Flux Health Forum

What is a meaningful way to define a 'PEMF waveform'?

Hi Bob,

Am I correct that what we often see depicted as the ‘PEMF waveform’ is the generator’s voltage vs time driving the coils ? If so, since these voltages are directly proportional to the current they produce in the coils, the ‘PEMF waveform’ represents the B-field varying with time.

If this is incorrect please help me out and skip the rest :upside_down_face:

If this is correct I’m afraid we have a source of confusion for the PEMF community in general, since it doesn’t show us what the real agent in our tissues, the induced E-field, is doing.

As an example of this potential confusion take a triangular ‘PEMF waveform’ depicted with equal rise and fall time and furthermore only positive values. This waveform tells us that the current is swelling and diminishing, while only flowing in one direction. This one directional current produces a B-field which points in one direction (unipolar B-field), while its strength is growing and diminishing (i.e. it alternates between a positive and a negative slew rate value). Since the slew rate of a B-field is proportional to the induced E-field, the E-field changes its direction in a regular fashion (between clockwise and anticlockwise).

A most likely source of confusion in this case is that thinking in terms of a unipolar B-field might implicitly evoke a sense of a one directional effect in the tissues.

As a second example, if we would change our triangular waveform to be symmetric around the time axis (current flow now regularly alternating directions), the B-field would now regularly change polarity. If we make say the rising edge of this triangular waveform very shallow (i.e. B-field has a very low slew rate value there), the induced E-field for that edge becomes insignificantly small and we’re left with a virtually ‘unidirectional’ E-field, only exerting a significant force on ions in one direction (could be say ‘clockwise’). What could be a source of confusion here is that, seeing an alternating B-field depicted we’re tempted to think of an alternating effect in the tissues.

If the above is all correct, would this not suggest that talking about and/or depicting the induced E-fields (vs time) as ‘PEMF waveforms’, could greatly benefit the community’s thinking about PEMF ?

First, I can tell you for sure: voltage waveform IN does not equal current waveform OUT. From there it gets very complex and involves differential equations, which brings us to the latter half of your email…

well, I’m not sure how to say this gently and in a helpful way, and I have addressed this very many times in the past for well-meaning people, so I will just say it:

PEMF is way more technically complex than that, and unfortunately you have come to a “false choice” namely, either your first statement “A” is correct, or if not, then “B” would be better. Unfortunately it is not quite that simple.

To intelligently discuss the PEMF waveform as you suggest, the prerequisite knowledge is a minimum of four terms of college calculus, several terms of physics and a few courses in electrical engineering. That’s the first half. To address the second half (induced e-fields in tissues), you need considerable study in the anatomy of tissues, because the electrical fields and the resulting currents are being induced in the very complex structures of living (and injured) tissues. Also, keep in mind that the vectors of the induced fields with relationship to the microanatomy of tissues will result in induced currents flowing with respect to cellular structures in directions not yet well studied that have unknown biophysical effects at the cellular level: the honest truth is that we do not yet understand this step in the process of PEMF biological effects. I discuss this in many YouTube videos: there are many things about the biological mechanisms that are not understood, so we can not reason through them in detail.

PEMF marketers endeavor to separate people from their money by pandering to their psychology; namely, that even a non-technical person can understand something very technically complex, and thus, make an informed decision about a major purchase. Therefore, honest, well-meaning people get the impression that they can easily understand something that remains unknown, even to people who have been studying it for decades.

SOLID CONCLUSION: No one, anywhere, can describe in a simple way to you how PEMF waveforms interact with tissues, because no one, anywhere fully understands it themselves.

From this solid, bedrock truth, where can we go?

For people who have done the work to grind through the prerequisite science, math, engineering, and biology, sure, I’m your huckleberry, delighted to discuss it in detail. We know a lot, but there is a lot we do not yet know, and if you have the prerequisite knowledge, then we can intelligently discuss the topic and make some headway.

But if you don’t have the full set of prerequisite knowledge, then it is not really productive to even start the discussion, because you don’t really have the basics. For example, I have tried to discuss PEMF with physicists or electrical engineers, but it usually goes nowhere if they lack the prerequisite understanding of biology.

And to use PEMF effectively, knowing this level of technical detail is unnecessary anyway. It would be like asking Apple or Samsung to explain the many internal complexities of exactly how their phones work before actually just using a phone to send a text. And, by the way, we fully understand all the details of how smart phones work, but we do not have the same level of understanding of PEMF because the biological aspects remain unknown.

So, unfortunately with your questions you have dropped down a rabbit hole. Unless you are a biophysicist, my recommendation is that you have a look at my many YouTube videos on this subject, what we know and what we do not know, read a few of my papers on how we know what we know about PEMF waveforms based on my research with NASA and subsequently, and then basically decide whether or not you believe what I am telling you. I think your real choice is this:

A - Believe me when I say about PEMF, it is not intended as an insult to anyone’s intelligence, but it is way too technically complex to discuss PEMF at that level of detail on a forum. And we just do not yet have the biophysical mechanistic knowledge to discuss PEMF waveforms at the level you suggest. My conclusions: PEMF works, but we just do not understand exactly how it works, and I have been able to make some improvements after decades of study.


B - Just conclude that I do not know what I am talking about. There are plenty of PEMF marketers out there who will indulge you and tell you whatever you want to hear.


Thnx Bob, I have no doubts about your knowledge and I will follow your recommandation.

Well, I do want to emphasize this point: I could be wrong.

Maybe it is simple and obvious. But I have been studying this for more than 20 years, and any “simple” explanations that I have seen trace back to pseudo-scientific statements and marketing fraud. I really believe that electro-magnetism is far too complex to understand in a simple and intuitive way. I know people hate to hear that, but this is just one thing that seems to be true. So I decided many years ago to stick firmly to the truth of the matter, no matter how unpopular it may be. Because when people get the false impression that electromagnetism is simple and intuitive, then they tend to go down a path where they make what seem to them to be simple and logical conclusions, none of which are based on real electromagnetism, and then low-integrity marketers can use this false understanding to nudge their customers into a corner where the “logical choice” is to buy their product. In this way, oversimplification of electromagnetism is harmful to people, so I fight against it. And on top of this, when a real scientist does hear this type of widespread speculation, it damages the credibility of the entire field of PEMF research. This has caused real damage. You can not find a legitimate academic scientist who will even consider studying PEMF, because of all of the crazy speculation associated with it. This has held back our understanding of the biological effects of PEMF by at least half a century.

To be clear, I am not really expecting people to take my explanation of my findings on PEMF as the final word on the subject, I could certainly be wrong and I do modify my opinion as I learn new things. And I also do not mind if people discuss it and speculate about how it works. But if you ask me to enter any conversation on the details of electromagnetic waveforms and their effects on biological systems, I immediately snap into very rigorous scientific mode. I do not have the luxury of idle speculation on the topic.

So, I am only asking people to try to be aware when they have been lead down a path of oversimplification because of low-integrity marketing. Take my word for it: there is no one on Earth who knows enough about the biological effects of PEMF to be able to fully explain the effects of different pulse waveforms on the biological response to PEMF. All we can really do at this point is make careful clinical observations and draw careful conclusions from that. From this informtion we can know what works, but not yet fully understand why it works.

I hope people take this the right way:
If you don’t really understand the terminology and quantities you are talking about, you run the risk of connecting unrelated observations into what seems like a logical argument, but end up with a very questionable conclusion. When I hear PEMF marketers speculating on their newest secret waveform or frequency and then proclaiming to their potential new customers how that obviously “energizes cells”, to me it sounds a bit like this (starting at 1:13):


can you pin this thread for future reference? that way people can understand where they (and the marketing) stand relevant to the current scientific understanding of pemf. also could be a one stop post for you to update your observations if anything noteworthy changes.

where we are with expert systems and ai, i wonder if you have enough data and observations to build a computer model to make projections for which experiments to try in furthering your research and understanding of pemf.

do you know other scientists who are actively (at any capacity) researching/working with pemf?

it would be great to connect with others in some kind of collaboration of this.

I think it is best if I answer each of these questions when they come up even though I sometimes refer people to earlier posts. The same general question regularly comes up: “how can we define the terms of PEMF/waveforms so that we can get a simple understanding of what is happening with PEMF?”

The main problem of course is that no one knows the actual link between electro-magnetism and biophysical response, so there is no way to explain it simply. And of course I have the responsibility to keep to very strict definitions of terms, so I can’t engage in mechanistic speculation unless it is formulated as a testable hypothesis.

This will always come up regularly because it is a very reasonable question. It just happens to be a reasonable question without a good answer :confused:


Well, the first problem is that there are very few legit scientists working in the area of PEMF. There is essentially no funding and it is heavily stigmatized, so that excludes at least 99% of academics from even considering it.

So, as a result, I have very few scientific collaborators. Not from lack of trying, but everyone runs from PEMF because it will severely damage their scholarly credibility.

Expert systems and AI.
I had initially aspired to extract all of the useful information from all of the published work in the area of PEMF. This is thousands of papers. With such a huge pool of information, we should be able to ask any question about PEMF and get a comprehensive answer.

But when you try to do this it slowly dawns upon you that most of the scientific papers (and other sources of searchable information) are:
1- of very poor quality
2- Have major methodological flaws
3- Are biased
4- Are entirely missing critical information

And more importantly than this is what is entirely missing. What we lack entirely are the thousands of papers on well-designed experiments with negative results. This almost certainly is about 5 to ten times larger than the number of papers with positive results because of well-known “publication bias” in academic science: it is much easier to publish positive results than it is to publish negative results. But what we need to know for PEMF (and for science in general) is which good experiments did not work

This is just like searching for lost car keys: you only find the keys by keeping track of where they are not

So, since publication bias results in the fact that at least 80-90% of scientific results never get published (yes this phenomenon has been carefully studied in detail; it is actually now more than 90% and getting worse year on year), we can never have a balanced set of data from which to draw any conclusions. This totally invalidates any hope for an AI solution because it violates the first and most important prerequisite for any AI system: a curated set of data.

No AI system can be better than the data it extracts information from, and the searchable data set for the field of PEMF is absolutely terrible. And if you curate it down to only good papers, it is reduced to less than 3% of the original, and will still entirely lack the reliable negative results, which means that even in the best possible case, it will still be about 90% biased.

Note for the generalist:
Remember about a decade or two ago when there was a lot of excitement about using AI to mine all of science and Big Data (in bio-medical research this falls under “bioinformatics”) for wonderful new treatments and cures? Do you ever wonder what happened to this dream? In its great scope, it died because of the problems I describe above. It only works when you can start with carefully curated and balanced sources, which necessarily makes the data sets small. So, it works for a few very limited applications. For all others, the results are misleading or entirely wrong. We need to fix academic science before we can hope to make good use of AI in any general way.

In case I have not mentioned it recently, I think every intelligent, voting, tax-paying adult should read this book:

“Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions” by Richard Harris


Since this started with a question about waveforms, could you comment on how you settled on the ones you used for say the A9. For the average person, when one puts PEMF into a search engine, he is bombarded with ads and comparisons of devices which are also ads, even if one tries to be specific about research and specifics and evidence (beyond testimonials).
One thing that comes out is discussion about types of waves (sine waves, square waves, sawtooth or triangular waves, and I think you have mentioned trapezoidal waves); some are apparently more beneficial for various effects. Some advocate rapid rise and fall (as opposed to sine waves in general), Some advocate rather than going regularly from positive to negative (as a sinew wave normally does), having intermittent positive waves or spikes and reverse polarity periodically. Also, it seems reasonable to have the frequency vary over the course of an individual treatment (whether for 15 minutes or for hours). (Can the body become acclimated to something that is so regular that it ignores the signals?) Other questions include frequency range, ideal frequency of use or sessions for various conditions and ideal length of sessions. Apparently low power (as in A9) can be very effective. Are there applications in which higher power can help facilitate faster healing or beneficial results? I realize you may have discussed some of these concerns elsewhere, but I imagine people would like to see answers.

I think many would appreciate some answers that don’t require competent knowledge of advanced calculus or biophysics, but general principles and evidence.

Fast-changing magnetic fields produce much more induced energy than slow changing magnetic fields, and steady magnetic fields induce zero energy.

Those are basic science facts, not open to debate or opinion.

If for the moment you accept these facts then the following must be true:

If you want to put energy into the body from magnetism, the magnetic field must be changing quickly. The more quickly the magnetic field changes, the greater the effect will be until the biological response is brought to a maximum. And with a rapidly changing magnetic field, you can achieve this maximum effect using the least amount of input energy from the magnetic field.

If you can accept this scientific fact, then the following must be true:

Sharp magnetic slew rates = high dB/dt as found in square or delta waves induce a lot of energy in the body. This means: sharply “square” waves could really work biologically.


Low magnetic slew rates = low dB/dt = much less energy transferred into the body = much less effect, if any. An example of this would be sine or wide, slow triangle waves.

and finally,

No magnetic field change = zero slew = dB/dt = 0 = no energy transferred into the body, and no biological effect. The example of this is a fixed (solid) permanent magnet.

The proof of this is a careful analysis of the more than 1000 scientific papers on the subject of PEMF, which, taken together, convincingly demonstrate that sine wave PEMF has very little or no biological effect, but rapidly changing magnetic waves do have a biological effect. I independently repeated this overall finding with work I did at NASA:


and at Texas A&M


The magnetic field must change quickly to induce a biological effect. By the way, when I first replicated that finding at NASA more than 20 years ago, that is not the answer I expected either. But that’s the answer, that’s the science, like or or not.

This is where it stops being simple, unfortunately. A deep understanding of the evidence requires a knowledge of advanced physics and calculus, so it is just a plain honest truth that you can’t understand that evidence unless you understand physics and calculus. But you do not need to understand the physics and calculus if you just want to use PEMF. This is the same for using a smart phone or any other advanced technology: If you really want to understand how it works (not an explanation for a child, an explanation for a person who needs to build one that really works) then you need to know physics and calculus. People who tell you otherwise are lying to you because they probably just want your money, there is no short-cut, sorry.


What about periodic change of polarity versus constant varying between above and below the zero line. I don’t know how to express this, but some show a wave function going above to a peak decline to zero the going to maximum negative then rising to zero to going on to maximum, etc. (like a sine wave, but delta or sawtooth or trapezoidal or “square” waves could follow the same pattern). Is there a benefit from having a series of "positive wave forms and then switching to negative wave forms and back. I know periodic changing of frequencies (within an appropriate range. Again I don’t need all the technical calculus and biophysics, but what does your research show?

I actually think this is a very important but highly technical point. The word you are looking for is “bipolarity”.

The important thing for living tissues is balanced bipolar current induction when integrated over a series of pulses delivered over a short period of time. Doing so correctly, which is not easy, results in elimination of net ion flux which can be damaging to tissues and implants.

I discuss it in technical detail in a number of scientific papers. I have been studying it for more than two decades, and you really don’t need to know the details. What you do need to know is:
1- I am aware of it.
2- I have studied it extensively
3- The information is available and understandable if you are a scientist.
4- I have worked it all out, done the math, done the experiments, and it is already engineered into all of our ICES-PEMF products.

The result is that balanced bipolar pulses result in more effective and potentially less harmful tissue stimulation.

Interestingly, and I know this for a fact, balanced bipolar pulses are not included nor accounted for in any scientific way in the other commercial PEMF systems, especially the large, over-powered, highly inefficient “whole body” systems that are currently available. The basic electronic architecture of their pulse generators does not allow the necessary polarity switching.


Thank you for helpful information for the average user (both for the ICES products and about what many higher priced and supposedly more comprehensive and expensive systems are missing).

Q: Is the example with the permanent magnet correct? It should assert a force without the supply of external energy, even if no energy is transferred. Alo when one moves on a permanent magnet (or moves the magnet), only slightly, there should be effects, too -> Bed-Mat made of permanent magnets.


If you move the magnet such that it changes the magnetic flux density at a point, then at that point, by definition dB/dt <> 0

If a point on an object moves through a magnetic field, then also, at that point dB/dt <> 0

I think all practical cases fall into one of the two conditions above (example: move a magnet slightly, or on a bed of permanent magnets)

The only exception to this that I know of off the top of my head would be the Hall Effect on a charge moving in a uniform magnetic field.

To answer this question in detail and comprehensively, I would turn to Maxwell’s Equations plus detailed analysis of the test conditions and thorough challenging of each and every assumption being made as it relates to magnetic field uniformity, et al.

It is probably correct to say that any relative movement between a charge and a magnetic field line results in work being done on the charge (or the other way around if you like).

Whether or not this detail actually has biological effects is a different question.

Based on the research I have done, using the biomarkers I have used, and everything else I have said for the past quarter of a century:

If you employ a series of magnetic pulses that deliver dB/dt in the ranges I have specified, for the durations I have specified, then you will see a range of biological effects that are highly reproducible and of biological significance.

If you do something else, well, then it’s up to you to determine whether it is doing anything or not. I simply cannot test everything everywhere for all possible combinations of every stimulus and every possible effect under all possible conditions everywhere in the universe.

But I can say what I have done, what the effects are, and I can often give some insight into other methods employed by a few different people. But not everyone everywhere for all possibilities.