New Study Reports that Human Heart Rhythms are Correlated with Solar-Geomagnetic Field Fluctuations

Throughout history, people have wondered: are we somehow connected with the Earth, the Solar System and the Stars? Do our bodies somehow respond physically to solstices, eclipses, changes in our planet’s magnetic field, or storms on the Sun?

Some answers may lie in a recent study from Rollin McCraty and colleagues, who studied how human heart rhythms were correlated with changes in geomagnetic field activity caused by storms on the Sun (McCraty 2017): McCraty and colleagues found that during solar storms, study participants’ heart rhythms changed in ways that suggest changes in nervous system activity relevant to health, well-being and how we respond to stress.

Life on Earth thrives within our planet’s magnetic field, and scientists have studied many of the ways that plants and animals can sense and respond to changes in geomagnetic field activity. We now have a better understanding of how birds and other animals are able to navigate by sensing the Earth’s magnetic field (Gegear 2008, 2010; Maeda, Wiltschko 2014), and it’s been clearly demonstrated that geomagnetic-strength magnetic fields can influence life; a recent review discussed over 100 studies reporting that weakening or shielding from the Earth’s magnetic field can produce a wide range of biological effects in cells, plants and animals, including changes in rates of cell division, tumor growth, expression of hormones, gene expression, planarian regeneration, seed germination, plant growth, pain perception in animals, brainwave activity, and stem cell differentiation (Binhi 2017).

Solar storms directly influence the Earth’s magnetic field, and solar geomagnetic activity has been associated with a variety of effects in humans, including changes in melatonin/serotonin balance, blood pressure, immune system activity, and reproductive, cardiac, and neurological processes (McCraty 2017). Strong solar storms are also associated with changes in blood flow, aggregation and coagulation, increased blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, and poorer outcomes for existing diseases, e.g., increases in incidence and mortality due to heart attacks and increased rates of seizures in epileptics (McCraty 2017). And in 2003, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, GA, USA, provided “strong empirical evidence” that high levels of geomagnetic activity due to solar storms have a “negative, statistically and economically significant effect on the following week’s stock returns for all US stock market indices,” with the data suggesting that investors become more risk-averse at times of high solar geomagnetic activity (Krivelyova 2003). These studies show that human physiology is indeed tied with changes in solar geomagnetic activity.

In light of this data, McCraty and his colleagues wondered how nervous system activity might be subject to changes in solar geomagnetic activity. To help answer this question, McCraty and his group collected data on heart rate variability (HRV), studying changes in the heart’s rhythms associated with nervous system activity and responses to stress. HRV, regulated predominantly by cardiac vagal tone, is a measure of autonomic nervous system activity that can be used as a health index, and as a biofeedback tool (Thayer 2005). While the detailed interpretation of HRV remains complex and controversial, the heart’s rhythms are influenced by physiological, neuropsychological, lifestyle and environmental factors, disease conditions, and other factors such as age and genetics (Fatisson 2016).

The researchers gathered heart rate data around the clock from 9 people who went about their normal daily lives during the 31-day course of the study. With the exception of a 50-minute period each day for bathing, the test subjects wore heart rate monitors continuously, allowing scientists to see how their cardiac activity changed throughout the one-month experiment. The researchers then compared participants’ HRV with solar and geomagnetic field activity during the period of the study, using data resources available from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Space Physics Data Facility, the University of Oulu’s Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory in Finland, and magnetic field data from the HeartMath Institute’s global network of magnetometers, called the Global Coherence Monitoring System (GCMS). And the Sun gave some unexpected help with the study: three significant solar storms occurred during the 31-day experiment, providing the researchers with a unique opportunity to examine how these events were correlated with participants’ HRV indices.

McCraty and colleagues identified several statistically significant correlations, reporting that changes in several HRV indices were associated with solar geomagnetic activity due to the storms that occurred during the study. The study also reported that HRV activity was synchronized with changes in Schuman resonance power: when the solar wind strikes our planet’s magnetic field, the Earth itself acts as a kind of spherical magnetic field drum, producing standing waves at particular frequencies called Schumann resonances. Do these correlations between Schumann resonances and HRV activity suggest that our nervous system is somehow ‘tuned’ to these characteristic resonance frequencies in the Earth’s magnetic field?

The study also found something else surprising: during a period of relatively quiescent solar geomagnetic activity, the participants’ group-averaged HRV activity was synchronized, producing a clear pattern of oscillations with an average period of about 67 hours. During the quiescent period, these synchronized HRV indices oscillated with the same frequency as Schumann resonance activity. While the small sample size of 9 participants limits the strength of this preliminary finding, McCraty and colleagues have conducted a second study with over 100 participants in five widely separated countries. The authors report that, “A preliminary analysis of that study has confirmed that HRV synchronization occurs globally, and that the rhythms in SRP (Schumann resonance power) and ULF (ultra-low frequency power) appear to be the primary environmental factors that underlie group synchronization” (McCraty 2017). This intriguing result could have remarkable implications for our understanding of the nervous system, human society, and how we interact with one another and our planet.

Rollin McCraty and his group of researchers have made another step forward in a long series of research, offering us a new look at how life on our planet is connected with the Earth and the Sun. More research in this fascinating new field of study may one day teach us more about how we are connected in many other ways too. Are we all somehow connected physically through the Earth’s magnetic field? Do we respond to one another through magnetic fields (McCraty 2013)? Are we all part of the collective social organism of our planet? What happens when we meditate on the Earth as our Mother, for peace on Earth, or during turbulent times?

About David Muehsam, Ph.D., CHI Director of Technology Innovation

David Muehsam, Ph.D., is a biophysicist with research focus on the biophysical bases of EMF bioeffects and therapeutics, the David Muehsam, Ph.D.biophysical bases of yoga, meditation and mind-body therapies the connections between the Arts and Sciences. Dr. Muehsam holds a BA in Physics from Hampshire College, and PhD in Neurophysiology from the University of Bologna, and has authored on biophysical mechanisms of EMF bioeffects, EMF therapeutics, mathematical modeling of EMF bioeffects, and complementary and alternative medicine. Dr. Muehsam is Senior Biophyscist at VID Art Science, National Institute of Biosystems and Biostructures, Italy, and is also a yoga/meditation teacher and an accomplished musician, performing on flute and saxophone since childhood.

References

Binhi VN, Prato FS. Biological effects of the hypomagnetic field: An analytical review of experiments and theories. PLoS One. 2017 Jun 27;12(6):e0179340.

Fatisson J, Oswald V, Lalonde F. Influence diagram of physiological and environmental factors affecting heart rate variability: an extended literature overview. Heart Int. 2016 Sep 16;11(1):e32-e40.

Gegear RJ, Casselman A, Waddell S, Reppert SM. Cryptochrome mediates light-dependent magnetosensitivity in Drosophila. Nature. 2008 Aug 21;454(7207):1014-8.

Gegear RJ, Foley LE, Casselman A, Reppert SM. Animal cryptochromes mediate magnetoreception by an unconventional photochemical mechanism. Nature. 2010 Feb 11;463(7282):804-7.

Krivelyova A, Robotti C. Playing the Field: Geomagnetic Storms and the Stock Market. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Working Paper 2003-5b. October 2003.

Maeda K, Henbest KB, Cintolesi F, Kuprov I, Rodgers CT, Liddell PA, Gust D, Timmel CR, Hore PJ. Chemical compass model of avian magnetoreception. Nature. 2008 May 15;453(7193):387-90.

McCraty R. The Energetic Heart: Biolectromagnetic Interactions Within and Between People. The Neuropsychotherapist. 2003 6:22-43.

McCraty R, Atkinson M, Stolc V, Alabdulgader AA, Vainoras A, Ragulskis M. Synchronization of Human Autonomic Nervous System Rhythms with Geomagnetic Activity in Human Subjects. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Jul 13;14(7).

Thayer JF, Brosschot JF. Psychosomatics and psychopathology: looking up and down from the brain. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2005;30(10):1050-1058.

Wiltschko R, Wiltschko W. Sensing magnetic directions in birds: radical pair processes involving cryptochrome. Biosensors (Basel). 2014 Jul 24;4(3):221-42.

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