1960- The Soviets and other Eastern bloc countries were well into their second decade of using pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) for many different conditions with a focus on sports injury, arthritis and heart disease. The Mysasnikov Institute near Moscow was rapidly emerging as one of the premier heart treatment centers in the world, and other Soviet institutions were studying different neurological and musculoskeletal conditions.

France, West Germany, Scandinavia and the UK had many practitioners using PEMF technology, but the scientific communities in these countries were not yet involved.

1970- As the cold war began its early stages of thawing we competed against Soviet and Eastern bloc countries in the athletic arena. Late in the 70s American track coaches were very impressed by the speed with which Eastern bloc athletes returned to competition after injury, and the amazing endurance their athletes displayed in cross country and other endurance events.

The quick answer at the time was “steroids and anabolic steroids’ or “blood doping”. That was an oversimplification to explain an unproven, but highly effective use of PEMF technology to restore tissues following injury and to stimulate increased numbers of mitochondria (cell structures that produce energy) in tissues- which give tissues incredibly greater aerobic capacity or endurance.

By the late 70s PEMF had made its way to Canada where a few US veterinarians observed its ability to heal injured animals and some humans. These Midwestern vets brought the technology to heartland America where they treated large animals, their owners and local people with this technology. Rural MDs referred patients to these vets for treatment of musculoskeletal injury stating, “I don’t have anything even remotely as good as Doc has, so why shouldn’t I send people to him”. PEMF was introduced to America and was here to stay in spite of the efforts of vested interests determined to continue the United States as the only industrialized nation in the world that did not allow access to this excellent healing technology. While other nations encouraged their populace to use PEMF in lieu of surgery and drugs, no such thing happened in America.

In the late 70s EM-PROBE researchers received an institutional review board approval from the University of Washington and became the first group in the US to legally treat soft tissue injury in humans. It revolutionized our sports medicine practice.

1980- FDA approved the first PEMF device for the very narrow application of healing fractures that had not healed for at least four months. Somehow, while this technology was approved for bone fractures that hadn’t healed in four months or more, it was never considered in healing fractures at their earliest onset. FDA has stayed with that position to this day in spite of overwhelming evidence that PEMF dramatically reduces inflammation and pain while stimulating growth and repair almost immediately.

In 1980 it was necessary to translate Russian, Hungarian, and East German reports as none existed in English The early bone stimulators were ungainly, expensive, and poorly accepted by clinicians and patients alike.

In spite of growing evidence this technology is unusually free of side effects, FDA groups it with X-ray and other EM devices known to be potentially dangerous in spite of World Health Organization citing therapeutic PEMF as “unusually free of side effects in use throughout the world”

In 1984 US athletes set a world record in the 4 x 100 at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. One of America’s finest young athletes was in that group and his story in his own words can be viewed on this site (Calvin Smith). Athletes from around the world and at all levels of endeavor now had access to PEMF here in the United States. Without drugs or blood doping PEMF played a major role in NCAA championships, along with Olympic, and World track and field records throughout the 1980s.

In the mid 1980s EM-PROBE investigators suspected PEMF was somehow affecting free radical neutralization by antioxidants, but getting funding for PEMF research wasn’t possible and the central issue of free radicals in injury stagnated.

1990- Canada legalized PEMF in the 1980s; therapists and trainers were putting their electrostim and ultrasound units in the closet and exclusively used PEMF technology to treat lay and athletic injuries alike. The alternative movement was bringing PEMF out of the closet in the United States as the Internet allowed countries everywhere in the world access to American consumers.

The United States emerged as the leader in PEMF research world wide, but American citizens are still denied access. Using an industry backed classification practice that cost start-up firms $20-80 million dollars, even though WHO and thousands of scientific reports attest to the safety of PEMF, FDA allows manufacturers of old millisecond or sine wave devices of doubtful efficacy to control effective device approvals by stonewalling reclassification into a less expensive approval category.

Groups of investigators were tying PEMF to the more efficient neutralization of free radicals which were exploding on the health care scene as the primary cause of aging and promotion of injury and illness. Our group proposed that PEMF acted as a catalyst making the neutralization of free radicals by antioxidants up to a hundred times easier. The precious nature of starting treatment immediately, and particularly in the first twelve hours following the onset of an illness or injury, was also better defined.

Other groups were demonstrating that PEMF had the ability to stimulate genes through electromagnetically responsive areas (EMRAs), noting a particularly strong influence on growth and restoration genes such as growth hormone.

The Internet market blossomed with hundreds of PEMF devices, some good, most antiquated technology that caused confusion with their highly variable results. Static magnets vs. pulsed electromagnetic fields were regularly confused by consumers although they are a universe apart unless the pulsed device is sine wave.

2000- NASA astronauts develop significant problems with their immune systems if their time in space is prolonged and NASA wanted something safer and more convenient than pharmaceuticals to prevent this. In the most exhaustive study yet completed a NASA scientist named Thomas Goodwin and a collaborator at the University of Michigan named Robert Dennis defined the most effective pulse characteristics leading to the greatest efficacy and observed incredible up-regulation of genes associated with growth and restoration and the shutting down of genes that promote illness or expand injury. They also demonstrated that tissues exposed to a correct PEMF pulse saw a 300% increase in mitochondria- the cellular component responsible for aerobic capacity and endurance in addition to restoration of tissue to a state of wellness.

We’ve gone full circle as is so often the case in science. The stories of endurance among Soviet and East German athletes and the accelerated healing seen by American track coaches in the 70s was not imagination nor “anabolic steroids”, just a fundamental energy that all living systems have used for 200 million years. The Soviets observed that cells used PEMF as easily available energy to enhance endurance or to recover from illness or injury, an ability no drug ever made has been able to duplicate.

As you seek wellness, remember that inside every cell in your body is the same mitochondria included there 200 million years ago as larger cells incorporated them because they produced energy by using oxygen. They still use oxygen today, and still use PEMF (if properly structured) when they need an assist to get their metabolism back on track after injury or illness (see link to NASA study). Nanosecond PEMF technology is a new day for quality of life that is free of drugs and free of side effects. Your mitochondria will love you for it- and provide you with a healthier body to enjoy life again.

PEMF – How does it work?

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
All living cells within the body possess potentials between the inner and outer membrane of the cell, which, under normal healthy circumstances, are fixed. Different cells, e.g. Muscle cells and Nerve cells, have different potentials of about -70 mV respectively. When cells are damaged, these potentials change such that the balance across the membrane changes, causing the attraction of positive sodium ions into the cell and negative trace elements and proteins out of the cell. The net result is that liquid is attracted into the interstitial area and swelling or oedema ensues. The application of pulsed magnetic fields has, through research findings, been shown to help the body to restore normal potentials at an accelerated rate, thus aiding the healing of most wounds and reducing swelling faster. The most effective frequencies found by researchers so far, are very low frequency pulses of a 50Hz base. These, if gradually increased to 25 pulses per second for time periods of 600 seconds (10 minutes), condition the damaged tissue to aid the natural healing process.
Pain reduction is another area in which pulsed electromagnetic therapy has been shown to be very effective. Pain signals are transmitted along nerve cells to pre-synaptic terminals. At these terminals, channels in the cell alter due to a movement of ions. The membrane potential changes, causing the release of a chemical transmitter from a synaptic vesicle contained within the membrane. The pain signal is chemically transferred across the synaptic gap to chemical receptors on the post-synaptic nerve cell. This all happens in about 1/2000th of a second, as the synaptic gap is only 20 to 50 nm wide. As the pain signal, in chemical form, approaches the post-synaptic cell, the membrane changes and the signal is transferred. If we look at the voltages across the synaptic membrane then, under no pain conditions, the level is about -70 mV. When the pain signal approaches, the membrane potential increases to approximately +30 mV, allowing a sodium flow. This in turn triggers the synaptic vesicle to release the chemical transmitter and so transfer the pain signal across the synaptic gap or cleft. After the transmission, the voltage reduces back to its normal quiescent level until the next pain signal arrives.
The application of pulsed magnetism to painful sites causes the membrane to be lowered to a hyper-polarization level of about -90 mV. When a pain signal is detected, the voltage must now be raised to a relatively higher level in order to fire the synaptic vesicles. Since the average change of potential required to reach the trigger voltage of nearly +30 mV is +100 mV, the required change is too great and only +10 mV is attained. This voltage is generally too low to cause the synaptic vesicle to release the chemical transmitter and hence the pain signal is blocked. The most effective frequencies that have been observed from research in order to cause the above changes to membrane potentials, are a base frequency of around 100Hz and pulse rate settings of between 5 and 25Hz.

Lecture abstract Dr. D. Laycock, Ph.D. Med. Eng. MBES, MIPEM, B.Ed.


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