What are the Effects of a Full Moon?

By: Chris Putman | Category: Special Interest | Issue: October 2020

Katy Decker and her maltese, Jaxson.

Katy Decker and her maltese, Jaxson.

What can turn someone who is amiable by nature into someone who is confrontational, have unpredictable mood swings, and even become violent for no apparent reason?  It can result in more traffic accidents, increased suicides, and can even fill a hospital nursery.  What is this powerful culprit that is so invasive and, at worst, even be destructive?  

A full moon.

In the days of old, it was thought that people were driven crazy by a full moon.  Even the word “lunatic” is taken from the Latin word “luna,” which means “moon.”

In a Reader’s Digest article, “Seven Ways a Full Moon Can Mess with Your Emotions,” found at https://www.rd.com/list/full-moon-astrology/, writer Taylor Markarian quotes Astrologer Athena Perrakis, Ph.D.

“The full moon affects our bodies, and it affects the oceans,” Perrakis said. “Since our bodies are made up, proportionally, of so much water, it’s easy to understand how the moon would pull us and sway us just like the ocean.”

It makes sense when thinking about it.  When the moon is full, it is what one might think of as an emotional high tide and can cause erratic behavior.

Really?  Does the moon have that much power over mankind?  There are many myths about this celestial body, and it has been blamed for many unjustified wrongdoings.  In Bustle.com’s article by Lily Feinn, “Seven Ways the Full Moon Supposedly Affects Your Body,” it is rumored that a full moon can:

Aligns a woman’s menstruation with moon cycles. 

Increase fertility.

Trigger epileptic seizures.

Cause sleep deprivation.

Make someone crazy.

Cause animal attacks.

Cause blood loss during surgery.

All of these scenarios are not true, nor is it made of cheese.  According to research, mankind may be spared from these listed ravages of the nighttime orb, but don’t roll eyes at the power the moon does possess.  It is documented that a full moon can determine the sex of a baby.  One Nepal-based group did a study in 2005 to prove or disprove the sex of a baby aligning to the phases of the moon.  It turns out that women who ovulate and those who got pregnant during the full moon were more likely to give birth to boys.  Those who conceived before a full moon were, in contrast, more likely to give birth to a baby girl.

Not only that, but there is documented evidence that there is an increase in crime during the lunar cycle when a full moon is present.  The Sussex Police Force stated there was a rise in violent crime when a full moon was present.  Police in Ohio and Kentucky agree.  Because the brain is made primarily of water, the moon’s gravitational pull can cause emotions to run high, and people–especially criminals—act up as a result.  This event carries more than an overnight impact.  A lunar cycle can last three days.

A study was done on motorcyclists who were involved in wrecks and died.  The study included over 13,000 riders.  Data revealed that 5.3 percent more deaths occurred on nights with a full moon.

 So, what about its effect on animals?  There’s an old adage that dogs and wolves howl at the moon.  Not so much.  Howling is a communication process for these animals that can carry for a long distance.  These wails are used to warn others about predators, the location of prey they have uncovered, of their own location, and are utilized any day of the month, not just during a full moon.

A Colorado State University Veterinary Medical Center study of just under 12,000 cases, researchers uncovered that emergency room visits for pets are at a rate of 28 percent higher for canines and 23 percent higher for felines on or around a full moon.  The study was not specific to the nature of the types of injuries or accidents; nonetheless, roughly 12,000 cases were used for data analysis.  That isn’t anything to sneeze at.

Pet owners are the ones that will witness firsthand a noticeable change in behavior.  Summit Medical Group Director of Care Coordination Katy Decker sees a difference in the energy level of her nine-year-old Maltese, Jaxson.  She sees his anxiety for a few days each month.

“During a full moon, Jax is active for more hours during the day, especially in the evening,” Decker said. “He follows us around more wanting to play, whereas he’s typically content laying by himself at night.”

In Wedgewood Pharmacy’s article “Everything You Should Know About Pet Behavior During a Full Moon” found at https://www.wedgewoodpharmacy.com/blog/posts/everything-you-should-know-about-pet-behavior-during-a-full-moon.html by Medical Director of University Animal Hospital, Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center owner and Veterinary Practitioner Dr. Evan Ware, shares some tips to get your pet through the lunar cycle without injury. 

“If your pet’s behavior does change with the full moon, there really isn’t much need for concern,” Ware said. “If signs are severe, your veterinarian can prescribe anti-anxiety medication. You should always take extra care whenever you spend time with your pets outside in the evening hours.”

This poor little heavenly body shouldn’t get such a bad rap.  Don’t blame the earth’s natural satellite for all things going awry, but, granted, it does have some influence over humans and critters.  Did you realize that a full moon can do some good too?  The heart is at peak performance when exercising during a full moon.  Perhaps that’s why some gym members show off a bit more in front of their fitness partners during particular workout nights.  Now, knowing the effects of the moon, this makes purrrrfect sense.


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