A Brief Histroy of PEMF Therapy
PEMF therapy or ‘Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field’ therapy has been used as a form of healing for over 100 years. For our brief history guide, we look back to a time that modern versions of PEMF therapy were documented as being used, such as in the 1890’s when the American Electro Therapeutic Association was publishing observations from the famous Nikola Tesla, that he had been making in self-experimentations. In the late 1890’s Tesla is on record as performing lectures/ speeches at the American Electro Therapeutic Association on the subject of electro therapy. Tesla detailed his learnings with drawings of the high-frequency apparatus he invented including the Tesla coil. The name Tesla became synonymous with magnetism and Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field Therapy and today the measurement of the strength of a magnetic field is known as ‘Tesla’.
Throughout the early 1900’s therapies that used electricity either directly via electrodes placed on the skin or via coils such as the Tesla coil, that emit a magnetic field which pass through the body, inducing tiny electrical currents, were growing around Europe. Unfortunately for America in 1908, the influential Carnegie Foundation created The Flexner Report for the American Medical Association (AMA). The report provided a detailed overview of preferred medical education in North America. Eventually the AMA designated a list of authorized medical schools and forbid the teaching of electrotherapy and the use of Ozone. Anyone using Tesla’s magnetic coils for a medical therapy where considered to be “quacks.” This report became one of the most devastating events for health of the American people. Along with electro therapies and Ozone, The Flexner Report condemned just about every therapy outside of drugs and surgery. In 2016 the total revenue for the global pharmaceutical market was $1.05 trillion: to put that number in perspective, it's roughly one-quarter of what the U.S. federal government spent in 2016. Today in 2017 the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US is medical bills.
Moving into the 1970’s, The well-known orthopaedic Dr. Zachary Bert Friedenberg, also an early researcher in the electrical healing of bone fractures using direct current stimulation described their success in the healing of a non-union fracture treated with 10 micro amps of direct current delivered with stainless steel electrodes. Soon after Dr. Andrew Bassett at Columbia University Medical Centre introduced a new approach for the treatment of non-healing bone fractures. PEMF therapy avoided the invasive nature of Friedenberg’s direct currents. Public awareness also increased in the mid-1970s amidst reports of successful enhancement of the speed and endurance of racehorses treated with electromagnetic fields. Based on the published work of Dr. Bassett, in 1979 the FDA allowed electromagnetic fields to be used in the USA for non-union and delayed union fractures. This resulted in the first commercially produced PEMF devices entering the market. PEMF therapy was being used, studied and even accepted for use in the mainstream medical setting. 1979 also saw PEMF accepted for urinary incontinence and in 1998 muscle stimulation and then for depression and anxiety in 2006. Israel has accepted the use of PEMF devices for migraine headaches.
Meanwhile Russia have been using and studying PEMF for decades. A blackout of information due to the cold war and the language barrier (translating technical scientific papers on Russian PEMF research wasn’t seen as a priority) between the US and Russia, much studying that was done in Russia was not seen or used until recent years. Russia have remained an advanced country with regards to the use of PEMF therapy, and today, the units we sell in the Almag range are used regularly in their hospital settings.
If the decade of the 1970’s saw a breakthrough in the use of PEMF therapy, the 2000’s and 2010’s have seen leapfrog in use and progression. In 2011, the popular television MD Dr. OZ, featured PEMF therapy on his show. He stated in his opening remarks “I am more excited about this show than any other show I have done this season. Today, you are going to change the practice of medicine.” He then asked his audience to download a report from his website about magnetic field therapy and take it to their doctor! He said they were not being taught about it in medical schools and they should be.
Today, in 2017 there is an explosion of PEMF devices onto the commercial market. Although this is great progression we have to be careful. It is a must that you know who the company is behind the product. Just as in any industry, trends come and go, and so do companies selling products. You can now purchase PEMF devices that attach to iPhones, devices that fit on your pocket and run off a 9 volt battery. There are many low power, frequency based PEMF mats that require you to lay on them twice per day and high voltage ‘ringer’ devices that are used in clinics, professional sports teams, and with champion race horses, and require only a one to three sessions a week until the issue is resolved. Within each sub group of PEMF devices there are good and bad.
Although there are limited medical acceptances for using PEMF devices in hospital settings, you can purchase machines to use at home, or visit a PEMF practitioner for “general wellness”. See our other pages to see what clinical experience has shown PEMF Therapy to be successfully used for.