PEMF Therapy Biological Actions & Effects

By: Dr. William Pawluk

Western clinical thinking is usually focused on a disease-specific model. Each disease has specific physiologic and pathologic components, comprising various testing methods: x-rays, MRI, chemistry, microscopic, microbiology, immunology, neurological testing, etc. The results of tests are assembled into patterns that then allow a “label” or diagnosis to be applied to them. These labels, which assume specific physiologic and pathologic changes, allow doctors and scientists to be able to communicate with each other about these commonly understood patterns, that is,

Clearly, any given individual with functional or physiologic abnormalities, despite having been diagnosed with the functional or physiologic abnormalities associated with a specific disease, will also usually have functional or physiologic abnormalities that fall outside the applied disease label. Therefore, the disease label is a “shorthand” convention only and doesn’t encompass the whole person’s functioning. By considering functional, physiologic or pathologic changes or impairments, a function specific treatment plan can be developed.

Physicians use complex decision-making processes to determine treatment plans. Ideally, the treatment should remove the underlying reason or cause for the problems that are present. When this is not possible, treatment is directed at the signs or symptoms. In this case, treatment is only a Band-Aid.

For example, a fractured bone will also have swelling and pain. The treatment plan will include managing the fracture itself with a cast to restrict movement, managing the swelling with ice and elevation, and managing the pain with medication. When the fracture has reached a certain point of healing, then rehabilitation of the weakened muscles and stiffened joints will begin. Fractures can also be complicated by other surrounding tissues near the fracture being torn, infection in the area of trauma, and blood clots in the lower legs resulting from immobilization.

On one hand, you see the myriad of pieces that fit into the traditional treatment of a fracture. Comparatively, magnetic field therapies alone can address most of these issues simultaneously. Magnetic fields have been found to reduce swelling, accelerate bone healing, and reduce pain. Magnetic fields also help with secondary problems when they happen, and may in fact prevent them by stimulating the tissues at deeper levels without the need to invade the tissues. However, unlike all the other therapies, PEMFs work to enhance and accelerate the healing process. So, in the example of fracture, PEMFs will not only cause the fracture to heal faster, but will help with many of the symptoms and with the likelihood of fewer complications in the future.

The same principles apply to numerous other health conditions of the body, not just acute injuries and fractures. PEMFs help the body to produce more energy to be able to complete its healing process, unlike anything available in conventional medical practice.

Understanding the basic physiologic effects of magnetic fields allows someone to develop a treatment approach that is targeted to the specific functional abnormalities present. When a disease diagnosis is established, some of the specific functional abnormalities are assumed and understood. Diagnostic and functional tests help the therapist to know the extent of the abnormalities. This not only helps to guide the therapy but also allows the clinician to know objectively how much progress is being made.

Rarely does traditional medical therapy cure disease—most treatments are oriented toward improving function while reducing the abnormalities and symptoms present. Magnetic fields are therefore often not only the best treatment available as the sole treatment, but also in most cases can be used in a complementary fashion, as needed.

We are not able to list all the possible biologic effects of magnetic fields described in the research literature because of space limitations. Many of the biological actions of magnetic fields depend on frequency and/or magnetic field intensity. Most are specific to pulsed magnetic fields, some overlap between pulsed and static fields and rarely only apply to static fields. However, the ones that we believe are the most relevant to clinical practice, especially those found to be produced or affected by ELF’s, are listed here:


edema reduction

platelet adhesion reduction


acceleration of enzyme reactions

calcium ion movement and enhancement

calmodulin transport enhancement

brain functioning

hormone changes

stress reduction

learning changes

scar modification

metabolism enhancement

water modification

electrolyte changes

bone healing acceleration


autonomic nervous system actions

oxygenation enhancement

inflammation reduction

sleep improvement

medication metabolism changes

liver function changes

wound healing enhancement

infertility improvement

nitric oxide production stimulation

sodium-potassium exchange enhancement

membrane function enhancement

improved cellular energy

immunity changes

muscle relaxation

nerve cell firing reduction

amino acid changes

receptor binding

Many of the effects and benefits of magnetic fields, as listed above, are due to very basic mechanisms of action: stimulation of charge in the tissue and the movement of ions, especially calcium and the electrolytes sodium and potassium. Calcium ions are found in all cells and tissues and are involved in nerve conduction, muscle function, cellular respiration, vascular health, wound healing, hematologic functions, and immunity, among other things. A large number of the magnetic field actions listed above are simply because of the affect on calcium ions alone. This is why magnetic fields affect so many basic functions in the body. That is why this single treatment approach can help so many health issues of the body, unlike most other therapies available in medicine today.

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