PULSED ELECTRO-MAGNETIC FIELD (PEMF) THERAPY
Pulsed electro-magnetic therapy uses technology to stimulate and exercise cells to help resolve cellular dysfunction and to support overall wellness. Pulsed PEMF therapy treats your cells like batteries. It’s common for them to slowly be drained of energy. By the end of a day, your body and mind may feel tired and depleted. That’s where PEMF technology can help. This amplifies your natural energy and encourages your body to function more effectively. It is also known as low field magnetic stimulation which uses electromagnetic fields to try to help cellular dysfunction. (1)
Prior to the year 2000, the PEMF research being done in Western Europe, the United States, and Japan, showing scientific evidence for promising benefits from the use of PEMF for a very wide range of applications including peripheral vascular disease, lung disease, gastrointestinal disease, neurological disease, rheumatic disease, pediatrics, dermatology, surgery, gynecology, oral medicine, otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology, immunity, inflammation, reproduction, and tumors, based on over 200 referenced scientific papers involving both human and animal studies. (2)
Veterinarians were the first health professionals to use PEMF therapy, usually to attempt to heal broken legs in racehorses.in 2004, a pulsed electromagnetic field system was approved by the FDA as an adjunct to cervical fusion surgery in patients at high risk for non-fusion. (3) On 8/9 September 2020 the FDA recommended to shift PEMF wellness devices from the Class 3 category to a Class 2 status. (4) PEMF devices that have been FDA cleared are able to make health claims that require a doctor’s prescription for use. (5)
Although claims that electricity might aid bone healing was reported as early as 1841, it was not until the mid-1950s that scientists seriously studied the subject. During the 1970s, Bassett and his team introduced a new approach which attempted to treat delayed fractures; a technique that employed a very specific biphasic low frequency signal to be applied for non-union/delayed fractures. (6) The use of electrical stimulation in the lumbosacral region was first attempted by Alan Dwyer of Australia.
How does PEMF therapy work?
Pulsed PEMF therapy sends magnetic energy into the body. These energy waves work with your body’s natural magnetic field to improve healing. The magnetic fields help you to increase electrolytes and ions. This naturally influences electrical changes on a cellular level and influences cellular metabolism. It works with your body’s own recovery processes to help relieve chronic pain. Best of all, it’s entirely safe.
Ultimately, the human body requires electricity to sign signals throughout the body and to your brain. PEMF therapy effectively can realign the electricity in your cells. When a cell is stimulated, it allows positive charges to enter a cell in an open ION channel. The inside of this cell becomes positively charged, which will trigger other electrical currents, turning into pulses. This can positively influence movement, healing, and sending of signals. Any disruption in electrical currents can lead to dysfunction or illness. Pulsed PEMF therapy helps restore this disruption in electrical current to the normal state, which promotes overall wellness.
Who might benefit from a PEMF therapy?
PEMF therapy may benefit anybody living with chronic pain.
One 2020 systematic review state that PEMF therapy successfully reduced pain and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis, improving physical ability. However, the authors call for further research to establish the long-term effects of the treatment on a person’s quality of life. (7)
A 2016 study reports that PEMF therapy had benefits for people with lower back pain. However, the authors note that further research is necessary to confirm its effects on specific conditions that affect the lower back. (8)
Additionally, a 2020 study in rats found that PEMF therapy at specific frequencies also benefits wound healing and bone reparation. (9)
Benefits of PEMF Therapy
Some of the most common benefits of this therapy include:
- Enhances the body’s natural recovery process
- Corrects cellular dysfunction throughout the body
- Stimulates and exercises cells to recharge cells
- Helps to improve mental health
- Helps to relieve anxiety and depression
- Improves athletic performance
- Reduces inflammation and pain
- Helps you recover from an injury faster
- Helps with aging
- Helps in both health
Enhances the body’s natural recovery process
Pulsed PEMF therapy sends magnetic energy into the body. These energy waves work with your body’s natural magnetic field to improve healing. The magnetic fields help you to increase electrolytes and ions. This naturally influences electrical changes on a cellular level and influences cellular metabolism. It works with your body’s own recovery processes to help relieve chronic pain.
Ultimately, the human body requires electricity to sign signals throughout the body and to your brain. PEMF therapy effectively can realign the electricity in your cells. When a cell is stimulated, it allows positive charges to enter a cell in an open ION channel. The inside of this cell becomes positively charged, which will trigger other electrical currents, turning into pulses. This can positively influence movement, healing, and sending of signals. Any disruption in electrical currents can lead to dysfunction or illness. Pulsed PEMF therapy helps restore this disruption in electrical current to the normal state, which promotes overall wellness. (1)
Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy is increasingly used to treat pain and edema associated with inflammation following surgery involving soft tissue. However, the molecular and cellular effects of PEMF therapy on pathways involved in the resolution of inflammation are poorly understood. (11)
One of the most difficult conditions to diagnose and treat is chronic pain, yet up to 50 million people in America alone struggle with this condition. Studies have shown that PEMF devices can support healing for people with chronic pain, especially when related to conditions like fibromyalgia.
For example, patients with fibromyalgia often experience abnormal levels of microcirculation (circulation to small blood vessels in the body), which is a key contributor to chronic pain. One randomized controlled trial showed that PEMF helped patients by increasing and regulating microcirculation, helping reduce both pain and stiffness.
Further discoveries on PEMF for pain relief were made through a double-blind clinical study. This study found that pulsed electromagnetic field devices may be more effective than transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation units (devices that transmit electrons through bodily tissues offering localized healing).
“PEMF is an electromagnetic process that is not associated with currents, but with magnetic fields that can be applied to the brain to generate more global pain relief,” say the study’s authors.
In other words, PEMF distributes healing currents throughout the entire body to promote holistic healing, rather than focusing on a specific area. (10)
Corrects cellular dysfunction throughout the body
Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field (PEMF) therapy uses technology to stimulate and exercise cells to help resolve cellular dysfunction and to support overall wellness. At Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, Dr. Christopher Williams recommends it to many of his patients throughout Atlanta, GA for its therapeutic effects.
Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field Therapy is a clinically proven, safe, and non-invasive way to improve cellular function. Magnetic fields are created by all living things, including human cells. PEMF delivers short, magnetic, harmonic impulses that re-energize cells by triggering electrical changes to create a more balanced and vibrant state. This is different than therapies delivering an electrical current, which can burn or shock the receiver. By shifting the bio-magnetic state of the cell, electrical impulses are actually generated by the cells themselves. This is a healthy response that helps to clear toxins while restoring the ability to take in and utilize nutrients. Cellular metabolism is enhanced, ATP or cellular fuel is increased, regenerate blood cells and circulation improves increasing oxygen capacity. Every cell in the body can become supercharged working at a much greater level. (12)
Stimulates and exercises cells to recharge cells
Our heart and lungs circulate more oxygen and carbon dioxide when we exert ourselves. In a similar process, when magnetic fields come in contact with cells, they are stimulated to excrete waste and pump in nutrients and oxygen. Just like a cell phone battery, your cells store energy to do their jobs, like repair damaged tissue. The more stressed, ill, or compromised the body, the more energy your cells need.
So how do we strengthen our cells and keep them adequately charged? Exposure to the earth’s magnetic field, also called grounding, eating raw unprocessed foods and drinking spring water from the source are all easy, natural options.
But sometimes good nutrition, hydration and mineral balance are not enough to heal damaged tissue, manage pain or recover from injury and illness. PEMF, or Pulsed Electro Magnetic Fields, can support healing and performance by producing flickering electromagnetic charges that strengthen cells by promoting the influx and outflow of nutrients and waste products in the cells, as well as affecting the electrical gradient of the cells. Cellular exercise increases circulation of blood, oxygen, and lymph all throughout the body.
How long do the effects of cellular exercise last? Again, we can imagine a cell phone. A new phone can hold its charge for a few hours of talk time before being re-charged. An old cell phone’s battery has worn out components and can’t hold a charge quite as long. You need to charge it more frequently. Our cells are similar to batteries. With the right mineral balance, nutrition and hydration, cells hold charges longer. Individuals with health challenges, injury or poor nutritional choices may need more charging time because their cells use the new energy from cellular exercise quicker. (13)
How often can you exercise your cells? Areas of injury tend to have cells with lower overall charges. We want to recharge our body without overdoing it—building cell charges up gradually and finding levels of intensity that don’t overtax an area of tissue. Much like you wouldn’t go out and run a marathon while recovering from an injury, cellular exercise should happen slowly. Working out for the first time in a long time, your lungs might have a hard time keeping up, leaving you gasping for breath. Over the course of a week or two, you get stronger and adjust to the exercise. The same thing happens with cellular training. As your cells get stronger, they’ll hold a charge longer and speed up the process of self-repair.
Daily cellular exercise sessions are ideal, but not always feasible. 60-minute sessions at least three times a week for four months will establish a great cellular foundation. Just like you can over-exert yourself during physical exercise, you can also over-do cellular exercise. If you feel sore or fatigued after, it may be due to a detox reaction. Our bodies like to rid themselves of toxins as quickly as possible. Adequate rest and fluid intake may support this.
If your body isn’t used to an increase in circulation from exercise, you may feel lightheaded. Ensuring proper hydration, rest and nutrient intake can help manage this reaction. Combining a PEMF treatment with IV nutrient therapy is a great way to get your body metabolic systems back on track. (13)
Helps to improve mental health
Every minor change in the body would still alter its local oscillations, its production of electromagnetic fields. Whereas PEMF therapy may help bring those EMFs to their prior levels. Unwanted changes in the body send signals to the brain through afferent fibers. Sometimes, prolonged illness can make various brain centers highly sensitive to these nerve signals. That is why people living with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome have increased pain sensation. They feel fatigued most of the time.
Since, in many cases, the cause of fatigue and low energy is not dietary. Instead, it is due to altered nerve responses. Thus, correcting these responses is essential. Regular use of PEMF therapy may help gradually normalize these nerve signals. However, brain desensitization would need prolonged and frequent use of PEMF devices.
To conclude, low energy levels are a common complaint in those living with chronic ailments. However, even more problematic is that many continue to experience low energy levels much after making a complete recovery. In most such cases, the cause of low energy is inflammation, altered gene responses, neural hypersensitivity, and much more. It means that dietary measures would not help in such cases.
However, using PEMF therapy along with other kinds of physical and physiotherapies may result in considerable benefits. Thus, combining PEMF therapy with exercises, heat therapy, and adequate rest is a good idea. (14)
Helps to relieve anxiety and depression
“Better sleep means better health.” Addressing sleep issues has a huge impact on anxiety and depression. This is where PEMF therapy really helps.
PEMF therapy can imitate the brain’s natural rhythm at rest and train the brain to follow that rhythm. Thus, it can promote deep sleep. It can address the hormonal and chemical imbalances associated with anxiety and depression issues by penetrating deeply and directly into the brain.
PEMF affects the glucose metabolism of brain regions linked to anxiety and depression. Moreover, it can change the neuron networks and their electrical activities, altering the brain part that controls mood. Moreover, electromagnetic charge deficiency, low cellular voltage in the brain, and a lack of adequate sleep can cause various mental issues such as anxiety and depression. As mentioned already, you may experience chronic pain as well. In that case, the electromagnetic field generated by the PEMF device promotes pain relief and the healthy functioning of cells.
A 2010 research study reported that transcranial PEMF treatment was superior to placebo treatment in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Furthermore, a 2020 8-week study revealed that transcranial PEMF therapy can augment the antidepressant effects of ongoing pharmacotherapy. A 2014 study performed at Harvard University showed that there was more than 10% significant improvement in patients with depression by undergoing PEMF therapy for 20 minutes. In a 2013 clinical trial, applying PEMF therapy for 9 minutes generated changes in brain EEG. Hence it can decrease higher EEG frequencies observed in patients with anxiety. A 2019 12-week clinical trial on PEMF can effectively treat anxiety, depression, pain, and quality of life with a significant improvement compared to hot pack and TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). (15) (16)
Improves athletic performance
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy promotes the natural regeneration and health of cells. This results in improved athletic performance and reduced recovery times. PEMF therapy uses natural electromagnetic pulses to recharge cells at the molecular level. Ice can reduce surface swelling, but the PEMF machine reaches through the body, optimizing tissue health. Athletes operate at peak performance levels, reducing the chance of injury. Athletic performance depends on bodies working in peak condition. PEMF therapy primes muscles for sustained exertion and rapid recovery. PEMF therapy allows athletes to work harder and be at their best for their next session.
Depending on the type of athlete you are, this can mean setting a new world record, smashing your personal best, or reducing day to day soreness.
Proper recovery is essential for training and athletic performance. If you don’t allow your body enough time to recover, you reduce the effectiveness of training sessions and impede progress. A PEMF machine sends electromagnetic pulses deep into the tissues. The pulses recharge cells and oxygenate the blood. This non-invasive therapy reduces pain and inflammation, encourages the body’s natural healing processes, and reduces the need for pain medication. The FDA has approved PEMF therapy for a number of different applications relating to healing. Clinical trials have found that PEMF therapy can increase the rate of healing in bone fractures and post-surgery.
PEMF therapy helps ensure athletes are at their best for competition, but it can improve the quality of training, too. Not only does PEMF therapy make each training session more effective, but it also reduces the recovery period between sessions. This is why many athletes include it as a regular part of their training regimens. (17)
Helps you recover from an injury faster
Injuries happen every day and everywhere – including the home, the car, at work, playing sports, or simply walking around the block. The most common areas/types of injury include soft tissue damage, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, burns, cuts/lacerations, spinal cord injury, psychological and wear and tear. Sources range from motor vehicle accident, falls, crush, fires, dog bites, sports activity, repetitive use and environmental.
While the types, causes and severity of injuries vary widely – what they have in common is that the injured person’s health, life and (often) self-sufficiency are impacted sometimes permanently. This is because regardless of the specific type, circumstance, source and/or area of the injury sustained – the victim inevitably experiences some or all of the following effects to varying degrees: pain, inflammation, lost range of motion/mobility, diminished performance/functioning, emotional strife, and sense of loss.
A High-Powered Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy device works like a battery charger for cells – delivering a powerful, gentle, and safe energy into the body that gives cells back the power needed to perform, heal and repair at their best possible level. This is crucial when we are injured!
PEMF energy is only drawn to cells that are under-charged and on a priority basis to those cells most in need (for example a current injury) or where there is cellular memory of a need (like a previous surgery site). As under-charged cells interact with PEMF energy they constrict, force toxins out, and draw the energy in. Thus “muscle-twitching” is a common response to PEMF as the under-charged cells regain the power, they need to both function and repair. (18)
Helps with aging
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) devices create electromagnetic waves around your body. This electromagnetic field can influence your cells in such a way that it helps them to begin functioning more efficiently when they have been damaged by aging.
PEMF devices work to invigorate the cells in your body by offering energy from the pulsed electromagnetic field which is created by the device. In this way, the cells became more capable of functioning properly. When the cells in your body are optimized, the signs of aging can be reduced. Your cells will become better able to deal with the oxygenated blood which is required for all of the body to function properly. With the help of a PEMF device, your cells can move more smoothly through your capillaries and distribute the valuable oxygenated blood to all your organ systems. In addition, when your cells are optimized, they will be able to properly get rid of waste such as carbon dioxide and outside toxins.
With enhanced cellular function, your body systems will be able to function properly, and thus, many of the causes of aging can be combated. By optimizing your cells, you may find yourself with less fatty buildup and improved organ systems. One of the organ systems which can be refreshed by PEMF therapy is the skin, and optimized skin cells can help you to avoid wrinkles and sagging skin. In addition, by utilizing a PEMF device, you may simply feel more like your old self because your organ systems are functioning properly. (21)
Helps in Bone Health
In the past four decades, accumulating evidence suggests that treatment of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) is able to produce satisfying effects on several bone diseases, such as fresh and nonunion fractures, osteoarthritis, and bone defects. Substantial studies have also shown that PEMF stimulation exerted significantly preventive effects against deterioration of bone quantity and quality in osteoporotic animals induced by ovariectomy (OVX) or hindlimb unloading. Furthermore, several clinical trials have also revealed that PEMF are capable of significantly increasing bone mineral density and promoting osteogenesis.
On the basis of the animal and clinical findings, numerous in vitro studies also suggest that PEMF stimulation significantly promoted osteoblast proliferation and mineralization and inhibited osteoclast maturation and function. Considering the high cost or adverse side effects of current available anti-osteoporosis drugs (e.g., hormones and bisphosphonates) and nutrients (e.g., calcium and vitamin D), PEMF treatment might become a more promising alternative regimen for resisting osteoporosis due to its economic, safe, and noninvasive nature. In spite of these positive experimental and clinical findings of PEMF. (22)
How to choose PEMF device?
A few factors that a person may wish to consider when purchasing a PEMF device include:
Intensity: The intensity a person needs depends on the condition for which they are using the device. Individuals with severe conditions, intense chronic pain, and serious injuries should ensure that they have a device with higher intensity. Lower pulses may require a person to use the machine more frequently.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval: A person may wish to purchase products that have FDA approval to ensure that they are using a safe and effective device.
Machine size: Some machines are large and bulky, whereas others may be smaller and easier to transport. PEMF machines may come in the form of a machine or a mat.
Medical condition: Some machines target different areas of the body. A person should ensure that the machine they choose is appropriate for the condition they would like to treat. (19)
Best PEMF devices
Following are some best PEMF devices:
- Healthy Wave Pro Multi-Wave 5 Therapy Far Infrared PEMF Mat: Best for infrared heating
- Sentient Element Classic: Best frequency range
- MiraMate Mini Magic Portable PEMF Device: Best portable
- EarthPulse V5.3 Pro PEMF Therapy Device: Best for sleep
- Omnipemf NeoRhythm: Best for targeted pain relief
PEMF device comparison
Below we see how the PEMF therapy devices differ from each other: (20)
|Healthy Wave Pro Multi-Wave 5 Therapy Far Infrared PEMF Mat||Sentient Element Classic||MiraMate Mini Magic Portable PEMF Device||EarthPulse V5.3 Pro PEMF Therapy Device||Omnipemf NeoRhythm|
|Best for||infrared heating||different frequency ranges||a portable design||sleep||targeted pain relief|
|Weight||26 lbs||base: 30 lbs|
coil: is 10 lbs
|Size or dimensions||74 x 28 x 1.5 in||chassis: 10-5/8 x 8-3/8 x 15-1/2 in|
coil: 10.75 x 11.25 in
|different dimensions apply to the coil||unspecified||6.3 x 6.7 x 1.1 in|
|Trial or return guarantee||90-day trial||Comes with a restocking fee so that customers can use it as a rental||30-day money-back guarantee||90-day return guarantee||60-day money-back guarantee|
|Warranty||27 months||lifetime||unit: 1 year|
coils: 3 months
|5 years||24 months|
|Price||$2,495||$4,550||starting from $219||$1,249||$400|
What Are the Side Effects of PEMF Therapy?
PEMF devices are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide relief from pain and edema (swelling). However, it’s normal to feel concerned about potential side effects before starting a new healing modality like PEMF.
One common side effect of PEMF therapy is decreased blood pressure and reduced heart rate. Elderly patients, patients who already have low blood pressure, and anyone with cardiovascular defects may experience dizziness after a PEMF session.
It’s also important to remember that PEMF therapy increases circulation, which can increase oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress is when free radicals and antioxidants are imbalanced in the body. However, this can easily be combated by eating antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables after the therapy session. Sleep disturbances, energy loss, and sensitivity to temperature may also occur.
Like any new treatment, it’s important to consult your doctor before starting PEMF therapy to ensure that it’s a positive option for you and your healing journey. (10)
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- “Electrical stimulation of the spine as an adjunct to spinal fusion procedures”. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02.
- https://www.fda.gov/media/141850/download[bare URL PDF]
- “General Wellness: Policy for Low Risk Devices – Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff” (PDF). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
- Bassett CA, Pawluk RJ, Pilla AA; Pawluk; Pilla (1974). “Acceleration of fracture repair by electromagnetic fields. A surgically noninvasive method”. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 238 (1): 242–62.
- Yang, X., He, H., Ye, W., Perry, T. A., & He, C. (2020). Effects of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy on pain, stiffness, physical function, and quality of life in patients with osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Physical therapy, 100(7), 1118-1131.
- Andrade, R., Duarte, H., Pereira, R., Lopes, I., Pereira, H., Rocha, R., & Espregueira-Mendes, J. (2016). Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy effectiveness in low back pain: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Porto biomedical journal, 1(5), 156-163.
- Liu, Y., Hao, L., Jiang, L., & Li, H. (2021). Therapeutic effect of pulsed electromagnetic field on bone wound healing in rats. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, 40(1), 26-32.
- Kubat, N. J., Moffett, J., & Fray, L. M. (2015). Effect of pulsed electromagnetic field treatment on programmed resolution of inflammation pathway markers in human cells in culture. Journal of inflammation research, 8, 59.
- Larsen, E. R., Licht, R. W., Nielsen, R. E., Lolk, A., Borck, B., Sørensen, C., … & Bech, P. (2020). Transcranial pulsed electromagnetic fields for treatment-resistant depression: A multicenter 8-week single-arm cohort study: The eighth trial of the Danish University Antidepressant Group. European Psychiatry, 63(1).
- Amirifalah, Z., Firoozabadi, S. M. P., & Shafiei, S. A. (2013). Local exposure of brain central areas to a pulsed ELF magnetic field for a purposeful change in EEG. Clinical EEG and neuroscience, 44(1), 44-52.
- Li, J., Zeng, Z., Zhao, Y., Jing, D., Tang, C., Ding, Y., & Feng, X. (2017). Effects of low intensity pulsed electromagnetic fields on bone microarchitecture, mechanical strength and bone turnover in type 2 diabetic db/db mice. Scientific reports, 7(1), 1-13.