“It is becoming increasingly clear that we can’t see organ systems in isolation like we did in the past…it’s very clear that the human is one entity; mind and body are one. It sounds logical, but it’s not how we looked at it before. Now we have new data and new insights.” -Dr. Paul-Peter Tak, professor of rheumatology at the University of Amsterdam.
“Body systems do not exist in reality–it is always impossible to define where one system ends and the next starts. The body functions as a whole and it is only as a whole that we should attempt to comprehend it.” –The Ontogenetic Basis of Human Anatomy: A Biodynamic Approach to Development By Erich Blechschmidt
While experimenting with a rat’s brain in the late 1990s, neurosurgeon Kevin Tracey injected an anti-inflammatory drug to see what effect it would have on blocking the damaging inflammation created during a stroke. He expected it might halt the production of TNF (an inflammatory cytokine) in the brain. While this hypothesis proved to be true, something unexpected happened as well. In spite of Dr. Tracey having injected too small an amount to have effectively travelled to the rest of the body via the bloodstream, the drug blocked inflammation in the spleen. The unexpected results of his accidental experiment led him to a profound discovery:
The brain was using the nervous system via the vagus nerve to interact with immune cells and switch off inflammation everywhere.
This story highlights the fact that the body is truly interconnected and a reductionist view or approach in treating it as individual systems is inadequate. The body’s communication network is vast and varied, and many of the ways in which the parts interact may yet be undiscovered. A holistic approach to supporting wellness can be more broadly applicable.
Dr. Tracey capitalized on his discovery by developing a tiny implantable nerve stimulator designed for direct electrical stimulation to the left vagal nerve in the neck to diminish the inflammatory response of TNF. More broadly, this technology became part of a growing category of drug-free therapies based on electromagnetism, not drugs. In fact, Time magazine ran a cover article on the $40B electroceutical industry, citing it as one of the new waves in healthcare.
PEMF falls within this same category and brings some unique advantages in comparison to devices such as implantable nerve stimulators. For example, PEMF is non-invasive, meaning it requires no surgical procedure, and is therefore less prone to infection risk or unintended side effects. .
PEMF does not just target a nerve, a blood vessel, or a muscle. Its effect does not require the exacting precision of an injection shot, introducing a foreign implant into tissue, or a surgical procedure. As a PEMF user, you should not think about pulsing an organ or pain point. Instead, think of it as pulsing in the vicinity of an area of issue, because the impact is truly broad. PEMF stimulates all of the cells in a region, including tissue, bone, blood, and nerve. Further, because of the holistic nature of the body, PEMF stimulation extends globally beyond the area of delivery by way of the nervous system, circulating blood cells, interconnected lymphatic system, hormones, second messenger systems, etc. When the body holistically receives the energy boost to its cells, this can catalyze a wellness cascade that is yet to be well-understood by modern science. This is why it is not unusual for PEMF users to experience unexpected benefits, in much the same way as Dr. Tracey’s direct electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve in the neck reached another part of the body (the spleen).
PEMF is complementary to a holistic, non-invasive approach to wellness. It works through the natural interconnectedness of the body’s systems. Pulsing the whole body may produce results in localized areas; and, its application to a targeted areas, may produce results far from the area that was pulsed because our bodies are astoundingly well-connected.
Frieda A. Koopman, Sangeeta S. Chavan, Sanda Miljko, Simeon Grazio, Sekib Sokolovic, P. Richard Schuurman, Ashesh D. Mehta, Yaakov A. Levine, Michael Faltys, Ralph Zitnik, Kevin J. Tracey, and Paul P. Tak. “Vagus Nerve Stimulation Inhibits Cytokine Production and Attenuates Disease Severity in Rheumatoid Arthritis” PNAS (First published: July 5, 2016) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1605635113
Funk RH. Coupling of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) therapy to molecular grounds of the cell. Am J Transl Res. 2018 May 15;10(5):1260-1272. PMID: 29887943; PMCID: PMC5992548.
Guerriero F, Ricevuti G. Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields stimulation modulates autoimmunity and immune responses: a possible immuno-modulatory therapeutic effect in neurodegenerative diseases. Neural Regen Res. 2016 Dec;11(12):1888-1895. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.195277. PMID: 28197174; PMCID: PMC5270416.