Keep in mind, pulse pattern may be more important if you are stimulating the brain than other tissues because of brain wave entrainment. That is actually a separate issue than the beneficial effects of PEMF for inducing tissue regeneration. Mostly, when involving the brain, I think it would be important to use a pattern that does not cause discomfort. And if you are looking for another effect on the brain that goes beyond potential tissue regeneration, pulse pattern may also be important.
At this point many people might be thinking: “There it is! I’ve cracked it!! He’s about to reveal the secret, finally!”
But when you foray into the subject of the effects of PEMF on the brain such as awareness, alertness, consciousness, memory, learning, “brain fog”, and so forth, I am not asserting that anything is necessary or true regarding PEMF. I am simply stating “I do not know.”
Regarding “Gauss”, here is the problem we face in the PEMF marketplace:
Mostly people buy PEMF systems based on a belief that the published specifications are true. But the problem is this: it is well known that PEMF marketers often over-state their specifications by a factor of 10x or even as high as 100x. After all, how would the consumer know?
Consider this analogy:
If I sell you a dozen oranges, you can just open the bag and count the oranges. If I shorted you a few oranges, you would know right away. If I did this to many customers, my reputation as a grocer would soon deteriorate, and people would stop buying oranges from me.
But what about Gauss? Has anyone ever seen one? Can you measure Gauss? I can because I have the necessary scientific instruments, but the vast majority of people can not. For most people, you are stuck with the option of believing them, or not. You cannot verify “Gauss” for yourself.
This is a common problem with many products where verification is difficult. For example, consider rechargeable batteries. Many people shop on-line for batteries and buy the ones with the largest capacity (mAh) for the dollar. As a result, disreputable battery manufacturers simply print a larger value on their battery than is actually true. I have measured this many times, and I have discovered in most cases that off-brand battery manufacturers very frequently sell batteries with an actual energy capacity of about half of the amount they advertise. So, for example, a 1000 mAh lithium-ion battery may in reality only be about 500 mAh when you actually test it, as I have done.
For the average person, the only clue they get to this deception is after they use the new battery, and in reality they find that it does not last as long as their honestly-labeled original battery, which supposedly had a lower capacity.
By the time consumers discover this, it is too late, and they probably can’t prove it anyway.
The more standardized and verifiable the values become, the harder it is for low-integrity manufacturers and marketers to do this type of scam. But the problem is this: there are no established standards in the field of PEMF, so manufacturers and marketers can say anything they want to say and people try to make sense of it. But in reality their claims can be off by a factor of 10 to 100, and people have no way of knowing. Their only clue is the vague sense that “I tried this new PEMF system for a few months, and it does not seem to work as well as the other one.”
So, to answer your question directly, in my opinion, Gauss does matter, but not the way PEMF marketers claim. If it were simply “Gauss”, then all you need is a strong magnet. These are many times higher Gauss than any PEMF system, and usually cost only a few dollars.
But fixed magnets do not work biologically the same way as pulsed magnetic fields. Why? Because of the pulse. Specifically, the shape of the pulse. Not just the frequency, not just the Gauss, the specific shape of the PEMF waveform. This is exceedingly difficult to measure, and several PEMF manufacturers have actually contacted me over the years to help them measure their pulse shapes, because they are unable to do so themselves. It is very common for PEMF manufacturers to sell their products without even accurately knowing what they are selling.
There is a technical reason why Gauss does matter. It is only a secondary value, because it is the result of the underlying values that really matter. It is difficult to understand this unless you have a good command of calculus and electro-magnetic theory, but basically the reason Gauss matters is this:
1- The rate of change of the magnetic field induces an electric field in deep tissues. This rate of change is measured in Gauss PER SECOND. (G/s)
2- The induced electric field needs to be above a minimum threshold to have a biological effect, Therefore there will be a minimum value for G/s. This is related to a biological parameter for excitable tissues termed “Rheobase”, which has been known about for about a century, I have written about it in several scientific papers, but for the most part even biologists find it too complex, so they ignore it when they can.
3-The duration of the pulse needs to be a certain minimum duration. Duration is a time, measured in seconds (usually micro-seconds). This is related to another biological parameter for excitable tissues, termed “Chronaxie”. This is another one of those parameters that is known to biologists, but remains somewhat mysterious, so they simply set their experimental stimulators to “long enough” and then ignore the details.
4- When you multiply the threshold magnetic field rate (G/s) times the minimum duration (s) you get Gauss:
G/s * s = G
This is exactly like saying that if you drive 50 miles per hour, and you drive for two hours you have traveled a distance of:
50 * 2 = 100 miles (miles/hour * hours = miles)
The reason is this: the time units cancel out, leaving you with a distance: miles.
But when driving, the main thing you need to keep an eye on is speed, not distance, or you will get a ticket. Police do not ticket you for traveling too far. They ticket you for traveling too fast. Speed and distance are related, but they are fundamentally different quantities.
Similarly, “Gauss/sec” and “Gauss” are related (but they are different), and you will get a certain Gauss level if you maintain a certain Gauss/sec for a certain time, but what REALLY MATTERS is Gauss/second, not just Gauss.
PEMF marketers do not understand this, or if they do, they understand that this explanation is not good for their sales, so they simply misrepresent their product, and sell “Gauss”
Bottom line: Gauss matters, but only indirectly, because it is derived from the real, important, underlying parameters of pulse edge slope (G/s) and pulse edge duration (s)
Now, here is where it starts to get much more complicated. A few clinical PEMF experts asked my why, if Gauss is only secondary, does it require more Gauss to reach deeper tissues. The answer has to do with the physics of magnetic field lines.
The first thing you need to know is that magnetic fields drop off and disappear pretty quickly when you move farther away from the source of the magnetism. It is much more complex and rapid than the inverse square law which describes the drop off of light intensity from a point source of light.
So, as you move farther from the source of magnetism (deeper into tissues, for example), the peak magnetic field for each pulse rapidly gets smaller and smaller. To maintain the minimum necessary G/s to have a biological effect, this means as you get farther away from the magnetic source, you need to increase the value of G (Gauss) to maintain the minimum value of G/s.
This explains why, in general, you do need more Gauss to reach deeper tissues. But you need to maintain the threshold G/s, not just G, or it will not work.
If this has your head spinning, that is OK. Most people think that simple questions necessarily have simple answers. But this is not necessarily true. Just try asking any physicist why the sky is blue. They may have mercy on you and give you the “baby” answer. But if you keep asking, and they finally tell you the real answer, with all the math, you will see what I mean.
These physical relationships are so subtle and complex, it takes a lifetime of diligent study to begin to understand them. So, PEMF marketers take the low-integrity path of “simplifying it” for you, telling you the “secrets”… but then they just box up a simple, over-powered square wave pulse generator. These seem to work, but they are highly inefficient. So you get exposed to hundreds of times more electro-magnetic energy than you need to for the desired biological effect.
You will often see the same kinds of deception when PEMF marketers sell you a “whole-body” PEMF. These do not really have the physical requirements to provide adequate magnetic field stimulation for your whole body, but the higher price tag, and the larger pad, do look reassuring to most people.