Influence of electromagnetic fields on the circadian rhythm: Implications for human health and disease

" Living organisms have evolved within the natural electromagnetic fields of the earth which comprise atmospheric electricity, Schumann resonances and the geomagnetic field. Research suggests that the circadian rhythm, which controls several physiological functions in the human body, can be influenced by light but also by the earth's electromagnetic fields. Cyclic solar disturbances, including sunspots and seasonal weakening of the geomagnetic field, can affect human health, possibly by disrupting the circadian rhythm and downstream physiological functions. Severe disruption of the circadian rhythm increases inflammation which can induce fatigue, fever and flu-like symptoms in a fraction of the population and worsen existing symptoms in old and diseased individuals, leading to periodic spikes of infectious and chronic diseases. Possible mechanisms underlying sensing of the earth's electromagnetic fields involve entrainment, light-dependent radical pair formation in retina cryptochromes, and paramagnetic magnetite nanoparticles. Factors such as electromagnetic pollution from wireless devices and antennas, shielding by non-conductive materials used in shoes and buildings, and local geomagnetic anomalies may also affect sensing of the earth's electromagnetic fields by the human body and contribute to circadian rhythm disruption and disease development." {Credits 1}

" Chizhevsky observed that high solar activity, as measured by the number of sunspots which reflect the sun's magnetic activity, was associated with social unrest, cardiovascular mortality, mental illnesses, and variations in crop production [1]. … a large body of evidence now indicates that biological organisms can sense small variations in the earth's electromagnetic fields and that solar disturbances can affect human health." {Credits 1}

" It would later be shown that major human pandemics attributed to pathogenic bacteria, viruses or parasites occurred during periods of low or high sunspots [15] [Fig. 1]. Notably, the Covid-19 pandemic started during a sunspot minimum [Fig. 1], suggesting that electromagnetic factors may be involved. While some researchers proposed that sunspots and solar radiation may induce pandemics by increasing mutations that enhance microbial pathogenicity [15], the observation that sunspot minima and maxima are also associated with the development of several non-infectious diseases [7] indicates instead that the reason for the association may be due to disruption of host physiological functions during these periods, possibly via disturbances of the circadian rhythm and immune function." {Credits 1}

" Schumann's student, Herbert L. König, examined brain electroencephalograms (EEG) and noticed similarities between the fundamental SR of 7.8 Hz and alpha waves produced by the human brain in a relaxed but alert state, which also fall within the 7–14 Hz range [21]. Similarly, mental concentration is associated with brain waves of 14–30 Hz, which correspond with SR frequencies [22]. At first sight, brain waves may seem to be an epiphenomenon of neuronal activity and similarities between EEGs and SRs, mere coincidence. However, by producing artificial frequencies within the 3–5 Hz range, König was able to reduce mental performance and reaction time in volunteers, whereas 10 Hz improved these functions [23]." {Credits 1}

" These intriguing observations were later repeated by several groups, including Klimesch and colleagues, who were able to improve cognitive performance in volunteers by applying transcranial magnetic stimulation in the alpha frequency [24]. In mice, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation at 15 Hz for 4 weeks reduced inflammation and signs of depression [25]. Elhalel et al. showed that applying a 90 nT magnetic field at a frequency of 7.8-Hz produces beneficial effects on rat cardiac myocytes, reducing H2O2-induced damage by around 40% [26]. These results suggested that humans may be continually or intermittently connected on a deep level with the earth's electromagnetic fields and that SRs may produce widespread health benefits." {Credits 1}

" In the seventeenth century, the Dutch mathematician Christiaan Huygens observed that when two pendulum clocks are hung on the same walls for some time, they spontaneously start to synchronize their oscillation frequency albeit in opposite directions to each other. Similarly, synchronization of biological rhythms with environmental EMFs may represent a mechanism that occurs spontaneously between two electromagnetic entities, thereby enhancing the internal coherence of living organisms. Some authors have proposed that biological organisms may have become phase-locked with the EMFs of the environment over years of evolution [20]. Recent research indicates that oscillations in the brain are coupled to several organs in the body, including the nervous system and gastrointestinal tract, implying that this form of entrainment may regulate organ functions [35]." {Credits 1}

" Experiments performed in shielded environments showed that living organisms need the geomagnetic field to function properly as it is required for the regulation of various cellular processes, including chromatin condensation, DNA replication, gene expression, cell cycle, enzyme and mitochondria function, and cell migration and differentiation, among others (reviewed recently in Ref. [6]). In the absence of the geomagnetic field, mice eventually lose their fitness [43] and become sterile [44] and anxious [45]; while humans show disrupted circadian rhythms, reduced metabolism, gastrointestinal disorders, and altered immune cell numbers [46]." {Credits 1}

" While the magnetic field is often described as static, it is actually modulated by the sun and varies in intensity in a diurnal manner [5,47,48]. Notably, diurnal variation in the intensity of the geomagnetic field closely follows that of the SRs described above, peaking at around 8–10 AM in the morning, and returning to basal level around 6 PM in the evening [48] [Fig. 2A]." {Credits 1}

" Surprisingly, the heart's magnetic field can be intermittently synchronized with the geomagnetic field, as both can oscillate at 0.1 Hz [49]. People's HRV also correlates in real time with variations in the geomagnetic field [40]. In insects, simulated geomagnetic storms can disturb the circadian rhythm [50]." {Credits 1}

{Credits 1} 🎪 Martel, J., Chang, S. H., Chevalier, G., Ojcius, D. M., & Young, J. D. (2023). Influence of electromagnetic fields on the circadian rhythm: Implications for human health and disease. Biomedical Journal. © 2023 2023 Chang Gung University. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License..

Last modified on 03-Jan-23

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