North American Academy of Magnetic Therapy Annual Convention L.A. 2000
Pulsed Magnetic Field Mattress and Pad
By William Pawluk, MD, USA 2000
This presentation was made at the North American Academy of Magnetic Therapy (NAAMT) Annual Convention program for 2000. NAAMT is the first national US non-profit organization to represent the interests of clinicians from various disciplines in the emerging new field of therapeutic magnetics. This includes the spectrum of magnetics used in clinical application, including static magnets and frequency or time varied magnetic fields.
We should explain some terms first before we get into the rest of the presentation. Static magnets include the ever popular direct to consumer permanent magnets seen in health catalogs, department stores and through distributors. These are typically lower strength magnetic fields. There are new research fields being studied now, which approximate 1/2 Tesla. Time varied magnetic fields include pulsed, sinusoidal and high frequency fields. These also now vary significantly in field strength from milli-Tesla to micro-Tesla to pico-Tesla levels. Gauss is the commonly used measure of field strength. Milli-Tesla fields are typically in the 10 plus range. Therefore, a 1 milli-Tesla field would be 10 gauss and a 10 milli-Tesla field would be 100 gauss. Micro-Tesla fields are in the a 0.001 gauss range. A 500 micro-Tesla field would be 0.5 gauss, about the strength of the Earth’s field.
For the first time at a national clinical magnetics meeting in the USA, we are introducing the concept of the QRS device. As Vice President of the Academy I have seen and/or used many static filed devices and several time varied field devices and have reviewed in our book the use and benefits of various kinds of fields and devices, mostly in the milli-Tesla range. The QRS is the first opportunity I have had to test and use a micro-Tesla field device. It should be noted that the first FDA approved magnetic therapy device for non-healing fractures used micro-Tesla fields. These fields were designed to resonate with the frequency of calcium. The QRS was developed with other principles in mind.
The primary reason I was interested in the QRS’s micro-Tesla, pulsed magnetic field, is that my belief, derived from all the previous research we’ve reviewed, was always conditioned to expect that the more powerful the field was, the stronger the effect or benefit would be. When I have used magnets in the past I have used large field strengths, 500 – 10,000 gauss. However, most of the Eastern European research literature supports the use of pulsed magnetic fields (PEMFs) under 100 gauss. Also, at both this meeting and at another national meeting last fall, several other researchers, including Dr. Martin Blank, presented information that magnetic fields below the level of the earth’s field strength, that is, below _ gauss, or 500 micro-Tesla, have biologic effects, primarily with heat stress proteins. It has somehow become accepted that clinical magnets had to exceed the level of strength of the Earth’s magnetic field to have physiologic effects. The data in the laboratory at least now suggests that this is no longer true.
The QRS produces fields that are below the level of the earth’s field strength. Scientists have agreed that the magnetic field has to be strong enough to create enough of a physiologic effect in tissue that it is going to exceed the effects from the normal chemical reactions in the body, which generate heat. This is called the thermal background. It may well be though, that there are different physiologic actions happening, and, thus, even below thermal threshold levels we may be producing effects with the QRS machine that aren’t created in the normal thermal background or that the thermal background itself can create.
A very appealing aspect about the QRS is that it’s a commercially available device that is produced and marketed out of Germany. The medical developers have been involved in the development, testing and use of pulsed magnetic field therapies for 25-30 years. At our NAAMT meeting about four years ago, we had a presentation from somebody talking about another long available device. The state of German scientific and technical knowledge about magnetics spans 3-4 decades. This means that this particular device is the evolutionary result of research and development spanning at least 20-30 years. Several universities in Europe have been involved, as well as Dr. Robert Becker, author of the “Body Electric”. Studies have been done and continue to be conducted on diabetes, osteoporosis, melatonin, and lung problems, among many others.
MIR SPACE STATION PROGRAM
One of the other interesting facts we discovered about the QRS is that it was used on the MIR space station program. The Russians were looking at ways of introducing a magnetic environment to people who were going to be in space for a long period of time. There are many well-known physiologic problems of prolonged weightlessness and the lack of the Earth’s constant background 0.5 gauss magnetic field. There are magnetic fields in space but they are significantly below the strength of the Earth’s field. While there are gravitational issues with prolonged stays in space, there are magnetic problems too. With the QRS the Russians tried to stimulate the body’s magnetic fields needs of the MIR Cosmonauts.
Other background development information on the QRS is research done by Dr’s. Kokoschinegg and Fischer at the University of Graz that stimulated development of this particular apparatus. They had looked at the use of very low intensity magnetic therapy systems on biologic tissues. In one early double blind study, they used different frequency fields at 500 micro-Tesla field strength. Again, about the level of the Earth’s field. They used battery-operated devices, with fixed frequencies at 1 millisecond. 80 people were treated, half of who received sham treatment.
The test subjects were selected from the clinical practices of these doctors, who did not have any severe organic pathology. There were three groups of patients. Group one had what the Europeans called “meteoro” sensitivity. “Meteoro” sensitivity is the presence of barometric-related symptoms associated with weather changes frequently seen in arthritis or soft tissue sufferers. Group two comprised those with various “rheumatic” conditions. These subjects included those who had acute and chronic rheumatism, myalgias and shoulder-hand pain syndromes, spinal nerve impingements (also called spondylopathies) and osteoarthroses, primarily of the knees and/or hips. These individuals had generalized pains, muscle pains, problems with necks and shoulders and radiation of those pains into the shoulders or arms. In spondylopathy the nerves are compressed in the spine from arthritis. Arthrosis, as opposed to inflammatory arthritis, is wear and tear or osteo-arthritis. The third group had sleep problems, insomnia, fatigue, symptomatic mitral valve prolapse, anxiety disorders, reactive depression and duodenal ulcers. The study also excluded people with cardiac conditions, moderate or severe depression, and severe migraines.
The sleep disturbance group was treated with a 4 Hz frequency field, the “meteorosensitivity” group with a 10 Hz frequency field and the rheumatic group received a 15 Hz field.
They used a classification system to categorize the severity of the symptoms. The subjects were evaluated by their physicians, classified according to whether they could be candidates for this particular study, and if selected were randomized to get either a sham or an active treatment device double blind. They received the devices for their own application and instructed on how the devices could be used. The devices could be used continuously but not any farther away from their bodies than 80 cm.
The results were interesting. In the four-hertz (or 4 cycles per second) frequency pulsed field (PEMF) sleep disturbance group, the treated group had twice as much sleep improvement as the sham group, that is 78 to 83% vs. 43-48%. This difference was statistically significant. The benefit is slightly better after six weeks of treatment vs. after two weeks. The greatest benefit appears to be within the first two weeks but there seems to be some continuing improvement up to six weeks. The study did not follow patients longer than six weeks. Not all subjects finished six weeks. For those who finished six weeks, when they measured them at two weeks and then again at 6, they found that it took four treatment cycles to feel significant improvement in acute and chronic sleep disturbances.
It took about fifteen cycles in acute and chronic rheumatism to feel significant improvement. Higher benefits are seen in chronic rheumatic problems as opposed to the acute problems. For acute rheumatic problems there is less obvious benefit, which is not statistically significant, of about a 33% placebo effect level and a 50% active treatment level, for difference of 23 percent. Many drugs are approved by the FDA with only a 10 percent level of benefit!
There was a statistically significant difference between the true and sham. On the sham treatments, both in rheumatism and in sleep disturbance, there were magnitudes of 43 – 46% improvement. There’s a very high placebo effect for treatment of sleep disturbances (43-48%), which makes sense. But there is also a very high placebo effect of 36% percent for rheumatism. This means that the magnetic treatment has a large expectancy or placebo level to improve over to demonstrate effectiveness. The positive results of the active treatment are all the more impressive when this is considered, that is, that about eight out of ten people will have either sleep or rheumatic pain improvement.
I think these results are impressive for a device with a field that many skeptics believe should not work. The QRS device, which is very similar to the field used in the above study, is a single mattress-size magnetic pad. You should barely feel the field. But, I was very surprised the first time I laid on it that I could actually feel it. I could feel changes in my body. I could feel heat, the sensation of a vibration and deep relaxation. Physical aches improved on the large pad as the treatment progressed.
For those for interested, here is some of the technical information on the device. It uses AC current directly from the wall. The field pulse is a double saw tooth spike wave cycled at various frequencies. The saw-tooth pattern, which is somewhat bi-phasic, and very spiked, has been found to produce strong electro-motive forces in cells and tissues. There is a keypad on the front of the machine with 10 buttons for different intensity settings. It’s automatically set on an 8-minute timer for each treatment cycle. For longer treatments you can reset it and repeat the session for another eight minutes, etc. for as many cycles as needed. For the most part I don’t recommend more than 1-2 cycles. We believe that time is required between treatments to allow the body to regenerate and experience the cellular changes stimulated by the magnetic field. Excessive treatment can cause temporary aggravation in some people. Instead, we recommend twice daily sessions.
The control console drives the pattern of magnetic coil simulation. The application duration is two minutes per subcycle. There are four subcycles per “session” or cycle. A built in electronic switch turns on the coils. There are six coils in the mattress pad and two coils in the smaller pad. The highest field intensity is 400 micro-Tesla or about 0.4 gauss field strength on the mat. The intensity ranges, depending on the intensity set on the console, from 0.01 gauss to 0.4 gauss.
The frequency cycles are 200Hz, 23Hz, and 3Hz. The 200 Hz frequency in several European studies has been found to improve blood flow and cellular metabolism. Like other electromagnetic fields, the QRS’s fields affect the calcium channel and the sodium-potassium pump, that is, the movement in and out of cells of potassium, chloride and calcium. The 23 Hz cycles were introduced into the apparatus to “counteract” electro smog. The QRS cancels out the actions of the 60Hz and 50Hz electromagnetic frequency waves in the air around us. The 3Hz cycle was introduced to resonate the brain to slow down, creating relaxation and reducing the physical effects of stress.
Since chronic stress is a major component of modern living and chronic stress produces a myriad of civilization’s ills, stress reduction on a regular basis, through such a simple passive, noninvasive, non-pharmacologic approach is highly desirable. This factor alone, by using the QRS regularly over long periods of time would be expected to have an anti-aging benefit. The 3 Hz level he is the Delta level of brain wave sleep. This means the QRS produces the physiologic simulation equivalent of a short duration of deep sleep. The magnetic field from the QRS reaches deep into CNS tissues, especially the brain, non-invasively and reduces the frequency of their firing to the level of 3 Hz for a short period of time.
A small pad is a treatment pad for local placement for specific problem areas. The large pad is the used daily for general rejuvenation. One of the concepts the developers had about the device is that the QRS’s magnetic fields have been found to replicate some of the oxygenation benefits of exercise. These kinds of magnetic fields can increase tissue oxygenation dramatically. Exercise is important for several other reasons as well. If one had to choose between regular effective exercise over a magnetic mattress treatment, you should do exercise preferably. However, even if you can exercise, there may be significant personal benefits to the regular use of such a magnetic mattress as the QRS. If you can’t exercise, like me, since I work 12-13 hour days and don’t have time for exercise most of the time, routine magnetic treatments are next best. So, if I can spend 8 minutes, twice a day getting “energized” by a very low level magnetic field, that stimulation may substitute to a great extent for what I’m lacking physiologically otherwise from lack of exercise.
ELECTROMOTIVE FORCE ACTION RESEARCH VERIFICATION
Scientists wanted proof that the very weak fields of the QRS could cause cellular actions to change enough to affect the body. Therefore, scientific tests were done by independent laboratories in Europe, notably the Max Planck Institute, to establish this. One study was on the ability of these electro-motive forces to affect the flows of selected ions in and out of cells. The other was to assess the effects on the electrophoretic mobility of ions. To do this the device was tested on fowl. The birds received a full body application of a micro-Tesla field for two weeks, two hours per day. They had their sodium, potassium and calcium levels measured using a Perkins-Elmer absorpiometer, before and after the treatments. Some birds were treated and some served as controls. There was a 6% positive movement difference for sodium, 25% negative difference for potassium and 10% positive difference for the movement or change in calcium. These magnitudes of effect are considered to be scientifically significant. Measurement of the electrophoretic mobility of sodium, potassium and calcium ions and red cells was also tested. This test tells if there is change in ion flows above the levels of thermal noise. The experiments were done to establish for the physics community that there is enough electro-motive force produced by these micro-Tesla fields to be able to move ions in vitro in buffer beyond the levels seen with thermal change.
These actions had to be established to have a credible basis to claim that the ionic changes produced by these electromotive forces were strong enough to induce cellular change and move red blood cells. Their conclusion was that this particular device produces enough electrical charge change in the buffer to be greater than thermal noise. Once it is established for a given device that there it induces electro-motive change in ion movement in the body, then you can accept that the fields of this magnetic apparatus would produce other basic biologic cellular effects seen with other kinds of pulsed magnetic fields. Research has shown that PEMFs increase ATP, PO2 and mitochondrial energy production in the cell, open the ion channels in the cell wall and improve membrane polarization. They also improve movement of waste products out of the cell, such as carbon dioxide, water and other metabolic breakdown products.
HOW DOES THE QRS DO ITS JOB?
What the magnetic field does, therefore, is to essentially wake up the cells and make them function better, if they need to improve in function. If the cells don’t need to improve in function, the effects appear to be innocuous. The magnetic field does not “hit” the body, like an external electrical charge would. This is akin to a gale wind. These magnetic fields are very subtle forces, more like a gentle breeze. That’s why treatments can take several days to show significant benefit, especially in chronic problems. The level of the field produced by the QRS, because of the frequencies and field strengths used, acts gently on the body. For this reason, it can be used to stimulate regeneration, restore balance, prevent problems and stimulate wellness. Like most magnetic fields, severe disruptions in physiology or pathologic change are unlikely to be directly benefited. However, even here those aspects of the body’s functions that are not so compromised would still receive benefit.
With the QRS you get is a physiologic change in ion flows, which brings in oxygen and nutrients and creates a richer ATP energy environment. Healthy cell membranes have membrane tension voltage potentials between 70-110 mVolts. Sick cells have membrane tensions of 50 mVolts or less and cancer cell potentials are 20 mVolts or less. As a result, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to get a cancer cell cranked up. In some cases though, if the magnetic field strength is too strong you can actually damage the cell, and if it’s too weak, it doesn’t have enough of an effect.
In Germany many studies have been done showing that the QRS affects bone structure, and may help osteoporosis. Some benefits have already been seen with this problem. The 23 Hz field helps improve the function of cells with metabolic stimulation, especially cells that have been damaged by electro smog. One piece of information from another recent national magnetics conference is that the environment in which we live today has a great number of totally unnatural, and that is artificial electromagnetic fields, only some effects of which are becoming understood as yet. Artificial chemicals, including insecticides, pesticides and antibiotics, cause additional toxicities. The belief is that if you can counteract the chronic damage caused by these agents with gentle pulsed magnetic fields and remain healthier longer. Since the QRS is used only twice a day, for most people, it is not expected to have any of the potential deleterious effects that have been alleged to be associated with power lines. However, the same precautions that exist for other magnetic fields also exist for the QRS, in terms of pace makers, pregnancy and so on.
OTHER CLINICAL RESEARCH
A retrospective, clinical review was conducted in Europe by 21 physicians on 133 patients. Patients were selected for treatment on the QRS because they did not improve on previous treatments. Patients had multiple symptoms producing various complex clinical pictures. This review looked at people, not just individual symptoms or diseases. What the clinicians did was to look at the clinic pictures as well as the diseases and analyze the results based on both those perspectives. They had 133 patients with 448 reports, that is, 448 elements of 21 clinical pictures. 106 of those individuals had the QRS as the only therapy. 27 had other therapies oriented to a specific problem. The physicians had the expectation that the patients’ metabolism would normalize after 4 to 6 weeks of treatment. It was expected that only after this, would real healing begin. 25% of the subjects in this series were treated for only 2 weeks. They left and didn’t go on to a full duration of therapy. The original design was to try to have people treated as long as possible, preferably at least 4 weeks. 16% of the individuals actually were treated upwards of 6 weeks, and some of them were followed for as long 50 months.
On analysis, the disease related results, showed that 39% of the patients had their symptoms relieved, 40% were improved and 21% were unchanged. Overall, there was a 79% positive response rate to the QRS. This is above the level of placebo, as seen in the other research described earlier.
When they evaluated the patients in terms of their clinical pictures, there was an 89% improvement from a 70% severity level before treatment. 11% were unchanged. Evaluation intervals were over several weeks of therapy, from two weeks to sixteen weeks, that is, at two, four, six, eight, twelve and sixteen weeks. In the first two weeks there was relatively little improvement. Most people remained unchanged if they left therapy after two weeks. If they did not complete a course of at least four weeks, they did not get much benefit. By four weeks, the level of improvement goes to about 45%. Benefit appears to continue to increase over time. The people who stopped treatment at 4 weeks are clearly different than the people who stopped treatment at 2 weeks and they’re clearly different from the people who went on to 16 weeks. The dropouts appear to be self-selecting. Those who already got relief didn’t go on further with treatments. All in all then, if you take all the data together, there was a significant improvement over time from the QRS treatments.
THE PLACEBO EFFECT
There may be some who would argue that the QRS only produces a placebo effect. The FDA now uses 60-90 days as the duration of action required to be measured in a study to be able to exclude a placebo response. If there is a measurable benefit after 3 or more months, the FDA no longer considers the treatment placebo.
When many doctors have treated someone before and couldn’t achieve a benefit for chronic stable conditions, why all of a sudden is the next practitioner getting a placebo effect. Why couldn’t the doctors before produce the placebo benefit? Given the basic science research done at the Max Planck Institute and the other studies completed to date – with to come – there is little doubt that the QRS, even if subtle and gentle in it’s actions, has a much stronger benefit than placebo alone.
Other evidence has been collected to demonstrate the benefits of QRS exposure. These results use techniques that are accepted in some clinical circles but would not qualify in others. Still, I consider them worthwhile considering. In a patient who had an aura picture taken before QRS therapy, the aura appeared bleached out and yellow. Most of the colors were bleached out or blended in, so they were not good, clear distinct aura colors. Another aura picture taken after only one 8-minute session on the QRS showed that the aura colors became balanced. The whole aura field color improved in general, and became more vibrant and less sick looking.
Another study, using a Dermatron-type Russian device, that uses the measurements of the energy of the ting acupuncture points, tested a patient with large differences among the meridians. There was a lot of variability among the meridians. After QRS exposure, there was a significant reduction in the amount of pathology in those meridians. In one case, the meridian energy measurements were too high, showing an imbalance. After exposure, all the meridians dropped in energy level and became re-balanced.
Thermograms of a human chest and a horse’s neck were taken before and after treatment with the QRS for 8 minutes. For the horse, there was a great increase in temperature, meaning much improved blood flow. This is strong objective evidence of a physiologic action, showing that obviously this is not a placebo effect. Somebody told me once, when I got off the mat, that my face was flushed, and I only did it for about 4 minutes. There was more evidence of a vascular flow increase.
Red blood cell aggregation is affected by QRS exposure. Microscopic tests show less adhesion after exposure. Other research with static magnetic mattresses seems to be similar. The Europeans think this has a lot to do with humans generally being relatively hypo-oxygenated, because we take in nitrates which produce nitrites, many individuals take in too much carbon monoxide from pollution or smoking or not getting enough exercise. In Europe, they measured tissue oxygen tensions in peripheral tissue. Normally there’s about a 24% change in the oxygen saturation from blood at the lung and blood at the tissue. In blood leaving the lung there is an oxygen saturation of about 97-98%. Oxygen tension measures in the peripheral blood go down to about 54%. In Germany, peripheral oxygen saturations were measured in 6,000 students and found that they actually had tissue perfusion levels close to 60%. Magnetic fields can improve these peripheral tissue saturation levels to 70-80%.
Stress is another thing that causes vascular constriction, which leads to hypo-oxygenation or hypoxemia. Chronic hypoxemia probably contributes to chronic fatigue syndrome and may be a major component of it. I think what is happening is that these red cells are better oxygenated by magnetic field exposure. As a result, their surface tensions are changed and they don’t attract each other as much. If blood doesn’t sludge, one is less likely to have an excess clotting or thrombotic problem. We know now that magnetic fields decrease thrombin and platelet stickiness. This leads to better vascular health and hopefully less arteriosclerotic blockage. Pulsed magnetic fields have been demonstrated to do this over all kinds of applications.
Wound healing is also significantly improved with the QRS. Wounds that were found to be not healing, after the QRS, improve.
The QRS comes with defined protocols. One selects the right number for the particular component to be treated. For prevention, the setting ranges between 1 – 6. If there is pathology, even the QRS, though it’s a micro-Tesla field, has been found to produce aggravations. This also happens with other therapies. Using lower settings reduces or eliminates this problem.
Using the QRS at night produces better sleep, and using it in the morning creates a more energized day – clearing the cobwebs, so to speak.
While I have experienced other magnetic devices, the QRS for all its benefits is not very expensive. It’s relatively portable and that makes it consumer useable and accessible to the public. And because it’s a micro-Tesla field, some people feel you don’t have to worry about it as much and so it is a direct consumer device.