Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy


Introduction – the ancient background of magnetic therapy

There is some evidence that magnets were used for therapeutic purposes as early as 1000 BC when the attractive forces and effects of certain stones like iron were observed. Over time, many have sought to understand and explain such forces and in early history – magnets were used to treat all sorts of ailments and disease.

Ancient medical practices in chinese medicine and hinduism used iodestones to influence the body and improve function. Magnets were used in the middle ages to retrieve metal objects lodged in the body but they were also believed to have various powers on various pathologies and illnesses. They were thought to help to preserve youth and facilitate healing – such as wounds.

A man called Paracelcus used heavy metals to treat various illnesses ranging from digestive malfunction to epilepsy. Magnets would be placed near the head and abdomen in order to push and pull diseases from the body. This was thought to use magnetic forces.

In the 1500’s, scientists such as Cardono were also exploring electrical fields and medical use of electromagnetic forces. By the 17th century there were breakthroughs in terms of understanding electrical forces but it was only by the 19th century that meaningful discoveries were made in electromagnetism.

Faradism” relates to a variety of treatments which involve electrical stimulation to the body. These treatments range from electro-shock aversion therapy to nerve-stimulation passive exercise used by physiotherapists. The word Faradism is derived from the name of Michael Faraday, a 19th century scientist who greatly contributed to our understanding of electromagnetism and electro-chemistry.

Early ElectroMagnetic Therapy and PEMF

In the late 1800s, it was discovered that cells in the human body carry their own energy and electrical devices claimed to cure various ailments – with varying success and popularity.

It was not until the 20th century that magnetic therapy gained more scientific assessment and critique when static magnetic therapies were introduced in Eastern Europe. The first pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy devices were introduced in the early 1980s across Europe and then to the rest of the world. The first approved use of PEMF in the United States was to treat non-union of bone fractures.

 After the introduction of PEMF and other magnetic therapy devices, the field has rapidly grown and there is more evidence than ever before of the effectiveness of high-intensity PEMFs. As interest in and acceptance of PEMF and other forms of magnetic therapy have grown, more researchers are examining ways in which magnetic devices can be used to treat medical disorders and diseases. While most techniques and uses still remain categorized as alternative or complementary, several electromagnetic treatments have become more mainstream.

Today, patients are using magnetic devices that are much more complex, and offer more control, than those of the past.

Many devices today contain hundreds of smaller magnets, sometimes arranged in very intricate patterns, and they are used to help treat a vast number of disorders including pain, inflammation, and in healing of wounds and fractures.

Further understanding the physiological benefits and results of magnetic therapy will lead to increased use of this treatment in new and exciting ways.

As we learn more, we will be able to explore ever-expanding possibilities for this technology, which now has proven effectiveness in treating the human body.

PEMF today

The use of PEMF to treat illnesses, injuries, and diseases has been steadily growing over the past thirty years.

The normal energy voltage of a healthy cell is about -20 to -25 millivolts but when illness or pathology occurs the voltage drops below -15 millivolts or less. Cells become less able to heal and become dysfunctional. We can think of PEMF as a battery charger for our cells. PEMF also stimulates cells to allow for enhanced exchange of fluids. Toxins are expelled, and fresh minerals, nutrients, and water enter the cell, stimulating optimal function. PEMF uses electrical energy to direct a series of magnetic pulses through injured tissue whereby each magnetic pulse induces a tiny electrical signal that stimulates cellular repair by enhancing up-take of oxygen, transport of ions (calcium, potassium, sodium) across cell membranes.

By inducing a mild electrical magnetic current into damaged cells, PEMF therapy may slow or stop the release of pain and inflammatory mediators, increases blood flow of the cells, and re-establishes normal cell interaction. With reduced inflammation, pain decreases, energy increases, and faster tissue healing occurs. Therefore the therapeutic uses for PEMF are very diverse and far reaching.

Therapists therefore are very interested in the positive impact of PEMF has on cellular energy, healing, repair and pain. Similar to various complementary and holistic therapies – PEMF therapy does not treat medical conditions; instead it boosts the body’s own ability to heal itself naturally by replenishing the natural energy that exists in healthy cells. When your body is healthy you sleep better, experience more energy, and are less likely to experience pain and inflammation.

Many scientific studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of PEMF in healing soft-tissue wounds, suppressing inflammatory responses at the cell membrane level to alleviate pain, and increasing range of motion. The value of PEMF has been shown to cover a wide range of conditions with well-documented trials carried out by hospitals, researchers, and the medical community. Continued research will be very exciting as we continue to unearth the connections between magnetic fields and the human body.

PEMF therapy is not commonly often used as a frontline medical treatment despite an increasingly solid base of evidence supporting its use. Instead, PEMF is considered to be a complementary and holistic alternative therapy that may benefit all manner of people and injuries ranging from a young training athlete right through to an elderly client suffering from diabetes and arthritis.

Therapeutic benefits OF PEMF

Every atom, chemical, and cell in our bodies emits their own EMF (Electromagnetic Field); therefore, every kind of energy in nature is electromagnetic. The organs in our body also produce EMF of specific frequencies. The fact that our bodies produce EMF means that we are alive. Dead and static objects do not emit EMF. So, when we die, this activity ceases.

That is why PEMF therapy is so beneficial. It targets the very principle via which our cells work, and aims to bring the balance back to our body on a cellular level. This PEMF energy does not need to be strong. Our cells are very good receptors of PEMF, and they get triggered by even the slightest amounts. PEMF therapy is so beneficial because it can treat even the most minor pathological states or imbalances of which we are unaware. It does this in a very natural way. Imagine that your cells are batteries and that their energy levels get depleted. PEMF therapy recharges your cells with vital energy, allowing them to function properly once again. PEMF therapy and PEMF devices produce frequencies of electromagnetic energy that have been tuned to be ideal for our cells and organs. That’s why it is so beneficial; it imitates nature’s methods.

Enhanced healing

  • Wound, ulcer and burns healing

  • Bone fracture (including cases of non-union)

  • Osteoporosis and Osteopenia

  • Soft tissue injuries

  • Joint recovery

  • Recovery from nerve trauma or injury

  • Skin and connective tissue

  • Recovery from injury

  • Muscle function

  • Athletic performance

  • Arthritic conditions – pain relief and better movement

  • Enhanced circulation for healing

Pain relief

  • Reducing inflammation

  • Cellular repair

  • Relief from acute

  • Reduction in chronic pain

  • Reduced migraines

Improved Circulation

  • Diabetes and diabetic neuropathy

  • Tissue regeneration and ageing

Wider benefits

  • Bodily organs – functioning and processes

Mental health benefits

  • Reducing depression

  • Improving fatigue

  • Increasing function

  • Improved memory, concentration and focus

  • Positive improvements in mental health conditions such as Parkinsons or ADHD

Health promoting benefits of PEMF

In addition to targetted treatment in response to injury, illness or pathology – the regular use of PEMF therapy can keep us in good health so that we can better deal with the struggles and stresses of everyday life.

Better Overall Health

PEMF therapy is especially beneficial in keeping our body in good working condition. It helps to neutralize any negative effects of stress, and helps our organs to function properly. With enhanced energy, our inbuilt defence mechanisms can better deal with minor issues before they become more severe. Since all of the cells in our body have their own life cycle, we need to make sure that the new ones have a healthy environment in which to be created and to develop.

Less Stress

Our lives nowadays are packed with stress and our body may react to these sources of stress in two ways – healthy or unhealthy. Stress has many debilitating health effects on our body and may have a role in presence of diabetes, heart issues, fatigue, arthritis, immune compromise, depression, anxiety, and so on. Research shows that PEMF helps treat this issue on a very basic level by modifying how our nervous system, cells, glands, organs, and tissues respond to stress.

Slows Ageing

Electricity is very important in our body. With aging, the electrical system in our body suffers more and more breaks, so cells have trouble communicating and performing their purpose. PEMF repairs these breaks, and helps to maintain the system. PEMF also stimulates the production of ATP (cell energy), and antioxidant defences throughout the body. Moreover, PEMF promotes higher levels of blood oxygen and increased blood flow. If we use it for a longer period, it can also help with sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure.

Better Sleep

If you want to improve your sleep and sleep patterns, PEMF can be a great solution. PEMF stimulates the hypothalamus, which in turn controls the sleep and the circadian rhythms. Therefore, if you use PEMF therapy before sleep and you set it at just the right frequency, it will cause you to feel drowsier, calm your brain, and prepare you for the REM phase of your sleep cycle.

On top of that, PEMF also increases your Slow Wave Sleep (SWS). This is the most important part of your NREM (non-REM) sleep cycle, and it happens early at night.

Since PEMF therapy is known to improve circulation, relax muscles, and lower stress, it will consequently improve sleep as having good-quality sleep depends on all of these factors. Many studies on sleep have proven that sleep disruption causes increased levels of both cortisol and adrenaline at night. Sleep disruption also causes a faster metabolic rate both during the day and at night, which additionally impairs sleep. PEMF therapies can help a lot because they can hinder the activation of both adrenal glands and our sympathetic nervous system.

‘Electrosmog’ Protection

PEMF can also help to protect our system from the electrosmog that is everywhere around us, and is composed of all the frequencies that are harmful that come from our smartphones, power lines, microwaves, WIFI signals, hair dryers, and so on.  It is impossible to escape from them and they may have a strong negative effect on our body, as they deplete it of its natural energy and cause more stress. Since we cannot escape it, we have at least to neutralize it by adding energy that is actually beneficial. PEMF stimulates our cells and keeps them working at healthy frequencies, and in that way protects them from the consequences of electrosmog.

enhanced Sport Performance

When we expose our muscles to PEMF, it has been proven that they can work longer and harder and recover faster.

This means that we can train better and need less rest in between. It also means less pain the day after working out.

If you use it, your body will be better able to deal with the physical strain, and avoid injuries. It stimulates a process called myosin phosphorylation, or the act of creation of energy by our muscles. They achieve this through faster movement of electrolytes and ions.

Intense physical activity also increases the levels of heat shock proteins that are intended to prevent cellular breakdown and improve recovery. PEMF helps to stimulate the production of these proteins even more. PEMF also ups the amount of oxygen a muscle can take. Studies show a minimum of 1% improvement of oxygen levels after PEMF therapy. This is more than enough to improve athletic performance. Furthermore, PEMF also improves blood flow, which is important for recovery and oxygen transportation.


While some therapies may focus on a specific area of the body, PEMF is able to treat the whole person and address many different ailments concurrently. This is also one of the reasons why PEMF is considered a gentle therapy: the likelihood of experiencing localized discomfort may be less when the intervention is delivered over the body as a whole, rather than targeting a single, small area.

Over the course of a PEMF session, a PEMF machine will release pulses of electromagnetic energy, which will stimulate the cells in the body. PEMF in clinic involves laying on a large comfortable mat. However, the therapist may also use a local appliance to target more concentrated PEMF pulses to one area of the body.

Your treatment will be discussed with you and we will frequently combine this approach with other physiotherapeutic techniques for optimum benefit. The time, duration and frequency of treatment will be specific to you.


Anyone can buy a PEMF device and there are a plethora of machines on the market. Although the basics of PEMF therapy machines are largely the same, there are some differences in the available technology.

These differences reside largely in the purpose of the machine, the power of electromagnetic field, and the flexibility of the device.

Medical and Professional Grade PEMF Devices

Medical and professional grade PEMF devices are typically larger and are equipped with far more customising and programming options for greater scope of use tailored for specific clients. Medical-grade PEMF devices are much more expensive and are more commonly found in hospitals and large scale clinics. These machines are designed to deliver PEMF therapy through several different means, including large mats and conventrated delivery devices.

Home use and portable PEMF Devices

These often smaller and much cheaper machines are largely designed for home use. Many simple devices come equipped with pre-programmed settings in the control box, which allows users to select a particular intervention, such as PEMF therapy for sleep, or PEMF therapy for muscle soreness. These devices are typically not designed for perpetual use, and may be more likely to degrade with continual use. These machines may have a few specific settings to deliver targeted PEMF therapy and some devices are small enough to be worn and used in short bursts.

These small devices are usually designed to be used in short bursts, ranging from 30-90 minutes, though they may be used for longer, if battery lives allow.

Combination PEMF Therapy devices

The final type of PEMF therapy device in this round up is the combination PEMF therapy mat, or a type of PEMF device that combines both PEMF therapy and a series of other therapeutic interventions, such as infrared therapy, crystal therapy, and even negative ion therapy.

possible side effects of pemf

PEMF therapy is a low risk, safe and effective therapy. However, as is the case with any therapy, there is the possibility of experiencing adverse effects and clients should always be well informed of the risks and benefits of any treatment modality. Interestingly, PEMF therapy is thought to expose clients to fewer electromagnetic frequencies than the average thunderstorm!

Any side effects at all are rare (coming in at around 5%), with serious side effects coming in at an even lower incidence.

That being said, there are some pre-existing conditions that can contribute to a higher incidence of side effects when using PEMF therapy. Even if pre-existing conditions are present, PEMF therapy is not necessarily off the table. If you want to try PEMF therapy, but are worried about potential side effects, rest assured: in typical individuals, PEMF therapy is among the safest interventions out there.

Possible adverse effects include the following:


For some, PEMF therapy delivery offers some degree of discomfort. This could be a general feeling of unease during sessions, or a physical reaction such as feeling restless or nausous. Typically, most discomfort is remedied by adjusting the variable settings of the machine being used (duration, wavelength, shape, frequency and intensity). Generalized discomfort may be linked to existing pathology, position, or sensitivity to electricity or electromagnetic frequencies.

Treatment dosage is always carefully administered and such uncomfortable reactions are not common. However, this may require someone to continue with carefully modified machine settings during sessions or indeed consider other forms of alternative treatments to PEMF for your unique condition.


Although the proliferation of cells is usually seen as a good thing, cell growth can actually be problematic in some settings, including when someone using PEMF has cancer. Because cancer cells may respond to the growth-promoting properties of PEMF therapy, healthy cells and cancer cells alike can grow larger.

Cancer has been touted as one of the many ailments that can benefit PEMF therapy, but this may not be the case; PEMF therapy using extremely high wavelengths may be used in clinics to aid in cancer treatment, but can actually hinder the positive effects of cancer treatment if it is not used properly. If you have cancer, we generally recommend that PEMF is avoided altogether and try to help you in other ways.


For safety reasons, our clinic policy is that we would not recommend PEMF if you have an implanted electrical device as the electrical stimulus could interfere with its effectiveness. There are safer treatment alternatives so the risk is unnecessary.

IF YOU ARE UNDERGOING Anticoagulant therapy

PEMF therapy has been known to improve circulation and this could be problematic for those taking blood thinning medication (warfarin, heparing) as that person may be prone to clots, or other harm from increased circulation. Consequently, these clients should consult ther GP or consultant before undertaking a course of PEMF therapy.

Reducing YOUR Blood Pressure

Reducing blood pressure is a great benefit of PEMF therapy but treatment has to be carefully planned, administered and monitored as reducing someone’s blood pressure can cause unpleasant or unsafe side effects. Extra precautions may need to be taken to make sure that no harm follows. Clients who have a long history of high blood pressure or the elderly may be particularly susceptible to issues with this particular side effect, as they may not be accustomed to the feelings associated with lower blood pressure. They may feel faint and there is a risk of fall and subsequent injury. If there is a history of high blood pressure, we encourage extra care when moving afterwards, in order to avoid any adverse effects.

IF YOU TAKE medication and/OR supplements

PEMF therapy improves communication between cells and cellular efficiciency, which may assist the body to more effectively breaking down food and take up nutrients or medication. Typically, this efficiency may be very positive. Consequentially though, anyone who is taking a regular medication or supplements is potentially exposed to increased uptakeso this could interfere with dosages given for some medications or supplements that may have been recommended by your doctor or other health professional. Having an ongoing prescription does not prevent access to PEMF therapy, but does suggest that a visit to or discussion with your doctor about any potential interactions between PEMF and medication may be wise.


PEMF therapy has shown some promise in research as a treatment for damaged nerves. However, the process of promoting healing and regeneration of nerve activity could result in pain or discomfort. In cases of nerve damage, injury or neuropathy PEMF therapy may still provide very effective benefits but it needs to be managed carefully – with monitoring of any increasing symptoms of pain or altered nerve function.

Sensitive skin

Those with sensitive skin may experience a tingling or warming sensation in response to PEMF therapy. PEMF therapy is typically considered a therapy without any particular sensation, but it can have a gentle irritating effect on someone with highly sensitive skin or a strong sensitivity to energy. Typically, when sensitivity is reported, symptoms dissipate within minutes of discontinuing therapy. While the sensation may be uncomfortable at the time, it is not known to last for a prolonged period, or become long standing discomfort. Adjusting machine settings and lessening therapy duration can also help limit or remove discomfort.


Finding pregnancy safety studies is difficult, if not impossible. Whilst there are no known documented cases of issues with pregnancy and PEMF, we do not routinely recommend the use of PEMF in pregnancy due to unnecessary the risk of harming the fetus. Other treatment options would be considered to by more favourable. PEMF may however help post partum recovery and healing.

Updated May 2022