Introduction to Magnetic Science
The human body is fundamentally electric. When a person experiences a heart attack, for example, a defibrillator is used to administer electrical energy to the heart so that it can reestablish its normal rhythm.
This electricity that flows through our body also establishes electromagnetic fields. External magnetic fields and the body’s magnetic fields interact on a regular basis. It is because of these interactions that a magnetic field passing through the body will have an electromagnetic effect at the cellular level.
The Earth has its own magnetic fields, produced primarily by changes in the molten metal that's in the outer core of the planet. This magnetic field extends from the interior of the planet to where it meets the Sun's solar wind. The field's main purpose is to protect Earth from solar winds, which would otherwise destroy our atmosphere's protective ozone layer.
Earth’s magnetic fields are composed of a variety of sources. These include the overall DC field of the planet, magnetized rocks on Earth's surface, Schumann resonances, solar flares, tectonic plate movements, telluric currents on the planet’s surface, and cosmic radiation.
Magnetic fields completely cover the planet and fundamentally affect and support the function of all living things. Throughout the human body's entire lifespan, it is always immersed in the Earth's magnetic fields.
The body’s own magnetic fields are called biomagnetic fields. Being extremely weak, the fields are only detectable with ultra-sensitive equipment that is capable of blocking out all external magnetic fields, including the Earth’s magnetic fields.
There is a clear connection between the magnetic aspects of the human body and the biophysical chemistry of the human body. Once you understand this connection, it becomes easier to see the body as a dynamic, ever-changing bioelectric and biomagnetic organism, one that is subject to all the physical laws of electromagnetism.
PEMF vs. EMF
It's important to know that harmful EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields) do exist in our environment. These harmful EMFs and the therapeutic EMFs generated by PEMFs have many differences, including exposure time, wavelength, and frequency.
Harmful EMFs can negatively affect the body’s natural functions while therapeutic EMFs work in supportive ways, such as enhancing cellular communication and improving overall health.
Magnetic Field Polarity
Dipoles generate the magnetic field of a material. Magnetic dipoles are best understood as loops of current with both positive and negative magnetic charges. As they are inseparably bound together, there is no net magnetic charge.
Much of the research using time-varied magnetic fields disregards the issue of polarity. PEMFs are essentially bipolar, as they are always in motion and expanding and collapsing through tissues. PEMFs can be created to be positive and/or negative as no systematic differences have been discovered in using one polarity versus another.
Healing with PEMFs
Introduction to Magnetic Field Therapy
Magnetic fields cause or increase the motion of the electrolytes and ions that are in the tissues and fluids of the human body. This movement stimulates a wide range of chemical, mechanical, and electric actions in the tissues of the body.
Therapeutic magnetic fields are used to create voltages similar to those that are produced naturally within the body at both the cellular and subcellular levels. The electromagnetically induced field delivers a charge to the cells of the body. This induced current can cause nerves to fire, muscles to contract, cell signal pathways to become stimulated (causing cell growth), and numerous other effects. It is because of this most basic level of treatment that magnetic therapies have been shown to have positive effects for a myriad of health conditions.
Magnetic Field Types
There are 2 types of magnetic fields – static or time-varying/pulsed. The static type is one in which no change in the flux density or intensity can be detected over the time interval of use or measurement.
In pulsed magnetic fields, flux density or intensity changes at one or more frequencies, typically greater than one cycle per second (Hertz).
The cell is an amazing structure – with an abundance of complexity and movement. The cell readily multitasks and works busily like the well-oiled machine we know and expect it to be. There are a few basic functions that all cells must accomplish. These functions include ATP production (cellular energy), nutrient absorption, waste removal, and regeneration, as well as the performance of predetermined functions based on the cell’s type and location within the body.
A great deal of this action and communication occurs at the cell membrane, which has switches in direct contact with the nucleus of the cell. Cells usually go through at least 7,000 chemical reactions per second, which is an indication of the complex and ongoing process involved in adaptation.
The cell's level of complexity goes far beyond the scope of simple biochemistry. By utilizing electromagnetic stimulation, modern measuring techniques have increased the understanding of electromagnetic bio-communication – making the coordination of the living system possible.
How the Body Heals Itself
Regeneration and wound healing require a great deal of cellular communication and adaptation to take place.
Whether or not it is a response to injury, the cell generation process is the same – a cell’s contents must be duplicated. DNA is made up of two strands, with each being able to serve as a template for a new strand. DNA synthesis or duplication requires existing proteins to split and then reassemble. RNA messengers assist with the sending of genetic information from the existing cell to the nucleus of the newly formed cell. Electrical energy is required to complete this process.
Because magnetic fields interact with and increase natural electrical charges, PEMF therapy can assist with this transfer of information. The benefits of PEMF therapy are commonly seen with wound healing and often with tissue regeneration.
Frequency, Intensity, and Waveform
Electromagnetic field frequency is measured in cycles per second (Hertz, abbreviated Hz) and this frequency is tied to wavelength. Most PEMF systems use low frequencies and long wavelengths – from 1 Hz up to 10,000 Hz or so, although a few systems can produce even higher frequencies. Extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields are those that have a frequency at or below 3,000 Hz.
Magnetic field intensity (flux density) is the measurement of the strength of a magnetic field. The intensity of a magnetic field is responsible for the amount of charge that's induced in the stimulated tissues. Every magnetic field has some level of intensity.
When used in therapy, pulsed electromagnetic fields vary drastically in intensity and are measured typically in either gauss (for higher-intensity systems) or microTesla (for lower-intensity systems).
A huge assortment of waveforms exists in nature, in the human body, and in PEMF devices. The most common waveforms are sinus, sawtooth, and square, though there are trapezoidal, rectangular, impulse, triangular, and many other different options used in the engineering of PEMF devices.
The major reason waveforms are important is because they either copy (enhance) or counteract (diminish) processes in the body. Waveforms also tend to be bound to intensity – square and trapezoidal waves tend to be used with higher intensities than sinus waves, for example.
Much research has been done regarding the effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy for specific health conditions. But transferring the results of these studies into practical use in a home or clinical setting is difficult and requires specific technical and medical expertise.
It is important to use the information garnered from quality research studies and combine it with the observed outcomes from the thousands of consumers using these PEMF devices in their home. Only then can we make proper recommendations to those that are seeking to improve their own complex health conditions.
Practical Use of PEMFs
Acute vs. Chronic Conditions
The medical community defines an acute disease as one with a fast onset or short course, and a chronic disease as one that is persistent, long-lasting or comes with time. Conditions are typically not considered chronic until they have been experienced continuously for at least 3 months.
PEMF therapy has shown to be effective in reducing both acute and chronic pain. PEMF therapy relieves pain in a variety of ways, including blocking pain, decreasing inflammation, increasing cellular flexibility, increasing blood and fluids circulation, and increasing tissue oxygenation. While pain mechanisms can be very complex with peripheral and central nervous system aspects, PEMF therapy has been shown to improve pain conditions regardless of their origin.
All cells in our bodies have a life cycle – some are changed out daily, others weekly, others yearly, and some only every 7 years. It is a critical aspect of health maintenance that we ensure new cells are born into an environment of healthy tissues. It is of equal importance that old cells die, as they should. This is the cycle of life, and daily use of PEMFs can make sure the cycle continues to run smoothly.
Taking care of health problems as they arise is the key to ensuring the body stays balanced. Problems that are neglected can unbalance the body quickly and lead to new problems, creating a downward spiral of worsening health.
Health maintenance with magnetic therapies is much easier when used on a regular basis. Using them daily doesn’t require us to play catch-up. Imbalances can be rebalanced before we are even aware of them. Nature has a habit of kicking us while we’re down, but PEMFs can help prevent us from going down in the first place.
How to Apply PEMFs
There are numerous PEMF systems available for use by the consumer. Some are intended for daily use at home and some are for use in a clinical setting. Additionally, certain PEMF devices treat the entire body at once while others treat only a small portion of the body.
Whether working with a whole-body system or a localized unit, the actual treatment process is basically the same – you simply power your unit on and apply the magnetic field to your body. This means you will either lie down on a mat (in the case of a full-body unit) or connect the applicator to a chosen body part (as is oftentimes the case with portable devices). The average treatment duration is about 30 minutes, twice per day.
Setting a Healing Timeline
One of the most common questions people ask prior to starting PEMF therapy is about how quickly they will see results. The answer, of course, is dependent on a range of factors. That being said, we can usually help people manage their expectations and provide an estimate as to when they might be able to expect some improvement.
Each body is unique. That means that many people can experience tremendous results within the first week or two of using their system. But for others, results come more slowly, and we can react to that by fine-tuning the treatment process.
Once it is given the appropriate signal or stimulus, the body will need time to heal. A fracture, for example, will take 8 to 12 weeks to heal to the point where the bone can be used again. This does not mean the healing process is finished, it just means that the body part is usable once again.
Magnetic therapies can help speed up the healing rate, but they cannot deliver miracles. Illness is rarely ever an instantaneous happening – the same is true of healing. We did not get to our current health state overnight, and thus we should not expect to heal overnight.
The only absolute contraindication for use of a PEMF device is placing an active applicator over electrical devices that are implanted in the body. The magnetic field has the ability to shut off devices like pacemakers, cochlear implants, and intrathecal pumps.
Safety of PEMFs has yet to be established in pregnant women, although there is no evidence of harm.
PEMFs should be used with caution by patients with Grave’s disease or those experiencing active bleeding.
High-intensity PEMFs should be used with caution and/or professional guidance in patients with implanted metals, such as joint replacements, dental implants, mechanical heart valves, metal stents, or metal staples in blood vessels.
Mild adverse reactions to typical, home-based magnetic therapy do occur, and this should be acknowledged when using PEMF therapy systems. Because magnetic therapies have such a wide range of actions within the body, it is not uncommon that one would experience some discomfort, especially when treatment has just begun. These reactions happen about 5% of the time and tend to be more common when the whole body is treated, as opposed to just having local treatments.