There’s a reason that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is considered science fiction rather than supernatural horror. Our bodies are indeed modulated by electric currents. For decades, electric shocks have been used to re-start our hearts. We can feel the pulse of energy in electrical manipulation through ancient treatments such as acupuncture.
Yet we are also susceptible to energy imbalances. While our bodies are one big electromagnetic field (EMF), other EMFs created by power lines, Wi-Fi networks, and other modern technologies can disrupt those fields. How does this affect our well-being? How can we stay “charged” without being overloaded?
How Electrical Fields Affect Our Body
The ancient practice of acupuncture is designed to align our body’s chi, or energy, via electrical currents. While there are millennia of anecdotal evidence, acupuncture has been difficult to study with modern science. Dr. Robert Becker, the author of The Body Electric, was among the first to measure voltage patterns on living organisms. In his research on salamanders and frogs, he found that bodies appeared to have electrical fields that correspond to acupuncture charts. Interestingly, he discovered a correlation between increased voltage and regeneration of limbs, for which many amphibians are well known.
Whether the electrical field is causative or symptomatic remains to be seen. However, there definitely seems to be a link between bioelectric properties and cellular metabolism.
EMFs vs PMFs
Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) involve a pulsing flow of current. An example is our typical power lines. They transmit a current as long as the lines are open. Meanwhile, they generate a magnetic field that runs perpendicular to the flow of current. Their frequency is very low — typically less than 100 Hz.
PEMFs are of little concern. In fact, they are increasingly used in new therapies. PEMF treatment has been shown to trigger anti-inflammatory effects in injured joints by modulating the electrical interaction between repair proteins and cytokines. Essentially, they clean up the signaling among these vital molecules. For example, muscle and tissue repair happens when growth factors travel among calcium channels. Nitric oxide (NO) encourages new blood vessel formation to deliver vital nutrients. PEMF therapy energizes those channels to invite more NO, creating a healing effect.
EMFs, though, might also stand for environmental magnetic fields. They’re generally used for communication: radio waves, television waves, Wi-Fi, etc. They are open-loop magnet fields, meaning they bleed through air, buildings, and even living tissue. They operate at a higher frequency, which makes them an issue of concern as higher frequencies are generally associated with dangerous radiation. For example, the radiation of a nuclear blast is called “ionizing” radiation because it actually encourages molecules to lose electrons. This causes oxidative stress and DNA damage. While devices such as wireless computers, cell phones, etc. are non-ionizing, they do utilize higher frequencies ranging from 3 to 300 Gigahertz (not Herz).
Thankfully, even our 5G devices are types of non-ionizing radiation. However, we still may experience ill effects as those fields have spikes of varying frequencies — “dirty electricity” that disrupts the field’s harmonics and therefore its interaction with our biological fields.
Low-Frequency EMF Effects
While medium- to high-frequency EMFs have been linked to negative health effects, extremely low-frequency EMFs (aka ELFs) aren’t much better. These ELFs are generated by wireless devices and are more susceptible to “dirty electricity.” Those disharmonic spikes and surges affect our bodies’ voltage sensitivity. Perhaps you’ve felt the effects after a long day at the office: a mysterious feeling of anxiety and imbalanced stimulation that seems unrelated to normal work stresses.
That’s why our overlapping fields from smartwatches, laptops, home AI, and sensors are causes for concern. This is especially true if these EMFs are not pulsed, i.e. static. Research suggests that static exposure to ELFs leads to the production of Reactive Oxygen Species, which have been linked to cancer-causing oxidative stress. Ultra-low frequency also seems to affect the blood-brain barrier, increasing its permeability — and not in a good way. This could allow heavy metals to accumulate in the brain.
However, repetitive and focused exposure to pulsed ELFs seems to have the opposite effect. It actually reduces ROS levels and appears to trigger our body’s inherent antioxidant mechanisms. That’s where PEMF treatment, aka magnetic therapy, comes in.
Our bodies are a continual network of electrical charges. The very contraction of our muscles involves electron transfer between sodium and potassium ions. Those make up the aptly-named electrolytes. Without them, our hearts would literally stop beating.
Imagine your body as a battery. It stores energy and releases it through electrical impulses. We are powerful conductors of currents. But as we age, those mechanisms slow down. Our “batteries” run out of juice. We struggle to recharge the body. We no longer have sufficient growth factors to repair damaged tissue.
That’s why PEMF treatment, also called magnetic therapy, is emerging as a way to rejuvenate our metabolism. It can help jump-start our electrical impulses, the same as a defibrillator would jump-start a stopped heart. We have also seen that magnetic therapy can reduce anxiety, brain fog, and stress. It seems to re-balance the brain — perhaps because it encourages the healthy pulsing of electrical impulses. There’s a reason we call stress and trauma “shock.” Anxious brains are responding to a constant flood of cortisol, all modulated by firing neurons. PMF therapy appears to reduce those signals and the body’s overall inflammation.
Indeed, PEMF’s early uses in modern medicine revolved around its anti-inflammatory abilities. Since 1950, radiofrequency fields have been used to relieve pain and edema in post-surgical patients! The most common mechanism seems to be triggering intracellular calcium protons to bind to calmodulin, which triggers repair enzymes to come rushing in. Calcium is one of our key electrolytes, exchanging electrons to make vital metabolic processes happen. With PEMF, we can catalyze those reactions.
This makes PEMF therapy a viable alternative to anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals such as NSAIDs or ibuprofen. Long-term use of these drugs has been linked to liver damage, addiction, and other negative health effects. Therefore, they are not ideal for chronic pain treatment. As chronic pain is typically caused by inflammation, magnetic therapy can reduce the symptoms by treating the cause.
While many of our environmental concerns are relatively easy to identify, EMFs are not inherently good or bad. As an overlapping web of dirty electricity at low frequencies, they’re likely harmful. Yet our standard technologies such as power lines and microwaves are fine — assuming that your levels of exposure are within the normal range. Even 5G is likely not as damaging as we fear. Where it becomes an issue is when we cannot escape the electromagnetic intrusion of so many ELF-producing devices.
On the flip side, targeted use of pulsed EMFs can be highly therapeutic. We have seen the potential to treat everything from chronic pain to anxiety disorders, reducing our dependence on toxic pharmaceuticals.
That’s because our bodies are themselves a complex EMF, one that requires balance in all its processes. A constant stream of disharmonic electromagnetic signals can disrupt that balance. A targeted infusion of pulsing energy can restore it. Just as an electric shock can both stop and start a heart, we must know when and why to introduce our bodies to EMFs.
This article is inspired by an interview with Dr. William Pawluk, an American Board-Certified Family Physician with training in acupuncture, homeopathy, hypnosis, and bodywork.