There is no universally accepted definition of electrical hypersensitivity.
Since 1998, the Swedish Directorate of Social Services has used the term "Patients who relate their hardship to amalgam and electricity" (SOSFS 1998:3(M)). In this way, it is demonstrated that there is no evidence that individuals suffering from electrical hypersensitivity are actually ill. This might not be a correct statement today, but the topic is still very unclear.
In this article, the designation electrical hypersensitivity will be used in relation to a condition in which the patient will have obvious symptoms in certain environments characterized by the presence of active electricity - e.g. from computers, household electrical appliances, TVs, electrical wires, high-voltage lines, transformers, other electrical appliances, trains, cars, busses, strip lights, mobile phones, etc.
What are the properties of these environments that make them capable of triggering symptoms? And why do they trigger symptoms in some individuals but not in others? The answers to these questions are, at present, unaswerable.
Often, the first symptom that appears is a feeling of warmth and tingling in the face when turning the head towards a computer screen. Other initial symptoms are reddening and tingling of the upper body and hands, irritation of the eyes and throat, plus memory- and concentration difficulties. Sometimes, the illness begins with symptoms from a completely different body part, e.g. the legs. In this case the suspicion must be directed at possible wires below the floor (in the workplace, for example).
In the early phase, the symptoms usually abate during the night in order to return the next day. Later on, you might need the entire weekend for the symptoms to subside, and eventually your whole holiday. When the symptoms start to last longer they also have a tendency to become more general and widespread. In this phase, symptoms resembling an infection with headache, malaise, pains occuring in the head, jaw, face, in one arm, etc. will occur. Not rarely, other symptoms from the nervous system can be observed: Sadness, a feeling of unreality, a feeling of being in a bell jar, etc.
The patients will sometimes suffer from cardiac arrhythmia and heart trouble resembling a heart attack can occur and the patient will be driven to the hospital in an ambulance. A thorough examination will usually not give basis for the diagnosis of infaction. The lecturer Olle Johansson has explained this as an action of the cells in the pericardium similar to a type of cells in the skin.
In an analysis of the energy conditions in the meridians of the body together with Tony van der Valk, I have found abnormal values on the heart meridian in individuals suffering from electrical hypersensitivity. In some cases, the symptoms can very quickly develop into being very severe from having been quite light. For this reason, I regard even the smallest tendency to such a development as being a case of medical emergency requiring immediate action. The patient must change environment at once in order for the exposure to be drastically reduced.
So far, nobody has succeeded in finding an objective method for making the diagnosis. The type of strain that I have described might be a possible way to make the diagnosis in a somehwat objective manner. For this reason, the diagnosis must depend upon a thorough examination of the clinical picture. A medical doctor with experience in electrical hypersensitivity will usually not have any trouble making the diagnosis. Naturally, other diseases that might explain the symptoms must be ruled out by means of other, appropriate examinations. (These are described in the SOSFD 1998:3(M).)
Examination and treatment
The most important treatment by far consists of identifying the factors that trigger the symptoms and then to eliminate them as far as possible. This implies measuring electromagnetic fields in the environments of interest; in the home, in the workplace, on holidays, and in leisure environments. However, it also means finding out if there are any toxic effects of e.g. amalgam.
If there is suspicion that amalgam damage is the triggering factor, amalgam removal must be carried out; this must always be done by means of the most protective technique, including a vitamin C drip.
The environment in the workplace and at home must be cleared and sanitized. It is customary to start with simple, cheap solutions which are often quite sufficient. In some cases, however, a more thorough electrical clearing is necessary, and sometimes even an environmental change in the form of an electricity-free room, or the like, is required.
Antioxidants, acupuncture, detoxification by means of chelation, laser acupuncture, intestinal cleansing, shiatsu, Qi Gong, and a variety of other methods have been suggested as treatment methods. Unfortunately, very few scientific studies have been made about the applicability of these methods in electrical hypersensitivity. My own experience with antioxidants, for example, says that certain patients will feel better if they take high doses of a broad spectrum antioxidant preparation. Unfortunately, the electrical hypersensitivity does not disappear as a result of this treatment.
Causes for electrical hypersensitivity
Here, a number of possible explanations for the phenomenon are listed:
- Mental causes, stress. As so often before in case of unclear disease states,
we recourse to mental diagnoses and explanations of some kind: E.g. "The patient projects his/her existential anxiety" etc. However, studies have shown that individuals suffering from electrical hypersensitivity are not more mentally strained before they become ill than the population in general.
- Chemicals. I have already mentioned amalgam. The documentation of this is quite good. Flame retardants have also been much discussed. The combination of flame retardants evaporating from new computers and electomagnetic fields are suspected of being a triggering factor. For this reason, it is recommended to place all new computers in a ventilated room for two weeks before using it.
- General hypersensitivity. Electrical hypersensitivity is often combined with other kinds of hypersensitivity towards food, chemicals, smoke, perfume, etc. Sometimes, this has been regarded as an indication that some individuals are genetically weak and cannot tolerate normal strain. In my view, the likely explanation is that these individuals have been damaged and this makes them react to various environmental factors - even completely "normal" ones.
- Gender differences. Electrical hypersensitivity is more common in women than in men. This might be the explanation why the detoxifying system in women is weaker or why they have more difficulties handling free radicals. Unfortunately, this fact has contributed to the male interpretation model which has been - and still is - prevailing in our society today and has led to the patronizing attitude towards individuals hypersensitive to electricity (and other "diseases that do not exist").
- The Swedish electrical network. Contrary to other industrialized countries, Sweden has a 4-conductor system. This means a higher frequency of stray magnetic fields. It has been demonstrated, for example, that walking in the streets of Stockholm equals walking under a high-voltage line. You will be exposed to powerful magnetic fields from all electrical wires located under the pavement. Even the fact that it is not standard for contacts in Sweden to be connected to earth might be significant.