Townsend Letter The Examiner of Alternative Medicine
Alternative Medicine Conference Calendar
Check recent tables of contents


From the Townsend Letter
February/March 2008


Healing with Electromedicine and Sound Therapies, Part One
by Nenah Sylver, PhD

Search this site

Part Two is also online

Page 1, 2

Different Shapes of Waves
As illustrated in the diagram of notes played by various instruments, waveforms have different shapes. Figure 4 shows some common ones in their simplest forms.

Figure 4: Wave Forms

A: Sine
B: Triangle
C: Sawtooth
D: Square


The more complex an object, the more frequencies it contains – also, the more complex wave forms it will have. A useful analogy between simple and complex forms is the difference between plucking a single string (which represents a simple organism like an amoeba) and playing an entire orchestra (which represents a complex organism like a human being).

Symmetry and Asymmetry: The Language of Math and Music
The symmetry of music and the asymmetry of noise can also be described mathematically. Mathematically, sound is comprised of random frequencies that have little or no relationship to each other. Mathematically, tones or music are comprised of frequencies that do have relationships to each other. (A single, true tone will naturally be in symmetry with itself.) The absence of certain mathematical relationships in sound and the presence of those relationships in music explain why sound can irritate the nerves and music can calm them.

Although EM fields and sound transmit frequencies in different ways, the mathematical measurements representing the relationship between electromagnetic frequencies are the same for music. Put another way, the harmonic relationships of each system are governed by identical mathematics. The frequencies of musical tones and the EM spectrum exist in octaves, higher harmonics, and lower harmonics of each other. Thus, musical tones and EM spectrum frequencies have mathematical relationships to some of the other frequencies that are higher or lower. For example, a frequency that is multiplied or divided by two produces a higher or lower octave of itself.

As with sound, EM fields possess symmetry and asymmetry. Various electromedical devices can detect the equivalent of either noise or music in the oscillations of cells and tissues in the body. When the oscillations are not mathematically harmonious (which corresponds to noise), there is disease and degeneration. When the oscillations are mathematically harmonious (which corresponds to music), the cells function optimally and correctly.

Pulsed Magnetic Fields
There are many ways to induce an EM field. One way is with magnetism. Although magnetism per se exists in a static state, inducing movement in a magnetic field creates a corresponding movement in the electric field that naturally exists at right angles to it. The result is electromagnetic radiation. When this type of EM radiation is created from movement, it is commonly referred to as pulsed.

Pulsing a wave means that the signal is "on" for a brief period, then off, then on, then off, etc. Pulsing is independent of the frequency, which is equivalent to a note in music. The pulsing is like the rhythm. Carrying the analogy further, a wave taking up its full cycle of "space" is a whole note. A wave taking up only half of that cycle is a half-note. A wave taking up only one-quarter of that cycle is a quarter note, a wave taking up only one-eighth of that cycle is an eighth note, and so on. Speaking musically, the "on, off, on, off" aspect of the wave could also be regarded as "note, rest, note, rest, etc."

Many of the pulsed magnetic fields that are used in electromedical devices have a "rhythm" comparable to only an eighth note, because the wave is "on" for only a brief period. But that brief period is long enough to induce movement in the body. The movement of the EM radiation in the body translates into ion transport, increase in blood and lymph flow, and more. Any frequency can be pulsed.

In Figure 5, the bottom line shows a "lag time," or interval, when the wave is at rest, before it resumes its upward-moving cycle.

Top: Peak of the waves.
Bottom: Time(duration) when wave is off.

Figure 6 shows two waves in succession. Here, the "lag time" or rest interval between the waves is easily seen. Note that there is no trough to the wave because it has been truncated.

Top: Peak of the waves.
Bottom: Time(duration) when wave is off.

Pulsed electromagnetic radiation induces therapeutic results, which is why it is used. Some electromedical devices using pulsed EM fields will be discussed later.

The Electromagnetic Body
Energy in Living Systems

Electromagnetic waves can be used for diagnostic purposes because living organisms are energy-based. Historically, most cultures have erroneously regarded the body solely as a mechanical and biochemical organism. But every cell in the body is a transmitter and receiver of electromagnetic information. The following are examples of how human beings, animals, and plants contain and respond to EM fields:

  • During migration, monarch butterflies, locusts, and even blindfolded birds navigate flawlessly. Salamanders and turtles also use magnetic fields to navigate. We now know that magnetite, a highly magnetic mineral, is found in the tissue and brains of insects, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
  • Bacteria use their magnetic sense to burrow deeper into the mud. We now know that magnetite is also present in bacteria and protozoa.
  • Many kinds of fish are able to follow each other in organized formations ("schools") due to the magnetic fields generated by the magnetite in their bodies.
  • The whiskers of dogs, cats, and other animals are now recognized to function as antennas, due to their sensitivity to electromagnetic fields.
  • In plants, the sharp points of leaves, as well as pine needles and the blades of some species of grass, act like antennas for electrical signals.
  • Melatonin, a hormone that (among other functions) helps induce sleep, is produced by the pineal only in darkness. We now know that the pineal gland, deep inside the brain in the skull, is exquisitely sensitive to light.
  • Stingrays find food because they can detect normal, minute amounts of electrical discharge or magnetic fields emanating from their prey.
  • Fish, dolphins, and whales use both the earth's magnetic fields and sonar (sound) for navigation and communication.
  • The behavior of some animals has long been used to forecast earthquakes. Cattle stampede, birds sing at the wrong time of day, mother cats move their kittens, snakes seek shelter. B. Blake Levitt writes: "It is now thought that [the animals] are reacting to changes in the earth's magnetic field, as well as to electrostatic charges in the air – long before the quake actually occurs or registers on even the most sensitive instruments."2

In "The Electrical Properties of Cancer Cells,"3 medical doctor Steve Haltiwanger describes how the body partly functions as a living electrical circuit. Various cells and tissues are conductors (allow for electron flow), insulators (inhibit electron flow), semiconductors (allow for electron flow in only one direction), capacitors (accumulate and store charge, later to release that charge), and so on. Cells transmit and receive energy, and each has its very own frequency with which it oscillates. Since magnetic and electrical waves exist at right angles to each other, magnetic fields applied to the body also create biological changes. We now know that in humans, the sinuses, some other bones in the face, and various tissues in the body contain magnetite.

Not only is every cell in the body a transmitter and receiver of electromagnetic information, it is these various electromagnetic frequencies that precede and correspond to biochemical functions. For example, healthy cells oscillate at higher frequencies than do unhealthy cells like cancer. The lower frequency of cancer is reflected by (and causes) the aberrant biochemical reactions within the cell. Put another way, the biochemical differences between normal healthy cells and cancer cells correspond to the differences in the electrical properties of each. The same holds true for magnetic fields. Magnetic fields correspond to biological activity. A change in the magnetic field means a change in the cells, either positive or negative.

Harmful Effects of EM Radiation and EM Fields
In the last century, medical doctor and stress pioneer Hans Selye observed that when bodily tissues are subjected to repeated, intense input – whether chemical (environmental pollutants, adrenal "fight-or-flight" hormones) or mechanical pressure (bruising) – the body perceives it as stress. It responds by tightening the envelope of membranous fascia that surrounds the muscles. This, in turn, causes significant biochemical malfunctions, not the least of which is the disruption of the cell membrane. Other stressors that can disrupt cell integrity include the actual puncturing of the cell membrane, and microbial infection. Cell permeability for the proper materials is key. If glucose, other nutrients, and beneficial hormones cannot efficiently enter the cell, and if wastes cannot completely exit, microbes can proliferate and degenerative disease can occur. To Selye's list of stressors, I would add destructive EM radiation and EM fields.

It has been known for decades that electrical fields can damage cells. B. Blake Levitt writes:

Direct current (DC) is the steady flow of electrons in one direction. Alternating current (AC) is an electron flow that changes strength and alters direction within a certain cycle; the AC field collapses and reappears with its poles reversed every time the current changes direction....Direct current creates a steady magnetic field. But with alternating current, each time the direction of the electrons is reversed, or flipped, a powerful magnetic field is created that fluctuates at the same frequency.4

Another reason these fields are dangerous is that the waves are coherent. Although the sun constantly transmits naturally occurring radio frequencies, microwaves and other EM fields, this radiation is generally diffuse, whereas alternating current is concentrated. Concentrated radiation is not natural. For example, you need to purposely harness, focus, augment, and direct a bombardment of electrons to turn on a light bulb. In Electromagnetic Man: Health & Hazard in the Electrical Environment, Cyril Smith and Simon Best write:

It is just over 100 years since electricity generation started; 60 years since radio transmissions and 40 years since radar and telecommunications entered our environment. [The book was published in 1990.] Like natural fields, man-made fields are limited by the physical properties of the environment. Unlike natural fields, they are highly coherent and can interfere with our bio-signals.5

The harmful effects of some EM fields are many and varied. Jacqueline Krohn and colleagues explain that in the many studies

… exposing cells and animals to ELF [extremely low frequency] fields…electric workers and their children have a higher risk of brain tumors. The incidence of childhood leukemia is higher in children who live near power lines that carry high voltage. Power-line exposure has also been associated with an increased incidence of suicide.

These studies support the hypothesis that ELFs act as a cancer promoter. ELF fields interact with the cell membrane and can affect hormones, calcium exchange, and tissue growth. It is postulated that the ELFs suppress the production of melatonin, a cancer inhibitor, by the pineal gland.6

The effects of ELF fields is more than mere "postulation," as other researchers have corroborated. Smith and Best cite formal published studies linking the following maladies to extremely low frequency, electromagnetic fields:

  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus erythematosus and multiple sclerosis
  • Birth defects and genetic abnormalities
  • Cancers of various types, including brain tumors and leukemia
  • Emotion and mood changes, including higher percentages of suicides
  • Eyestrain and headaches
  • Fatigue and sleep disturbance
  • Heart attacks
  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Infectious disease increase
  • Lowered fertility, miscarriages, and pregnancy problems, including stillborn children
  • Nervous system disorders, including confusion, convulsions, dizziness, hyperactivity, and memory loss
  • Stress increase and intolerance7

The harm from EM fields and EM radiation also depends on the proximity of the person, animal, or plant to the source of the energy. A milligauss is a unit of measurement of the strength of an electromagnetic field. According to tables from the Environmental Protection Agency reprinted in Levitt's book, a blender from six inches away emits between 30 and 100 milligauss; an electric can opener six inches away emits between 500 and 1500 milligauss; a hair dryer six inches away emits between one and 700 milligauss; and a ceiling fan 12 inches away emits between three and 50 milligauss.8 Some sources maintain that even two milligauss is enough to disrupt a person's biological function and that the maximum emission a person can safely absorb is only one milligauss. This is why there is a high rate of illness among people living near major power lines, cell phone towers, electrical generators, and similar disruptors.

Healing Effects of EM Radiation and EM Fields
Considering the extent that artificially created, non-beneficial EM radiation surrounds us, it is not surprising that (aside from the contributing factors of poor diet, pathogens, and chemical pollutants) so many people are ill. The good news is, if frequencies can harm, they can also be used to heal. Cells have the ability to positively and healthfully respond to minute electromagnetic stimulus – as long as certain criteria are met. The stimulus must be from the correct region of the EM spectrum; it must further be refined (if necessary) to an exact frequency or combination of frequencies on that EM band; it must be the correct intensity; it must have the correct shape wave or wave packet; it must be administered in the correct amounts; and, of course, it must be accurately and precisely aimed at the target. In electronics, there is a term that refers to the transfer of energy from one component to another through a shared magnetic field: inductive coupling. In electromedicine, the response of living cells to beneficial EM radiation is also called inductive coupling. Once the EM fields inside a cell are exposed to EM radiation, the fields within the cell start to move. Along with this energetic process, the corresponding biochemical responses are activated, such as the movement of electrolytes through the cell membrane, excretion of wastes, and so on. Inductive coupling is being utilized in a growing number of extremely effective electromedical devices.

Researchers are discovering that many of the beneficial effects from electromedical devices come from pulsed magnetic fields (which by definition become electromagnetic radiation). Pulsing a magnetic field does more than induce movement in the body receiving the signal. Because pulsing by definition means that there is an "off" period to the signal, it ensures that the human or animal receiving the signal does not become resistant to its effects. A good analogy is someone tapping your arm. At first you pay attention; but after awhile, the body becomes impervious to the sensation so it can focus on other stimuli. This is one of the secrets of electromedicine devices that are effective.

Correctly employed, frequency therapies can increase cell energy, normalize membrane conductivity, lessen oxidative stress, reduce the amounts of inflammatory chemicals in the blood, improve protein synthesis, boost feel-good endorphin levels, restore depleted adrenal function, and enhance immune function. The restoration of these metabolic processes lead to the regeneration of tissue as well as resistance to disease.

"Bigger is better" and "More is better" figure prominently in the Western mindset. The unbridled use of massive doses of many different kinds of drugs and the routine practice of "prophylactic" invasive surgery illustrate this mentality. Another, more humane edict – "Less is more" – reflects what the body usually needs. The exquisite sensitivity of cells to electromagnetic fields of all kinds explains why electromedical devices work – and why the most subtle ones work the best. By "subtle," I mean those energies that subjectively might not be easily perceived, but which are the most compatible with living systems precisely because they are of lower power.

Electromedicine therapies may use many portions of the EM spectrum: electrical current, magnetism, visible light, far infrared (FIR), ultraviolet (UV), and heat in the form of specific FIR wavelengths. In Part Two of this article, I will discuss some therapies that use various EM wavelengths. Then I will explain sound as it relates to the EM spectrum, and explore one use of sound for therapeutic purposes.

© 2007 by Nenah Sylver, PhD

Nenah Sylver, PhD
P.O. Box 74324
Phoenix, Arizona 85087-4324

Editor's Note: Part Two of this article, including a full listing of Resources, will appear next month.

Page 1, 2

1. Kovács R. Electrotherapy and Light Therapy with Essentials of Hydrotherapy and Mechanotherapy. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger; 1949: 310-311.
2. Levitt B. Electromagnetic Fields: A Consumer's Guide to the Issues and How to Protect Ourselves. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company; 1995: 72-73.
3. Haltiwanger S. The electrical properties of cancer cells. Available at: April 2, 2006.
4. Levitt B. op cit: 47-48.
5. Smith CW, Best S. Electromagnetic Man: Health & Hazard in the Electrical Environment. London, England: J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd.; 1990: 45.
6. Krohn JF, Taylor A, Prosser J. The Whole Way to Natural Detoxification: The Complete Guide to Clearing Your Body of Toxins. Point Roberts, Washington: Hartley & Marks Publishers, Inc.; 1996: 85.
7. Smith CW, Best S. op cit.
8. Levitt, B. op cit: 254-258.


Consult your doctor before using any of the treatments found within this site.

Subscriptions are available for Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine magazine, which is published 10 times each year.

Search our pre-2001 archives for further information. Older issues of the printed magazine are also indexed for your convenience.
1983-2001 indices ; recent indices

Once you find the magazines you'd like to order, please use our convenient form, e-mail, or call 360.385.6021 (PST).


Who are we? | New articles | Featured topics |
Tables of contents
| Subscriptions | Contact us | Links | Classifieds | Advertise | Alternative Medicine Conference Calendar | Search site | Archives |
EDTA Chelation Therapy | Home


© 1983-2008 Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
All rights reserved.
Website by Sandy Hershelman Designs
May 10, 2008

Order back issues
Advertise with TLDP!

Visit our pre-2001 archives