How the moon affects your health

Nonsense or truth? What do you think?

  • Feeling uneasy? Here’s a weird reason why
  •  Can the moon really be used as a tool for living a better life
  •  No offence, but here’s why we’re all lunatics

Did you see the moon last night?

It was what is known as a ‘waning last quarter’ moon.

This usually appears a week after a full moon.

According to ‘moon mentor’ Kirsty Gallagher, author of Lunar Living: Working with the Magic of the Moon this can cause some people a sense of unease that things are changing.

During this time, you’re supposed to let go of failures and missed goals and embrace the new.

I have to say, I’m a bit of a boor and haven’t ever felt emotions or physical sensations relating to the big block of rock that’s whirling around our planet.

But lots of people swear that they do…

Even my highly rational wife, Lara, says she gets strange moods at certain times that seem to correlate with full moons.

This idea goes back centuries – millennia, even, back to the moon worshipping cults of the pre-Neolithic.

For instance, in the early 1900s there was an eccentric archaeologist by the name of Ludovic McLellan Mann, who believed that many place names in Glasgow originated from the moon.

“Glasgow is rich in places named after the Moon divinity,” he wrote. “The Moon God, Clot, gave his name to the river, the Clota or Clyde, because the stream at Glasgow made a magnificent sweep in its course, imitative of the new moon.”

It’s not only the lay of the ancient land which was influenced by the moon. The earliest known calendars were based around its phases. It’s in our language too – the word ‘lunacy’ derives from the Latin word ‘lunaticus’ which means ‘moonstruck’.

So culturally, the moon is completely bound up in the evolution of human beings therefore, it’s inevitable that we have superstitions and myths regarding our only natural satellite.

However, moon mentor Kirsty Gallagher believes that there is more to it than that.

In an article in You magazine in March, she suggested that you can tune your life to match the shifting phases of the moon.

For instance, when the new moon appears as a thin crescent in the night sky, it signifies a time that you should set goals, make plans and carry out tasks that require focus.

Or when you see a ‘waxing first quarter moon’ she says, you’ll feel a surge in energy and inspiration.

Then there’s the ‘waxing gibbous moon’ which leads to a full moon, bringing a sense of being on edge.

So in her view, we are all lunatics in the traditional sense!

Incidentally, if you want to know exactly what moon it is each day, you can use this ‘Moon Phase Calendar’ here.

But is this nonsense or not?

Now, I’ll admit I’m a little sceptical myself.

As you’d expect, many scientists have dismissed correlations between the moon and human moods, physical states and destinies.

Surely, it’s all down to our propensity to see patterns in the chaos and somehow connect with the big wide universe?

Well perhaps.

However, there are some scientists who think there might be something in it.

After all, the moon exerts a physical influence on the planet thanks to its gravitational pull, which is how we have tides of course.

This force acts upon us too…

Dr Tom White, senior curator at the Natural History Museum, says: “The Moon has been up there as long as evolution has been taking place, and lunar rhythms are embedded in the life cycles of many organisms. For many animals, particularly birds, the Moon is essential to migration and navigation. Others will time their reproduction to coincide with the specific phases of the lunar cycle.”

You might have heard of circadian rhythms? These are related to your inner body clock, which is tied to the cycles of day and night as the Earth orbits the sun.

Well, there are also ‘circalunar rhythms’, which are harder to detect but are linked to the moon.

It means that your sleep patterns and energy levels could well be influenced by the moon’s different phases.

For instance, in a 2013 sleep laboratory study, researchers found that the subjects took five minutes longer to fall asleep and slept for 20 minutes less, around the time of a full moon.

Around the same time, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr published research showing that patients with bipolar disorder had episodes of high or low moods that came in cycles.

Some of his patients’ mood swings appeared to follow a 14.8-day cycle while others a 13.7-day cycle.

This correlated with cycles of the moon.

For instance, a new moon follows a full moon every 14.8 days.  While the tides have a 13.7-day ‘declination cycle’, based on the Moon’s position in relation to the equator.

It’s not only the gravity of the moon that might be affecting us but its influence on magnetic fields.

We know that some birds, fish and insects can sense magnetic fields and use them to navigate or undergo physical changes.

Many believe that humans can detect magnetic changes too.

A study published last year showed that when people were exposed to changes in magnetic fields there were changes in brain alpha wave activity.

Other studies have shown that magnetic shifts trigger the release of the protein ‘cryptochrome’, a component of the inner clock linked to your circadian rhythms.

So perhaps my scepticism was wrong.

Just because I cannot perceive the influence of the moon on my mind and body, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening on a microscopic level inside me.

What about you?

I’m fascinated to know if Good Life Letter readers experience physical or mental changes relating to the moon.

And if you do feel its influence, do you change your behaviour or lifestyle to suit?

Do let me know!