Both the human body and the earth naturally produce electromagnetic fields. Humans have always been exposed to electric and magnetic fields at different frequencies (thunderstorms carry strong electromagnetic currents, for example).
Yet, the invention of modern technology has increased our exposure to low intensity magnetic fields. Things like cell phones, televisions, and wifi routers all emit weak electromagnetic frequencies.
While low frequency fields aren’t thought to be harmful, exposure to high-intensity fields can cause cells to overheat, which can lead to damage. In contrast, deliberate exposure to low-intensity frequencies, such as those found in the natural world, are believed to counteract any damage incurred by high-intensity frequencies. This is known as pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, or PEMF therapy.
PEMF therapy is a healing modality designed to reduce pain, decrease illness, and promote whole-body wellbeing. Read on to find out how PEMF therapy works and what it can do for your long-term health.
What Is Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy?
Understanding PEMF as a healing tool starts by understanding electromagnetic currents at a cellular level. While a healthy cell operates at about 70-110 millivolts, an unhealthy or diseased cell operates below 50 millivolts. Scientists believe that when the body’s natural field is disrupted — such as by artificial electromagnetic fields like radio waves — it reduces well-being.
Illnesses such as cancer can only thrive when the body’s cells are operating at less than 50 millivolts, says Dr. Tom Sladic, a chiropractor and nutrition specialist.
“By inducing a mild electrical magnetic current into damaged cells, PEMF therapy slows or stops the release of pain and inflammatory mediators, increases blood flow to the cells, and re-establishes normal cell interaction. With reduced inflammation, pain decreases, energy increases, and faster tissue healing occurs,” Sladic explains.
Since chronic diseases, pain, and illness are thought to occur when the body is vibrating at a low frequency, PEMF works to raise the body’s vibration to promote healing. Electromagnetic field therapy can be administered through PEMF devices (often through a PEMF mat), which transmit healing electrical fields to the body. Positive vibrations from the PEMF mat work to repair and regenerate damaged tissue.
Benefits of PEMF Treatment
Electromagnetic therapy through PEMF devices is proven to support healing for people with a range of mental and physical health conditions. For example, if you experience chronic pain, disease, or mental and emotional struggles, here’s a look at how you could benefit from PEMF technology.
PEMF Therapy for Chronic Pain
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.
Joint Health and Post-Operative Recovery
People with arthritis and other joint challenges may also experience pain relief using PEMF devices, which have been known to support bone and joint health. A PubMed study revealed that PEMF alleviates arthritis-related pain in multiple joints while also providing anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, PEMF devices can help arthritis patients in bone remodeling — a crucial step toward recovery in people who experience degeneration (loss of joint cartilage).
People healing from joint injuries and surgeries can also benefit from PEMF. Research showed that people recovering from back surgery may experience less pain and faster healing after using PEMF devices in the recovery process. PEMF also helps reduce pain after common operations like knee surgery and rotator cuff repairs, which often have lengthy and ineffective recovery periods.
PEMF Devices and Mental Health
Aside from the many positive physical benefits of PEMF, promising research now shows that the method can aid mental health conditions. For instance, McLean Hospital researchers showed that 23 out of 30 people with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder experienced improvement after just one low field magnetic session.
Another benefit of PEMF therapy is that its known to support people with generalized anxiety disorder and chronic insomnia, which are often experienced together. The benefit of PEMF devices for mental health is that they provide low levels of high-frequency fields, which helps foster stress-relief and relaxation while healing the body inside and out.
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.
Using PEMF Therapy for Health and Healing
Electromagnetic fields have promoted human healing for centuries. Yet in the modern age — where we’re surrounded by low frequency fields from electronics — more people are leveraging electromagnetic currents in the form of PEMF therapy for health and healing.
Healthcare professionals have conducted numerous studies on PEMF therapy, proving its usefulness both for chronic pain relief and recovery from major surgery. Whether you’re experiencing a chronic illness or you’re hoping for daily pain relief, PEMF therapy offers a wealth of healing potential.