A novel view of biologically active electromagnetic fields

Gabi N. Waite, Stéphane J.P. Egot-Lemaire, Walter X. Balcavage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Over the past decades, strong evidence has accumulated that low-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can be useful in treating human pathologies, such as bone fractures, soft tissue illnesses, and pain. Common strategies for the design of commercial therapeutic devices are to generate EMFs that simulate body endogenous EMFs, or EMFs that resonate with a particular biological process, such as the natural motions of ions. We recently came across a biologically active commercial EMF signal that seems to be different. The signal is generated by summing the fundamental frequencies and harmonics of several periodic base signals which remain proprietary to the company. When first examined in the time domain, the signal resembled electronic noise; however, when critically analyzed, the signal is not identical with noise. Rather, it is a highly complex waveform exhibiting a very wide range of values for the time derivative of the magnetic field density (dB/dt) and a beat frequency in the Extremely Low-Frequency range. In this paper, we speculate on the mechanism of action of this and similar signals. We consider it less likely that cells, or cell components, act like filters to extract and couple with individual signals that make up the complex EMF signal. Consequently, we favor the possibility that with the signal discussed here cells respond to the very complex signal and that the biological response can be modified by the presence of a beat in the signal, in this case a low-frequency beat. More generally, this would suggest the hypothesis that biological processes can be regulated by noise-like signals and that the effects of a noisy signal can be modified by the presence of signal repetition patterns, such as beats. Given the very small energy that signals like these can transduce into a biological system, biological effects can be expected only when the molecular processes involved are poised so that the available energy leads to molecular reactions that achieve the activation state for the reaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-113
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011


  • Beat frequency
  • Noise
  • Stochastic resonance
  • Therapeutic EMF signals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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