All energy is electromagnetic in nature, and nothing happens in the body without an electromagnetic exchange between cells. We are all familiar with the electrocardiogram (EKG) and electroencephalograph (EEG) tests, which measure the electromagnetic activity of the heart and brain, respectively. When electromagnetic activity ceases, life ceases. Electromagnetic energy controls our chemistry. Disruption of this energy in cells causes impaired cell metabolism, and if our cells are not healthy, our body is not healthy, in whole or in part. The following is an introduction to magnetic fields, PEMFs, and their therapeutic actions in the body. If you’re interested in more detailed and specific information, please see the Education sections of this site.
If you have ever held two magnets in your hands, tried to force them together, and felt a resistance between them, then you have experienced a magnetic field. That type of magnetic field is produced by a static magnet and is called a static magnetic field.
A changing magnetic field (such as a magnetic field moving through a coil) generates an electric field (which would drive a current in the coil). This forms the basis for many electrical generators and motors. Similar to the way that a changing magnetic field generates an electric field, a changing electric field generates a magnetic field. Since the magnetic field is being generated by an electric current, it’s called an electromagnetic field – a physical field produced by moving electrical charges. PEMF stands for Pulsed Electromagnetic Field.
Magnetic fields affect the behavior of any other charged objects in the vicinity of the field. This is the fundamental basis for their therapeutic use. Our bodies are electric – every heartbeat generates electromagnetic waves throughout the blood vessels of the body, stimulating tissues at a cellular level. External magnetic fields and the normal electric and electromagnetic fields produced by the body interact. So, a magnetic field passing through our whole body will have an electromagnetic effect on each of our 70 trillion cells. As a result, magnetic fields act in basic and fundamental ways on molecules and tissues. They affect the most basic functions of all cells—human, animal, and plant included.
Some of the basic actions of a cell are to generate energy to eliminate waste, to repair and regenerate itself, and perform its predetermined functions based on the cell’s type and location in the body. Magnetic fields cause or increase motion of ions and electrolytes in the tissues and fluids of the body. It’s both easy and quick to move an ion or electrolyte in a living organism using magnetic fields. This movement stimulates a vast array of chemical and electric actions in the tissues of the body, helping them to rebalance or heal themselves where necessary.
All cells need energy to function. Cellular energy requires ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) and is fundamental to all cell and body functions and is necessary to sustain life itself. ATP regulates cell metabolism by transporting chemical energy within our cells. Low ATP levels cause our cells to be sick, and decreases their ability to heal, regenerate, or function properly. Through the increased motion of ions and electrolytes, magnetic fields help cells increase their energy (or “charge”) by up to 500%.
Magnetic fields also affect the charge of the cell membrane, which allows membrane channels to open up. These channels are like the doors and windows of a house. By opening cell channels, nutrients are better able to enter the cell, and waste is more easily eliminated from the cell. This helps to rebalance and restore optimum cell function. If you restore enough cells, they will all work more efficiently. Cells of the same type come together to make tissues, and those tissues come together to make organs. So, by restoring or maintaining cellular function, you will, in turn, restore or maintain organ function, allowing the entire body to function better. We all know that the body ages over time. Maintaining the function of every individual cell at an optimal level every day is an important part of slowing aging.
Cellular “injury”, the state of a cell when it is not healthy, leads to disease conditions. Magnetic fields protect against cell injury by improving circulation, repair processes, and energy, and increasing special stress proteins in the cells. These proteins are used to prevent cell breakdown and wear and tear, as well as help speed recovery from injury. Magnetic fields balance cells, tissues and bodily functions at very fundamental levels, even before damage and problems become obvious to you.
There are distinct differences in the effects of devices at various frequency ranges, from extremely low frequencies (ELFs), to very low frequencies (VLFs), to microwave level frequencies, radio frequencies, infrared and ultraviolet frequencies, and more. Most magnetic field exposure risk comes from power lines and cell phones, because of their particular exposure times or field strengths and frequencies. These frequencies and intensities, known as electro-smog, can induce heat in the tissues of the body and modify genes, and therefore can damage cells.
Most PEMF devices we recommend produce frequencies in the ELF to VLF range, since they do not induce heating actions. The home-based devices we promote have carefully selected frequencies which are most natural and balancing to the body. Our recommended treatment devices have a very safe track record – even the much higher intensity and frequency diagnostic MRI machines have been found to be safe to the people that operate them daily, as long as the safety directions are followed.
Lastly, for more detailed information about the safety of PEMF therapy, see our safety section.
Minor imbalances in individual cells can be rebalanced very easily before they become an obvious problem. Regrettably, many people wait until they have a significant health issue before they seek treatment with a PEMF system or get a magnetic system for their own home use. By this time, some problems have become too deep-seated to reverse, and only symptom control remains possible. It is important to say that PEMFs are not expected to cure disease.
Their role is to stimulate the various functions of the body so that the body can better support and heal itself. Understanding the extent of a health problem will help the individual to have realistic expectations of the time required to produce expected or desired results. If the problem took a long time to get to where it is now, PEMFs may take a long time to give the greatest benefit – and may never produce hoped-for results if the damage is too great.
That doesn’t mean they won’t work, and it doesn’t mean you won’t get significant health benefits. We need to respect the body’s healing timelines and processes, and work positively with them. When treatment is begun, the order of healing will follow the body’s own wisdom of what tissue and symptoms will be cleared first, second, etc. Patience and acceptance of this natural order will aid in the healing process.
You wouldn’t walk into a pharmacy and ask for the best medication to make you healthy without first discussing what problems you are trying to treat—the same is true of PEMF systems. Some health problems require higher intensity fields to get the best benefit. Some require a wider range of frequencies. Sometimes a person’s sensitivity determines which system is best for them. Sometimes affordability is the primary concern. There are a variety of PEMF systems available because there is no one “best” system. Only when we understand what health issues are of greatest concern to an individual can we begin to determine which system is most likely to achieve the desired results. Our experience is that most PEMF systems will provide at least some benefit, even if not the optimal system.
Since most of the effects of magnetic fields happen because of how they act on ions, especially calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium, these ions and electrolytes need to be at the right levels in the body. It is difficult to heal depleted tissues without sound nutrition. Supplements may also be quite helpful for magnetic therapy to be most effective. Dr. Pawluk usually recommends magnesium supplementation and adequate amounts of daily water. Additionally, some individuals (particularly women) need extra melatonin to optimize health while using PEMFs.
One of the most basic functions magnetic fields have in the body is to increase circulation. When a cell (such as a red blood cell) is injured or ill, it does not hold its ideal charge. This causes red cells to “stick” together, making circulation slow. When a magnetic field passes through the red cell, the membrane becomes properly charged, allowing the cell to repel itself and keep itself separate from other red cells, thereby increasing circulation. In addition, PEMFs increase various chemicals in the blood vessel walls that cause the blood vessels to dilate, improving the amount of blood flowing through the vessels and therefore increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues.
Poor circulation makes tissues unhealthy and prone to disease and breakdown. Improved circulation helps tissues get the nutrition and oxygen they need, while expelling the waste they produce. Good circulation helps with tissue healing and regeneration. The result of improved circulation is the reduction of swelling and the removal of bruising.
Muscle energy, needed for muscles to work, is developed through a process called Myosin Phosphorylation. Myosin is muscle, and phosphorylation is energy (ATP) production. Optimal energy allows muscles to work harder and longer, and recover more quickly from their work. Muscles that are contracted or in spasm are better able to relax, decreasing tension and reducing the pain caused by spasm.
Inflammation is a cascade of physiologic processes initiated by the body to repair cellular damage in tissues by increasing the blood flow to the damaged area and increasing the number of good inflammatory cells. Moreover, the process of inflammation is generated and supported by the interaction of a number of immune cell types, with other cell types (like T cells) playing a regulatory role in the cascade effect. Inflammation is a necessary and beneficial process, but it often persists longer than necessary, resulting in chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is frequently a cause of chronic pain. PEMFs have been found to reduce chronic, damaging inflammation. Inflammation can be initiated by many causes, and knowing the nature of the cause is important in designing therapeutic approaches.
T cells are a major regulator of the inflammatory cascade. In bacterial infections, early infiltration of the affected tissues by white blood cells is followed by the arrival of T cells, which kill bacteria. In this circumstance, eliminating of T cells can delay or stop healing. Conversely, in trauma-induced injury, T cells are less important to the healing process, and may be harmful if present for too long. In this case, elimination of T cells can minimize the unwanted effects of inflammation, accelerate healing, and reduce the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases. In chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or tendinitis, T cells support the persistence of the disease state, and removing them would be favorable.
Lastly, research shows us that PEMFs can induce the appropriate death of aged, chronic T lymphocytes, by actions on T cell membranes and key enzymes in cells. For example, PEMFs affect ion flow through specific cell membrane channels (like those for sodium, potassium, and calcium), which positively affect these enzymes.
Stress is part of being human. Normal stress, called eustress, is necessary for survival. Too much stress is very harmful to the body, and accelerates aging. Stress is responsible for at least 65% of our illnesses, so stress reduction is necessary for all of us. Stress-reducing activities performed only now and then will allow too much stress-related damage to accumulate over time. Therefore, stress reduction must be a daily activity. Magnetic fields have many stress-reducing effects. Moreover, daily use of PEMFs help to wash away the negative effect natural stresses have on our bodies.
Magnetic fields pass through the body – even the bones – as if the body wasn’t even there. PEMFs work to repair bones, whether they are damaged by surgery, injury, or disease, and have been found to improve bone regeneration such as occurs with osteoporosis and osteopenia, among other bone destroying conditions.
Just as a fire cannot burn without oxygen, our cells cannot produce heat and energy without oxygen. Our lungs extract oxygen from the air we breathe. It passes into our blood and is carried by arteries away from the heart and delivered to the rest of the body, including all the organs. PEMFs help with the process of extracting oxygen out of the air we breathe and help it to be transported into the circulation. The absorbed oxygen is then transported through the body to all the cells, where it is absorbed into the individual cells.
Furthermore, in the cells, enzymes and other basic cell energy production processes use the oxygen for cell metabolism, the energy necessary to function properly. The metabolism of an organism determines which substances it will find nutritious and which it will find harmful. Proper blood-oxygen levels at the cell level (not just in the blood) allow this process to continue quickly and efficiently. After the oxygen exchange takes place, veins carry deoxygenated blood and metabolic waste products away from those same cells and back to the heart for recycling again.
The purpose of this document is to provide a basic understanding of how magnetic fields, especially PEMFs, work in the body. In addition to these basic balancing actions, magnetic fields also help with many other functions and conditions, and new ones are discovered regularly.
Some of these other actions include: