Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Dirty" Electricity and ADHD

Could fixing your power sources help clear up ADHD symptoms?

We often hear about the health impacts of prolonged exposure to electrical and magnetic fields, including those involving cognitive deficits, neuro-developmental difficulties, and increased cancer risks. We would come to expect that some of these same invisible forces may also be at work with disorders such as ADHD.

In previous posts, we have covered how full-spectrum light exposure (within the context of seasonal affective disorders) can influence ADHD severity and symptomology.

In my reading, I recently came across an article from a few years back that caught my attention. This article was from the journal Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, and involved a phenomenon known as "dirty electricity". The authors posited that this type of electricity, which occurs when electricity passes through several types of electronic devices such as computers or microwaves, which creates a more "noisy" spectrum (think of the analogy of a river or stream that picks up waste and debris along the way of its course) than "clean" electricity, may be a factor in a wide array of diseases and disorders ranging from diabetes to multiple sclerosis, to asthma, to fibromyalgia to neurological dysfunction (including balancing difficulties as well as ADHD-like behaviors and symptoms).

Although ADHD was not the main concern of the article (which focused more heavily on the diabetic and MS complications associated with this dirty electricity), the importance of maintaining appropriate blood sugar levels to the brains of ADHD patients should at least warrant further investigation into the matter.

By no means do I believe that this "dirty" electricity is a predominant contributing factor to a child's (or adult's) ADHD, but I did want to at least make the blogosphere aware that this may be an overlooked area of treatable potential. Some of the results of the study were intriguing to say the least.

For example, the authors found that:

  • Fatigue among individuals in a building "sick" from dirty electricity is much more common than previously believed. Due to their size and range of appliances and power consumption patterns, schools are often prime candidates for being vulnerable to this dirty electricity phenomena. Fatigue and overall sickness in students and teachers may be significantly reduced if special electrical filters (called Graham/Stetzer or GS filters) are utilized. Similar results have been found in other related studies (please keep in mind that several of these are somewhat biased, i.e. published by the makers of these electrical filters. For reference, this blogger has absolutely no affiliation with Graham Stetzer and does not receive any type of compensation from the makers of these filters).
  • Furthermore, exposure to higher levels of electromagnetic fields results in an increase in production of "stress" proteins in the body. The degree of this varies, as a number of individuals carry more of a hypersensitivity to electrical fields than others. This high level of inter-individual variability makes it difficult to set concrete limits on safety concerns surrounding electromagnetic exposure.
  • Additionally, the original article cited a case of significant improvement in balance and walking ability in and individual with multiple sclerosis following the "cleaning" of electricity in his area by using the electrical filters. Much like the phenomena of birds flying into more windows in areas near power lines (which can interfere with the bird's internal magnetic-based sense of direction), it is possible that cleaning up the power supply may have similar effects on humans.
Please note: it's important not to get too excited or attempt to draw too many theoretical conclusions based on these observations. Keep in mind that this individual was diagnosed with MS and it was just a case study. Nevertheless, given the previously mentioned association between ADHD and early infections the inner ear (which affects balance and coordination), the potential influence of electrical fields may somehow tie in to all of this as well. This is simply a working hypothesis of the blogger at the moment.

However, given the fact that abnormal glucose metabolism and blood sugar levels are typically depressed or less stable in the brains of ADHD patients as well as the possible connection between ADHD and areas involved with the balancing regions of the nervous system, the effects of electrical fields on the disorder may be larger than we previously realized.

**As an interesting aside, many of the brain glucose studies of ADHD patients have found that glucose metabolic differences are often more pronounced in girls and women with the disorder than boys or men. It stands to reason (at least on a theoretical basis, but not to prematurely draw any conclusions) that similar gender-based differences may exist with regards to blood sugar levels in the brain as a result of exposure to electromagnetic fields of "dirty" electricity.

Again, to reiterate that this blogger has no affiliation with the filters nor receives any compensation for endorsement of these products, it may be useful to investigate how "dirty" the power in your home, school or office really is, especially if you or a loved one have ADHD or one of the related complications listed in the original article.

**For reference sake, the cost of a meter for measuring dirty electricity runs somewhere from 100 to 150 US dollars (at least based off of what this blogger has seen), and the filters are about 35 US dollars apiece (not surprisingly the companies often recommend sets of 20 for an average home, bringing the grand total up over 800 US dollars. Not a small sum, of course!).

As of now, this blogger is undecided whether the negative impact of dirty electricity is enough to warrant the pricey purchase of these power cleanup methods and devices. The main point for this post was simply bring a lesser-known phenomena of electrical pollution and highlight at least some of the theoretical basis for exacerbating attentional deficits and ADHD symptoms.

Given the widely-encompassing health risks covering various diseases and disorders (listed in the original article and beyond ADHD), it may be worthwhile to spend some time in more personal investigation on the topic.

Nevertheless, these little-known connection (such as those between power lines and blood sugar levels) should serve to highlight the fact that ADHD is a multi-faceted disorder, and its symptoms may be governed by an ever-widening array of influential factors.

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