I thought I would take some time to share my experiences using bioelectric devices. This has been the only real forum I see for discussing this stuff. Obviously, none of this constitutes advice.
I’m in my mid 40s. Over the last 15 years, I have looked for fixes for the following symptoms:
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Low energy
- Some exercise intolerance
- Calf / foot arch cramps after exercise and eating certain foods (AKA Benign Fasciculation Syndrome); stretching in particular gave me intermittent calf cramps for several days
- Food intolerances; for a number of years, I could only eat 5 foods(!) that did not give me GI distress and poor sleep
- Certain electrosensitivity; for example, if I use my computer past 7 p.m., I generally sleep poorly
- Knee osteoarthritis (started in late 2019)
I have found a handful of supplements have helped, but here I will focus on the bioelectric stuff. Note that I would prefer to build devices with a soldering iron and set of carefully selected microchips, but I know my limitations. Also, I don’t want to spend my entire life thinking about this stuff.
In Jan. 2019, I was becoming concerned that an SSRI I was taking for sleep would be causing other problems especially related to my gut. At the same time, I was thinking of selling a PEMF device, an EarthPulse v. 5 Pro, I had never used. Before I parted ways with it, I thought I would make sure it didn’t aid in longer or deeper sleep.
One night right before bed, I tried setting the EarthPulse to manual at 2.4 Hz, 70% power, and put it under my mattress. That first night I tried it for 30 minutes before I turned it off after I admitted I was 100% wide awake. That night, I slept maybe 15 minutes. At 5:30 am, I just arbitrarily decided to get up. I didn’t feel wonderful, but I didn’t quite feel like I hadn’t slept in 32 hours. I went to the gym around 6 a.m. and did my normal weightlifting session. (I have noticed that my body and mind benefits from a workout even if I sleep poorly.) In that workout, I noticed that I was able to do a personal best on the deadlift 330 pounds, up from 290. This was… weird.
I was a bit trepidatious, but the next night I repeated what I did the previous night, except leaving the EarthPulse turned on throughout the night and leaving it at 2.4 Hz. On subsequent visits to the gym, I noticed all my reps and weights were up by 10%. For example, my max bench press was 20 pounds (180 to 200) higher morning. I’ve been around 165 to 180 for a year. Chest fly on a Smith machine went from 200 to 230. Etc.
Eventually my body adjusted to the exposure. In fact, I found that being exposed to the EarthPulse especially lower frequencies made me sleepy at bedtime and throughout the night. Coupled with that change, I also felt some more energy throughout the day.
I don’t know the biology of how this occurred, especially how common my reaction would be in the general population or among people who share some of my symptoms.
At that point, I became interested in bioelectrics and wondering if I could address some of my other symptom complaints. This led me to William Pawluk and his book.
I had a short phone consult with Dr. Pawluk. The key takeaways were:
- During sleep, there wasn’t a huge upside to pointing the EarthPulse to anything but my head.
- Having the frequencies cycle up and down was probably a poor idea
- I probably shouldn’t keep it at a single frequency for long stretches of time. (I have thus far ignored this piece of advice, keeping it at 1.5 Hz.)
Pawluk’s book spoke about how PEMF was successful in mitigating knee osteoarthritis in guinea pigs.
The frequency that it was successfully shown to reduce knee pain was 75 Hz, and the EarthPulse maxed out at 14.1 Hz.
A lot of the literature does suggest that there are different biological effects depending on the frequency. For example.
So, the ability to specify a particular range, especially some of the higher ranges (72 Hz to 1000+ Hz) appealed to me. I knew that PEMF somehow worked on me, and I wanted to continue experimenting.
I did a product evaluation and settled on MAS’s PEMF device,.
I have now used the MAS device every morning for ~4 months now, trying out different frequencies, waveforms, and time of exposure.
In his book, Pawluk suggests putting a bottle of water on top of a PEMF device for 30 minutes, which I did. After drinking water that had “charged” at 200 Hz, I felt during bike rides like I had a third lung.
After using the MAS for a week or two, I noticed that I am able to do some yoga without triggering a multi-day cascade of foot and arch cramps. Many believe that cramps can be solved by eating a banana or taking an electrolyte pill. But, IMHO, this one data point tends to support the idea that cramps represent a neurological problem.
I noticed that I am generally able to recover from workouts more instead of being out of commission where I exceed my threshold.
Another observation: in drinking the “charged” water, I did have GI distress in the hours after drinking the water. But that abated over several days. In retrospect, I look at that as a healing reaction.
I don’t think that PEMF has been enormously helpful with my gut issues. (I’m trying something else for that but don’t want to confuse the conversation.) It may be helping the osteoarthritis, but I’m not certain about that.
I have also explored tVNS, transvagus nerve stimulation. As many know, some have theorized that ineffective signalling between the brain and gut may be responsible for certain gut issues.[cite1. cite2]
It used to be that the only way to electrically stimulate the vagus nerve was through a surgical implant on the brain itself. With tVNS, you attach an electrode to your left ear’s tragus. No bone saw required!
There is not a lot of evidence that tVNS works for IBS, but I wanted to try it anyway. I felt bad about buying such a device, because I know how easy it would be for a competent person to build one.
Anyway, I bought a Parasym, which doesn’t ship to the US, as it is not FDA approved. So, my European friend served as a mule when he visited.
I was not able to readily find any protocols for how to use this device, but I did find an alternative health practitioner in Australia who suggested the following protocol for inflammatory bowel syndrome: 10Hz (10 minutes), 60Hz (10 minutes), and 90Hz (10 minutes) at a 250 pulse width 2x per week for 6-12 weeks.
Unlike some of the other experiments I have tried, I am not sure that this had a noticeable positive or negative effect.