April 13, 2021
From radio waves to gamma rays, from the hum of your fridge to solar flares…
…electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are everywhere.
If you listened to my podcast “The Shocking Truth About You Getting “EMF*D”: 5G, Wi-Fi & Cell Phones – Hidden Harms & How to Protect Yourself” with Dr. Joe Mercola, you are already aware of the risks posed by EMFs. Electromagnetic fields are the by-product of the global flood of electromagnetic devices, video and television screens, high-voltage power lines, and wireless communications.
It’s been clear for years and years that there is a correlation between EMFs and diminished well-being, and now the evidence is solid that EMF exposure is a causal factor of poor health, including disturbed sleep, decreased physical performance, mood, and much more.
Designing an environment that reduces your exposure to EMFs is one of the easiest and most important ways that you can improve the health of yourself and your family, and in the past, I’ve given you plenty of tips on creating a home with fewer harmful EMFs. However, EMFs aren’t all doom and gloom. As you may know, pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs), which are technically a form of EMFs, offer a host of benefits for your immune system, energy production, and beyond—all of which I covered on this podcast.
In this article, I'm going to introduce you to the less-explored aspects of EMFs. You’ll discover how we as humans have evolved to protect ourselves from—and in certain cases even benefit from—EMFs, how the signal-to-noise ratio relates to EMFs, and a newly-developed EMF technology, called ulRFE®, that I’ve been using as a “digital nootropic.”
You’ve Evolved to be Receptive to EMFs…And That’s Not Necessarily a Bad Thing
When most people hear “EMF,” they instantly think danger, but the truth is quite a bit more nuanced. It’s undeniable that certain EMFs are harmful for you in any quantity—but there’s good news, too.
Certain forms of EMFs exist that are in fact beneficial to living things, and if you learn how to harness them, you can even utilize them to your advantage.
See, every human being who has ever lived—and all creatures that have ever existed—have spent their lives connected to and within the planet earth’s geomagnetic field. This geomagnetic field at the earth’s outer core is a mix of molten iron and nickel, which are both magnetic, and that field extends into outer space, well beyond the reach of most of our satellites.
The earth’s geomagnetic field is a type of EMF, and it’s constantly neutralizing potentially harmful EMFs released by the sun, functioning effectively as a protective shield. Interesting fact: The back-and-forth between EMFs from the earth and the sun are the reason we see auroras at higher latitudes. The earth’s geomagnetic field is weakest at the poles, so some of the sun’s electromagnetic energy passes through—hitting nitrogen and oxygen atoms in the atmosphere. These atoms then release light in the form of brilliant greens, pinks, and blues—the colorful, natural electrical phenomenon of an aurora.
The Apollo astronauts were the first humans to actually leave the earth's geomagnetic field and become exposed to the full power of the sun’s EMF. While their spacecraft was shielded to a degree, experts say they were actually lucky to avoid a huge dose of ionizing radiation, as the solar weather was relatively peaceful during their journey.
Thankfully, encountering the sun’s full EMF force is not a concern if you’re not planning to go into outer space! But studies do suggest that, when the sun is at peak activity and its EMF overwhelms the earth’s protective bubble, humans experience a decrease in heart rate variability (HRV), which is generally associated with detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system. So, as you can see, we’re not 100% shielded by the earth’s EMF.
Protective EMFs from the earth do more than just shield living things from the sun—across biological domains, life has evolved to respond to, and use to its advantage, the earth's EMFs. For example, salmon possess an internal compass that aids them in migration by communicating with the earth’s EMF, essentially reading the magnetic fields like a map. Homing pigeons also navigate with the earth’s field via magnetite in their beaks.
Scientists have even found magnetosensitive cryptochromes in the human eye, and they are beginning to study how the cryptochromes (mammalian circadian photoreceptors) may function as a magnetosensor, improving directional information and visual-spatial perception.
In the diagram below, the full electromagnetic spectrum is outlined, from the low-energy, beneficial EMFs emitted by the earth to harmful radiation like X-rays and gamma rays. Notice the split between “non-ionizing” and “ionizing.” Ionizing radiation has enough energy to shear off electrons from molecules, causing cancer, radiation sickness, and genetic damage. Non-ionizing radiation lacks the energy for shearing, so it can be benign or even beneficial in the appropriate dosages.
The “safer” frequencies on the far left in this graphic include pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF). Clinics around the world already use PEMF therapy to heal wounds, enhance bone growth, and improve mood. I personally like to describe PEMF as “exercise for your cells.” These devices work by emitting a safe, non-ionizing signal that your cells “tune” themselves to, aligning their own cellular processes to that frequency. This is often called “entrainment,” and it’s the basis for PEMF. PEMF frequency is targetable to specific functions in specific cells, so if, for example, you want to promote deeper sleep, you can set a PEMF device to between 1 and 4 hertz and target brain cells. Or you can tune it to the healing frequency of muscle cells to aid in recovery—this may vary by muscle type, but studies indicate that 100 hZ can promote the regrowth of muscle tissue.
The earth resonates at 7.83 hZ due to perpetual lightning strikes (most people don’t know this, but the earth is struck by lightning hundreds of times per minute!). So the planet is constantly “ringing” like a school bell at a frequency your ears can’t hear, but your cells can, and it’s ringing at right around the alpha wave frequency in your brain. This is called the Schumann resonance, and you can even get floor mats that project this resonance. These can be highly beneficial in most homes, since the material in your floor is at least dampening the resonance and possibly even blocking it out. But if you spend a lot of time outside, and get plenty of exposure to the Schumann resonance, you’re amplifying the frequency in your brain that’s associated with enhanced creativity and mental wellness.
If you listened to my podcast with Clint Ober, you know that grounding (or earthing) is one of my top health hacks for normalizing the body's self-regulatory and self-healing systems, working by syncing your body with the natural frequency of the earth. Your body has a tendency to vibrate at the frequency being picked up from an external source, so if that source is the earth, you’re good. On the other hand, if your body is syncing up with harmful EMFs, your inner cellular communication is disrupted. Your body can become “entrained” to that detrimental external frequency and you lose the integrity of your internal frequencies. The result is a degradation of physical and mental performance.
A grounding mat is one of the most accessible and effective ways to achieve the benefits of earthing, and I use mine from Ultimate Longevity and BioBalance daily. I notice a profound improvement in sleep, elimination of jet lag, and a significant uptick in energy while I’m working when I place the Ultimate Longevity mat under my standing workstation. I also rely heavily on what I consider to be the most powerful EMF device I've ever used, the Pulse Centers PEMF System. you can learn more about Ultimate Longevity in this podcast and Pulse Centers in this podcast. Grounding is critical for realigning the body when traveling—after all, being on airplane tens of thousands of feet above the ground is about as disconnected from the earth as you can get. The first thing I do when I deplane is to step barefoot onto the earth. I also put on a pair of Pluggz or Earthrunners as quickly as I can, and I take a Flexpulse (a portable device I consider a “DJ for my brain,” allowing me to switch from a lulling 3 Hz frequency if I need to rest to a high-alert 23 Hz frequency if I'm wanting more focus) with me wherever I go.
So as you can see, like some supplements, certain “health foods,” or anything that you utilize to optimize mental and physical performance, EMFs have both a light and a dark side if overused or misused. And as you would with supplements and diet, you need to understand the mechanisms and regulate your dosage accordingly.
Coffee Shops & Electromagnetic Radiation
When’s the last time you decided to spend a few hours in a coffee shop, laptop open, tackling concentrated work? Quiet cafes, perhaps with a little background hum of conversation and the espresso machine, are conducive to deep and productive work.
But what about the experience of a crowded, Starbucks-like environment, with people coming and going every minute and orders being shouted out constantly? By the time you sent off that last email, you might have felt exhausted and agitated. Maybe you packed up and left because you just couldn’t get anything done.
Most people can relate to the frustration of a distracting work environment.
So if minimal noise is beneficial, what about no noise? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that silence is the ideal working condition? In fact, most people find total silence to be imposing and unproductive. Your mind may wander, you may have trouble focusing, and you may even begin to fixate on the sound of your own breath.
Studies show that even a little bit of background music improves concentration, the reason being that we have two “attention systems,” one conscious and one subconscious. When you’re attempting to fixate your conscious attention on a specific task, your subconscious tends to kick into high gear, looking for stimuli to occupy it. In a quiet room, that stimuli can be the most negligible of sounds, like your own breath.
Whether you’re in a room that’s too loud or too quiet, an identical principle is at work: Your brain gets distracted when the “signal-to-noise” ratio is imbalanced.
In the loud room, your brain was getting overloaded with auditory stimuli. Since it can’t efficiently filter the stimuli, you begin to burn valuable energy maintaining concentration. In the quiet room, there was effectively no stimulus at all, so your mind started inventing it, or at least seeking it out.
It turns out that humans are wired to find an optimal balance of signal and noise. Across biological systems, you can see this same law applied, all the way down to the way your neurons fire. And I’m not just talking about the type of noise you hear…in statistics and data science, any type “irrelevant or meaningless data” that’s lumped in with the information you actually want is considered noise.
So what the heck does any of this have to do with EMFs?
Your cells are primed to respond to beneficial signals, but if you’re getting hit with non-beneficial signals—like the EMFs emitted by your appliances and gadgets—then the positive signals are blocked. Think back to being in that crowded coffee shop, so overwhelmed with sound that you can’t hear yourself think. That’s what’s happening when your cells get flooded with a mishmash of EMFs. There’s too much noise, sometimes called “electro smog,” for your cells to isolate the advantageous EMFs and attune to them.
When you’re hoping to take in beneficial EMFs in an environment that’s “noisy” with bad EMFs, you’re not just missing out on the opportunity for enhanced performance, you’re subjecting your cells to harmful oxidative stress. A reduction in the noise will boost helpful signals, promoting longevity, energy, and mental health, and more.
Shaping Your Environment: Perfection Is Not the Goal
If you walk into the standard American household, your cells get immediately and invisibly bombarded with a cacophony of the same type of electromagnetic noise I described above.
The problem isn’t just that the waves emitted by phones, smart appliances, WiFi, and electrical currents aren’t good for you—it’s that none of these gadgets were designed to work in harmony. They’re just emitting a constant stream of noise that overlaps and interferes, like the environment in that crowded coffee shop.
When discussing EMFs, I always start with advice on creating a home that’s safe from harmful frequencies. Here’s a quick run-through of just a few of the key steps I most often recommend (there's a whole chapter on this in my book Boundless for more details too)…
- Wire your computer into everything: keyboards, mice, headphones, and especially the internet. Use an ethernet cable rather than relying on Bluetooth and WiFi.
- Turn off your WiFi whenever you can, especially at night. An outlet timer can be set so you don’t even need to think about it.
- Get rid of your microwave. For that type of cooking, I use a convection oven, and while cooking with it will take a few more minutes, I promise you’ll adjust quickly. (I talk more about the dangers of microwave ovens in my podcast with Jack Kruse here.)
- Skip the smart TV, smart fridge, and other WiFi-enabled appliances.
- Don’t use Bluetooth headphones, watches, or speakers—and if you must, just use Bluetooth to sync, then turn it off.
- Whenever you put your cell phone in your pocket, put it on airplane mode. In fact, my phone is on airplane mode most of the time and I would advise you to do that too. If you must keep your phone on you, DefenderShield has a variety of products, including a cell phone case, to protect you from 99.9% of EMF (save 20% with code BEN).
- Use a speakerphone while talking on your phone, and leave it three feet away from you while you’re on it.
- Replace compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs with incandescent bulbs, and remove all fluorescent lights from your house if you can.
- Refuse a smart meter on your home, or get a shield if you already have one.
- Turn off the electricity to your bedroom at night—or your whole house, if you can. Even better, check your house’s electrical current and install filters for dirty electricity.
I’ve received thousands of emails and comments on this topic, mostly from concerned people who worry that they’re not doing enough. I understand that not everyone has the time, or maybe not the budget, to take all of these steps, and if you don’t, you may be worried about slowly poisoning yourself.
I’ve got some good news for you. Doing what you can is infinitely better than doing nothing. Even a few of these options can significantly reduce environmental EMFs, giving your cells a rest from the onslaught of EMF “noise.”
Also, reducing the noise isn’t the only thing you can do. There are proven ways to boost EMFs that are beneficial to you—and balance out the signal-to-noise ratio.
And I’m not just talking about the usual suspects of PEMF and grounding, although those are both highly beneficial for rest and recovery. A new type of EMF therapy has been pioneered in the last 20 years, and I’ve been blown away recently by its potential.
How Submarine-Detecting Technology Opened a New Frontier in Optimizing EMFs
The story starts during World War II…
…when America was trying to supply its European allies with food, weapons, and raw materials—but was being thwarted by German submarines.
The Navy needed a way to spot submarines so it could protect merchant ships. To find the ships, the Navy pioneered the use of a technology called a magnetometer, which is now one of the world’s most sensitive scientific instruments, with the ability to detect subtle variations in electromagnetic fields within a 2,000-mile radius.
After the war, the Navy continued to perfect this technology, eventually creating a hypersensitive magnetometer called a SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device). These things are so sensitive that they can measure a magnetic field of 5×10−18 Tesla—which is quadrillions times smaller than the field thrown out by a fridge magnet (10−2 T) and even a billion times smaller than magnetic fields that some animals produce.
This technology quickly began to revolutionize biology and medicine, with applications for highly sensitive medical imaging like magnetoencephalography or magnetogastrography and magnetic marker monitoring (a radiation-free way to follow the path a drug takes through the body). SQUID also shows promise as a low-cost, portable way to run an MRI scan, and a company out of Seattle (EMulate Therapeutics) has been using SQUIDs in cancer research.
EMulate is working on tackling the biggest problem with brain cancer, which is that most drugs can’t cross the blood-brain barrier, and with all the cellular damage that chemo drugs can cause, you might not even want them to. EMulate asked: What if we could create a “digital drug” and project it into patients’ brains?
Digital drugs (or “infoceuticals”)—an exciting technology I first told you about in a recent article—may bring science fiction to mind, but the concept is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Think about converting the electromagnetic signature of a drug into a digital file, just like you would with an ebook or a schematic for a 3D printer. You would then find a way to “transmit” that data into someone’s body, without converting it into a physical form. It would be energy, but projected in a way that your cells understand.
And certain cells can definitely understand EMFs. The biophysicist Luca Turin has shown that your nose can differentiate between molecules based on their electromagnetic signature alone, and I noted above that your brain responds to electromagnetism. So why not up the ante and project a drug as a signal?
EMulate believed it was possible, so they started dissolving chemo drugs into aqueous solutions and scanning them with a SQUID, essentially turning the electromagnetic signature of the drug into a .WAV file. They noticed right away that each compound had a unique magnetic signal. Given what we know about the electrosensitivity of the brain (after all, neurons communicate using electricity), it stood to reason that a brain might respond to the signal…if they could find an instrument sensitive enough to project something so complex.
PEMF technology generally projects one or two discrete frequencies. The signals that EMulate mapped with the SQUID, on the other hand, were complex, continuous mathematical functions that spanned a huge range on the electromagnetic spectrum.
The instrument they needed didn’t exist, so they invented it. It’s called ulRFE®, or ultra-low radio frequency energy.
Instead of projecting a specific frequency like PEMF, this technology “sweeps” through a continuous range of frequencies, imitating the electromagnetic signal of a given molecule.
And it’s a staggering technological leap for beneficial EMFs. First off, ulRFE® is a much more complex signal than PEMF. A specific signal can span frequencies from 0-22,000 hZ, as opposed to 1 or 2 hZ in PEMF. That means each signal can contain up to 24 million bits of information—which is how it’s able to mimic the entire electromagnetic signature of a complex cancer drug.
ulRFE® also delivers this information in a much “quieter” signal, only needing 40 milliguass (mG)—a measurement of magnetic induction—to elicit a response in cells, as opposed to more than 25,000 mG in PEMF. Just like PEMF, ulRFE® is non-ionizing and non-thermal radiation, but it doesn’t need specific targeting like PEMF does. If you’ve seen my reviews of some PEMF devices, you know that it can be very tricky to properly position devices to target the proper cells. That concern is eliminated with ulRFE®.
As for cancer research, it takes a very long time, and EMulate’s technology is still in early clinical trials. So far, results look promising, and I’m looking forward to diving into the findings in the near future.
ulRFE® also has enormous potential for alternative, non-medical uses, and there are organizations that are pioneering the effort to make the technology to the general public—which brings us a fascinating and accessible application of ulRFE® from a company that I think is doing revolutionary work.
How to Hack ulRFE® to Boost Good EMFs With a New Digital Nootropic
Let’s say you’ve taken a few steps to mitigate harmful EMFs in your household.
You’re sleeping better, sharpening your focus, and improving your physical recovery—but you want to start boosting those beneficial EMFs that I’ve been talking about. You want to take things to the next level.
That’s where ulRFE® comes in. While it’s still being explored in medical settings, it’s already available to the general public as a digital version of everyday “drugs” that you use to enhance performance—like your morning cup of coffee, sleepytime tea, or muscle relaxant cream.
Lately, I've been fascinated by the work of a company called Hapbee that has licensed ulRFE® technology and taken a more “everyday” path with it, creating a wearable that is essentially a digital nootropic.
I briefly mentioned Hapbee in a previous article on digital drugs, when I looked at a number of infoceuticals that worked in distinct ways. There are effective alternatives out there, but many can be time-consuming as you have to download the signals yourself and take time to set up the device.
Hapbee has taken a different route, packaging ulRFE® into a sleek headband that pairs with your cell phone. You put the device around your head or neck, pick a signal on the accompanying phone app, and let it project non-ionizing, low-energy EMF signals to your brain and body. I notice a near-immediate effect—and Hapbee’s internal testing indicates that most people feel it within 10-20 minutes.
I recently hosted Scott Donnell, the CEO of Hapbee, on my podcast to talk about the technology, its applications, and what’s next on the frontier of digital nootropics. That podcast is well worth a listen if you want to better wrap your head around how the Hapbee works and practical usage tips.
Hapbee launched in the spring of 2020 thanks to a heavily-funded Indiegogo campaign and started shipping out the wearables last fall. Recently, they hit the $100 million sales mark and the company is on a fast track to growth, with professional sports teams starting to take advantage of the technology and Hapbee improving it daily.
- “Alert” is the caffeine signal, which is a great replacement for extra coffee.
- “Calm” is designed to help you with mental stress and adapt to overstimulating environments.
- “Sleepy” helps you boost your deep and REM sleep without taking sleep aids.
- “Focus” gets you into a flow state, up-leveling your productivity.
- “Happy” provides a booze-free social/“happy hour” feeling.
- “Relax” is based on muscle-relaxing botanicals, which makes it optimal for post-workout recovery.
Hapbee’s goal is to expand the range of signals to the point where you can customize and maximize the entirety of your day and night.
Here’s how I have been using the Hapbee daily: I hang it around my neck for my afternoon naps in my HBOT USA hyperbaric oxygen chamber and I put on a calming signal that helps me get into deep relaxation mode (I talk more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy in my podcast with Dr. Jason Sonners here). Then, I like to use the Focus signal after my nap to get back into the groove with work. I also like to use the “Happy” mode when partying/socializing.
You may rightly question the placebo effects of digital nootropics, and I don't blame you. However, Hapbee has done extensive testing to “prove” that the device works. They found that 90% of tested users can name the specific signal that’s being played (Alert, Focus, Happy, etc.) and 100% of onboarded users could correctly tell when the device was playing and when it wasn’t. And for me, subjectively, the thing just works surprisingly well.
Another fascinating result of Hapbee’s internal studies is that 75% of users felt a difference the first time they used it, rising to nearly 100% after a few 30-minute sessions. Remember how we talked about entrainment? With chemical interactions, they become less effective with time as your cells adjust to the dosage. But an electromagnetic device like the Hapbee gets more effective each time you use it.
Whenever I’m looking at a wearable, my first concern is safety. After all, there’s no point in receiving the positive benefits of a digital nootropic if you are canceling those benefits out with damaging EMF exposure. Hapbee has shown that the wearable only puts out about 1/30,000th of what a cell phone emits, EMF-wise, and my personal meter testing backed up the fact that the EMF factor was fine. You can also start up the device and then turn off Bluetooth, so you’re boosting the good EMFs without adding in more noise.
As usual, I’m hooking you up with a special discount on the device. If you’d like to try Hapbee for yourself, you can save $80 just for being a Ben Greenfield Fitness reader. Click this link to get that discount automatically applied to your cart.
Electromagnetic fields are an unavoidable byproduct of a society in which electronic technology is everywhere.
Despite popular belief, though, not all EMFs are dangerous, and there are ways in which we can empower ourselves to not only avoid deleterious effects, but potentially benefit from EMFs.
Magnetic fields have been used for thousands of years for a wide range of purposes and processes. Humans and animals have evolved to be receptive to EMFs and, thanks to entrainment, that receptivity gets stronger and stronger. As long as the signals that are being received are positive, entrainment can serve a constructive purpose. There is a potentially unlimited number of ways that humans can take advantage of natural fields to advance health and well-being.
Reducing harm is the first step in balancing out your EMF exposure. There are a number of things you can do to your home to mitigate the effects of harmful EMFs, and most of the measures are quick and low-cost. This is such an important and popular topic that I produced a two-part series about how to biohack the ultimate healthy home (you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here).
What I’m most revved up about is what’s next in this field and the capacity of wearables like the Hapbee to improve quality of life. ulRFE® is the next frontier of digital technology. Scientists will continue to study and develop ulRFE®’s potential for applications from cancer treatment to anxiety reduction to sports performance, but in the meantime, consumers can already learn about and start to take advantage of the myriad benefits of “digital drugs.”
What do you think about digital nootropics? Have you tried any of the devices out there to boost your intake of good EMFs? Do you plan on trying the Hapbee? Let me know in the comments section below, along with any thoughts, questions, or feedback you have!