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Episode 237: Are PEMF Mats a Valuable Healing Tool or Waste of Money?

 

When you see the laundry list of health benefits you can experience from a PEMF mat, you can't help but feel your inner skeptic peering around the corner to investigate. 

I myself have a strong bullshit radar and am extremely wary of wellness fads. But recently I was in a functional nutrition course run by a functional medicine practitioner who I highly respect, and when she mentioned that hypothyroid patients could benefit from the use of a PEMF mat, my ears perked up. 

Believe it or not, I immediately ordered one - ever the guinea pig both for myself and my clients - to see what it was all about. 

In this episode, I'm going to share both the science and my experience so you can decide if it's worth the hefty price tag. 

The Science:

PEMF stands for pulse electromagnetic frequency; so the mats emit low frequency waves that penetrate deep into the body's tissues to stimulate healing and repair.

The electromagnetic waves act as a sort of charging station for your cells by stimulating the mitochondria (AKA the powerhouse of the cell which you may remember from 7th grade science class). When you stimulate and support the mitochondria, you're giving that cell the energy it needs to work more optimally which explains the vast array of benefits. 

Think about some of the cells influenced by these waves: the mesenchymal which play a role in the repair of cartilage, bones, blood vessels, and lymphatic tissue, stromal which affect connective tissues in the body, and macrophages which are part of the innate immune system. 

Imagine amping up their function... you could expect to see a healthier immune response, quicker healing of injuries, and improved detoxification.

PEMF has also been shown in many clinical settings to improve chronic pain in patients with conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. - PubMed

You could even see improvements in your metabolism. How? 

Think about your cells like a computer. When the battery is full, everything is working properly and the speed is solid. But when you see that battery drop to 5% suddenly you click on a link and get the spinning wheel of death, everything slows down, the screen might dim - that's you with a slow metabolism. Using PEMF therapy it's like you're plugging your computer in and restoring it to the speed it should be at. 

You also could see improvements in metabolic health due to its stimulating effect on the thyroid gland - for this reason you'll want to keep an eye on thyroid levels if you have a thyroid condition and are using PEMF therapy regularly. 

(As per usual, I would remind you that there are no miracle weight loss solutions. Not a chance will a PEMF mat improve your metabolism enough to make up for a shit diet.)

PEMF also has been shown to improve oxygenation of cells, boost circulation, and lower inflammation which means it has implications in aiding all sorts of inflammatory conditions like autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, IBS, crohn's, UC, COPD, asthma, type 2 diabetes, parkinson's, depression, and even some cancers. 

We often talk on this show about the importance of regulating your central nervous system both for mental health and physical healing. PEMF has a regulating effect on the autonomic nervous system, getting us out of fight-or-flight and into rest and digest. 

Finally PEMF can improve the permeability of cell membranes allowing for more efficient uptake of nutrients and more efficient removal of waste products. 

Ok, I've hit you with the science, now I'd like to share my experience...

I've been using my PEMF mat 4-5 times a week for about a month using a variety of times and frequencies (I use this chart to decide on my 'dose'). I got it in the hopes that it would help speed up the healing of my hip and back which have both been bothering me for about 3 months now.

To that end, I have to tell you I didn't really notice a difference. Any improvements I've seen have been directly correlated to the work I've done with my chiropractor (though more accurately described as my physical therapist) Dr. Hogan, owner of Agility Movement here in Dallas. 

With that said, I recently had blood work done and my DHEA is improved since I last tested (a good sign that my central nervous system has been more calm), my thyroid antibodies are almost low enough to consider me back in remission, my sleep scores have been on point even when getting fewer hours of sleep, my thyroid numbers are improving, and for the first time in my adult life my digestion is normal. 

I'm not going to credit all of those improvements 100% to the PEMF mat, I also have been working on my sleep routine and have changed some things with my diet (more details if you listen to the full episode), but I do think that the PEMF mat has played a supportive role. 

My final consensus? First of all, I don't think you aren't going to experience any miracles using a PEMF mat alone. I very much feel like this should be the cherry you add to your sundae of good nutrition, sleep hygiene, and exercise.

And honestly, my guess is you aren't going to notice a huge difference in your symptoms by using a PEMF mat. I think it's one of those things you do knowing that it's working in the background to improve your overall health but without a whole lot of upfront return.

I could be wrong, I would be very curious to hear the experiences of people with different health complaints. I just don't want you dropping $300-$1200 thinking that this is the answer to all your problems. But if you're like me and you have all the foundational habits in place, and you're really looking to optimize, optimize, optimize, you may find it's worth it. 

p.s. I know I linked the Hooga PEMF mat I use, but I am not affiliated in any way. I just know people are going to reach out wondering which one I went with. 

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