Research on Orthopedic Benefits
- Pulsed electromagnetic fields protect the balance between adipogenesis and osteogenesis on steroid-induced osteonecrosis of femoral head at the pre-collapse stage in rats.
Li JP, et al. Bioelectromagnetics. 2014.
Osteonecrosis occurs when there is inadequate blood supply to the bone. Bones, like other organs in the body, are made up of living tissue that dies without an uninterrupted blood supply. Osteonecrosis can occur due to a number of reasons, including trauma, steroids or certain medications, and excessive alcohol consumption. This is likely because there is an imbalance between the patterns of differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells, leading to an overabundance of fatty cells compared to bone cells. The researchers of this study tested whether PEMF treatment could preserve that balance. They tested 42 rats, of which 32 were subject to induced osteonecrosis. Of the 32, only 16 received PEMF treatment for 4 hours each day for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, it was observed that there was a much lower incidence of osteonecrosis in the PEMF-treated rats.
- Pulsed electromagnetic fields improve bone microstructure and strength in ovariectomized rats through a Wnt/Lrp5/β-catenin signaling-associated mechanism.
Jing D, et al. PLoS One. 2013.
Progesterone hormone plays an important role in maintaining bone health in women. That is why menopause, or the removal of the ovaries, can lead to a loss in bone density and deterioration of bone structure. To see if PEMF can prevent osteoporosis in such cases, the experimenters removed the ovaries of 20 rats. Of the 20, 10 were given 8 hours of PEMF treatment daily for 10 weeks. The PEMF-treated group demonstrated significantly improved bone density and structure. The researchers assess that PEMF attenuated the degradation in bone integrity that would have been caused by the removal of the ovaries. Based on the data gathered, this seems to be because PEMF promotes a related signaling pathway.
- Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on patients’ recovery after arthroscopic surgery: prospective, randomized and double-blind study.
Zorzi C, Dall’Oca C, Cadossi R, Setti S. 2007.
Inflammation of the joints can be severely damaging to the cartilage, resulting in limited range of motion, poor mobility, and discomfort. This study tested whether PEMF could protect articular cartilage by exposing patients with knee pain either to active PEMF or sham PEMF (extremely low frequency). The participants used PEMF for 6 hours each day over 3 months after receiving arthroscopy. The group that received active PEMF had better outcomes at the end of the experiment, and a significantly smaller percentage of that group reported using anti-inflammatory drugs to control pain, compared to the controls. After 3 years, more from the active PEMF group reported having recovered.
- Pulsed electromagnetic fields after arthroscopic treatment for osteochondral defects of the talus: double-blind randomized controlled multicenter trial.
van Bergen CJ, Blankevoort L, de Haan RJ, Sierevelt IN, Meuffels DE, d’Hooghe PR, Krips R, van Damme G, van Dijk CN. 2009.
The talus is a large bone that covers much of the head, neck, and body. Osteochondral lesions are injuries to the articular cartilage and bone. These are common in athletes, and can be treated surgically. The researchers of this study tested whether PEMF could speed up the recovery time so that patients could return to sports more quickly. They recruited 68 patients with ankle lesions, and subjected them to one session of active PEMF or sham PEMF for 4 hours each day for 60 days. They found that the percentage of patients who resumed their sport was higher in the active group, while time taken before resumption was lower.
- The effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee and cervical spine. Report of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.
Trock DH, Bollet AJ, Markoll R. 1994.
This randomized, double-blind clinical trial had 81 participants with osteoarthritis of the cervical spine, and 86 with osteoarthritis of the knee. They were randomly given either a total of 18 30-minute sessions of PEMF, or the same of placebo treatment. Progress was measured using different methods of data collection for factors such as perceived pain, joint tenderness, activities carried out, and so on. The improvement in the patients receiving PEMF was significant after treatment, and remained in evidence a month after its end. Meanwhile, the placebo patients did not see as much improvement, and by the time of the follow-up they were mostly back at their initial levels for almost all variables.
- Magnetic pulse treatment for knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Pipitone N, Scott DL. 2001.
Similar to the above study, this study tested 69 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee receiving either active PEMF or placebo. When measured before the onset of treatment, the baseline variables for both groups were comparable. After 6 weeks of daily PEMF therapy, the patients were assessed on overall perceived pain, a standardized quality of life index, and a standardized osteoarthritis index. Whereas the active PEMF group saw significant improvement for a number of parameters, the placebo control group saw no noteworthy improvement at all. There were also no adverse effects noted, so PEMF can be a suitable option for arthritic patients who do not respond to conventional treatment.
- A double-blind trial of the clinical effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields in osteoarthritis.
Trock DH, Bollet AJ, Dyer RH Jr, Fielding LP, Miner WK, Markoll R. 1993.
In this study, 25 patients with osteoarthritis (mostly of the knee) underwent either active PEMF or sham PEMF for a total duration of 60 days, in which each participant completed a total of 18 sessions that were all 30 minutes long. Different variables were measured before the start of treatment, after the completion of 9 sessions, after the completion of all 18 sessions, and one month after the end of treatment. Improvement was noted in both groups, but was significantly higher in the PEMF group. On average, there was an improvement of 23-61% in the variables for the active PEMF group, and only 2-18% improvement for the sham group.
- A double-blind trial of pulsed electromagnetic fields for delayed union of tibial fractures.
Sharrard WJ. 1990.
This study analyzed the effects of PEMF on delayed union healing of tibial shaft fractures. Forty-five cases were selected based on the likelihood that the recovery would be delayed because of factors such as the severity of displacement, compound lesions with injury to skin and soft tissues, and more. All patients had their fractures set in a plaster cast; twenty received PEMF, and 25 received sham PEMF, for 12 weeks. Improvements were assessed by a radiologist and an orthopedic surgeon. In the independent assessments by both experts, more patients receiving PEMF saw successful union or progress toward union, while most of the control patients saw no union and no progress toward union. This suggests that PEMF had an effect in bringing about recovery, and that it can be a useful treatment method for delayed union fractures.
- Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy for management of osteoarthritis-related pain, stiffness and physical function: clinical experience in the elderly.
Iannitti T, Fistetto G, Esposito A, Rottigni V, Palmieri B. 2013.
This study investigated the suitability of PEMF for management of osteoarthritis in elderly patients. Twenty-eight patients between the ages of 60 and 83 who had osteoarthritis in both knees participated. Because of the bilateral OA, the right knee was treated with PEMF with 3 half-hour sessions a week for a total of 18 sessions, and the left knee was not exposed, in order to compare results. Knee pain, stiffness, and physical function were measured both before treatment and 3 months after treatment. All measurements favored the use of PEMF for treatment, as the improvements were statistically significant for the right knee versus the left.
Research on Cardiovascular Benefits
- Microcirculatory effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields.
Smith TL, Wong-Gibbons D, Maultsby J. 2004.
This study aimed to find out if the healing benefits of PEMF were due to increased microcirculation. It investigated whether PEMF stimulation would increase the diameter of arterial microvessels when directed at the genital muscles of rats. The rats were given localized PEMF sessions of either 2 minutes or 60 minutes, with half receiving active stimulation and half receiving sham stimulation. The rats that received active PEMF consistently saw an increase in arterial diameter, and the increase was similar despite the differences in duration. The rats receiving sham PEMF saw no significant vasodilation. There were no side effects noted for the PEMF group.
- A Literature Review: The Effects of Magnetic Field Exposure on Blood Flow and Blood Vessels in the Microvasculature.
McKay JC, Prato FS, Thomas AW. 2007.
As yet, the number of studies done on the impact that PEMF or any other form of magnetic field exposure on microcirculation has is limited. This review of available literature finds that the results of experiments done on the topic, and their conclusions, are somewhat inconsistent. For instance, half of the studies observed vasodilation, while the other half observed that both vasodilation and vasoconstriction were equally likely depending on the tone of the vessel prior to treatment. Similarly, there are mixed results on the effect of MF on the development of new blood vessels, although the majority of studies report an increase. More research is required to form deeper insights.
- Pulsed electromagnetic field improves cardiac function in response to myocardial infarction.
Hao CN, Huang JJ, Shi YQ, Cheng XW, Li HY, Zhou L, Guo XG, Li RL, Lu W, Zhu YZ, Duan JL. 2014.
Myocardial infarctions, commonly known as heart attacks, occur when there is deficient blood supply to the heart which damages the heart muscles. In this study, rats with MI were exposed to PEMF for 4 8-minute cycles per day to see if it could aid in recovery. It was noted that PEMF was able to restrict cell death in the heart muscle, and improved the systolic function of the left ventricle. Moreover, a number of other beneficial effects were seen. Those included increased capillary density, increased levels of signaling protein that forms new vessels, and more. This suggests that PEMF can play a big role in cardiovascular treatment.
- Pulsed electromagnetic field improves cardiac function in response to myocardial infarction.
Hao CN, et al. Am J Transl Res. 2014.
As with the study above, this study was conducted in order to investigate the ability of PEMF to facilitate recovery after an episode of myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack. Rats with induced MI were exposed to PEMF treatment sessions of 8 minutes each, 4 times a day. Not only did the PEMF have a protective effect on the heart muscle, it also improved the thickness and quality of related blood vessels. The number of progenitor cells that differentiate into endothelial cells (which line the walls of vessels) also increased, as did their functionality. When in vitro (outside of animal) observation was undertaken, it was similarly noted that PEMF generated several pro-cardiovascular developments. The findings led to the conclusion that PEMF shows strong promise with regard to its clinical application for the treatment of vascular ischemic diseases.
- Potent Stimulation of Blood Flow in Fingers of Volunteers after Local Short-Term Treatment with Low-Frequency Magnetic Fields from a Novel Device.
Funk RHW, Knels L, Augstein A, Marquetant R, and Dertinger HF. 2014.
This study tested a device that emitted magnetic field stimulation to volunteers to see if it could improve microcirculation. An imaging method was used to observe blood flow both before and after 5 minutes of use of the device. To test whether static magnetic fields (without a frequency) also have that effect, the same device was used, and measurements taken when not active, too. Whereas only a small improvement was noted with the device switched off, active stimulation caused a significant increase in blood flow that lasted for some minutes before slowly returning to normal. The findings suggest that varying magnetic fields can have a highly beneficial effect on microcirculation, and can thus boost different types of healing.
- Effect of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) on infarct size and inflammation after cerebral ischemia in mice.
Pena-Philippides JC, Yang Y, Bragina O, Hagberg S, Nemoto E, Roitbak T. 2014.
Cerebral ischemia is when there is insufficient blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke or cerebral infarction (areas of dead brain tissue). PEMF is thought to have regenerative and anti-inflammatory benefits that can aid recovery post-ischemia. To test this, the researchers exposed mice with cerebral ischemic damage to PEMF twice per day for 21 days. After the end of the 3 weeks, the size of the necrotic tissue was 26% smaller in PEMF-treated mice than in controls. The expression of proinflammatory cell signaling proteins was inhibited, while expression of anti-inflammatory proteins was enhanced. Thus, PEMF can be a helpful adjunctive therapy for post-stroke patients.
- Effect of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy on prostate volume and vascularity in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a pilot study in a canine model.
Leoci R, Aiudi G, Silvestre F, Lissner E, Lacalandra GM. 2014.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is commonly known as prostate enlargement, and affects many men as they grow older. Although the growth is not cancerous, it can be uncomfortable, and cause urinary difficulties. The researchers of this study hypothesized that deficient blood supply to the region is a factor behind prostate enlargement, and that PEMF could address that problem. They tested 20 afflicted dogs with 3 weeks of 5-minute PEMF sessions administered twice per day. The volume of the prostate decreased by more than half (57%) in the PEMF-treated subjects, and no side effects to libido, semen production and quality, or testosterone levels were observed. Thus, increasing blood flow to the prostate does seem to be a viable preventive and corrective measure for the problem, and PEMF can help facilitate that.
Research on Rheumatological Benefits
- Low frequency and low intensity pulsed electromagnetic field exerts its anti-inflammatory effect through restoration of plasma membrane calcium ATPase activity.
Selvam R, et al. Life Sci. 2007.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term disorder that occurs due to inflammation in the joints. The symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected areas. Since the anti-inflammatory effects of PEMF are documented, the researchers of this study tested its value as a therapeutic tool for RA. They induced arthritis in the right hind paws of rats, and noted the biochemical changes that occurred in them afterwards (such as elevated levels of lipid peroxide, lowered levels of antioxidant enzymes, and more). Then, they treated the rats with PEMF, which restored all the noted variables back to their unaltered states. This was because PEMF inhibited the release of exudates, which are fluids that are released from the blood into areas of inflammation. The results reflect that PEMF can be used clinically to treat RA in humans.
- Optimization of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy for management of arthritis in rats.
Kumar VS, et al. Bioelectromagnetics. 2005.
Since conducting lab experiments with human participants is often difficult in clinical science, researchers often use a model known as adjuvant induced arthritis (AIA) in rats. It is comparable to rheumatoid arthritis in humans, which is why the findings can be applied to healthcare and clinical practices. In this study, male rats received AIA in their right hind paws. A specific PEMF treatment that used an optimized combination of frequency, intensity, and duration was applied. PEMF was able to lower the volume of fluid accumulation and consequent swelling in the paws, and also lowered the activity of lysosomal enzymes that generate inflammation. Both histological and radiological data confirmed secondary anti-inflammatory effects. The results indicated that PEMF could be developed for treatment of arthritis in humans.
- Pulsed electromagnetic fields increased the anti-inflammatory effect of A₂A and A₃ adenosine receptors in human T/C-28a2 chondrocytes and hFOB 1.19 osteoblasts.
Vincenzi F, Targa M, Corciulo C, Gessi S, Merighi S, Setti S, Cadossi R, Goldring MB, Borea PA, Varani K. 2013.
Adenosine receptors, also known as P1 receptors, play a key role in preventing and inhibiting inflammation. PEMF is said to increase the bulk of these receptors, as well as improve their ability to carry out their functions. This study tested whether that was true for chondrocytes and osteoblasts, which are two important types of cells for bone and cartilage metabolism. The study found that PEMF increased the activation of the relevant adenosine receptors, and thus prevented a significant amount of inflammation. This indicates that PEMF can be very useful as a therapeutic mechanism for inflammatory bone and joint disorders.
- Characterisation of adenosine receptors in bovine chondrocytes and fibroblast-like synoviocytes exposed to low frequency low energy pulsed electromagnetic fields.
Varani K1, De Mattei M, Vincenzi F, Gessi S, Merighi S, Pellati A, Ongaro A, Caruso A, Cadossi R, Borea PA. 2008.
Chondrocytes are the cells found in cartilage and connective tissue. Fibroblast-like synoviocytes are specialized cells found in the joints that play a big role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. However, PEMF therapy could increase the functionality of adenosine receptors in order to treat inflammatory joint diseases. To investigate that, this study exposed these cells in cattle to PEMF, and analyzed its effect on adenosine receptors. It was found that PEMF significantly up-regulated specific types of adenosine receptors, and thereby could contribute greatly to the treatment of joint inflammation.
- Effect of low frequency electromagnetic fields on A2A adenosine receptors in human neutrophils.
Varani K, Gessi S, Merighi S, Iannotta V, Cattabriga E, Spisani S, Cadossi R, Borea PA. 2002.
Neutrophils are a type of granulocyte white blood cell and phagocyte of the immune system that are typically the first responders to a site of infection, where they ingest and help kill the harmful microorganism. They promote acute inflammation (which is necessary to fight off infections), but also facilitate chronic inflammation and inflammatory diseases to some degree. Neutrophils release adenosine themselves, but they also respond to it. For instance, A2A adenosine receptors help modulate neutrophil function by exerting an anti-inflammatory effect. This study tested the effects of low energy and low frequency PEMF on A2A receptors in neutrophils, and found that activation and functionality improved in PEMF-treated cells. However, the effects varied depending on intensity of PEMF, time, and temperature.
- Alteration of A(3) adenosine receptors in human neutrophils and low frequency electromagnetic fields.
Varani K1, Gessi S, Merighi S, Iannotta V, Cattabriga E, Pancaldi C, Cadossi R, Borea PA. 2003.
Conducted by the same research team, the method and results of this study are quite similar to those of the studies above. The objective of this one, however, was to test the effects of low energy and low frequency PEMF on A3 adenosine receptors. The research showed that PEMF can significantly increase the density of A3 adenosine receptors. Since A3 adenosine receptors promote neutrophil chemotaxis, and also help capture the harmful pathogens that may be behind your rheumatoid condition, PEMF can be a highly meaningful treatment approach.
Research on Pain-Lowering Benefits
- Exposure to a specific pulsed low-frequency magnetic field: a double-blind placebo-controlled study of effects on pain ratings in rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia patients.
Shupak NM, McKay JC, Nielson WR, Rollman GB, Prato FS, Thomas AW. 2006.
One of the most significant benefits of PEMF as advertised by manufacturers and advocates is its analgesic effect. The researchers of this study tested that effect by exposing two sets of patients—of fibromyalgia and female rheumatoid arthritis—to either PEMF or sham PEMF for 30 minutes. They used questionnaires and visual analog scales to measure pain and anxiety levels in the participants before and after the PEMF treatment. Although they did not find any significant difference in anxiety, the perceived pain levels were much lower in the PEMF-treated patients of both fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. The findings suggest that PEMF can be a suitable treatment option for chronic pain management and short-term pain relief.
- Evidence-based use of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in clinical plastic surgery.
Strauch B, Herman C, Dabb R, Ignarro LJ, Pilla AA. 2009.
Since the underlying mechanisms of how PEMF induces positive changes in your body are not yet completely understood, the implications of the use of PEMF in plastic surgery are not clear. That’s why this study’s researchers conducted a literature review of relevant studies. They found many pertinent benefits for plastic surgery, including speedier vasodilation, speedier formation of new vessels, and help in decreasing post-surgical complications such as accumulation of watery fluid in cavities and tissues. One of the most apparent benefits, though, was the effect PEMF had on pain management for post-surgical patients. Therefore, PEMF is a suitable option for pain management, since it isn’t invasive and doesn’t have side effects like many pharmaceutical drugs do.
- Electrochemical therapy of pelvic pain: effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) on tissue trauma.
Jorgensen WA, Frome BM, Wallach C. 1994.
For many women, pain often has gynecological origins. To see whether PEMF could provide a remedy for pelvic pain, the researchers of this paper analyzed the impact of electromagnetic induction devices on 17 female patients. The causes for pain varied, with cases ranging from lower urinary tract infection to ruptured ovarian cyst to menstrual pain. Between the participants, there were a total of 20 reported incidences of pelvic pain which were either severe, chronic, or both. All but one patient reported experiencing marked reduction in pain after undergoing the treatment. The success rate for PEMF in this study was 90%, as 18 out of 20 episodes of pain were resolved.
- Analgesic properties of electromagnetic field therapy in patients with chronic pelvic pain.
Varcaccio-Garofalo G, Carriero C, Loizzo MR, Amoruso S, Loizzi P. 1995.
In this study, 64 female participants who reported experiencing persistent pelvic pain for at least six months before the launch of the study were recruited. These participants had not benefited from other therapies previously. They received 2 hours of localized PEMF application around the region of the pelvic bone each day for up to 40 days. In 61% of the patients, the treatment completely eradicated the pain. In another 23%, pain subsided completely during treatment, but mild symptoms showed up at follow-up 3 months later. And in another 10%, the pain relief was experienced only when PEMF was being applied, and symptoms resurfaced in some form or another after applications ceased. Despite varying experiences, which can be attributed to complex interactions of many factors, PEMF seems to have genuine ability as an analgesic.
- Non-invasive electromagnetic field therapy produces rapid and substantial pain reduction in early knee osteoarthritis: a randomized double-blind pilot study.
Nelson FR1, Zvirbulis R, Pilla AA. 2013.
This study assessed the usefulness of PEMF for pain reduction in patients with early knee arthritis. The selection criteria for patients were that their initial pain level was mild or moderate, that they could perform standing activities for at least 2 hours each day, and that they had not recently undergone surgical or other interventions (such as injections) for the management of their osteoarthritis. When the data collected was analyzed, it revealed that the patients who received active PEMF treatment saw an average of 50% (and up to 61%) improvement from their perceived pain levels before the study. This improvement was sustained even 42 days after treatment. In the patients that received sham PEMF, the difference was not significant. In fact, the progress in the PEMF group was three times that in the sham group.
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Dosing Regimen Impacts Pain Control in Breast Reduction Patients.
Taylor E, Hardy K, Alonso A, Pilla A, Rohde C. 2014.
This study tested two groups of breast reduction patients (while undergoing surgery) who were administered 5 minutes of PEMF treatment every 20 minutes, or 15 minutes of PEMF treatment every two hours. After the operation was complete, measurements of perceived pain and the use of pain medication were taken. The results indicated that PEMF does have a beneficial impact on pain, mainly because it augments the release of nitric oxide which can dull the pain. Different regimes have different effects, which means the duration and amount of PEMF have an effect on the extent to which the treatment can contribute to desired outcomes.
- A novel magnetic stimulator increases experimental pain tolerance in healthy volunteers – a double-blind sham-controlled crossover study.
Kortekaas R, van Nierop LE, Baas VG, Konopka KH, Harbers M, van der Hoeven JH, van Wijhe M, Aleman A, Maurits NM. 2013.
Complex Neural Pulse (CNP) is a therapy system that directs pulsed electromagnetic waves at the brain, which then causes changes in electrical charges and neurochemical patterns. It is known to have an analgesic affect, so the researchers wished to know if it could also impact the ability to withstand heat. Thirty minutes of CNP/PEMF or sham treatment was given twice with a week-long gap in between to 20 healthy volunteers. The findings reflected that PEMF significantly increased the heat pain threshold, meaning that the participants became less sensitive to the sensory discomfort caused by heat. Other measured variables, such as emotional and cognitive performance, were unaffected.
Research on Tissue Healing Benefits
- Pulsed electromagnetic fields accelerate functional recovery of transected sciatic nerve bridged by chitosan conduit: an animal model study.
Mohammadi R, et al. Int J Surg. 2014.
The peripheral nervous system includes the nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord. An injury to a peripheral nerve can compromise the ability of your brain to interact with other organs and muscles. Adding PEMF to conventional treatment measures, such as an artificial nerve graft or chitosan conduit, could improve recovery speed and quality. The experimenters transected the sciatic nerve (the longest nerve of the body) in 60 rats, and treated half with a chitosan conduit and half with only stumps. Then half of each group received 4 hours of PEMF each day for the first five days, while the other half received no adjunctive therapy. When tested at 3 different points post treatment, all the rats who received both PEMF and the chitosan conduit showed much better nerve regeneration than the rats who received only the conduit. Thus, PEMF combined with chitosan grafting can be a reliable and safe form of treatment for nervous injuries.
- Pulsed electromagnetic fields accelerate wound healing in the skin of diabetic rats.
Goudarzi I, et al. Bioelectromagnetics. 2010.
Diabetes mellitus is a group of common metabolic disorders that occurs when blood sugar levels are persistently too high. Among many uncomfortable symptoms and risk of high-threat complications, a feature of diabetes is that wound healing is often more delayed than in a healthy individual. To test if PEMF could solve that problem, diabetes was induced in rats, and they were later given a cut on their skin. As a control, rats without diabetes were also given the same incisions. They either received 1 hour of extremely low frequency PEMF treatment each day, or were left to heal naturally. The findings were that diabetic rats took longer to heal than healthy ones, but rats that received PEMF treatment healed faster than their respective controls (i.e. PEMF-treated diabetic rats required less recovery time than control diabetic rats, and PEMF-treated healthy rats required less recovery time than control healthy rats).
- Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) promote early wound healing and myofibroblast proliferation in diabetic rats.
Cheing GL, et al. Bioelectromagnetics. 2014.
As with the above study, the researchers here investigated the effect of PEMF on wound healing in diabetic patients. They induced diabetes in some rats, and then proceeded to inflict identical wounds to the skin of all subjects. The rats were randomly given either 1 hour of PEMF treatment daily, or no additional treatment. While other factors such as body weight or blood-sugar level did not vary significantly between the two groups, the rate of wound healing (migration of epithelial cells into the wound, and closure of the wound) was significantly improved in the PEMF-treated group. The research team assesses that PEMF increased the presence of myofibroblasts in the wounds. Myofibroblasts are activated repair cells that enhance collagen synthesis, recover tissue integrity, and enable resistance of the wounded tissue to breakage under tension.
- Physiological and molecular genetic effects of time-varying electromagnetic fields on human neuronal cells.
Goodwin TJ. 2009.
Neural progenitor cells are those cells of the nervous system that together act to repair it. Unlike stem cells, progenitor cells can only multiply a limited number of times, and they protect your body by nourishing specials cells and promoting integrity of blood and tissues. In this study, the researchers observed the rate of growth of neural progenitor cells when exposed to a time-varying electromagnetic field. They tested differences in two-dimensional and three-dimensional culture vessels, and found that the rate of regeneration was from 2.5 to 4 times greater in both than in cells not exposed to electromagnetic waves.
- Frequency sensitivity of nanosecond pulse EMF on regrowth and Hsp70 levels in transected planaria.
Madkan A. 2009.
Planaria are a kind of worm found in Europe. The significance of this animal is that when it is cut into different pieces, each of those parts will regrow into a fully-formed planarian. In this study, planaria worms were cut into equal pieces, and their top and bottom halves were put into pond water. A control group received no electromagnetic radiation, while other groups received one hour of exposure every day to either 8, 16, or 72 Hz of pulsed EMF. Both the rate of growth of the pieces, and the rate of activation of the Hsp70 protein (which is responsible for injury repair), were measured. While there were slight differences noted between the three frequencies, all groups showed faster growth and greater elevation of Hsp70 than the control group.
- Pulsed electromagnetic field elicits muscle recovery via increase of Hsp70 expression after crush injury of rat skeletal muscle.
Cheon S, Park I, Kim M. 2012.
Hsp70 proteins are a family of heat shock proteins that protect cells from stress. Since the role of Hsp70 is primarily to prevent protein folding or aggregation within cells and to direct damaged protein toward degradation, it plays a vital role in musculoskeletal recovery. In this study, 54 male rats were subject to the same type of crush muscle injury. Then, they were given either PEMF after one day, PEMF after 3 days, or no PEMF at all. The control group saw far lower Hsp70 expression and subsequent recovery than the PEMF groups. Between the two PEMF groups, the one that received delayed treatment saw relatively slower recovery, suggesting that the treatment is useful for muscle repair.
- Pulsed magnetic fields accelerate cutaneous wound healing in rats.
Strauch B, Patel MK, Navarro JA, Berdichevsky M, Yu HL, Pilla AA. 2007.
Cutaneous wounds refer to injuries to the skin. Healing is a dynamic process that involves numerous overlapping phases—from inflammation, to tissue formation, to tissue remodeling. Pulsed EMF has been shown to speed up that process. To test that, 100 rats with cutaneous wounds were tested in two phases. In the first phase, the wounds were exposed to two 30-minute-long radiofrequency PEMF sessions per day at 1.0 G, for either 21 or 60 days. In the second, the rats underwent the same process for 21 days, but with three different, lower amplitudes. The results for the first phase were that the PEMF group had 48% greater progress than controls at 21 days, but by 60 days both groups were at similar points of healing. This suggests that PEMF does accelerate healing. In the second phase, all PEMF groups performed better than the control, but to varying degrees.
- Differentiation of human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells, WJ-MSCs, into chondrogenic cells in the presence of pulsed electromagnetic fields.
Esposito M, Lucariello A, Costanzo C, Fiumarella A, Giannini A, Riccardi G, Riccio I. 2013.
Bone and cartilage healing is complicated by the fact that there is usually no source that provides a large amount of the cells needed for repair. But mesenchymal stem cells—which are multipotent cells that can differentiate into a number of different types of cells, including cartilage and bone—show a lot of promise for this purpose. Treating these stem cells with PEMF can further enhance the process. To test this, mesenchymal stem cells were extracted from a tissue in the umbilical cord known as Wharton’s jelly. The rate of cell division and the time taken for the Wharton’s jelly – mesenchymal stem cells (WJ-MSC) to change to the generative cells were greatly improved in the PEMF-treated cells, compared to untreated cells.
Research on Neurological Benefits
- Therapeutic effects of 15 Hz pulsed electromagnetic field on diabetic peripheral neuropathy in streptozotocin-treated rats.
Lei T, et al. PLoS One. 2013.
Chronically high blood sugar and diabetes can cause peripheral neuropathy, which involves numbness, loss of sensation, and sometimes pain in the limbs. The aim of this study was to test whether PEMF could play a neuroprotective role when it comes to diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Twenty-four rats of the same type and weight were classed into 3 groups of 8: A control group of non-diabetic rats, a group of rats with induced diabetes who were exposed to active PEMF of 15 Hz for 8 hours each day across a period of 42 days, and a group of rats with induced diabetes who were exposed to sham PEMF. Although the PEMF treatment did not lower blood sugar levels or change weight loss rates, it did reduce some of the abnormal developments associated with DPN. Compared to the sham-exposure group, the PEMF group saw: Lesser damage of the myelin sheath in neurons, greater enlargement of axons, and greater tactile sensitivity in the hind paws. Therefore, it is likely that PEMF can directly help correct some aspects of nerve damage.
- Does exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields produce functional changes in human brain?
Capone F, Dileone M, Profice P, Pilato F, Musumeci G, Minicuci G, Ranieri F, Cadossi R, Setti S, Tonali PA, Di Lazzaro V. 2009.
There is much debate about whether PEMF can effect neurophysiological and behavioral changes in people. If yes, the implications are enormous, as it can be used as a therapeutic tool for many neurological problems. This study tested that hypothesis by having 22 volunteers undergo extremely low frequency (ELF) range PEMF. Almost 2/3 of the pool was also exposed to sham PEMF to compare results. The researchers found that after 45 minutes of PEMF, intracortical facilitation (an excitatory response) increased by 20%. The same time with a sham PEMF did not evoke any change. Therefore, it can be reasonably concluded that PEMF can produce changes of function in the brain.
- Autoradiographic Evaluation of Electromagnetic Field Effects on Serotonin (5-HT1A) Receptors in Rat Brain.
Johnson MT, McCullough J, Nindl G, Chamberlain JK. 2003.
Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters in the body. It regulates to some degree many different key functions, including sleep, digestion, memory, and mood. In fact, depression is linked definitively to low serotonin levels in many people. In this study, the researchers investigated if PEMF can impact the binding of serotonin receptors in rat brains. Relevant areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus, were observed to see the difference between PEMF treatment and that with a placebo. The study indicates that PEMF can improve both the density and binding of serotonin receptors.
- Effects of a pulsed electromagnetic therapy on multiple sclerosis fatigue and quality of life: a double-blind, placebo controlled trial.
Lappin MS, Lawrie FW, Richards TL, Kramer ED. 2003.
Multiple sclerosis is a serious disease of the central nervous system in which a dysfunctional immune response can hamper communication between the brain and other parts of the body. The impact of PEMF on multiple sclerosis was tested by exposing 117 patients daily to active PEMF for 4 weeks and sham PEMF for 4 weeks, in random order, and separated by 2 weeks from each other. The responses indicated that PEMF was able to significantly improve perception of energy levels (lowered fatigue) and overall quality of life. There was no impact on other parameters, such as bladder control or spasticity. This indicates low-frequency PEMF can be useful for some symptoms of MS.
- Pulsed electromagnetic fields potentiate neurite outgrowth in the dopaminergic MN9D cell line.
In this study, the experimenter exposed cultures of a dopamine-releasing cell mixed with varying compositions of serums to PEMF for 3 days for sessions of 30 minutes per day, or 15 minutes every hour. PEMF-treated cultures saw increased neurite length and cell body width, suggesting faster maturation. What these results indicate is that PEMF can be used to facilitate more efficient neuronal differentiation, which can be the process through which many neurophysiological problems are resolved.
- Induction of Neuritogenesis in PC12 Cells by a Pulsed Electromagnetic Field via MEK-ERK1/2 Signaling.
Kudo Ta, Kanetaka H, Shimizu Y, Abe T, Mori H, Mori K, Suzuki E, Takagi T, Izumi Si. 2013.
Neuritogenesis involves the extension of neurites from a differentiating neuron. Those neurites then develop into axons and dendrites. In this study, rat cells were exposed to up to 12 hours of PEMF per day, and the rate of neuritogenesis was observed. The researchers observed that even without other factors that may have induced neuritogenesis, the PEMF-treated cells saw an increase in neurite formation, which suggests that low-frequency pulsed electromagnetic waves can independently cause neurological development.
Research on Sleep-Related Benefits
- The effects of pulsing magnetic fields on pineal melatonin synthesis in a teleost fish (brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis).
Lerchl A, Zachmann A, Ali MA, Reiter RJ. 1998.
Melatonin is an important hormone that is produced in the pineal glands of the brain. It is responsible for regulating sleep and wakefulness, as required by your circadian rhythm or internal clock. Melatonin production is associated with natural stimuli (darkness stimulates production, and blood melatonin levels stay up for the duration you sleep). Among other factors, unnatural light and the glare of electronics can inhibit melatonin production, and cause sleep problems. In this study, brook trout were exposed to magnetic fields. It was found that, compared to controls, the stimulation increased levels of melatonin both in the pineal gland and in their bloodstream.
- Sleep deprivation in depression stabilizing antidepressant effects by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Eichhammer P, Kharraz A, Wigan R, Langguth B, Frick U, Aigner JM, Hajak G. 2002.
Partial sleep deprivation (PSD) is often used as a therapy for depression. Limiting duration of sleep (such as cutting a regular night’s sleep in half) can reduce depressive symptoms in many patients. However, the effects are not long-lasting, and it is neither convenient nor desirable (for fear of triggering insomnia) to practice PSD frequently. This study tested whether rTMS could prolong the antidepressant effect by exposing 20 participants to either rTMS or sham rTMS in the morning after they underwent PSD. Active rTMS was significantly able to extend the antidepressant effect and prevent relapse, suggesting that it may be a viable complementary treatment to PSD for depression.
Research on Brain-Entrainment Benefits
- Prefrontal entrainment of amygdala activity signals safety in learned fear and innate anxiety.
Likhtik E, Stujenske JM, Topiwala MA, Harris AZ, Gordon JA. 2014.
To survive and to live a good life, it is important for all animals, including humans, to be able to distinguish between what is safe and dangerous. In this study, the brain activity of mice when exposed to stimuli that gave them learned anxiety (conditioned fear) and innate anxiety (natural fear) were observed. The researchers found that two parts of the brain associated with fear recognition—the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and the basolateral amygdala (BLA)—synchronized their brain waves only in those mice that could differentiate between safety and danger. And in those mice, the BLA specifically entrained to the waves of the mPFC when recognizing safety. Therefore, electromagnetic stimulation can facilitate that entrainment to help address anxieties and phobias.
- A comprehensive review of the psychological effects of brainwave entrainment.
Huang TL, Charyton C. 2008.
Brainwave entrainment is the method of using electromagnetic stimulation to alter brainwaves to a specific frequency in order to induce a desired brain state. The repeated pulsed waves in PEMF will activate the brain’s frequency-following response, and it will begin to mimic the frequency of the PEMF waves. To analyze its benefits, this systematic review of 20 studies on the effects of brainwave entrainment was carried out. It found that for a range of patients—for example, those suffering from cognitive deficits, behavioral disorders, headaches or migraines, stress, pain, and even PMS—brainwave entrainment is an effective therapy.
- Brainwave entrainment for better sleep and post-sleep state of young elite soccer players – a pilot study.
Abeln V, Kleinert J, Strüder HK, Schneider S. 2014.
Getting enough undisturbed sleep is important for both physical and psychological wellbeing. It can affect physical performance of activities in many ways. Brainwave entrainment during sleep might enhance sleep quality, thus improving the mental and physical experience when awake. To test that, the researchers subjected 15 young soccer players to 8 weeks of sleep with stimulation, whereas another 15 young sportsman received no stimulation. Each week the participants answered a set of questionnaires. The results showed that the ones who received the therapy rated their quality of sleep and motivation level higher and level of sleepiness during the day lower than those who didn’t.
Research on Repetetive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation for depression and other psychiatric disorders.
McNamara B, Ray JL, Arthurs OJ, Boniface S. 2001.
rTMS is a form of brain stimulation therapy that is considered a safer and far more comfortable alternative to electroconvulsive therapy. It is most frequently used to treat mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar affective disorder (manic-depressive illness). It is also used sometimes for other psychiatric treatments, such as for schizophrenia. The researchers identified several relevant studies to conduct a grand evaluation of the efficacy of rTMS for said purposes. A meta-analysis of studies on rTMS for depression revealed that it performs significantly better as compared to placebos. For mania, a reviewed study showed that right-hemisphere stimulation can be beneficial. Another failed to show any benefits for schizophrenia.
- Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in major depression: relation between efficacy and stimulation intensity.
Padberg F, Zwanzger P, Keck ME, Kathmann N, Mikhaiel P, Ella R, Rupprecht P, Thoma H, Hampel H, Toschi N, Möller HJ. 2002.
This study aimed to find out whether the intensity of pulses in rTMS was directly related to the efficacy of treatment, i.e. whether intensity determined the extent of the antidepressant effect of the therapy. Thirty-one patients, all suffering from a major depressive episode that could not be treated with pharmaceutical drugs, were the subjects observed. They were randomly either given rTMS at their personal motor threshold, at 90% of their subthreshold intensity, or a very low intensity through a sham rTMS device. The number of sessions, number of stimuli, and frequency of waves was consistent across all groups. It was found that all groups saw improvement in their depression, with the greatest reduction (of 30% to 33%) seen in the motor threshold intensity group. Similarly, that group also required fewer interventions and hospital stays after the end of their rTMS treatment.
- The impact of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation on pituitary hormone levels and cortisol in healthy subjects.
Evers S, Hengst K, Pecuch PW. 2001.
This study evaluated whether rTMS is an effective treatment for depression, by observing changes in serum levels of the endocrine and neurological systems. The levels of four major serums–cortisol, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and prolactin—were measured before and after rTMS exposure. All 23 participants underwent rTMS with the same set-up and frequency, but with varying intensities (below and above motor threshold). After stimulation below motor threshold, cortisol and TSH levels decreased. This can explain why rTMS works for many, especially since the stress hormone cortisol can play a strong role in depression.
Research on Other Benefits
- Radiation from wireless technology affects the blood, the heart, and the autonomic nervous system.
Havas M. 2013
Electrohypersensitivity (EHS) is an often-misunderstood phenomenon, but there is evidence that a sizeable population actually does suffer from it. Exposure to electromagnetic radiation from electric, electronic, and wireless technology seems to generate a mixed range of symptoms in patients. These symptoms include pain, anxiety, a shutdown or lag of the parasympathetic nervous response, heart palpitations, clumping of red blood cells, and more. This paper provides evidence that these symptoms are real and not just psychosomatic (caused or aggravated by mental factors). Not only can hypersensitivity due to electrosmog be debilitating, but it can also lead to psychological problems over the long term.
- The anti-tumor effect of A3 adenosine receptors is potentiated by pulsed electromagnetic fields in cultured neural cancer cells.
Vincenzi F, Targa M, Corciulo C, Gessi S, Merighi S, Setti S, Cadossi R, Borea PA, Varani K. 2012.
There is much speculation about the effect of PEMF on tumors, especially because an effective treatment alternative for cancer would be very useful, next to the many painful and limited therapies today. Since PEMF is known to increase the levels and functionality of adenosine receptors, this study tested whether directing it at cancerous cells would also lead to enhanced adenosine receptor activation, and thus the suppression of the tumor. The experiment was conducted on both rat and human cells. It was found that the presence of A3 receptors indeed increased, which prevented proliferation of the malignant cells while also promoting cytotoxicity and cell apoptosis. Therefore, it is likely that PEMF can be an efficient anti-tumor treatment tool.
- Sensitivity of calcium binding in cerebral tissue to weak environmental electric fields oscillating at low frequency.
Bawin SM, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1976.
Calcium ions perform a key role in helping modulate the interaction between cells in the brain. When different neurons send electrical charges to each other, an influx of calcium ions is taken up by the active cells. In order to activate the correct cell signaling pathways (i.e. to relay the correct chemical message to the cells), binding proteins have to attach to the calcium ions. To test whether a weak electromagnetic field would influence that process, the researchers removed cerebral tissues from chicks and cats, and treated them as required with various solutions. Then the tissues were incubated with radioactive calcium for 30 minutes each, after which they were exposed to different frequencies of electromagnetic waves. The general finding was that the PEMF exposure decreased the rate of outflow of the radioactive calcium, but there were variations in outcome depending on the frequency and amplitude applied. This supports both the idea that PEMF can alter brain states at a chemical level, and that there are “biological windows” for different parts of the body.
- Biological effects of electromagnetic fields.
Adey WR. J Cell Biochem. 1993.
There is a large quantity of evidence available that PEMF can cause many different positive physiological changes in the body, but a matter of scientific puzzlement is how it does so. In this review article, previously published studies were analyzed to draw the conclusion that PEMF worked because of mechanisms unrelated to thermal energy exchange and tissue heating. Instead, the benefits seem to stem from amplification of chemical processes—particularly the binding of specific hormones, antibodies, and neurotransmitters with their relevant binding agents—which then improve cellular interaction and coordination. Thus PEMF does not affect equilibrium thermodynamics, but does enhance the complex processes involved in the transfer of energy across cell membranes.
Richard Hoover is a PEMF expert and content contributor to PEMF Advisor. With a bachelor’s degree in physics and multiple certifications in natural health programs, he is one of the best PEMF experts around.