What about the NASA study?
In September 2003 an experimental study was published by Thomas Goodwin, Ph.D. who investigated the effect of electromagnetic fields on neuronal cells.
These are the cells responsible for transmitting electrical signals throughout the body.
E.g. if we want to open a hand our brain first sends electrical command signals to the muscles responsible for opening of the hand. These electrical signals reach these muscles and if there is no damage to the neuronal cells going from the brain towards these muscles, the hand will open. If there is damage as result of an accident or surgery the body will repair the damage and regenerate these neuronal cells however this takes time.
For better understanding I compare this effect to damage in sensitivity on the skin after surgery, where because the surgeon had to cut through the skin also sensory nerves were damaged. As result the sensitivity of the skin behind the wound area will be less. After healing of the wound, nerves do "grow back" and improve the feeling on the skin, however this takes time.
The purpose of the NASA study was to find out if it is possible to stimulate regeneration (= regrowth) of neural tissue with electromagnetic fields, in order to improve electrical conductivity between the neuronal cells and indeed: the regrowth improved by 2.5 to 4 times.
Here we see a picture of the experiment. At the left side is the electric generator and at the right side the cell cultures into which platinum and stainless steel electrodes were inserted. Please notice:
No electromagnetic coils were used!
For this experiment an electric generator was used supplying an alternating current (AC) of 0.001- 0.006 Ampere and a pulse frequency of 10 Hz (= 10 pulses per second).
The pulses varied in width only while the pulse frequency stayed fixed at 10 Hz. This they called time-varying electromagnetic fields.
The pulse form used had a positive and a negative part, also called Biphasic. Pulses having a positive part only are called Monophasic.
Let us now look at the above information in a technical way and see if the used parameters in this study are also applicable for PEMF, where we want to obtain the best possible effects deep inside the body.
The so called time varying fields used in this NASA study are changing only the duty cycle of the pulses and not the frequency, which is fixed at 10Hz. The duty cycle of a pulse is the actual width of the pulse as shown in the following picture where only the on-time and off-time of the whole period changes.
In the following picture are some examples showing the above for several different duty cycles.
If square wave pulse forms are used for pulsing energy into PEMF coils, the pulse form changes because of the resistance (inductance) of the copper wires inside the coils. We can see in the picture above that the wave form is changing completely from a square wave into something like a sinus wave during the rise time of the pulse. This effect causes huge delays in the speed of induction required for deep penetration into cells and bones.
Fast speed of induction is another crucial parameter in order to obtain the best possible energy transfer!
Should we use monophasic or biphasic pulses for PEMF like those used in this NASA study?
It is clear that the use of biphasic pulses like in this NASA study were directly related to electro-stimulation devices, where the FDA requires the use of energy pulses with close to zero coulomb load on the skin. These requirements are correct because we do not want to get skin burns as result of electrical energy applied directly to the skin of the user by the use of contact electrodes, like in TENS and muscle stimulation devices.
Having said this however, we do want to obtain energy transfer into the body of the user and as such monophasic PEMF pulses should be used but without any direct electrical skin contact! The latter is of course obtained by non-contact application of PEMF. It is not for nothing that PEMF is also called energy medicine!
In The former USSR it was known already for a long time that after kosmonauts stayed for extensive periods of time in outer space, they had major problems after returning to earth.
In outer space there is no gravity and as such these kosmonauts had muscle and bone problems after their return to the gravity field of earth. You might have noticed that these kosmonauts were unable to stand upon their return to earth and had to sit down immediately after recovery of their space module. During their very long cosmic stays their bone density was reduced considerably and a PEMF device designed already more than 15 years ago by the editor of this website, is still being used for treatment of these returning kosmonauts, to improve on their bone density.
It is very questionable wheather the square wave form used in this NASA study, in combination with biphasic pulses and a fixed pulsing frequency is applicable and even relevant for PEMF at all.
Similarity with PEMF or pulsed electromagnetic fields are only the words "electromagnetic fields".
The behavior of biphasic square waves with a fixed pulsing frequency as used in this NASA study, in addition to the behavior effect when applied within PEMF coils, is definitely very questionable too.
Devices using the so called "NASA pulse wave form" are far from being optimal for effective PEMF therapy. Much more important is the use of monophasic pulses with very fast pulse rise time inside the applied PEMF coils, as required for really effective PEMF therapy.