Electromagnetic machines are manufactured and distributed by numerous companies, all of whom have their own opinions on intensity when it comes to pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. This debate has been ongoing for years with manufacturers falling on both sides.
You might hear from one that high intensities are not necessary and can even be dangerous. Another will tell you that low intensities don’t have the therapeutic power you need. The truth of the matter is magnetic pulse therapy is used for such a wide variety of needs that all intensities are effective – depending on what you are treating for.
A quick physics lesson
Dosimetry is the scientific term used to describe the intensity of the stimulus, the amount of stimulation time, the volume of tissue being stimulated, and the desired outcome. Dosimetry is based on two laws of physics which can help you understand how pulsed electromagnetic field therapy works, and how it can help the body.
The first is Faraday’s law, which is represented with the equation dB/dt=T/s. In that equation, d is change, B is peak intensity, and t is time, T is Tesla and s is second. This law is describing the impact on the magnetic field of the change in intensity over the time it takes to reach its peak.
Magnetic pulse therapy creates energy, a charge, in the tissues. Because of Faraday’s law we know that the more charge you need, the higher the intensity of the PEMF signal needs to be. The higher intensity you reach, in the shortest amount of time, the higher the charge produced in the body’s tissues. That’s why many high intensity PEMF machines can cause muscles to contract superficially, and, at the same time reach deep into the body, allowing them to be very effective on a range of health conditions.
The second important natural law of physics, when thinking about pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy, is the inverse square rule or law. The farther away the tissue you are trying to stimulate is from the source of the magnetic field, the more the intensity of the magnetic field will have decreased. That means that if you are treating an organ deep inside the body, but applying PEMF therapy to the outside, a much higher intensity is needed to begin with, to create the right charge at the desired organ.
The benefit of high intensity PEMF machines
Research indicates that there are a wide range of possible clinical applications for high intensity pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. Research on pulsed electromagnetic field therapy on the brain, called rTMS (repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), often uses extremely high-intensity magnetic fields, and no adverse effects have been found. In one 2006 study, participants received 12,690 magnetic pulses per day three times per week, with no negative side effects. That demonstrates the safety of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, even at very high intensities.
Faraday’s law tells us that in order to achieve real healing, the dB/dT must be higher so that the PEMF signal can pass deep enough into the body to increase charge in the necessary tissues. Because magnetic field intensity drops so fast as it gets farther away from the coil (applicator), the area closest to the coil gets the most intensity. The other side of the body receives a much lower intensity, which may not give the targeted area the needed field intensity to work adequately.
A distance of just 2.3 inches away from the applicator can see a 98% drop in intensity, from 100 mT (1,000 gauss or 100,000 microTesla) magnetic field to around 2mT (20 gauss or 2,000 microTesla). And that ratio holds true, no matter how strong the magnetic field is to begin with. With a drop like that, any issue that is deep within the body needs a sufficiently high intensity in order to reach and treat the problem.
Research that shows benefits for specific health conditions consistently use high intensity machines, those with magnetic fields greater than 30 to 50 Gauss (3-5 mT). Very low intensity systems, producing 100 micro Tesla (1 gauss or 0.01mT), for instance, were not found to provide much benefit to chronic health conditions.
Research also reinforces the idea that intensity is perhaps more important than any other component of a therapeutic magnetic field, including frequency or waveform, which still rely on the intensity of the PEMF signal. For most PEMF devices, the higher the frequency, the lower the intensity produced.
Those with chronic conditions may turn to medication more often if a lower intensity system is used. One study that compared a 0.5 gauss (50 microTesla) PEMF with a 15 gauss (1,500 microTesla) PEMF system used for six hours per day for 90 days in the treatment of arthritis found that NSAID use was 26% in the higher intensity group and 75% in the lower intensity group.
Treatment time needed is also shown to be considerably shorter when using higher intensities. In another study, using “medium intensity,” researchers used a 35 mT (350 gauss / 35,000 microTelsa) PEMF for 15 minutes over 15 treatment sessions and found the signal improved hip arthritis pain in 86% of the patients. PEMFs of 40 mT (400 gauss or 40,000 microTesla) for 20 minutes per day reduced or eliminated pain in between 90 and 95% of patients with lumbar osteoarthritis.
For specific problems, then, long treatment times (or even continuous treatment) may be necessary to produce results. But medium to high intensity systems can relieve symptoms with just minutes of daily treatment in less than a month.
Increasing treatment time won’t always balance out lack of intensity, however. If the magnetic pulse therapy is barely reaching the target tissue, benefits are likely to be very small, if achieved at all. Passive benefits might be possible, but most research demonstrates that having the right charge in tissues is a clear reason for PEMF therapy to be
is effective. Therefore, using the right intensity is a critical factor in successful treatment.
When are low intensities sufficient?
If a problem originates just below the surface, such as a bruise or bug bite that is becoming infected, a low intensity system might do the trick. That’s because the magnetic field doesn’t need to travel deep into the body to heal these problems.
When the overall goal is to use PEMF therapy for health maintenance, a low intensity system spread out over a larger body area can have a positive impact. In general, however, to benefit specific health conditions in a meaningful way, higher intensities are necessary.
Selecting the TeslaFit product that’s right for you
When purchasing a PEMF system, you need to consider your own unique needs. What condition will you be using the electromagnetic machine to treat? How long do you want to spend on treatment? Do you want to treat the whole body at once, or a targeted area only?
There are three primary models of TeslaFit high intensity PEMF devices, with desktop and portable options, and a range of
Anderson B, Mishory A, Nahas Z, Borckardt JJ, Yamanaka K, Rastogi K, George MS. Tolerability and safety of high daily doses of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in healthy young men. J ECT. 2006 Mar; 22(1):49-53.