Therapeutic Effects of Electromagnetic Fields

  • Walter H. Chang
  • Kyle T. Chang
  • Jimmy Li


Biological studies suggest that extremely low frequency-electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) operate by modulating normal control mechanisms available to the cell. There is an abundance of experimental and clinical data which indicate that exposure to exogenous electromagnetic fields of surprisingly low levels can have a profound effect on a large variety of biological systems, including the abovementioned bone disorders such as bone fracture and osteoporosis. The data obtained from in vitro systems suggest that the current biological activity of a cell (e.g., division or differentiation) can be modulated. As the number of experiments on EMF effects increases it is becoming increasingly evident, as will be shown below, that more cursory consideration must be given. Many EMF experiments employ transformed rather than normal cells. One must question whether cells that are abnormal represent the best model systems for elucidating EMF interaction mechanisms. A better approach might be to use simpler, well-studied normal cells such as yeast or bacteria. The obvious advantage of employing these organisms to elucidate the transduction pathway(s) is that they are well characterized and, more importantly, an endless array of mutants is available to the investigator. Historically, the use of mutants has proved to be an essential tool for elucidation of cellular pathways. The approved therapeutic effects of weak EMF result from devices which were designed to modulate (not initiate) tissue growth and repair. It is quite clear from all of the dosimetry data available that the amount of energy deposited in the cell or tissue target is negligible compared to the energy required by the affected biochemical pathway. Thus, the capability of weak EMF to have a bioeffect appears to reside in the informational content of the waveform. This may provide part of the explanation for the sensitivity of living systems to weak electromagnetic and magnetic fields. Finally, the site(s) and mechanisms of interaction between ELF-EMF and biological systems remain to be elaborated. Although there are numerous studies and hypotheses that suggest the membrane represents the primary site of interaction, there are also several different studies showing that in vitro systems, including cell-free systems, are responsive to EMF. The debate about potential hazards or therapeutic value of weak electromagnetic fields will continue until the mechanism has been clarified. The problem of how weak fields perturb cell function will be understood when the techniques of molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, and biophysics are directed together to answer the question.


Electromagnetic Field Pulse Electromagnetic Field Combine Magnetic Field Osteoblastlike Cell Weak Electromagnetic Field 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter H. Chang
  • Kyle T. Chang
  • Jimmy Li

There are no affiliations available

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