Get ready, this is a longer post than we usually do, but most people have not heard of PEMF. We hadn’t either until recently. We are amazed at what we have learned, and excited to share this therapy. PEMF stands for Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Field. A PEMF device sends a magnetic pulse that emits a three dimensional magnetic field into the body. This helps to re-energize the cells by inducing electrical changes within them, which restores the cells to a more normal and healthier state.
How does it work?
PEMF therapy is healing to cells because it stimulates membrane potential (MP) and ATP production. All cells are surrounded by a lipid membrane, which insulates the cell and regulates the transport of ions into and out of cells.
Membrane potential is a measure of the electric potential between the inside and outside of a cell, providing “power” to the cells to work the way they were designed to work. Diseased and worn cells have low MP, which results in low ATP (energy) production and causes critical membrane transport pumps to function improperly. One of these pumps is the Sodium/Potassium Pump, or Na-K Pump. This pump regulates fluid balance in the body and can lead to pain and inflammation if it is disrupted. PEMF works to improve MP and ATP production, which improves antioxidant, ion and nutrient delivery to cells, improved protein synthesis, and increased blood flow leading to decreased inflammation and pain, and faster wound healing.
When PEMF is applied, there is a systemic response as though the body’s functions have been fine-tuned or turbo charged as lost energy and cellular balance returns to a normal, healthy state of vibration. PEMF is not a static magnetic field, like a magnetic mattress pad for example. Some believe these are healing, however, a static magnetic field is not able to permeate the whole body and the body’s cells soon become used to a constant magnetic field and cease to be benefited.
When was it invented?
Pulsed Magnetic Field therapy is very well established around the globe. There are over 2000 clinical studies worldwide that prove its efficacy. Positive effects of PEMF therapy devices were well established by the mid 1900’s. These were used for studies and experimentation in healing and cellular wellness. They were sold both to consumers and as medical devices to doctors. The first commercially produced high power PEMF devices entered the market around 1975. They focused on the health of bones, muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments and cartilage, on reducing pain and on cellular and tissue regeneration.
Where is it used?
Medical PEMF therapy has been accepted in many countries around the world. The United States FDA accepted the use of PEMF devices in the healing of non-union bone fractures in 1979, urinary incontinence and muscle stimulation in 1998, and depression and anxiety in 2006. Israel has accepted the use of PEMF devices for migraine headaches. Canada has accepted PEMF devices for multiple uses. Finally, the European Union has approved the use of PEMF therapy in numerous areas including healing and recovery from trauma, degeneration, and the treatment of the pain.
Who can benefit?
Almost anyone! PEMF therapy improves conditions in many different concurrent ways including mechanical, chemical, electrical and magnetic processes within the cells of the body. In 1995, Siskin and Walker provided a summary of clinical results on soft tissue damage. They observed no adverse effects and the following positive effects were reported:
• Reduced pain
• Reduced inflammation
• Increased range of motion
• Faster functional recovery
• Reduced muscle loss after surgery
• Increased tensile strength in ligaments
• Faster healing of skin wounds
• Enhanced capillary formation
• Accelerated nerve regeneration
• Increased blood and lymph circulation
• Increased cellular membrane permeability flexibility and elasticity
• Increased cellular metabolism
• Increased energy
• Increased cellular growth, repair and communication
Other documented benefits:
In 1994 The International Pain Research Institute in Los Angeles, CA studied the effects of PEMF on tissue trauma and concluded: “Unusually effective and long-lasting relief of pelvic pain of gynecological origin has been obtained consistently by short exposures of affected areas to the application of a magnetic induction device. Treatments are short, fasting-acting, economical, and in many instances have obviated surgery”. Patients with typical cases such as dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, ruptured ovarian cyst, acute lower urinary tract infection, post-operative hematoma who had not received analgesic medication were treated with pulsed magnetic field treatment and evaluated. The results showed that 90% of the patients experienced marked, even dramatic relief.
The March/April 2009 Aesthetic Surgery Journal published: “Evidence-Based Use of Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy in Clinical Plastic Surgery” that summarizes the evolution in the understanding of the physiological effects of PEMF therapy on cells and tissues. Studies emerged suggesting that PEMF could modulate the production of growth factors. In a 2009 evidence-based analysis on the use of PEMF therapy in clinical plastic surgery, Strauch et al. (Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA) explains: ”Our objective was to review the major scientific breakthroughs and current understanding of the mechanism of action of PEMF therapy… The results show that PEMF therapy has been used successfully in the management of postsurgical pain and edema, the treatment of chronic wounds, and in facilitating vasodilatation and angiogenesis… with no known side effects for the adjunctive, noninvasive, non-pharmacologic management of postoperative pain and edema… Given the recent rapid advances in development of PEMF devices what has been of most significance to the plastic surgeon is the laboratory and clinical confirmation of decreased pain and swelling following injury or surgery”.
Overall immune health is enhanced by cellular energy (ATP) production, increased oxygen uptake, changes in the entry of calcium and potassium into the cell and movement of sodium out of the cell. Changes in enzyme and biochemical activity, and changes in cellular pH will stimulate large amounts of lymphatic vessels to pump and drain lymph fluid which, in turn, supports immune health. Through the same processes, vital organs such as the liver, kidneys and colon are able to rid themselves of impurities thus detoxifying the body and allowing better organ functionality.
As an advanced form of exercise, PEMF works on a cellular level producing the same effects and benefits as physical exercise but without the stress and strain upon your muscles and bone.
Pulsed magnetic fields have been shown to affect biologic processes and be effective in a wide range of medical conditions. PEMF treatment is effective at increasing bone formation and bone density, healing fractures and recovery from wounds and trauma, graft and post-surgical behavior, recovery from myocardial and brain ischemia (heart attack and stroke), tendonitis, osteoarthritis, and impaired neural function or spasticity from central nervous system diseases such as multiple sclerosis and spinal cord damage. PEMF stimulation offers a safer and more comfortable alternative for urinary incontinence. PEMF therapy improves sports performance, and simply helps to maintain good health. In a 5 to 20 minute session, PEMF therapy leaves you feeling relaxed, energized, and renewed, with a sense of well-being.
Photo credit: magnet art by Robert Hodgin via the coolmagnetman.com
Thanks to Pulse4Life for such a great introduction to PEMF!