What is Pulsed EMF, and Can It Help With Healing?
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy, also called Pulsed EMF or simply PEMF is a therapeutic modality in which a compatible source of safe, electromagnetic energy is externally applied to the body to augment the body's own, natural fields. This provides more energy for cells to carry out their functions, and often results in improved symptoms.
Because most people associate the terms "electromagnetic fields" and "EMF" with negative effects, such as that coming from electrical appliances and overhead powerlines, there is confusion on what constitutes Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy. There is in fact a big difference.
When the temperature outside is 110 degrees F (43 degrees C) it feels very uncomfortable; and prolonged exposure is dangerous to humans. When it is 32 degrees F (0 degrees C) it also feels uncomfortable; and prolonged exposure is dangerous as well. But when it is 72 degrees F outside (22 degrees C) it feels very comfortable to your body-- you can stay outside for prolonged periods at this temperature.
Electromagnetic fields can be viewed the same way: there are extremes that are harmful to health, and there is a range that is beneficial to health-- the forms used in PEMF therapy. After all, all life forms on Earth were immediately exposed to Earth's magnetic field upon birth, and live their entire lives exposed to this field with no problems.
Electromagnetic Fields are Naturally Produced By Your Body
Your body is comprised of trillions of living cells that are in constant motion.
Here are just a few examples of ongoing movement in your cells and tissues:
- cell division
- blood circulation
- nerve impulses
- immune cell migration
- hormone transport
- extracting energy (ATP>ADP) from glucose
- DNA transcription/ protein synthesis
- CO2 and O2 exchange
- nutrient entry through cell membranes
- enzymatic activity
And the phenomenon that drives this motion? Tiny electrical charges.
Recall from high school science that moving electrical charges generate electromagnetic fields. In fact, this is how electric motors work: electricity passes through carefully arranged coils of wire, which produce a rotating magnetic field that turns the rotor.
The weak electromagnetic fields generated by charged molecules, in turn, play a role in moving other molecules to their intended destination.
The diagram below shows the movement of the positively charged ions Na+ and K+ into and out of the cell membrane: The net effect is the creation of an electrical potential, better known as voltage, that drives movement of molecules.
So, movement = living; no movement = death.
And it's not simply movement; it is the efficiency of movement of these tiny, electrically charged molecules that influences how healthy you are and how well you feel.
When cells experience disease or injury, this electrical potential is weakened and you don't feel well. You feel symptoms such as pain, indigestion, allergies, insomnia, headaches, joint stiffness, fatigue, and mental cloudiness. This is because some cells and tissues are not able to carry out their functions efficiently. It could be muscle, liver, lung, intestine or other tissues in your body.
This is where Pulsed EMF can help.
Pulsed EMF machines generate electromagnetic fields similar to those naturally occurring in your body. These fields pass through your tissues and give a boost of energy to weak cells, enhancing their function.
Think of getting Pulsed EMF as recharging yourself; very much like how you recharge your mobile phone at the end of the day after depleting much of its battery.
When your cells have more energy, they are able to do good things like respirate better (take in oxygen, remove carbon dioxide), take in nutrients, and synthesize needed proteins. After a while, things are back to normal and symptoms improve.
Since Pulsed EMF can improve cellular function, it can enhance/augment the therapeutic effect of other interventions such as red light therapy, physical therapy, nutritional supplements and even certain medications.
Known contraindications to using Pulsed EMF include any electrical implants such as pacemakers, cochlear implants, spinal stimulators and others.
Exercise caution/ consult with your doctor if you have surgical implants such as metal rods, plates and screws, or an artificial hip or knee.
Do not use if you have a history of cancer, including blood cancer.
Bottom line, if you have a chronic health condition, check with your physician before purchasing a Pulsed EMF device.
Aside from the aforementioned, Pulsed EMF is a safe, effective means to self-manage many types of health disorders and achieve wellness.
Recent Published Research on Pulsed EMF
Conclusion: ... [pulsed electromagnetic field] treatment had beneficial effects on stem cell marker expression, as treated cells maintained a higher expression of these markers during culturing. These results support the notion that PST® treatment may increase the patient stem cell regenerative potential.
Pietro Randelli, et. al. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Aug 18;16:293. doi: 10.1186/s12906-016-1261-3.
Effects of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy on delayed-onset muscle soreness in biceps brachii
Conclusion: ... PEMF may be useful as a modality to reduce DOMS symptoms. However, further well-designed experiments are required to determine optimal treatment dosage and duration, and to investigate the physiological and clinical mechanisms of PEMF on DOMS.
Hye-Seon Jeon, et. al. Phys Ther Sport. 2015 Feb;16(1):34-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2014.02.006. Epub 2014 Mar 7.
Influence of different types of electromagnetic fields on skin reparatory processes in experimental animals
Abstract: ...Under the influence of the constant electromagnetic field the healing of the skin defect was accelerated in comparison with the control group. The difference was statistically significant in all the weeks of the experiment at the P < 0.01 level. Accelerated healing was also observed under the influence of the pulsed electromagnetic field (P < 0.05)...
Milan Matic, et. al. Lasers Med Sci. 2009 May;24(3):321-7. doi: 10.1007/s10103-008-0564-0. Epub 2008 Jun 7.
Low frequency and low intensity pulsed electromagnetic field exerts its anti-inflammatory effect through restoration of plasma membrane calcium ATPase activity
Abstract: ...Exposure of arthritic rats to PEMF at 5 Hzx4 microT x 90 min, produced significant anti-exudative effect resulting in the restoration of the altered parameters. The anti-inflammatory effect could be partially mediated through the stabilizing action of PEMF on membranes as reflected by the restoration of PMCA and intracellular Ca(2+) levels in blood lymphocytes subsequently inhibiting PGE(2) biosynthesis. The results of this study indicated that PEMF could be developed as a potential therapy for RA (rheumatoid arthritis) in human beings.
Ramasamy Selvam, et. al. Life Sci. 2007 Jun 6;80(26):2403-10. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2007.03.019. Epub 2007 May 1.
Effect of pulsed electromagnetic field on nonspecific low back pain patients: a randomized controlled trial
Conclusion: Adding pulsed electromagnetic field to conventional physical therapy protocol yields superior clinical improvement in pain, functional disability, and lumbar ROM in patients with non-specific low back pain than Conventional physical therapy alone.
Ahmed Mohamed Elshiwi, et. al. Braz J Phys Ther. 2019 May-Jun; 23(3): 244–249.
Published online 2018 Aug 21. doi: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2018.08.004