The History of PEMF Machines

Magnets and electricity were both used for medical treatment well before the existence of PEMF machines. Even though PEMF therapy is not the same thing as static magnetic therapy or electrotherapy, they share some history.

Magnetic therapy is 2,000 years old

Magnetic field therapy has been used for more than 2,000 years. Greek physicians documented their use of lodestones – naturally magnetized pieces of the mineral magnetite – to treat patients around 200 BC. Scientific research has since shown that static magnets do not offer health benefits.

Pulsed Electromagnetic Therapy does offer health benefits, however. PEMF machines allow you to control the frequency of the EMFs, the strength of the field, and when the field is active. Some people still confuse PEMF with “therapies” like magnetic bracelets, but this is not accurate.

The power of electricity

Electrotherapy also predates PEMF therapy, and it more closely resembles modern PEMF therapy than magnetic therapy does. Electrotherapy was used as a treatment for various health problems and conditions as early as the 18th century. A London hospital bought electric coils for medical treatments in 1767.

Guillaume Duchene first used electricity for muscle stimulation in 1856.  Nikola Tesla, one of the most important early researchers in electricity, wrote about the potential of pulsed electrotherapy in 1897.

This was before electricity became commonplace in our lives. At the end of the 19th century, electricity was an exciting force that could, for the first time, be harnessed. People were as excited about this amazing new technology as we are about AI or virtual reality. People used electricity in party games and watched public exhibitions of electrical power. Physicians felt that electricity must have value in healthcare, but it wasn’t clear what was speculation and what was real.

As electricity became part of everyday life, there was a call for further research, for standardization, and for more control over the use of electricity in healthcare. It wasn’t until the 20th century that electricity could be controlled well enough to be safe and painless. The use of electricity in healthcare branched out into a number of different areas. PEMF was one.

The FDA accepted PEMF as “a viable treatment for pain” and PEMF therapy has been FDA approved for a variety of kinds of pain and inflammation since 1998.

While perhaps similar, electrotherapy isn’t the same thing as PEMF therapy. The biggest distinction is that pulsed electromagnetic field therapy stimulates the cells of the body using electromagnetic fields. Electrotherapy, however, uses electric currents for stimulation.

Putting the pieces together

Initial uses of electricity and magnets as treatment were crude and uniformed. Early physicians knew that electricity and magnetic fields could help treat patients, but they didn’t quite understand how or why. A lot of research has been done, and we are finally understanding just how this works. PEMF is a refined and informed practice of old ideas.

Scientists have been studying the relationship between electric currents and magnetic fields since Hans Christian Ørsted in 1820. Einstein famously conducted research showing that electricity and magnetism are not completely independent of one another, but are instead different parts of the same unified field.

Extensive research for pulsed electromagnetic field therapy began in the 1950s, and modern PEMF machines became commercially available in the 1970s.

Veterinarians were the first medical professionals to offer PEMF therapy in the United States when pulsed electromagnetic field therapy was used to successfully treat racehorse injuries. Now, human applications  are getting more research attention.

PEMF therapy receives FDA approval

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy has been an FDA approved form of treatment for almost 40 years.

  • The FDA approved PEMF therapy to heal nonunion fractures in 1979.
  • PEMF therapy was approved for urinary incontinence and muscle stimulation in 1998.
  • In 2004, the FDA approved pulsed electromagnetic field therapy for cervical fusion surgery patients at high risk for non-fusion.
  • PEMF therapy was approved for the treatment of depression and anxiety in 2006.
  • The FDA approved PEMF therapy for treatment of brain cancer in 2011.
  • In 2015 the FDA reclassified PEMF machines from Class 3 to Class 2 medical devices. PEMF Complete PEMF therapy systems are FDA registered wellness devices.

The popularity and awareness of PEMF therapy has increased significantly within the past decade. People are becoming more knowledgeable about the health advantages of PEMF therapy for people as well as PEMF therapy for animals.

Of course, the more you learn about PEMF therapy, the more questions you may have. Call PEMF Complete at 877-473-6377 for more information about pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, or if you’re interested in buying a PEMF machine.

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