Electromagnetic therapy (alternative medicine)

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Electromagnetic therapy is a pseudoscientific[1] form of alternative medicine which claims to treat disease by applying electromagnetic radiation to the body.[2][3][4] There is no scientific evidence that non-medically approved electromagnetic therapy is effective in treating any condition.[2][5] Practitioners claim that these methods can treat a wide range of ailments, including ulcers, headaches, burns, chronic pain, nerve disorders, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, gum infections, asthma, bronchitis, arthritis, cerebral palsy, heart disease and cancer.[2]

Even though some of the early works in bioelectromagnetics are being successfully applied in clinical medicine,[6] there is no relationship between alternative devices or methods which use externally applied electrical forces and the use of electromagnetic energy in mainstream medicine.[2]


Despite the lack of scientific evidence, low frequency electromagnetic therapy has been proposed by practitioners of alternative medicine for a variety of purposes, including cell growth promotion, pain reduction, improved blood circulation, bone repair, increased wound healing, sedative effects, enhanced sleep, and arthritic relief.[7]

Some proponents of electromagnetic therapy believe that "harmful electromagnetic fields" might "disrupt the body's chemical makeup resulting in disease and illness."[5] The Moore Cancer Center of the University of California, San Diego Medical Center offers alternative therapies for cancer patients. However, it clearly states on its website that to their knowledge "there is no scientific evidence available that any electromagnetic therapies work."[5]


The American Cancer Society says that "relying on electromagnetic treatment alone and avoiding conventional medical care may have serious health consequences." In some cases the devices may be ineffective and harmful.[2] Cochrane systematic reviews found no evidence that electromagnetic therapy was useful in healing pressure ulcers[8] or venous stasis ulcers.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Basford, Jeffrey R. (2001). "A historical perspective of the popular use of electric and magnetic therapy". Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 82 (9): 1261–1269. doi:10.1053/apmr.2001.25905. 
  2. ^ a b c d e The American Cancer Society. "Electromagnetic Therapy: What is the evidence?". Archived from the original on 2008-02-04. 
  3. ^ Luben, RA (1991). "Effects of low-energy electromagnetic fields (pulsed and DC) on membrane signal transduction processes in biological systems". Health physics. 61 (1): 15–28. doi:10.1097/00004032-199107000-00002. PMID 2061045. 
  4. ^ Gordon, GA (2007). "Designed electromagnetic pulsed therapy: Clinical applications". Journal of cellular physiology. 212 (3): 579–82. doi:10.1002/jcp.21025. PMID 17577213. 
  5. ^ a b c Moore Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego Medical Center. "Complementary and Alternative Therapies For Cancer Patients". 
  6. ^ Rosch, P. & Marko S. Markov. "Bioelectromagnetic Medicine". Informa Health Care, 2004. ISBN 0-8247-4700-3, ISBN 978-0-8247-4700-8. Republished by Google books. Accessed 8 June 2009.
  7. ^ Begué-Simon AM, Drolet RA (December 1993). "Clinical assessment of the RHUMART system based on the use of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields with low frequency". Int J Rehabil Res. 16 (4): 323–7. PMID 8175238. 
  8. ^ Aziz, Z; Bell-Syer, SE (3 September 2015). "Electromagnetic therapy for treating pressure ulcers". The Cochrane database of systematic reviews (9): CD002930. PMID 26334539. 
  9. ^ Aziz, Z; Cullum, N (2 July 2015). "Electromagnetic therapy for treating venous leg ulcers". The Cochrane database of systematic reviews (7): CD002933. PMID 26134172. 

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