man-made light, and also natural light.
Not all EMFs are the same. There are two major types of EMFs: non-ionizing and ionizing. Non-ionizing EMFs are low-level radiation and ionizing ones cause high-level radiation. Since ionizing radiation is high-level radiation, it can be way more harmful to your health, even from singular exposure. Though some believe that non-ionizing radiation is safe, it can also be harmful and lead to chronic symptoms and health issues. Non-ionizing EMF may be particularly problematic when you are exposed to it on a regular basis (1, 2, 3).
Non-ionizing radiation includes:
- Microwave ovens
- Cell phones and tablets
- Laptops and computers
- Bluetooth devices
- WiFi routers
- House energy meters
- Power lines
- MRI imaging
Ionizing radiation includes:
- Ultraviolet lights (UV)
Are EMFs Harmful?
The potential harm of EMF exposure is a controversial topic, to say the least. Most people know about the risks of high-frequency radiation. When you get an x-ray, your doctor will ask about the possibility of pregnancy, because x-rays may endanger the baby’s health. Your radiologist will put a shield over the non-examined part of your body and will talk behind a protected area during imaging to ensure protection from radiation.
Most people are also aware of the potential risks of UV damage from the sun. We know to put on sunscreen, avoid staying out in the sun too long, especially mid-day, and wear protective clothing.
Yet, when it comes to low-frequency radiation, most people are unaware of the risks. We are talking about objects and tools we use every single day, such as cell phones, laptops, WiFi, other electronics, and microwaves. They have to be safe, right?!
Though research is still ongoing regarding the potential risks of low-level radiation, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARc) states that it may be carcinogenic and harmful to your health (4). Let’s look at what the research says.
Though there are not yet enough studies on the potential harms of EMF, some research suggests that cell phones, WiFi, microwaves, and powerlines may increase your health risks. A 2013 study published in Case Reports in Science Medicine has found that women keeping their cell phones in their bras may increase their risk of developing breast cancer in the same area (5).
The Environmental Health Trust states that WiFi use and EMF exposure may lead to an increase in toxic burden. They believe that it may impact your brain health and lead to a higher risk of fatigue, weakness, dizziness, concentration issues, and anxiety (6). According to a 2017 research published in BioMed Research International, WiFi may increase the risk of brain cancer (7).
According to a 2015 animal study published in Cell Journal, WiFi may reduce sperm motility and fertility in men (8). According to a 2018 review published in Environmental Research, WiFi use may increase oxidative stress, neuropsychiatric issues, cellular DNA damage, sperm and testicular damage, endocrine issues, and calcium overload (9).
According to a 2011 review published in Experimental Oncology, regularly using microwave ovens may increase the risk of cancer from radiation (10). The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that staying further from your microwave instead of in front of it is a good practice as it may lower radiation exposure (11). I recommend ditching your microwave completely.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), currently we don’t have any federal regulations for controlling residential or occupational exposure to power lines in the United States (12). Yet, according to a 1979 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and a 2005 study published in BMJ, powerlines may increase the risk of cancer in childhood have linked power lines to an increased risk of childhood cancer (13, 14). The further you are from power lines, the lower your risk is. If you live in an area where there are powerlines near your home, you may call your power company to bury the line to increase the level of protection.
Symptoms of Chronic EMF Exposure and EMF Hypersensitivity
When it comes to EMF, we all have different sensitivity levels. Some people are more sensitive than others. However, symptoms may develop over time due to chronic exposure. This means that even if you are not yet experiencing negative effects from EMFs, over time you may start to develop symptoms.
Since EMF symptoms tend to resemble chronic symptoms of other chronic health issues, it may be difficult for your health practitioner to pinpoint the problem. This may be particularly an issue because conventional health practitioners tend to be unaware of the risks of EMF exposure.
EMF exposure may affect your brain health, nervous system, energy levels, and entire body. Symptoms can be widespread, anywhere from mild to severe. While ionizing radiation seems to be riskier, you may experience issues from long-term exposure to non-ionizing radiation. You may also be hypersensitive to EMFs and experience more immediate and more severe symptoms than others.
Possible symptoms of EMF exposure and EMF hypersensitivity may include but are not limited to:
- Sleep problems
- Brain fog
- Memory issues
- Concentration issues
- Headaches or migraines
- Mood changes
- Muscle pains
- Blood sugar issues
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Weight gain
- Hormonal issues
- Burning skin
As you may notice many of these symptoms are similar to signs and symptoms of various chronic health issues. Simply looking at your symptoms, it can be difficult to know if your symptoms are due to EMF exposure or not. In most cases, symptoms are a result of a variety of problems.
In the next sections, I will discuss how EMFs may affect your mast cells and how mast cell activation issues may play a role in your symptoms. Generally speaking, reducing your EMF exposure is critical for reducing your risks of EMF-related issues and supporting your health. It’s important that along with reducing your EMF exposure, you follow a healthy, nutrient-dense diet, and healthy lifestyle, get plenty of sleep, and reduce environmental toxin exposure. At the end of this article, I will discuss some tips for improving your health, but first, let’s get into the connection between EMFs and mast cells.
EMFs and Mast Cells
Before I get into the connection between EMF exposure and mast cell activation, let’s go over what mast cells and mast activation syndrome are.
What Is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Your mast cells are essential for your immune and overall health. They are white blood cells that store histamine and other inflammatory mediators. They are located in your digestive tract, respiratory tract, urinary tract, skin, and blood.
When your body is attacked by an allergen, toxin, or other triggers, it will lead to mast cell activations. Your mast cells will cause an allergic response and release histamine along with other chemicals. This protective mechanism is essential for your immune health.
However, if your mast cells become dysregulated or overactive, it can turn into a serious issue. Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) means that your mast cells become activated even at inappropriate times when there is no danger. They become triggered by normally safe factors. If you have MCAS it means that your mast cells release too much histamine and other chemicals. This can lead to a variety of symptoms and affect your entire body. You may develop MCAS due to a variety of triggers, including mold, chemicals, toxins, heavy metals, allergens, medications, infections, viruses, food, and alcohol.
Symptoms of MCAS may include the following:
- Heart palpitations
- Low blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Weight changes, including rapid weight loss or weight gain
- Digestive trouble, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
- Loss of appetite or low appetite
- Vision changes
The Connection Between EMFs and Mast Cell Activation
A 2009 paper published in Pathophysiology has explained how EMFs may affect your immune system and mast cell physiology (15). The author discussed the phenomenon of electro-hypersensitivity or electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). This refers to hypersensitivity to EMFs. If you are hypersensitive to EMFs, you may experience acute reactions and chronic symptoms related to EMFs. According to the paper, if you are dealing with multiple chemical sensitivity or environmental illnesses, you may be more likely to develop EMF hypersensitivity too (15, 16, 17). A 2000 study published in Medical Hypotheses has found that about 5 percent of the population is affected by EMF hypersensitivity (18). However, others believe it may be closer to 20 percent.
According to this 2009 paper, EMFs may disturb your immune system. Just like other allergens and toxins, EMFs may disrupt your immune system and trigger various allergic and inflammatory responses causing a hypersensitivity reaction. Now, as you already know, when your immune system gets attacked by allergens, toxins, or infections, it will trigger mast cell activation and the release of histamine and other chemicals. This is the cause of allergic reactions.
If your immune system is constantly triggered, it may lead to increased mast cell activation and ongoing histamine release, causing histamine intolerance and chronic symptoms. According to the paper, EMF exposure may increase the size and quality of mast cells, increase the rate of mast cell degranulation, and increase mast cell migration and infiltration in people with EMF hypersensitivity (15).
A 2000 review published in Medical Hypotheses has also found that EMFs may increase mast cell activation, which will release inflammatory mediators causing EMF-related symptoms (19). For example, researchers argue that cardiac mast cells are responsible for cardiac function-related symptoms from EMFs due to degranulation upon EMF exposure.
A 2001 study published in the Journal of Cutaneous Pathology has found that even sitting in front of your personal computer or television can lead to EMF-related mast cell reactions and symptoms (20). According to a 2000 research published in Cell Biology International, using your microwave may also affect your mast cells and cause related issues (21).
A 2006 paper published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine has found that people with EMF hypersensitivity have an increased number of mast cells, increased histamine levels, and other increased mast cell markers (22). A 2019 animal study published in the International Journal of Morphology has also found that cell phones may increase mast cell count and mast cell degranulation which may cause sleep issues and headaches (23).
EMFs may also disrupt your gut microbiome. EMF may increase the risk of microbiome imbalance and create an environment where C diff and other bad bugs like to grow. A 2021 study published in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety has found that EMF exposure may affect the proportions of 6 different bacteria in your gut, increase the risk of gut microbiome imbalance, and lead to related neurobehavioral issues, including depression (24). Poor gut microbiome imbalance may increase mast cell activation and histamine intolerance (25, 26). This may increase MCAS-related chronic symptoms.
Moreover, according to a 2004 study published in Microbiolohichnyi Zhurnal, mold and yeast may grow faster in EMF-affected environments (27). According to a 2000 paper published in Medical Hypotheses, those with EMF hypersensitivity also commonly have mold infections (28). Mold illness and EMF hypersensitivity also have similar symptoms. This is important to note since mold is one of your main mast cell triggers and a common underlying issue is seen in MCAS and histamine intolerance (29). EMFs may increase mold growth and the risk of mold illness, mold illness may increase mast cell activation, which in turn, may increase EMF hypersensitivity.
As you see, EMF exposure, especially in EMF hypersensitivity, may increase mast cell activation and the risk of MCAS. However, having MCAS may also increase your risk of EMF hypersensitivity. If you have MCAS, it means that your mast cells are overreacting to environmental triggers. They may start reacting to environmental triggers that are not problematic for others. This may explain why you may be more sensitive to EMFs if you have MCAS. It also means that addressing both chronic EMF exposure and mast cell activation is important to reduce EMF-related symptoms.
Recommendations for EMF Protection and Mast Cell Health
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to completely eliminate EMF exposure. However, you can take steps to reduce your EMF exposure, lower the risk of mast cell activation issues, and protect your health. Here is what I recommend:
Reduce Your Daily EMF Exposure Levels
Decreasing your EMF exposure from devices and other EMF sources is the first step. Here is what you may try:
- Keep your phone and other devices on airplane mode unless you are using them or need them on.
- Turn off your cell phone, tablet, and other electronic devices at night and keep them out of your bedroom.
- Decrease your WiFi use by using hard-wire internet connection instead of WiFi whenever it’s an option and turning off your WiFi router at night or when you are not using it.
- Try not to use your cell phone while charging.
- Use hard-wire headsets instead of Bluetooth devices.
- When using your electronic devices, keep them away from your body as far as possible.
- Use your landline or face-to-face communication instead of your cell phone, Zoom, or other internet-based communication whenever possible.
- Try using an anti-radiation cell phone pouch or sleeve.
- Don’t forget to take digital detox days.
- Stop using your microwave.
- Sleep as far from any large appliances and circuit breakers as you can.
- Only get x-rays when it’s absolutely warranted.
- Protect yourself from the UV rays of the sun through protective clothing, natural suntan lotion, and avoiding the mid-day sun.
- Ground your body by walking or standing on grass, soil, or sand barefoot or soaking your feet in natural water, such as the sea, lakes, or rivers (30)
- Try using PEMF mats and an infrared sauna to reduce inflammation and chronic symptoms (31).
Reduce Your Mast Cell Triggers
EMF is not the only thing that can trigger your mast cells. There are many factors that may trigger mast cell activation. Most mast cell triggers tend to come from your environment. Common triggers of MCAS include mold, allergens, chemicals, toxins, heavy metals, viruses, and stress. Reducing your mast cell triggers may help to reduce your symptoms of mast cell activation and histamine intolerance.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory, Low-Histamine Diet
Histamine intolerance is a common consequence of MCAS. Following a high-histamine diet may further trigger histamine intolerance. I recommend following a low-histamine diet for at least several months until your symptoms improve.
Remove inflammatory foods from your diet, including refined sugar and carbs, refined oil, artificial ingredients, additives, deep-fried foods, sugary drinks, junk food, and overly processed foods. Follow a nutrient-dense diet rich in greens, vegetables, herbs, sprouts, organic grass-fed meat, organic, pasture-raised eggs and poultry, and fresh wild-caught fish. Choose organic whenever available.
Remove high-histamine foods and foods that can increase your histamine load. High-histamine foods that you should avoid include age cheese (e.g., goat cheese), citrus fruits, canned and cured meat (e.g., pepperoni, salami, bacon, lunch meat, hot dogs, and canned meat), dried fruits (e.g., apricots, dates, raisins, figs, and prunes), fermented foods (e.g., kefir, sauerkraut, soy sauce, and vinegar), fermented alcohol (e.g., beer, wine, and champagne), legumes (e.g., beans, lentils, soy, and peanut), certain nuts (e.g., cashew and walnuts), soured foods (e.g., buttermilk, sour milk, sour cream), smoked fish and certain types of fish (e.g., mackerel, mahi-mahi, anchovies, sardines, tuna, and fish sauce), certain vegetables (e.g., avocados, tomatoes, eggplant, and spinach), vinegar-containing foods (e.g., pickles and olives), and all overly processed foods because of the high histamine load from preservatives.
Avoid histamine-liberating foods that are low in histamine but trigger histamine release in your body, including alcohol, nuts, bananas, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, tomatoes, chocolates, wheat germ, cow’s milk, shellfish, and many artificial preservatives and dyes. Avoid DAO enzyme-blocking foods and drinks, such as alcohol, black tea, green tea, mate tea, and energy drinks.
Choose low-histamine foods, including organic animal protein, most greens, vegetables, and fresh fruits (except as listed earlier), and healthy fats, such as coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, and organic extra-virgin olive oil. Try new recipes. I recommend all the low-histamine recipes in The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan: Getting to the Root of Migraines, Eczema, Vertigo, Allergies and More and my recipe books, Fifty One Low Histamine Air Fryer Recipes and Low Histamine Cooking in Your Instant Pot. My book also has a detailed list of low- and high-histamine foods you can and cannot eat.
Try Some Mast Cell-Stabilizing and Histamine-Reducing Foods and Supplements
You can boost the benefits of your anti-inflammatory, low-histamine diet by adding some foods that may help to reduce your levels of histamine and stabilize your mast cells. Quercetin helps to reduce histamine. Add quercetin-rich foods to your diet, such as grapes, apples, cranberries, black plums, cherries, black currants, chokeberries, blueberries, olive oil, cruciferous vegetables, kale, romaine lettuce, chicory greens, red leaf lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, asparagus, snap peas, peppers, and red onion. You may also try a quercetin supplement.
I also recommend adding foods that can help to stabilize your mast cells, including onion, peaches, nettle, apples, chamomile, moringa, watercress, Thai ginger, and fiber-rich foods. You may also try a DAO enzyme supplement to support histamine breakdown and HistoRelief.
HistoRelief is a synergistic blend of nutrients that provides natural support to balance your immune response. This blend features Tinofend®, a patented and clinically researched extract derived from the plant Tinospora cordifolia, which has a powerful ability to support immune regulation and immune response. As a result, it boosts your body’s ability to fight interstitial cystitis symptoms. It includes quercetin, nettle leaf, vitamin C, and bicarbonate salt to help inhibit histamine release, supports normal histamine metabolism, and improves immune health.
Improve Your Gut Health
Your gut microbiome health is closely connected to mast cell activation and histamine intolerance. Gut health issues, including leaky gut syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), candida, and other gut infections are common underlying issues in mast cell activation and histamine intolerance. EMF exposure may also increase gut microbiome imbalance and gut infections.
Addressing any gut health issues and improving gut microbiome imbalance may help to improve your chronic symptoms and help to regain your health. Along with a gut-friendly anti-inflammatory diet, I recommend that you take a high-quality probiotics supplement to support your gut microbiome balance. For further gut-supporting supplements and a specific gut-health protocol, I recommend working with a functional medicine practitioner, like us.
Reduce Your Histamine Bucket
If you are dealing with symptoms of histamine intolerance, reducing high-histamine foods is not enough. High stress, poor sleep, not moving your body, and high toxin exposure may add to your toxin load. Stress and toxins may also cause mast cell activation. Improving these areas of your lifestyle may help to reduce your histamine bucket and lower the risk of mast cell activation.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress can increase mast cell activation and histamine intolerance. To decrease your stress levels, I recommend practicing breathwork, meditation, positive affirmation, journaling, yoga, grounding, and time in nature for stress and anxiety reduction. Taking an Epsom salt bath is another great way to relax your muscles, calm your mind, and detoxify your body.
Get Enough Sleep Sleep
Inadequate and poor sleep is another major underlying issue behind histamine intolerance. Chronic EMF exposure may also increase sleep issues and fatigue. Improving your sleep is absolutely essential for your health. Your goal should be to sleep at least 7 to 9 hours a night. Lower your stress levels throughout the day but especially in the evening time to support sleep. Take a bath, read a good book, listen to some music, journal, try coloring, and spend time with your family. Avoid sugar, alcohol, and heavy food in the evening. Sleep on a supportive mattress with comfortable and supportive pillows and blankets, and quality, organic cotton sheets.
Move Your Body
A lack of movement may also increase the risk of histamine intolerance and chronic health issues. Moving your body is a great way to reduce stress, improve detoxification, and improve your overall health. Move your body throughout the day. Stretch regularly. Take a stroll in the nearby park. Find creative ways to incorporate movement, such as an impromptu dance session, learning a new TikTok dance, playing with your kids or pets, taking the stairs, trying a treadmill desk, or practicing chair yoga. Exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes five days a week and move your body regularly. I recommend getting 10 to 15K steps in a day if you can. Add resistance and strength training to your routine.
Toxin overload can lead to mast cell activation, histamine intolerance, chronic inflammation, and related chronic symptoms. It’s critical that you lower your daily exposure to environmental toxins. Choose purified water over tap water. Use a high-quality air filtration system for better indoor air. Choose natural, organic, and homemade cleaning, personal hygiene, and beauty products instead of conventional brands loaded with chemicals. Choose glass, bamboo, wood, organic cotton, silicon, and other natural alternatives instead of plastic. Avoid BPA plastic completely. Choose organic food whenever possible and avoid overly processed packaged foods. If you must buy non-organic produce, follow the Dirty Dozen, Clean 15 list, and always wash and peel non-organic vegetables and fruits.
Reduce Mold Exposure and Address Any Mold-Related Issues
Since EMFs may increase mold growth, mold may increase mast cell activation, and mold illness and EMF hypersensitivity may co-occur, you need to remove mold from your home, reduce mold exposure, and address any potential mold issues.
Remove Mold from Your Home and Reduce Mold Exposure
First things first, if you have mold in your home, you need to remove it (unless you can move to a mold-free home!). If the mold-affected area is over 10 square feet or 1 square meter, call a professional mold remediation specialist. The problem is bigger than you can handle on your own. However, if you are only dealing with a smaller area, you can probably take care of it yourself.
You may try these self-removal options to take care of your mold problem:
- Try a mix of one teaspoon of baking soda and 2 cups of water to use on affected surfaces
- Use undiluted white vinegar on hard surfaces in your bathroom and kitchen
- Use a 50/50 mix of ammonia-water solution as a spray. Leave it on the affected surface for 2 to 3 hours then rinse it well.
- Use a bleach solution mix (one cup of bleach mixed with a gallon of water) on affected areas without rinsing.
- NEVER mix all-purpose cleaners or bleach with ammonia. They can create toxic fumes that can be dangerous to your health.
Don’t forget about addressing any underlying problems that may drive mold:
- Remove any moldy and old rugs, carpeting, paint, or wallpaper
- Clean or dispose of any moldy shower curtains, clothing, and other items
- Fix moisture leaks and water damage issues
- Reduce indoor humidity and keep it between 30 and 50 percent
- If you hang your clothes to dry, ideally, do it outside
- Always wipe down wet tiles after you shower
- Keep the detergent compartment of your washing machine open
- Make sure your home is ventilated well
- Use a high-quality indoor air filtration system
- Check your indoor plants and keep the mold off of them
- Clean and repair the roof gutters of your home
- Direct any rain or melted snow or ice away from your house
- Keep your home clean
- Check for signs of mold growth regularly and address any mold immediately
A word on exposure at work:
Unfortunately, mold exposure may happen at your workplace. At least half of the buildings in North America are affected by mold. This can be difficult if you are unknowingly exposed. If you can use a high-quality air filtration system at your office or office area. Talk to HR and encourage them to do regular mold checks and use prevention strategies. If you notice any signs of mold, speak with HR immediately. If there is an ongoing mold issue at your job, you may want to consider looking for new employment if it’s possible.
Get Tested for Mold Toxicity
If you have symptoms of mold toxicity or have been exposed to mold, it is important to get tested. Working with a functional medicine doctor, like myself, can help you with this. Just schedule a consultation today.
Detoxify Your Body from Mold
If you have been affected by chronic mold exposure and mold toxicity, you need to detoxify your body from mold.
- Hydrate well: Start your day with 16 to 32 ounces of water and drink throughout the day. Water helps the elimination process.
- Support detoxification through sweating: Exercise and move your body regularly. Use infrared sauna therapy for further support.
- Support your gut: Support your gut health and digestion with ProBiota HistaminX probiotics. Seek functional medicine support for a more personalized gut-supporting protocol.
- Follow a gut-friendly diet: Follow an anti-inflammatory, gut-friendly, low-histamine, nutrient-dense diet as outlined earlier.
Symptoms related to EMF exposure and your mast cells may be connected. Underlying mast cell activation issues are not uncommon in EMF-related health issues. If you are dealing with chronic symptoms, I recommend looking into potential underlying mast cells and histamine-related issues and addressing them as well.
If you are dealing with symptoms of MCAS or histamine intolerance, I invite you to schedule a consultation with us. We can help identify the root cause of your condition and recommend a personalized treatment plan to repair your body and regain your health and well-being. Schedule your consultation here. You can also get started on your own with my Histamine Online Program.
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