The adult body is comprised of more than 70 trillion individual cells, and that’s not counting the millions of bacteria we carry in our gut. Each of those trillions of cells carries out several thousand metabolic processes every second. In order for that level of complexity to function smoothly, there must be a great deal of communication between and within these trillions of cells. Thankfully, our cells are programmed for this type of communication, and are able to make changes in a fraction of a second when necessary.
Aging and disease are essentially results of a breakdown in cellular communication. The body does its best to rebalance itself and reestablish dwindling communication channels, but sometimes the process needs help. Therapeutic electromagnetic fields can provide this help by encouraging the body to restore basic cellular communication, allowing it to respond appropriately to its ever-changing environment.
It is important to acknowledge the intricate nature of cells and cellular communication, as it lays the foundation for understanding how and why PEMFs can so efficiently and safely help the body correct injury and imbalance.
Biomagnetics refers to the study of the body’s own magnetic fields. These fields are extremely weak and are only detectable with exquisitely sensitive equipment that blocks out all external magnetic fields, including the Earth’s magnetic fields. Once the connection is made between the magnetic aspects of the human body and the biophysical chemistry of the human body, it becomes easier to see the body as a dynamic, ever-changing bioelectric and biomagnetic organism, subject to all the physical laws of electromagnetism.
The human body produces complex electrical activity in several different types of cells, including neurons, endocrine, and muscle cells – all called “excitable cells”. As all electricity does, this activity also creates a magnetic field.
The biomagnetic fields of the body, though extremely tiny, have been measured with techniques including magnetoencephalography (MEG) and magnetocardiography (MCG). These techniques measure the magnetic fields produced by the electrical activity in the body. The findings through objective basic research of these endogenous fields serves to determine their magnitudes as well as leading to the development of new non-invasive means of measuring cellular function. This is clinically useful in order to help guide treatment of the brain and heart.
The body’s electrical activity happens primarily in the cell membrane. The cell membrane is there both to protect the contents of the cell and to act as a sort of gatekeeper – opening and closing channels (like doorways) through which ions can flow. These channels are sometimes referred to as “pumps.”
The cell membrane itself has a voltage called a “potential” (or membrane potential, or transmembrane potential). Membrane potential refers to the difference in electrical charge between the inside and outside of the cell. The channels in the membrane are opened or closed based on the polarity of the membrane. When the channels are closed, a cell membrane is at its “resting potential” and when it is open it is at its “action potential.”
Action potential (channel opening) requires electrical activity. During this process, the electrical potential of the membrane rapidly rises, allowing the channels to open up. As the channels open, ions flow into the cell, causing a further rise in the membrane potential, prompting even more channels to open up. This process produces an electric current (and therefore magnetic field) across the cell membrane, and the cycle continues. Once all channels are open, the membrane potential is so great that the polarity of the membrane reverses, and then the channels begin to close. As the entry channels close, exit channels are activated. Once the process is complete, all channels close and the membrane returns to its resting potential.
Only certain ions flow in and out of a cell this way. Most commonly these are sodium, calcium, and potassium. The primary type of action potential is often referred to as the “sodium-potassium pump”, during which sodium flows into the cell via an entry channel and potassium flows out of a cell via an exit channel.
Action potentials play different roles depending on cell type, but are generally responsible for cellular communication or to activate a cellular process. Muscle cells, for example, use action potentials as the first step to achieving muscle contraction.
If a cell is injured or otherwise not well, this activity slows or stops. The energy required by action potentials is relatively small but can be insurmountable for a sick cell. Applying an external, therapeutic magnetic field to the body supports this function by providing the cell with the energy it is incapable of producing itself.