How is PEMF different from magnetic mattresses and bracelets?
Static magnets, the type used in magnetic mattresses and bracelets, have been used in healing for thousands of years (in the form of magnetite crystals). PEMF systems do not use magnets but pass a pulsing electric current through metal coils to generate an electromagnetic field.
It’s testament to how much we react to magnetic fields that even the simplest, crudest form of magnetic therapy can be effective, especially for short-term relief, and especially for activating shallow-depth tissues and acupuncture points.
However, traditional magnetic therapy has many shortcomings, especially compared with what we can now achieve with pulsed electromagnetic therapy:
1) By using a fixed, unchanging magnetic field, static magnets are uni-dimensional: they have only one frequency, one intensity, one effect. Just because magnetic minerals are found in the Earth, doesn’t mean that they create Earth’s magnetic field. Unlike a PEMF system, static magnets are far from mimicking Earth’s weak but dynamic field, or the dynamic frequency bands in the atmosphere above it. These dynamic fields are what our bodies evolved in.
2) Manufacturers often emphasise the polarity of their magnets, yet there is almost no scientific research backing up these biological effects. Dynamic polarity switching, as used in some PEMF systems, such as the iMRS, can help to avoid the body becoming used to the field and therefore un-responsive.
3) With static magnets, the body soon becomes used to a constant, unchanging field, so the health benefits recede with time. And in order to have an effect deeper than skin level, modern magnetic mattresses typically have to expose the body for long periods to much higher field strengths, often thousands of times higher than is required for the same effect using PEMF. Even weak PEMF fields are able to pass through the entire body, including dense tissues like bone and cartilage.
4) By energizing the membranes of every cell in the body, PEMF fields stimulate many cellular processes, including nutrient absorption, oxygenation and elimination of wastes.
5) This ratio of effect between static magnets and PEMF systems has been seen in studies of both phosphorylation (the process by which enzymes are turned on and off) and nerve cell growth. A German meta-study in 2011 evaluated 17 studies using static magnets and 10 studies using pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (all of them randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled). ( Salomonowitz G1, Friedrich M, Güntert BJ, Schmerz. 2011 Apr; 25(2):157-60, 162-5. doi: 10.1007/s00482-010-1005-0). Their conclusion was that “Static magnetic fields are ineffective with respect to pain therapy (while) dynamic magnetic fields show diverse effects (and) this therapy should be researched in depth.”