The Science of PEMF Therapy

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis shows the Earth’s magnetic field in all of its glory. I bet you didn’t know how beneficial magnets actually were for your health? Especially magnets employed by PEMF therapy, which try to mimic the Earth’s magnetic frequency. 

You may have heard of it before—PEMF therapy—but you aren’t sure exactly what it is or how it can help you. You may not even know what PEMF therapy stands for. There are many forms of PEMF, or pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, that can help assist your overall health and wellbeing.

In this blog post, we will go over the science of PEMF therapy. This information will help you better understand PEMF and how it can help you. 

The History of Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, or PEMF, is a form of therapy that uses electromagnetic waves to help stimulate and recharge the cells of your body. Your cells are like batteries—from time to time they need to be recharged. That’s essentially what PEMF does. But before we dive into things outright, let’s talk about the history behind PEMF therapy. 

For over 4000 years pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (sometimes known as low field magnetic stimulation, or LFMS) has been used to help treat a number of health-related issues. Originally used in Chinese medicine (back then, magnetic stones were used to treat patients; today, science is much more exacting), it has since become a part of alternative medicine in treating any number of health-related issues.

Although there were claims that electromagnetic therapy could help with the healing of bones all the way back to the mid-1840s, there wasn’t much research conducted until about a hundred years later. In fact, veterinarians were some of the first health professionals to utilize PEMF therapy, using PEMF to help aid in the recovery of race horses after injury.  

Since then, PEMF has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of fracture nonunions. There are a lot of reported benefits that have been associated with the use of PEMF for the treatment of fracture nonunions, with improvement rates of upwards of 85 percent.

The Science of PEMF Therapy

With history behind us, we can now focus on the science of PEMF therapy. 

PEMF uses electromagnetic frequencies to improve the health and wellness of the individual. Unlike EMFs—which are the negative form of electromagnetic frequencies found in cell phones, power lines, and TVs—PEMF is a healthy form of electromagnetic frequencies. 

Every living thing, from the tiniest cells to the biggest animals, have their own electromagnetic frequency. To maintain good health, cells, for example, need to have a stable electrical signal. Several factors create the body’s natural magnetic field, including the movement of charged ions in and out of cells. 

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy affects the cells’ electrons. PEMF uses a magnetic field to essentially cause cells to become larger and/or shrink, allowing the cells to circulate and perform their tasks better. This process has been shown to aid in the movement of blood and oxygen through cells and enhance detoxification. This process essentially recharges cells. 

Static magnets do not have the same effect of recharging cells as PEMF therapy. PEMF therapy uses several frequencies to more effectively penetrate tissues and muscles. 

In layman’s terms, Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy attempts to mimic the Earth’s own magnetic frequency to improve health and wellness. PEMF sends energy waves to pained areas of the body which pass through those areas completely and increase the spin of electrons, resulting in positive wellness benefits. PEMF is safe to use (except for those with pacemakers) and only needs 15-20 minutes of exposure time. 

PEMF Devices

Some of the original PEMF devices were Helmholtz coils. Designed by German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz, these devices were composed of 2 electromagnets positioned together. Not only were they designed to produce an electromagnetic field, they also were used in medical devices to negate the effect of the Earth’s magnetic field. A patient would be placed into the machine to deliver the intended treatment. 

These sometimes-cumbersome devices seem far removed from today’s PEMF devices, which resemble less like a ‘70s sci-fi movie death trap and more like a yoga mat. Though thicker than yoga mats (to house the spiral coils of magnets), these devices deliver the same, if not better, benefits as the older coils of yesteryear. 

There are many uses for PEMF devices in the form of mats, and are commonly used not only by consumers at home, but by massage therapists and chiropractors to enhance their patients’ experience and results. 

PEMF Therapy Benefits 

pemf therapy benefits

Over the years, there have been a number of studies to assess the effectiveness of PEMF therapy. Evidence suggests that by projecting a low magnetic current into damaged cells, you can increase blood flow, slow pain, ease inflammation, and re-establish normal cell function. 

Many of the claims associated with the benefits of PEMF demonstrated that it could improve a number of health areas including:  

  • Arthritis
  • Range of Motion
  • Migraines
  • Depression
  • Bone Health

Arthritis 

PEMF therapy has been shown to help with the treatment of arthritis symptoms. It is well known that it has been an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Range of Motion

Studies have shown that PEMF therapy can help improve range of motion by relieving symptoms of pain and soothing muscle tissues. In a double-blind study, patients were tested to see how effective PEMF is as a treatment for pain. Those who used PEMF for the study showed considerable improvement. 

Migraines

In another study, 42 candidates who met the criteria for migraines set by the International Headache Society, were subjected to PEMF therapy to see how effective PEMF was at treating migraines. Among those who were treated with PEMF therapy (and not the placebo), over 70 percent reported improvements. 

Depression 

Research has demonstrated that there is a positive link between depression and PEMF therapy. In a study conducted with rats, rats that had been subjected to the PEMF therapy showed stable moods. 

Bone Health

Since PEMF therapy was originally tested (and eventually approved by the FDA) to help with  fracture nonunions, there’s strong evidence that PEMF therapy can assist with bone health. 

Other PEMF benefits include: 

  • Improves blood flow
  • Increases cellular energy levels
  • Increases cellular oxygen levels
  • Enhances pain relief
  • Stimulates tissue repair
  • Accelerates cell growth
  • Promotes recovery of injuries
  • Reduces swelling associated with inflammation
  • Improves energy levels
  • Improves sleep
  • Helps balance the immune system
  • Reduces stress, anxiety 
  • Relaxes muscles 

As you can see, there are many benefits for using pulsed electromagnetic field therapy to aid in your health and wellbeing. 

PEMF Risks

Alt Text: Knee X-Ray

There are some risks associated with PEMF therapy, as well as some side effects. Because PEMF therapy detoxes the body, you may experience some discomfort after use, including lethargy, headaches, fatigue, and nausea. Depending on the strength of the magnetic field, you may experience some muscle spasms and involuntary twitching. 

You may also become dehydrated, which is why it’s important to stay hydrated while using the device. 

It is not suggested that pregnant women or someone with a pacemaker use a PEMF device. The magnetic field may have a negative effect on the unborn child and could negatively affect the pacemaker. It is best to consult with a doctor before use. 

Conclusion 

Now that you know the science of PEMF therapy, it’s time to decide if you want to incorporate PEMF therapy into your life. What do you have to lose? Pulsed electromagnetic therapy can help relieve muscle pain, enhance recovery, and improve your overall health and wellbeing. 

Many of the PEMF devices out there, from heating pads to heating mats, are not too expensive and offer reliable money-back policies if you don’t see the results you want to see.

Just remember, if you have a pacemaker or are pregnant, it’s suggested that you should not use PEMF. Of course, before making any decision if you fall into this bracket to contact your doctor and get advice. 

PEMF has been around for decades (even centuries), so why not give it a shot?