Which are the best PEMF Machines?
The Ultimate PEMF Buyer’s Guide
PEMF machines, left to right: Curatron, Bemer, MAS, Swiss Bionic, Quantron
PEMF devices can really boost your health and well being. However, some very important factors decide which types suit which users and applications. If you’re thinking of ordering a PEMF machine, we suggest you read this guide very carefully, especially the section on intensities.
Some of this advice is controversial: in particular, there is significant disagreement between advocates of high and low intensity machines. If it’s contrary to what you hear from some other suppliers, we suggest you do a little more research, especially into the manufacturer’s track record and their distributors’ backgrounds.
For example, ask yourself whether being a medical doctor makes them any more objective. If you look back a few years, you’ll find that some of them were recommending safe low-intensity PEMF machines as by far the best choice before doing a complete switch to far more risky (and for them far more profitable) high-intensity devices.
Ultimately, we suggest you prioritize safety and effectiveness, based on compatibility with natural energy fields, cellular biology and especially the Autonomic Nervous System. Plus quality, long-term durability and future obsolescence.
For almost 15 years, the Life Mat Company has used and supplied various PEMF machines, gaining experience with the five fairly well-known devices shown above (Bemer, Curatron / Parmeds, MAS, Swiss Bionic and Quantron), plus over 15 others, including Actipatch, Almag, BioElectronics, BioMat, EarthPulse, Higher Dose, HoMedics, Magofon, Magnetovital, Medicur, Medithera, Micro-Pulse, OMI, Sota and Vita-Life.
PEMF Machine Basics
PEMF, or Pulsed Electro Magnetic Fields, is a health technology whose history goes back at least as far as the 1920’s. It’s based on the principle that when you send an electrical current through a metal coil, you produce a magnetic field. And pulsed magnetic fields are an excellent way of re-energising our cells, making biological processes more efficient and helping the body to repair itself.
Assuming care is taken to match the device with its intended use (although some PEMF machines get this wrong from the outset), then PEMF is extremely safe with a long track record of clinical research. In our experience, it’s one of the most effective of the many complementary health technologies that we’ve used as therapists. And it’s especially well suited to the kind of world we live in today.
Especially since the early 2000’s, word of mouth has encouraged large numbers of people to discover what PEMF can do for them. However, from what is still an incredibly positive technology, a darker side has also emerged. Riding a wave of bio-hacking and post-pandemic health awareness, there’s been an explosion of new devices (there are now well over 100 “PEMF” manufacturers), especially Chinese crystal beds and frequency-based wearables, many of which don’t even use PEMF!
With slick websites, podcast interviews, “independent reviewers” and exuberant social media influencers, many make wildly exaggerated claims about their technology, how it works, where they came from, the expertise of their creators, how they were “invented” and their supposed health benefits. Some of the most prominent new brands also make the most amateurish mistakes in describing how PEMF works and don’t even reveal what waveform, frequencies and type of coils they use, or even their intensities (which is vital to evaluating their suitability).
Even true PEMF devices come in many shapes and sizes. They are generally classified by their magnetic field strength, or intensity, measured in Gauss and Tesla (1 Gauss = 100 microTesla). Plus waveforms, frequencies and the way their applicators are constructed –the best use thick copper coils; the cheapest use other metals, wire mesh, heating elements, bulk rock crystals and other materials. Systems also exist for horses and pets, and cranial (brain) applications.
High-intensity systems used in specialist clinics tend to use bands or loops to go around sections of the body. Some, like Curatron, Hugo and MAS, supply a full-body mat. Many of them (spark gap devices) make a loud clicking noise, and muscles may convulse strongly in response to each pulse.
Lower-intensity systems for home use tend to comprise a body-length mat plus one or two smaller pad or strap applicators for localised treatments. There are also much smaller devices that are sometimes useful if used often or continuously with localised issues.
The two largest manufacturers (Bemer and Swiss Bionic) both sell low-intensity PEMF devices for home use, have been in business for about 20 years each, and have extensive product safety and quality certifications. They mostly sell through large networks of specialist distributors, who are often therapists in other modalities.
There are now dozens of much smaller manufacturers, mostly from China or Eastern Europe. Usually re-branded by small U.S. startup companies, often based in New York, they’re often poor quality machines with clever but misleading marketing. They often sell through Amazon or online catalog shops, mostly in the USA, UK and Australia.
Often the original Chinese device, prior to re-branding and re-designing to suit Western tastes, is available on the Chinese marketplace, Alibaba, for a small fraction of the re-branded price. The precious “gemstones” touted for these mats, besides weighing a ton, use nothing more than rough bulk amethyst and tourmaline which would cost a few pounds or dollars wholesale. And there’s no research to indicate that they, or the heating elements that warm them up, do anything beneficial for the human body.
With a few exceptions, the largest manufacturers of high-intensity devices usually avoid the catalog shops and sell directly through their own specialist sales people. Recognizing the risks of their systems going to home users, some of them insist that their systems are only supplied to doctors and clinics.
It’s worth noting that concerns about the safety of some types of PEMF device have risen steadily in recent years, and there is considerable debate over which types of device should be re-classified from wellness to medical devices, which require much more stringent testing and certification.
Any significant regulatory clampdown based on safety concerns would see a massive shake-up in the PEMF industry, with the vast majority of manufacturers totally unable to afford the cost of compliance, testing and certification. When this happens, in our experience, it means being banned from selling in one or more key markets, which would probably mean the end for some of the smaller manufacturers. For any owners of these systems, that means the end of warranties and product support.
With so much competition in the PEMF industry, so many choices and so many contradictions, it can be incredibly difficult to sort through all the claims and counter-claims about which types of device work best. Obviously we can’t be 100% objective ourselves. However, it is totally fair and ethically correct to say that you won’t make a bad choice if you go with a system that a) uses safe intensities, b) has medical device certification, c) has a track record of at least 10 years (over 20 would be better!) and d) has a good reputation.
Most types of PEMF device have valid applications but, for reasons we explain below, this is the cautious, common-sense approach we recommend for most applications, especially with devices for home use.
Twelve Tips on Buying a PEMF Machine
PEMF machines are often defined as low, medium and high intensity, but from our perspective, in terms of health effects and user safety, there are just two types:
- Low intensity (those with an upper limit of around 300 microTesla or 3 Gauss) such as Bemer and Swiss Bionic.
- Medium-high to ultra-high intensity: from 10 gauss (1,000 microTesla) to tens of thouands of gauss (millions of microTesla).
We’ve owned some of the best-known high intensity systems (including some that go beyond 5,000 Gauss or 500,000 microTesla) and they’ve been useful in the short term for treating localised issues such as major fractures.
Whether it’s worth a home user spending £5,000 to £20,000 on a high-intensity machine intended primarily for a few months of localised application, or occasional treatments, is a very different matter. Small medium-intensity local devices (supplying hundreds of gauss) can be just as effective and some cost less than 10% or even 1% of these prices. You can’t use them to boost general health and well being, as you would with a whole-body system, but they do work for something as simple as a bone fracture. So why would you pay ten to 100 times more than you need to for something you only need to use for a couple of months, and which is in any case best avoided for whole-body use?
Even our low-intensity systems can dramatically help with severe localised issues; they just take a bit longer. Given that we and our customers are using them for a combination of long-term whole-body health maintenance and sometimes localised issues, we consider low-intensity machines to be by far the most appropriate, and ultimately, the most cost-effective. At the same time as being designed to suit almost all users, they’re also intended to last for many years.
We deliberately avoid supplying high-intensity systems to home users, and especially the high-intensity whole-body mats appearing from China since around 2015 (a good example is a widely promoted PEMF mat sold for home use with minimum intensities of over 5,000 gauss).
In a population where vast numbers of people suffer from autonomic nervous system dysfunction, these types of machine are far more likely to cause problems, even if they don’t appear immediately. The long-term consequences are largely unknown but it’s reasonable to assume that in many cases they could be serious.
When choosing a home-use PEMF device, remember one principle: Nature Rules. Some high-quality research has shown that cells respond preferentially to very low field intensities and frequencies.
This “biological window” is similar to the parameters found in Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere, the same fields that we evolved with. Earth’s magnetic field measures just 25 to 65 microTesla.
A telling recent trend, which you must look out for in choosing a machine, is that many of the newest entrants into the market have stopped disclosing what intensities their systems use. Given that this is the single most important parameter in a PEMF machine, we suggest that you move along quickly if you come across a website that doesn’t specify its PEMF field intensities, especially the minimum level you can reduce them to.
What our clients have taught us
Many people subjectively prefer even lower intensities (0.5 to 25 microTesla, or 0.005 to 0.25 gauss, is the most popular range on our systems). Some people even feel uncomfortable above the lower end of that.
This might sound impossible in that theoretically we’re all bathed in Earth’s magnetic field. However, most of us live our whole lives in buildings that are insulated from it, and for most of us our relationship with natural energy fields has been massively disturbed by electrosmog.
Our technology-based society explains much of this. While electro-magnetic sensitivity (ES) and hyper sensitivity (EHS) is still not widely talked about, it’s clear that huge numbers of people are now affected by it in varying degrees, and this is expected to rise sharply in the years ahead.
Don’t even go near a high-intensity machine if you think you’re starting to become emf-sensitive! You really don’t want it to get worse (sometimes permanently)! Early-stage symptoms include broken sleep, constant anxiety, chronic fatigue, regular brain fog, forgetfulness, daily headaches, prickly skin, dizziness or heart arrhythmias. In the later stages, the individual may only feel comfortable living in a rural location, with very little exposure to wi-fi, mobiles and other wireless technologies, even an off-grid house without any mains electricity.
Even those who cope well with peak levels on the low-intensity systems find they can be too much for daily use. We regularly get a few clients who ignore our advice and crank up our systems to their maximum, twice a day. Those that tolerate this feel great at first. Like a daily amphetamine user, they get an artificial burst of energy and an (addictive) high. Until they feel hyper-reactive and stressed-out a few months later and call us for advice.
It’s just like drinking 10 cups of coffee a day. It may make you extra alert and the extra energy can be addictive, but you will also be jittery and more vulnerable to major stress when major life events inevitably happen. It may be worth it once in a while but in daily use, there’s a price to pay.
Consider what this means. The essence of health and well being lies in balance and homeostasis. Any truly effective therapy should improve your stress levels and stress response.
Low-level, manageable stress is normal, motivating and life-enriching. The opposite is uncontrolled, major stress, which can leave you constantly anxious, reactive and sleep-deprived. This is extremely destructive, to relationships, work and overall well being. And it can be a key factor in the start of serious diseases: read our in-depth analysis of the effects of major stress on the human body.
How your body handles stress depends on the state of your Autonomic Nervous System, a state we can easily assess by measuring Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Some of the more predatory cowboys in the PEMF industry describe HRV measurement as a “gimmick” and it certainly forms an inconvenient truth about how our bodies actually work: read our in-depth analysis of HRV and its relevance to PEMF machines.
If a technology has the potential to leave your central nervous system messed up, and that leaves you far more vulnerable to the mental and physiological effects of major stress, what do you think that means for your long-term health and equilibrium?
This is a major problem at the heart of the PEMF industry and anyone who glosses over it is either ignorant or dishonest.
On the full-body mats of our main systems (the route we take to helping the central nervous system, heart rate variability and all the body’s other major systems), the maximum intensity is still only around 50 microTesla (0.5 gauss), rising to 300 microTesla, or 3 gauss, with the Spot applicator. And we actually recommend far lower levels than even that for daily use!
Higher intensities can be useful
It’s true that most low-intensity systems also have higher-intensity (not high-intensity) applicators for localised pain relief and tissue repair. But the peak on these is still only 100-300 microTesla (3 gauss, which is still low-intensity), and that’s quite enough for most issues.
We don’t even recommend the daily use of these low levels for chronic health issues — we make a clear distinction between their use with acute localised conditions and chronic systemic issues. Meanwhile many high-intensity systems peak at millions of microTesla.
The most honest high-intensity manufacturers (Pulsed Energy Technologies is a good example) acknowledge that both low- and high-intensity PEMF devices have a role, and can even complement each other (high for the specialist clinic, low for home users).
High-intensity PEMF systems have a legitimate place in specialist clinics (such as for catastrophic bone fractures and severe drug-resistant depression). Treatment is usually given in-clinic by a skilled practitioner with enough training and experience to carefully screen patients to avoid exacerbations. Sessions are usually every few days, or weekly, for a limited period of time, and the main focus is on localised healing.
For other types of clinic, low intensity is a much better match, and exacerbations are very unlikely. We’ve supplied low-intensity systems to almost every imaginable type of therapist and clinic, and the overwhelming feedback is that they provide a valuable boost to the results those therapists see from their core therapy.
No doubt much of this is due to the fact that most complementary therapies seek to reduce stress and calm the autonomic nervous system (just as low-intensity PEMF does).
Like a Sledge Hammer to Crack a Nut
Those recommending high-intensity PEMF devices for home use say you should buy as much power as you can afford, then dial it down to the minimum when needed.
This argument is misleading, for several reasons:
- It’s Unnecessary
The more-is-better approach may sound appealing at first until you realise that even when you do dial them down, the minimum intensities on high-intensity systems are from thousands to hundreds of thousands of microTesla!
Distributors of high-intensity systems often use comparative intensity charts showing gauss/microTesla values almost like the 0-to-60 mph rating for cars. Despite the fact that our bodies are not like cars, it’s the same mechanistic argument: more power equals more acceleration. If that kind of thinking were true of the human body, then eating as much food as possible ought to lead to better nutrition and health (rather than obesity, heart disease and cancer).
In fact the claim that “Higher Intensity Is Better” has very little scientific foundation, even when applied to the area where it should be strongest: tissue repair.
Consider what NASA scientists said in their description of their own research equipment (and ask yourself whether you trust their opinion or that of sales outlets and even sales-hungry doctors who insist on the opposite):
” All of the prior attempts to use electromagnetic therapy have used high levels of electromagnetism, usually 50 gauss or more… Some of the attempts have used pulsed waves, but such pulsed waves have been either on-off pulses or sinusoidal waves. No one, prior to this invention, has found the key to electromagnetic regeneration of mammalian tissue. To be successful in tissue regeneration, the electromagnetic force may be a square wave (Fourier curve) time varying electromagnetic wave at a level of from approximately 0.05 to 0.5 gauss, a much lower level than previously contemplated by anyone. “ (Dr. Thomas J. Goodwin, NASA Johnson Space Centre, pub. Space Life Sciences, August 15, 2005).
- It Ignores Principles of Bio-physics and Energy Medicine
Claiming that only the highest intensities will induce any signficant cellular change, is grossly misleading. Any experienced energy medicine therapist, or bio-physicist, will tell you that the very weak fields found in Nature are quite sufficient to create, through resonance, a chain of effects throughout living tissues, and weaker fields are often more effective than stronger fields.
Treating delicate biological processes, where tiny cellular voltage changes have a measurable effect, with fields that are 100 to 10,000 times stronger than a field that is already effective is equivalent to pharmaceutical over-dosing. While it may produce strong short-term results, it can quickly cause its own problems.
When used for regular whole-body treatments, high-intensity systems are more than enough to trigger bad reactions in the autonomic nervous system, which then cascade on to other body systems, with unknown long-term effects.
- It’s Irresponsible
Encouraging home users to regularly use a modality that could damage their well being is not what you expect from a responsible, experienced therapist. Low intensities may sometimes take longer to have an effect but they’re much more relaxing, much less irritating, far less likely to cause any lasting exacerbation. “First do no harm.”
We’ve encountered people who suffered a sharp decline in their health lasting from days to years from as little as one treatment on a high-intensity system. This is not the fault of these systems; it’s the fault of the people promoting or applying them.
A recent example was a couple who nearly purchased one of our systems. They changed their minds after speaking to a self-styled PEMF guru, who persuaded them that our systems were too weak and that they’d get better results from a much higher intensity system. After some shallow training, and a few days of frequent use, they both became very unwell, until they had to seek medical treatment and one was admitted to hospital. They fully recovered, but were not very happy!
Another example is with devices sold for use while sleeping, a use we don’t agree with anyway, even with a low-intensity PEMF mat. What the best-known device of this type uses is a small coil applicator that has to put out a powerful field to reach the entire body. Our immediate reaction after using it a few nights in a row was waking up energized but feeling wired — a vaguely pleasant but also unpleasant state. Your body is at its most vulnerable and does most of its automatic healing while you’re asleep; feeling wired is the exact opposite of how you should be feeling in the morning.
Another example of just how far things have gone with high-intensity home-use systems is what we call the PEMF Toaster. Sold in the form of two ultra high-intensity mats for above and below, your body becomes the slice of bread inside the toaster. With thousands of gauss from below and thousands of gauss from above, your body should be thoroughly crisp!
So why are the wrong types of system being sold for the wrong uses to the wrong types of user? They’re mostly sold by online catalogue shops, claiming to be objective, “independent” advisers. Just like mail-order catalogues, the core of their business is striking deals with small manufacturers who are desperate for market share and happy to give the catalogues very large profit margins.
The catalogues bulk up with cheap, poorly-made brands at different price points (so that they can claim to be independent suppliers who have something for everyone) but most of their money comes from a few expensive high-intensity systems (like the toasters). They then employ generic, non-therapist sales people who generally promote their most profitable systems: ” buy as much intensity as you can afford …”
We have nothing against high-intensity, especially local-applicator, PEMF machines in themselves, when used for the right applications. In our experience, they can be appropriate for weekly treatments in specialist clinics, under the care of specialist physicians or highly-trained therapists, who know what to look for in terms of serious side effects.
Our only warning is over their sale to home users, general clinics, gyms and spas. We especially disagree with their sale for daily use in the home, often in total disregard for the user’s state of health or mind. This needs to be explained far more honestly and responsibly. With low-intensity systems, we very rarely encounter any problems (and even then we usually have strategies to deal with them).
We’ve watched low-intensity PEMF devices improve the health and quality of life of countless clients. This type of PEMF is one of the safest, most effective and well researched modalities in the entire field of complementary medicine and preventive health care. There’s no need to over-dose!
2. Frequencies, Waveforms, Coils, Pulse Durations …
We don’t usually talk so much about these parts of the PEMF field. Not because they’re unimportant, but because it’s so complex to explain and because the first priority is to look at the device’s intensity levels.
In actual fact, it’s virtually impossible to compare PEMF devices based on nothing more than one or two signal specifications (let alone the amateur, almost childish claims on many of the new device websites).
There are actually many parameters that determine the effectiveness of a PEMF field on biological tissues. In addition to the magnetic field intensity range (itself affected by a combination of field strength, flux density and induction properties) you also have the:
- range of frequencies
- waveform and especially its rise and fall rate
- type and configuration of coils used (which metal, number of windings, whether coil or mesh)
- pulse durations
- combined effect of the interaction of all these properties
And all of this is unique to the design and manufacturing of every system! This sheer complexity helps to explain the conundrum that even the very lowest intensity PEMF machines can have profound (but safe) effects on a person’s physiology, while some of the highest intensity devices can be ineffective, or even damaging.
Our research indicates that the narrower the frequency range the better. Below 30Hz seems to work best and there is much research indicating the importance of the Schumann resonances arond 8Hz. This is generally a non-issue since most PEMF systems use low, narrow-range frequencies.
However, some use much higher frequencies (e.g. the MAS device goes up to 10,000 Hz and the iMRS Prime Trial device from Swiss Bionic can generate almost any frequency or waveform). These may have a role in research and some professional applications, but limited use for the majority of users.
What is beyond doubt, supported by thousands of mainstream medical studies, is that our modern environment is flooded with communication fields using frequencies that are massively beyond what our biology evolved with. Using a narrow range geared to the frequencies naturally found in our brains and in Earth’s magnetic field is a partial antidote to all of this. So it makes absolutely no sense to choose a technology designed for daily use if it goes well beyond those limits.
Some manufacturers talk about using special waveforms that deliver special effects, especially boosting micro circulation or ion transport at the cell membrane. We consider these claims to be highly questionable in that the most basic effects of PEMF (ion transport through cellular membranes, better circulation and pain relief) are found, in varying degrees of effectiveness, in most devices. To claim them as unique to individual systems is just marketing hype!
The key to systemic health improvements is how well they stimulate cellular resonance and impact multiple body systems, and what they add on to deepen those effects.
The systems we specialize in supply especially natural and relaxing fields, and throw off large amounts of harmonics that resonate with multiple cell types. They use the triple sawtooth and square wave signals found in many research studies (including the NASA paper mentioned above), and pairs of round, densely wound copper coils.
These opinions — on how intensities, frequencies, waveform and coil configuration affect the user experience — are based on our own extensive experience and detailed consultations and observations of many clients over many years.
They’re also based on comparative testing by highly experienced energy healers and chi gong masters — people totally new to PEMF, with no vested interests but who are experts in their fields.
3. Stretching the Limits, Hybrid PEMF, real and fake
It’s a testament to the effectiveness of PEMF that we haven’t seen many combinations with other therapeutic technologies. But it’s inevitable. If you’re going to spend 20-30 minutes a day giving yourself PEMF treatments, why not make them even better?
There are simply too many other wonderful therapies that ought to be brought together. Hybrid modalities are the future, not just for PEMF but for all of energy medicine. A few machines already have hybrid functions and the potential for even more. Some are well known, others cost so much money that it’s a choice between one of them and a Ferrari!
There is a middle ground where affordable hybrid systems are appearing, with multiple, real, integrated, effective technologies. There are only one or two manufacturers that come close to fitting this description so far and they have a massive head start over the rest of the industry.
At the other end of the spectrum are a flood of cheaply made, often expensively sold, “hybrid” systems where almost nothing is what it seems. The flood started around 10 years ago and shows no sign of stopping. There are so many of these brand names now, with new ones appearing every few months, that it’s impossible to keep track of them.
These typically describe themselves as PEMF and Far InfraRed mat systems simply using heated “gemstones” (mostly low-grade quartz crystals). Most of them are made by a handful of generic factories in China, then re-branded by sales outlets (the “manufacturers”) who are mostly based in the USA. Despite their slick online marketing, most of these companies show shockingly low levels of understanding of how PEMF and other energy medicine technologies actually work.
Among the most typical claims made for this type of mat, this taken from one of the highest-profile companies, are:
” Experience deep penetrating far infrared heat, made with Amethyst, Tourmaline, Obsidian, Jade and Quartz that produce the ideal infrared heat with wavelengths of at least 5-14 um for that deep penetrating heat. ” [There is no evidence that crystals produce heat or FIR fields and the only heat source appears to be an electric heater. Have you ever wondering why (knowledgeable) health professionals advise you not to use a heated blanket?]
” Along with the benefits of the energy from the crystal when heated crystals can create negative ions for additional benefits. The PRO mats also produce double the negative ions compared to other sizes. ” [There is no proof that crystals produce negative ions. If they did, you’d know about it very quickly through the dark layer of atmospheric dirt particles that would rapidly cover these mats].
” Experience red light therapy with 60x 660nm lights on the mat for those additional healthy waves during your mat session. ” [There are certainly benefits to be gained from using Red (660nm) and infraRed (800nm upwards) LED and especially low level laser light panels; we own several. However, to have any real biological effect, they need to be far stronger than you get from large, cheap, weak diodes thinly spread across a full-body mat area. The real deal devices have small densely packed diodes focused behind carefully designed collimated or partially-collimated lenses, embedded in their own metal casings with their own power supplies. By the way, they only work on bare skin so you need to be semi-naked to benefit from them].
” Its key feature is the programmable multi-wave PEMF feature allowing you to set the PEMF wave type (square or sine wave), frequency (1-30Hz), intensity (up to 3000 milli-gauss) and more. This allows you to choose virtually almost any type of PEMF signal to perfectly suit your needs. ” [Our manufacturer tested several of this type of system using an oscilloscope and found that almost none of them have built-in frequency generators. Their conclusion was that all they did was to pass through the unfiltered frequencies from the incoming mains current (60Hz in North America and 50Hz in Europe). Their conclusion was that the user is literally lying on a cloud of electrosmog].
Another prominent Chinese re-brander, selling PEMF mats without crystals, says that they’re capable of generating all possible types of waveform, with frequencies ranging from 20Hz to 21,050Hz and intensities up to 1,013 gauss (elsewhere on their website it says up to 6,000 gauss). It also cheerfully states that it’s designed for continuous use while asleep at night. Great, while many of us try to shield ourselves from emf’s during sleep, these systems give you the chance to barbecue yourself all night long!
This type of marketing, let alone the way many of these systems are constructed, creates considerable confusion among prospective users and gives PEMF a bad name. On top of that, if you really want to buy a Chinese crystal pseudo PEMF machine, there’s no need to pay US$2,000 to $2,500 — you can find exactly the same systems, without the brand logos on them, direct from the original Chinese factories through the Alibaba.com (China’s answer to Amazon). Prices there can be as low as $250, or even $150 if you order 100 systems at a time. That’s quite a profit margin!
Despite all of this, it’s still worth remembering that hybrid PEMF systems that use real, research-backed, safety-certified technologies have huge potential. Sound, vibration, red light, infra red, brain entrainment, micro currents, auto diagnostics, targeted frequencies, biofeedback-based and personalised blueprint treatments all exist in one form or another already. The future potential is staggering.
4. Design and Usability
The quality of design among PEMF devices varies enormously. Some haven’t changed for decades, with the same serial applicator connections as computers from the 1990’s!
Some key considerations in design and usability are:
- Is it easy to use, with simple controls or will you need to keep going back to the user manual?
- In particular, does it have quick-start programs for specific applications?
- Does it have add-on technologies to deepen its effects on health and well-being issues like stress, sleep, productivity and mental clarity?
- Does it have any two-way mechanism for re-calibrating itself as it detects changes in your central nervous system?
- Can it be used to apply higher intensities to two far-apart body areas at the same time? (e.g. lower back and shoulder, hip and knees).
- Does it have self-diagnostic systems to warn you when a part isn’t working and even track down the problem?
- With full-length mat systems, is the mat cushioned and comfortable to lie on, or would you need something soft underneath?
- To avoid damaging the internal coils in a full-body mat, are the lines for folding it marked or shown with seams (as opposed to the manufacturer supplying no guidance and simply warning you not to fold it in the wrong places).
- Do you have to unplug and reinsert each applicator every time you want to change from one to another?
- Does product design matter to you? If so, does it look attractive and stylish, or just a square box with plugs and buttons that looks like it was built in someone’s garage?
5. Quality, Safety, Durability and Certification
There are scores of PEMF devices with huge differences in design and build quality. Most of the leading manufacturers (not all) make fairly long-lasting products with sturdy control units, cables and applicators. Nevertheless many high-intensity machines (especially those using the older spark-gap technology) routinely require replacement of internal parts within a year or two. We have early versions of our own systems that are now over 10 years old and still work fine.
What we’ve seen recently is a flood of cheaply-made, flimsy PEMF devices with poor design (at times, not much beyond what you’d expect from a child’s use-and-throw-away toy) and uncomfortable mats. They often disguise their country of origin (usually Eastern Europe or China) and they’re usually sold through online catalogue shops at what look like bargain prices. Even their main distributors privately admit (while still praising them publically!) that support is poor and they don’t last for long. Having tested several of them, we agree.
We’ve addressed safety in terms of which intensity levels are appropriate but what about the inherent safety of the device’s construction? A 2019 European investigation by consumer group Which? reported that 66% of products bought from third-party sellers on popular online shopping sites failed the most basic EU safety requirements.
In fact, when it comes to safety and quality certification, most of the PEMF industry is essentially unregulated, blurring the definition of whether they are wellness or medical devices. The supreme irony here is that the one or two best low-intensity PEMF machines (those that would have the strongest claim to being wellness devices that don’t have to pass a higher medical quality and safety threshold) are actually the ones with the medical certifications!
Whereas the high intensity machines have nothing but a CE mark (can a device so strong that it makes your muscles undergo huge contractions every second or two really be classed as a non-medical device?) Having a CE mark is important as a bare minimum but you’d also expect that from an electric shaver or hairdryer (devices that emit a very strong electro-magnetic field and ought to carry a health warning about excessive use next to the brain). It does almost nothing to vouch for a product’s quality and safety, other than that it won’t blow up when attached to mains electricity.
Yet this, or even less, is exactly what the most expensive high intensity PEMF machines typically rely on. You’ll find the catalog shops touting CE marks as if they’re a special guarantee of quality and safety. You would think that with the kind of profit margins made on £6,000 to £20,000 machines (the prices of high-intensity machines rarely reflect their actual cost of manufacture) they could at least afford to get medical-grade safety certificates. Maybe there’s a good reason why they don’t try and why an increasing number of PEMF websites don’t even reveal their intensities!
With a product designed to affect your health and well being (especially if it’s high intensity) you have a right to expect that it’s been exposed to regular testing and documentation, from expert regulators, with medical quality and safety certifications that go beyond the minimum requirements.
Most manufacturers are small companies that aren’t willing to pay for scarce, expensive and time-consuming safety certifications. This kind of certification process is exactly what now underpins the latest regulatory requirements for medical devices. So there’s a very good chance that many or most of today’s manufacturers will vanish in the years ahead, leaving their customers with worthless warranties.
With PEMF devices, neither high nor low prices are any guarantee of effectiveness or value for money. We’ve owned and tested a number of small local-only devices costing much less than £1,000. A few of them were effective but most delivered relatively little effect and we’ve yet to find a well-made whole-body system costing under £2,000.
On the other hand, high-intensity systems costing over £6,000 may be worth the investment for some specialist clinics, but can create problems for home users, making them ultimately a massive waste of money. The sweet zone for good value in adaptable home-use PEMF systems is generally between £2,000 and £6,000. In that range, you’ll find both of the world’s most popular and respected systems.
7. General Health and Quality of Life
If your main interest is in health maintenance, then there’s no question that you’ll benefit most from daily use of a low-intensity, all-purpose PEMF mat system like those from Bemer or Swiss Bionic.
This is especially true when the system has advanced functions to address stress, anxiety and an agitated or damaged autonomic nervous system. These factors have become incredibly widespread across the population and are the most powerful factors in sleep loss, inflammation, hypertension, weight gain and an impaired immune system. In turn these are the five most powerful causes of disease in modern life.
If you’re an over-worked, over-stressed 40-year-old, then low-intensity PEMF can pay for itself in extra energy and productivity, and in helping you avoid some of the chronic health challenges that often begin around this age.
If you’re a 70-year-old with osteo-arthritis, you might go for the slightly faster pain relief of a high-intensity system. On the other hand, many of your other issues, including the health of your autonomic nervous and cardiovascular systems, sleep, anxiety and disease prevention, may not improve, or even get worse, and would almost certainly be better addressed with daily use of a low-intensity system.
8. Specific Health Issues
Many people seek out PEMF because they have a serious health issue, have indications that it may be on the way or just want to beat the odds. Whatever your reasons, it makes sense to approach it as a technology that can help with almost any health challenge but isn’t seen as a direct remedy. When the body has the right resources, it does the work of self healing.
One of the reasons for taking this approach is just to be as honest as possible about how PEMF works. It’s also important for the user to not rely on it as a panacea that absolves them from doing all the other stuff needed to address their issues. Health maintenance and healing aren’t simple, although low-intensity PEMF is certainly one of the best ways of making them easier, and powering up everything else you do for your health.
9. Regularity of Treatments
This is something that often gets overlooked or glossed over, especially in the selling of high-intensity systems. The fact is that you’ll get by far the best health-maintenance results if your PEMF system is designed to be used at least once a day, preferably twice, if only for 10 minutes each.
To gain the full benefits, it should become part of your daily routine, a habit you don’t want to miss. Once you realise how much it’s helping you, that’s usually not a problem.
The reason is that every day you’re being affected by the environment around you, and every day PEMF can help to re-establish homeostasis in your body, with multiple systems working more efficiently.
Missing a week or two when you’re traveling may be inevitable (if you don’t take it with you). But while just two days a week also has some value, it won’t lead to the kind of systemic change and protection that you ought to expect.
10. Customer Service
Again this can vary wildly. Some of the online shops make a big deal of whether there’s a right of return, but this is mostly just a deceptive marketing ploy that ignores basic consumer protections and gives them a way to promote what are sometimes the most shoddy products on the market.
Far more important, in our experience, is how a manufacturer handles all client requests, including justified requests for return and repairs under warranty. Equally important is whether it tries to make out-of-warranty repairs and replacements as easy and affordable for the customer as possible. Those promoting right of return are often unhelpful on all counts.
Much comes down to the manufacturer’s history and track record, the reliability of its electronics and software, the efficiency of its warehousing and shipping systems, and the company’s ethos and work culture. We’ve been really blessed with our own manufacturer experience but we’ve heard some horror stories regarding smaller manufacturers, and fairly negative comments on even some long-established companies.
Finally, how long will they be in business? Liquidated companies do not honor warranties. And current regulatory issues and market conditions imply that only the most successful and well-organised manufacturers will survive the 2020’s. Those offering high-intensity PEMF machines to home users are likely to be especially vulnerable.
11. Future-proofing and Value for Money
As you try to make sense of this crazy market, it’s worth bearing in mind that much of what you see online is misleading and sometimes pure rubbish. Some of the highest visibility PEMF machines (some of whom show stunning levels of ignorance about how PEMF works) use a vast range of marketing ploys to make their products look worthwhile. Unless you know a bit about online marketing or the PEMF industry, it won’t be obvious.
The PEMF devices with the worst reputations are often among the most aggressive marketers, appearing high in online search results by arranging listings in “review” articles by supposedly objective online publications, with titles such as “5 Best PEMF Therapy Devices & How to Choose One”, or another prominent website: “5 best PEMF therapy devices: Products and more”. They look plausible. They claim to be objective. They appear to be run by medical professionals. They each assess several different manufacturers’ products, so surely they’re independent and trustworthy?
In actual fact, they’re financed by paid affiliate shopping links (that either go directly to Amazon listings or direct to the manufacturer) and often by other sales-linked incentives. Some of the worst manufacturers also have agreements with major catalog resellers with large marketing budgets. Even medical websites and those that appear to be specialists in advising people on emf protection work in the same or a similar way.
We spotted another ploy in early 2023. While checking out a “new” PEMF device, it looked strangely similar to an Austrian machine that appeared almost 20 years ago. With massively out-of-date technology, materials and construction, the “new” product had acquired a new brand name and logo, and a slick, new website which states that: “A team of talented engineers envisioned and designed a whole new energy system.” Identical to the 20-year old system (we have one here), it’s now offered as a premium PEMF machine at almost $6,000 (which is several thousand pounds / dollars above what we think it’s actually worth).
One of today’s loudest and most prominent advocates for high intensity devices was 10 years ago telling the world that our low-intensity machines were by far the best. What changed? Not the underlying technology. The only explanation we could come up with was his shifting commercial affiliations — necessity is the mother of invention.
It doesn’t have to be like this. There are various well-respected, well-manufactured systems sold by companies that don’t try to convince you that they’re something different from what they really are.
If you want to make a good choice, and not just follow the first advice you find from an apparently credible “expert” or reviewer, then ask yourself some questions:
Do you want to invest your money in an old one-dimensional device? Or an East European knock-off that can be broken in the fingers of one hand? Or a pseudo PEMF Chinese crystal mat that you can buy direct from the manufacturer at 10% of its price in the U.S. or Europe?
Will you feel happy with it five years from now, if you then realize it was already obsolete when you bought it? Or two years from now when it starts falling apart? Or two months from now when you realize that you can’t use it for more than two days at a time without it causing you major anxiety and sleep loss?
12. Finding a Good Source
When you buy most consumer products, you don’t need to rely on the distributor to train you on how to use and get the best results from them.
It’s different with PEMF. Here you’re buying a fairly expensive technology which is intended to become a central point in your bid to stay healthy and enjoy the best possible quality of life.
These objectives are so broad, and individual, that you’ll almost always benefit (even if you’re a doctor!) from advice and training that go far beyond what you’ll find in any user manual. This is the least you should expect from whoever you order through, and without this, it’s very doubtful you’ll get anywhere near the full value from your system.
So the value you gain from your PEMF device is greatly improved by:
- Having a consultation with an experienced therapist, someone who has probably tackled your issues and lifestyle before.
- Understanding how this technology interacts with your body and how you can benefit from it well beyond the most obvious uses.
- Problem-solving in case it doesn’t go as planned and standard protocols need to be adjusted.
- Getting advice on the potential remedies and other technologies that could work well alongside it.
Choose carefully, check them out, ask about their background, their experience as therapists (if any) and their approach to PEMF.