Recent studies shed new insights on the condition of electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).
Diagnosis and treatment
A group of 17 scientists from six nations has produced the EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2015 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses’. 1
Their paper reports the results of Professor Belpomme’s study on 1200 people with EHS and/or multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). ‘Both EHS and MCS appear to paint a common picture of inflammation-related hyper-histaminemia, oxidative stress, autoimmune response and BBB [blood-brain-barrier] opening, and a deficit in melatonin excretion.’
As a first step, the authors recommend that sufferers measure fields at home and work and take action to reduce their exposure.
The authors also recommend a number of diagnostic tests as well as treatments, including oxidation, treating intestinal problems, improving nutrition, detoxification, improving mitochondrial function, reducing inflammation, sauna, exposure to natural light, oxygen therapy, exercise, drinking good quality water and appropriate dental care.
The Swedish government classifies EHS as a ‘functional impairment’ - that is, a difficulty that limits the sufferer’s ability to engage in certain essential activities of life.2 This means that sufferers are not ‘seen as patients but citizens reacting to an inferior environment,’ said author, Professor Olle Johansson of Karolinska Institute. As a result of this approach, sufferers are not subjected to a battery of diagnostic tests and are not prescribed psychiatric treatments—as is recommended in many countries, including Australia.
The Swedish approach to EHS also enables sufferers to obtain economic support and legal protection.
In his paper, Professor Johansson describes the results of his research which showed that EHS people exposed to electromagnetic radiation had skin damage consistent with other forms of radiation exposure. Specifically, he found changes in the numbers and behaviours of mast cells, which are involved in pain, itching, edema and erythema— symptoms that are reported by many EHS sufferers.
EHS is not a nocebo effect
No, electromagnetic hypersensitivity is not a psychological (nocebo) effect, says M Dieudonné from France. After interviewing 40 people claiming to have EHS, Dr Dieudonné determined that symptoms appeared before people began questioning the effects of electromagnetic fields on their health—and not as a result of their negative perceptions about technology.
1. Belyaev, I et al, ‘EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2015 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses,’ Rev Environ Health, 30 (4):337-71, 2015.
2. Johansson, O, ‘Electrohypersensitivity: a functional impairment due to an inaccessible environment’, Rev Environ Health, 30(4):311-21, 2015.
3. Dieudonné, M, ‘Does electromagnetic hypersensitivity originate from nocebo responses? Indications from a qualitative study’, Bioelectromagnetics 37(1), 14-24,