There are many misconceptions out there about the different variables that are used to customize a pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy session.
The three things you should be most aware of are frequency, waveform, and intensity, so it is important that you understand what each of these means.
You also need to know which is most critical for your treatment and how each affects your wellness.
This guide provides answers to all your questions regarding these three important variables for effective PEMF stimulation.
What is PEMF Therapy
PEMF therapy uses low-intensity, low-frequency pulses of electromagnetic energy to help replenish your cells’ natural energy and restore their full function.
Because PEMF stimulation works at the cellular level to help your body heal itself, it has been recommended and approached to treat a wide range of medical conditions.
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are created when there is a change in the magnetic field of an object.
PEMF devices create their EMFs by passing an electrical current through a metal coil.
Magnetic fields that are generated using changing electrical current are called electromagnetic fields.
Thus pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy gets its name.
How EMFs Affect the Body
Every cell within your body has a natural charge that it emits.
When you introduce an electromagnetic field, it influences the behavior of every charged object within its range.
These pulses, when introduced near the body, therefore affect your body’s cells, which have their own charge and emit their own magnetic field.
While PEMF stimulation passes directly through your body, it influences your cells as it does so.
Each of your body’s cells contains an organelle known as a mitochondrion, whose function is to generate energy for the cell.
Energy is needed to perform the cell’s essential functions while also repairing any damage to the cell, eliminating unwanted toxins and wastes, and creating new cells when it is time.
To perform their basic functions, cells need nutrients and oxygen.
Electromagnetic fields increase the movement of these necessary components across the cell membrane.
When cells have more of what they need, they are able to function at optimal capacity and to remain healthy and strong.
When your mitochondria are healthy, your tissues and, therefore, your whole body stay healthy.
Your cells can become depleted of energy over time, due to aging, damage, disease, and chronic conditions.
PEMF therapy restores this energy by matching the frequencies of your cells and by using intensities that are low enough to help instead of harming your body.
Each of your body’s cells has a specific function related to its role within your body.
The more closely the frequency of your PEMF device matches the particular type of cell you are trying to heal, the more likely you are to have a positive influence on that type of tissue within your body.
The electrical pulses that are emitted from PEMF devices are designed and used to match and complement those of our body’s systems and cells.
Therefore, it is important that your PEMF device uses the proper frequencies, intensities, and waveforms to heal your body rather than harm it.
The Role of Frequency in PEMF Therapy
Frequency is perhaps the most crucial variable that can influence the effectiveness of your PEMF treatments.
We will discuss the other two variables, waveform and intensity, below, but when it comes to choosing a device that makes the most difference for your health, the factor you should weigh the most heavily is frequency.
Frequency, which is measured in Hertz (Hz), is a measure of how many waves per second are emitted by a signal.
When a wave is longer, there will be fewer pulses per second, and when it is shorter, there are more pulses per second.
Most PEMF devices that you can purchase for at-home use utilize very low or extremely low frequencies, usually between 1-100 Hz.
While some machines may emit frequencies up to 10,000 Hz, this is rare and most common in medical offices or physical therapy settings.
Every object and organism on Earth, including you, generate a range of frequencies, which may vary over time.
The cells within your body may use one frequency to communicate with like cells, but another to communicate with different types of cells.
Within your brain, for example, there are actually four distinct brain waves that each serve a different function within that organ.
If you were to use an external source of electromagnetic stimulation, such as PEMF, you could influence various brain activities depending on the wavelength you used for the treatment.
While researchers are still learning about the specific effects of various frequencies on the body, we have learned much to this point that can inform your use of PEMF therapy at home.
From years of medical research, we understand that PEMF therapy can affect each person differently and that it can have a different influence on one part of the body over another.
As your cells heal and your body gets stronger, it could also respond in new ways to PEMF treatments.
That makes finding the exact perfect frequency a little challenging.
You may find that you must try out and test various frequencies to find the best one for your particular needs.
Any PEMF stimulation between 1-32 is considered to be optimal because these are the ranges that match your body’s natural EMFs.
Many well-researched available online charts can recommend frequencies to match your condition, symptom, or disease, as well.
You can also talk with your doctor or physical therapist about which frequency of PEMF stimulation would be best for your medical and wellness needs.
They can help you find the latest information and research to guide your treatment.
Because most conditions can be treated using frequencies below 32 Hz, you do not need a machine that uses frequencies that are much higher than that.
Having a machine that can be adjusted or that emits varying wavelengths can be helpful for treating many different conditions or for using it to help more than one person.
Examples of PEMF Frequencies to Use
For example, if you are treating joint pain, the most beneficial frequencies are usually between 10 and 20 Hz.
Conditions affecting blood circulation often require lower frequencies, such as around 5 Hz.
Diseases of the heart are best treated using frequencies below 8 Hz while treating bone fractures may require as much as 20 Hz.
And chronic conditions may be better treated with lower frequencies for longer periods while acute conditions often respond best to higher frequencies for briefer sessions.
Finding the right frequency for your condition may be the most time-consuming part of using PEMF therapy, but you can often tell a difference quickly and adjust from there.
Therefore finding a machine that emits a range of frequencies may be the best option or your health needs.
The Role of Waveform in PEMF Therapy
Manufacturers often make claims regarding waveform and the difference that specific waveforms make for your healing, but is this a key factor to consider?
Waveforms are how the electrical energy is delivered within each pulse.
Within each cycle, the energy can be delivered slowly and steadily, or it can be delivered in sharper bursts.
There are many different types of waveforms within your bodies and the Earth and that are used for PEMF therapy.
The most common waveforms used in PEMF stimulation include the sawtooth and the sine waveforms.
If you were to draw a picture of these waveforms, they look vastly different.
A sawtooth wave has a steady, linear incline followed by a sudden decline.
If you were to imagine this waveform as a hill, it would be a jagged mountain peak that is leaning forward slightly.
In contrast, the sine or sinusoidal waveform looks more like a gently rolling hill, with a slow and gradual rounded increase followed by a similar decrease on the other side of the peak.
This picture would look like rounded hills and valleys.
There are other waveforms, including square, trapezoidal, and other shapes.
The various waveforms utilize the energy within the pulse differently.
Of all the waveforms, the two that have been most heavily studied within the medical research are the sine and sawtooth, with the sine having the most extensive body of data to support its use.
In all the medical research, all waveforms have been shown to be safe and effective, and there is little evidence to suggest that one waveform is more effective than any other.
All effectively stimulate our cells and deliver healing energy.
So, while some may make claims that theirs is the “best” waveform, there is no medical evidence to support these claims at this time.
The Role of Intensity in PEMF Therapy
When planning your PEMF treatments, the other factor you will need to consider is the intensity or amplitude of the energy being used.
Amplitude measures how intense the pulses of electromagnetic energy are.
If you think about waveform and frequency, these are measures of how many cycles and the shape of those cycles, but amplitude is how high and low each of those cycles pulse every time.
Returning to our mountain reference, the hills can be many different shapes (waveform), but amplitude would describe how tall each mountain peak is.
Amplitude is measured in µT or micro-Teslas.
Some units may measure amplitude in Gauss units, and 100 µT equals 1 Gauss unit.
Just as our bodies respond best to the lowest frequencies, our cells are healed and supported best by low-intensity stimulation.
Energy that is too intense can damage cells rather than heal them. PEMF devices that you can purchase to use at home emit low-intensity energy.
The exact amplitude will depend on the machine or device that you use.
Most cells in the human body respond best to amplitudes between 30 and 60 µT.
Some conditions, especially those that are more chronic, though, may require a slightly higher intensity.
Amplitudes that are exceedingly high should be administered by a professional under supervised conditions.
While higher intensities may be warranted for specific conditions, they can also cause damage if used improperly.
Most PEMF devices that you can purchase for at-home use have intensities between 1 and 100 Gauss units.
That makes them appropriate for a wide range of conditions.
Never use a unit that runs at more than 100 Gauss units at home and without direct medical advice.
Getting the Most from Your PEMF Therapy
Each PEMF device operates a little differently and applies the pulsed energy in a slightly different manner.
You should always read your device’s manual and use it according to the manufacturer’s specifications to get the most from your treatment sessions.
While some machines may allow you to apply PEMF stimulation in more than one way, others have only one method of application.
The best way to use any PEMF device will depend mainly on your health needs as well as your lifestyle.
Researching your own medical condition or needs and selecting a machine that matches most closely with those will be crucial.
Talk with your healthcare provider, too, about the best way to get the most from your at-home PEMF therapy.
For some conditions, shorter sessions may be best, while for others, your results may be better with longer sessions.
You may have better results using your PEMF device first thing in the morning while others may have success with sessions later in the day or at bedtime.
The bottom line is the best way to use your PEMF device is in whatever way works best for you.
You may need to spend some time getting to know and adjusting your treatment sessions, but once you have found your best plan, you will enjoy remarkable success and healing.
PEMF therapy is an excellent way to treat many different medical conditions and symptoms.
It is useful for reducing pain and inflammation, for helping heal the body, and for improving your overall well-being.
Choosing a machine that is right for you requires knowing which frequency is the best for you and selecting a device that uses proven waveforms and low-intensity energy.