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Are PEMF Devices Safe?

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Explore the safety of PEMF devices: FDA-approved for various health issues, minimal side effects, and precautions for specific conditions.

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy is a burgeoning field in the realm of medical science and wellness, promising a non-invasive, safe, and effective way to improve various health conditions. The therapy employs electromagnetic fields to stimulate and exercise cells, thereby aiding in cellular repair and overall vitality. Despite its growing popularity and purported benefits, the question of its safety remains a topic of interest for both healthcare professionals and potential users. This article delves into the safety profile of PEMF devices, supported by research findings and regulatory stances.

Understanding PEMF Therapy

PEMF therapy is based on the principle that the human body operates with its electromagnetic fields, and disruptions to this bioelectromagnetic balance can lead to dysfunction and disease. PEMF devices aim to restore cellular electromagnetic balance by applying specific electromagnetic frequencies, supporting the body’s natural healing processes. The therapy is utilized for a myriad of conditions, including pain reduction, improved circulation, enhanced bone healing, and support for neurological functions.

Brainwave Entrainment

Brainwave entrainment is a method of synchronizing brain waves from an external stimulus. Brainwave entrainment in practice is nothing new, as the architectural deconstruction of some ceremonial chambers of the Bronze Age suggests they have been acoustically tuned to trigger specific brainwave frequencies, as well as the simple machines of ancient Greeks triggering the photic way of entraining their brain by using a spinning wheel pointing to the sun and producing flickering light, resulting in an altered state of being. However long people have succumbed to photic and auditory ways to induce new altered states, it has only been scientifically researched for a good 80 years. Today, brainwave entrainment is most commonly found in meditation sounds and binaural beats recordings, where the audio can serve as the outside stimuli, and the brain adapts to the newly introduced frequency by slipping into deeper brainwaves, such as Theta.

Why do PEMF systems differ in intensity and frequency?

However, there is a great deal of scientific research that proves that electromagnetic frequencies do the same. The goal of a PEMF system is to produce a magnetic field that is recognized and supported by one’s body. Although everything around us can be measured in frequencies, it is important to understand that not all frequencies are beneficial for us. The harmful EMFs such as X-rays or Gamma waves have a significantly shorter wavelength and can harm your body significantly when exposed to them, whereas the therapeutic magnetic fields require very long wavelengths and low-intensity frequencies. The Earth itself has a frequency of 7.8 Hz and the consumer microwave oven’s general frequency of 2.45 GHz. Both of them have relatively long wavelengths with low frequencies and neither of them is harmful.

Many PEMF systems range up to 200kHZ+ and are scientifically proven to be entirely safe. Some PEMF devices for home use are used to stimulate the entire body and can range from 1000 to 30.000 Gauss or more, such as A Pulsed Harmonix or Zimmer Emfield Plus. Although those machines can use targeted applications of the PEMS, the brain is still more often than not in the range of receiving the pulses as well.

But for the PEMF system to have any effect, it must pass through the body, and if the cells do not need a recharge, it will neither harm nor benefit them. For hard tissue cell repair, such as fractures or sprains, PEMF has to be applied on the closest part of the injury as possible (skin) and used with high enough intensity to be able to penetrate through the tissue. But although PEMFs are infinite, their effect isn’t. The intensity is the highest right next to the coil but drops with the inverse-square law – meaning that if you are using a device generating a 25 Gauss magnetic field and move it 1 cm away from the spot of treatment, it will drop down to 5 Gauss intensity.

Safety Profile of PEMF Therapy

Scientific Research and Clinical Trials

Numerous studies have investigated the safety and efficacy of PEMF therapy across various applications. For instance, research published in the “Bone & Joint Research” journal has demonstrated the beneficial effects of PEMF on tendon-to-bone healing in animal models, without reporting adverse side effects. Similar positive outcomes without significant safety concerns have been documented in studies focusing on osteoarthritis, chronic pain, and post-operative healing.

A study concluded in 2019 by two psychiatrists observing the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation for depression, has shown results in great effect for treating depressive mood symptoms, with remission rates of 30% to 40% of cases. They used a TMS machine with an intensity of 1.5 Tesla which is comparable to the intensity of an MRI machine. The use of PEMF has been irreplaceable in the field of treating clinical depression for people who are unresponsive to medicine.

Regulatory Approval

In terms of regulatory oversight, certain PEMF devices have received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for specific medical applications. This includes the treatment of bone fractures, wound healing, pain, and edema reduction, and as an adjunct to cervical and lumbar spine fusion surgeries.

In addition, PEMF systems are wellness devices. The magnetic field acts on a cellular level and recharges the cells, rather than impacting them chemically. The recharge of hard tissue cells was initially observed by veterinarians, using PEMF to treat horses with a fractured leg. In 1979 the FDA approved PEMF therapy for stimulating bone growth and in 1987 for adjunct therapy for treating postoperative edema and pain. In 2004, PEMF was used as an adjunct to cervical fusion surgery, in 2008 approved for the treatment of depression for patients unresponsive to medication and in 2011 the FDA approved PEMF Therapy for the treatment of brain cancer.

Reported Side Effects

The reported side effects of PEMF therapy are minimal and typically mild when they do occur. Some users have reported transient discomfort at the site of application, such as mild tingling or warmth. However, these sensations usually dissipate quickly and are not indicative of harm. Moreover, the literature does not substantiate significant adverse effects directly attributed to PEMF therapy, suggesting a favorable safety margin.

There aren’t any remarkable scientific studies alluding to any permanent or instant damage from using PEMF on the body or brain. Even the patients using high-intensity devices to treat their depression a few times a week showed no significant negative side effects. The most negative effects reported by patients were either highly energized, jittery, or feeling a lack of energy or mental fog. Slowing down with the treatment and ensuring plenty of hydration usually resolves most of those side effects.

Precautions and Contraindications

While PEMF therapy is deemed safe for a broad audience, certain precautions and contraindications should be noted:

  • Individuals with implanted electronic devices, such as pacemakers or insulin pumps, should consult with a healthcare provider before using PEMF therapy, as the electromagnetic fields could potentially interfere with device functionality.

  • Pregnant women are generally advised to avoid PEMF therapy until further research clarifies its safety during pregnancy.

  • The therapy should not be applied directly over known cancerous lesions unless under the guidance of a healthcare professional specialized in cancer treatment.

Conclusion

The body of evidence, along with regulatory approvals, suggests that PEMF devices are safe for most people when used according to the manufacturer’s guidelines or under the supervision of a healthcare provider. As with any therapeutic intervention, individual responses can vary, underscoring the importance of personalized medical advice. Ultimately, the safety and effectiveness of PEMF therapy will depend on factors such as the specific condition being treated, the device’s parameters, and adherence to recommended usage protocols. Given the promising potential and minimal risk profile, PEMF therapy represents a valuable tool in the modern therapeutic arsenal, warranting further research and application in clinical practice.

Devices

  • Almag 01 – 50 Hz, 60 Hz
  • Almag 02 – 2-50 miliTesla
  • Curatron 2000 XPSE100,000 microTesla
  • Bemer 35 microTesla
  • OSKA pulse 150 Hz / 9 Gauss
  • Zimmer Emfield PLUS – 30.000 Gauss
  • NeuroStar 5 Gauss
  • A Pulsed Harmonix – 1.977 Gauss
  • TeslaFIT 8,290 Gauss
  • Parmeds Ultra 3D – 500 Gauss
  • FlexPulse – 200 Gauss. 20.000 microTesla
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References

  • DrPawluk (2020). Myths about PEMFs. [online] Available at: LINK  [Accessed 1 Dec. 2020].
  • DrPawluk (2020). PEMF Safety – Is Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy Safe? [online] Available at: LINK  [Accessed 1 Dec. 2020].
  • DrPawluk(2020). PEMF Frequency, Intensity, and Waveform. [online] Available at: LINK  [Accessed 1 Dec. 2020].
  • DrPawluk (2020). Therapeutic VS. Harmful Electromagnetic Fields. [online] Available at: LINK  [Accessed 1 Dec. 2020].
  • Storch K., Dickreuter E., Artati A., Adamski J., and Cordes N. (2016). BEMER Electromagnetic Field Therapy Reduces Cancer Cell Radioresistance by Enhanced ROS Formation and Induced DNA Damage. [online] Available at: LINK  [Accessed 1 Dec. 2020].
  • Pulse Centers (2019). Low vs. High-Intensity PEMF. [online] Available at: LINK  [Accessed 1 Dec. 2020].
  • Rizvi S. and Khan M. A. (2019). Use of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Depression. [online] Available at: LINK  [Accessed 1 Dec. 2020].

Disclaimer

NeoRhythm is registered as a general wellness device, but it is compliant with the EU Medical Device Regulation: Regulation (EU) 2017/745, Annex XVI, which sets the safety and performance requirements for devices of both medical and non-medical purposes.

In the US NeoRhythm is positioned as a general wellness device compliant with FDA regulation (General Wellness: Policy for Low Risk Devices: 2019-09-17)NeoRhythm has not been evaluated by the FDA. These products do not claim to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition. Always consult your medical doctor regarding any health concerns.

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