DIY Machine Enables PEMF Therapy On A Budget

We’re certainly not qualified to say whether or not pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy will actually reduce your stress or improve your circulation, but there seems to be enough legitimate research going on out there that it might be worth a shot. After all, unless you’ve got a pacemaker or other medical implant, it seems pretty unlikely a magnetic field is going to make anything worse. Unfortunately commercial PEMF machines can cost thousands of dollars, making it a fairly expensive gamble.

But what if you could build one for as little as $10 USD? That’s the idea behind the simple DIY PEMF machine [mircemk] has been working on, and judging by its ability to launch bits of metal in the video below, we’re pretty confident it’s indeed producing a fairly powerful electromagnetic field. Even if it doesn’t cure what ails you, it should make an interesting conversation piece around the hackerspace.

While the outside of the machine might look a bit imposing, the internals really are exceptionally straightforward. There’s an old laptop power supply providing 19 VDC, a dual-MOSFET board, a potentiometer, and a simple signal generator. The pulses from the signal generator trip the MOSFET, which in turn dumps the output of the laptop power supply into a user-wound coil. [mircemk] has a 17 cm (6.7 inch) open air version wrapped with 200 turns of copper wire used for treating wide areas, and an 8 cm (3 inch) diameter version with 300 windings for when you need more targeted energy.

Some skepticism is always in order with these sort of medicinal claims, but commercial PEMF machines do get prescribed to users to help promote bone growth and healing, so the concept itself is perhaps not as outlandish as it might seem.

34 thoughts on “DIY Machine Enables PEMF Therapy On A Budget

    1. Are you sure? Because I did a bit of googling:
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6806956/
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274990413_A_Review_of_Pulsed_Electromagnetic_Field_PEMF_Mechanisms_at_a_Cellular_Level_A_Rationale_for_Clinical_Use
      There was also a NASA paper somewhere stating it offers slight improvement in healing of injuries. I did some research years ago. Also we know for a fact that strong electromagnetic fields affect human brain – some researchers while doing fMRI studies on depression or schizophrenia (I don’t remember, which) noted improvement in patients after the session, that lasted for hours (or day, don’t remember). Anyway, more research is needed before PEMF gets dismissed…

      1. OK, the long answer:
        PEMF for orthopedic purposes is ineffective. A meta-analysis of 37 studies, with 3.379 patients (Schmidt-Rohlfing, 2000) found no evidence for efficacy.
        There may be potential for stimulating bone growth with PEMF, but before that is proven safe and effective I wouldn’t undergo any “therapy” some dude on the Internet with a miracle machine is promoting.

        “Anyway, more research is needed before PEMF gets dismissed…”

        No, that is not how medicine works.
        More research is needed before PEMF gets approved, trusted and applied.

        1. So you won’t respect research that I linked? Why? Is it because it doesn’t match your personal view on the subject?
          Can we agree, at least, that more research is needed? The kind that won’t benefit anyone either way?
          Because for years we had research that shown no correlation between smoking tobacco and getting various types of cancer, until anti-tobacco groups got more money than tobacco companies to spend on research. The same thing happened with climate changes research…

          Don’t dismiss anything until there is enough research done. As for PEMF, current research is lacking either way. so I won’t dismiss it outright, but I won’t consider it a viable replacement or supplement of any other therapy just yet…

          1. So by your logic, whoever has the most money must be right. Gotcha. There are several articles in mainstream media about how one of the early patients of the inventor was deranged by the device.

          2. I think that when I said that there is potential for bone growth stimulus, that implies I do not dismiss it totally. But that also means it should be studied in carefully designed clinical trials, not practised by quacks making a quick buck off the desperate.

      2. You should have done a little more googling. I did. The American Journal of Health Research is named to be easily confused with a reputable, peer-reviewed scientific publication; but as far as I can ascertain, it is not one itself. Rather, it’s a paper mill – it’ll publish any old bollocks as long as you can come up with the fee.

        Sometimes, the story tells itself.

      1. No. Alternative therapies undergo clinical testing, and when found safe and effective are incorporated into medicine. Off the top off my head I can think of a few therapies that a few decades ago would have been classified as “alternative”: honey for wound care, maggots for debridement of wounds, leeches in plastic surgery.

        1. i mean that is part of the story but if you look at the recent history of approved and incorporated therapies, there is one part of the process leading to their approval which you left out: they are shown to be profitable.

          it does make a lot of room for quacks to say their therapy must be effective because it’s so inexpensive that the medical industry is trying to squash it. obviously that doesn’t logically follow. but it’s definitely true that unprofitable therapies receive much less funding for clinical testing, and that fact cannot be ignored even if it should not be misinterpretted.

          1. Incorrect.

            You have not even made the case that “unprofitable” therapies exist. Anything that is effective is by its nature valuable. This value is magnified if you ascribe to the conspiracy minded view that “they” are just out to make a buck, rather than the more realistic view that yes, companies exist only to profit, but they contain people executing methods based science for altruistic purposes and are regulated by bodies and laws intended to force them to profit by competing with each other to offer the public effective therapies.

            Also, “definitely true” that unprofitable therapies get less research funding? You definitely need to display some evidence there.

          2. lol Strathe. Okay, how many bllions of dollars have been spent on studying the effects of next generation SSRIs each time one of those patent families dies out? since almost any therapeutic is more effective than SSRIs and almost any therapeutic receives less study funding than that, you really don’t need to go further than that.

    2. My guess there is a range starting with quackery and ending, at least for now, for reasons of national security on a need to know basis (or at least is the claim) systems that can do like Dr. Jose Delgado wanted to demonstrate in regards to wirelessly mind control and more with the body and sound controls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bprdgamfp5M&t=10s (watch at least until 1 minute)

      The human body has a very wide range of electrophysiological functions with specific individual fingerprint/target signatures, some of which are taught in bioelectromagnetism related courses ( https://www.bem.fi/book/book.pdf ) and other bio related courses throughout pre-med studies on up and my guess in other specific roles. Also, technically now that I think about, roughly in a range of certification courses also albeit in not nearly as much detail regarding the spikes and specific waveforms details, i.e. the codes.

      Kind of seems fitting the issues where the specific individualized medicinal effect electrophysiological codes aren’t well disclosed. In general some codes are and even those aren’t well detailed like say for instance resetting someone’s heart as done with cardioversion. https://news.emory.edu/stories/2014/01/jjm_cardiology_icd/campus.html Easy to some, no clue to many if not most in some places and they’ll think I’m babbling word salad.

      Most in 1st world nations are aware of what an AED can do basically. However, I’m guessing most aren’t aware of the specific details regarding how the system operates and the exact effect the device output signals have on a patient.

      To me, AED seems brute force when there must be a minimalist individualized way that most won’t even think can exist wireless without an implant and probably from a distance like a remote first responding and/or life support system.

      Now, in regards to what PEMF (ambiguous definition) can do to make things worse… here is an interesting example of Transcranial Magnetic stimulation:

      1. Couldn’t help but chuckle at this opening:

        “demonstrate … wirelessly mind control and more with … sound controls … watch at least until 1 minute.”

        Will I be wasting my time, blown away by the science or will I even remember having watched it at all? ;-)

      2. PEMF and TMS have very little to do with one another. One is effecting bias potential in and around neurons and having a rather obvious effect, while the other seems to be targeting totally different things. It’s a bit like comparing a horse and an orange. They both contain liquids.

        Randomly, I’ve met a bloke, who knew the chap that invented TMS (I couldn’t as he’s long dead). Neither of them would use it. However, my wife is a neuroscientist and meddles with peoples brains in the name of science. It’s pretty weird being zapped by it.

        On a similar note, the Oxford academic who popularised the notion that running DC through your head could make you better at math, which resulted in gamers making rigs to run it through their heads – has been somewhat discredited by his colleagues. So perhaps that’s not a god idea either.

        So… Nope… Wouldn’t encourage anyone to build one of these machines. Clearly any effect of PEMF (if there is one) is almost certainly so minor that it’s vanishing (otherwise such a simple technique would be used and even holding a phone would have been shown to have health benefits – maybe – but no). But also, the utter novice certainly does not understand it. The notion of this leading to people zapping their brains in the self belief that it could do them some good seems silly. It’s like kicking the sticks of the spinning plates in the hope they’ll spin more neatly.

        However, if anyone does try it – do publicise so the rest of us can watch and learn. Who knows. There’s always the smallest chance doing something dumb can pay off.

    1. Accidentally tapped [Enter].
      Anyways my version was two-channel current-fed setup with adjustable frequency, amplitude and selectable waveforms. I had major problems with bad solders, botched PCB and firmware written in mikroPascal for PIC. I’ll eventually redo this project with better hardware design and firmware written in XC…

    1. Since you’ve already looked into that – please cite some credible sources.
      I just ddged “Bone Growth Simulator” for a short time (~5 minutes) and the first credible looking source was WebMD[1] which basically said: Needs more study / Inconclusive…

      Just because “they” – whoever they may be – have used it “in medicine” for more than 65 years doesn’t mean diddly squad in regards into it’s effects or effectiveness (distinguishable from the the placebo effect).

      [1] https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-to-know-about-bone-stimulators-for-fracture

    2. I’m ambivalent as to whether it does anything or not. But if it can have a positive effect with one set of values, then surely it can have a negative effect with a different set. I can’t think of any phenomenon that is purely good, irrespective of variable values.

  1. ” but there seems to be enough legitimate research going on out there that it might be worth a shot. ”

    That’s a formal logical error, Ad Populum: Appeal to Popularity

  2. Does anyone know how the frequencies and intensities of these machines are chosen?
    All the commercial devices seem to use different settings without any apparent reason,
    Is there some kind of logic at work?
    Was there a first refenence that everyon has simply followed?
    Or do people really just do this at random?

    1. You’re facing the same issue as the rest of us when looking into any “truth” in this. Doesn’t seem to be much concrete concrete footings for PEMF.

      TMS on the other hand seems to be based on estimation of threshold reset times of neurons (been a while since looking into it). But there’s clearly been a lot of tweaking the settings will they work well, while making sure they stay below dangerous levels. All quite challenging as the pulses through the coils are huge. Has to be as coupling to the brain is pretty poor.

      Above I mentioned the chap who came up with it wouldn’t have a go. Neither would anyone in the magnetics department at Cardiff Uni, where a some of the Magstim coils were developed. Quite amusing that those who know just how much vigour the current has, mistrust it’s use on themselves.

      Fortunately this little device couldn’t pack the punch of a TMS machine. Magstim for example use GAEP capacitors – similar to those in de-fib units – and reply on LCR discharges rather then PWM.

      1. TMS, is one form of PEMF. Many people have a hard time understand what exactly encompasses PEMF. All the people saying that is a bs therapy have alot to learn. Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy has been used in many various forma for over 100 years. The original versions were created and tested by famous inventor Nikola Telsa. Hence all PEMF machines today use Tesla coils. TMS is un ultra high intensity magnetic field, another example in the medical world is TTF by novocure which treats brain cancer with alternating Magnetic field with a very weak electrical pulse but uses frequencies sweeping from 100,000 Hertz to 300,000 Hertz to treat brain cancer and its been proven to work. Pemf goes by so many different names and form its not a single device. Low intensity devices work on the principal of frequency wave form to target specific tissues and cell activity. High intensity works on using very low frequency to work on quickly increasing membrane voltage potential. Most devices work very well if designed properly. To all the people talking smack there is over 10,000 scientific studies on using Pemf devices in health care. I own a wide range of various electrotherapy devices including muiltiple PEMF machines they work miracles. Some pemf out there is bogus but thats only a few machines being sold on amazon and ebay.

        1. ” To all the people talking smack there is over 10,000 scientific studies on using Pemf devices in health care.”
          This appears to be an exaggeration, and even the scientific studies that have been done do not conclude the the PEMF studied was beneficial, most conclude that “more research needs to be done”. Which is academic speak for “give me more money”
          I repeat my request is there a legitimate study that focuses on why a particular, waveform, frequency and intensity were chosen? Cite me that one article and I may join your side

  3. What frequency ranges are available from this device? Are they in the range of Schumann Resonance?

    I’m not very technical, but I do have a bit of experience with PEMF. My dog has been treated with PEMF and hypothermia on areas of his body that have tumors. We’ve had great success getting rid of them.

    1. when you had your dog treated, do you know any specifics of the device used or the frequency, intensity used?
      There have been claims used to cure cancer in people with PEMF but the people involved ended in jail.
      How do you go from treating non fusion fracture in bone to treating cancer, to using PEMF to sterilise water by killing pathogens? Surely the frequency, intensity and duty cycle cannot be the same for all these treatments. How do you design a machine without knowing the parameters for beneficial operation? Where is the science, is there a good source for any of this?

  4. T-PEMF (Transcranial Pulsed EMF) is a approved treatment for depression, in Denmark, where im from. I know it sounds mind boggling, to put electromagnets on the head as a “T-EMF” helmet, but from what I can find, the science in this regard is done sound and open. What really gets me pissed off, Is the fact that private clinics, are charging 45k kr. ( 6340$ ) for a 8 week treatment. I guess the argument for this rip-off pricing, is the dev. cost, control with the device (since its a medical device) and so on.

    The claim is; that the hippocampus in the brain can be stimulated to heal a otherwise “damaged” or dormant brain, thereby increasing the overall plasticity of that brain, which should have a positive effect on depression. If that is true, then lots of people could benefit from this, not just people with clinical depression. They also claim, that there is no side-effect.

    Here I have gathered some resources on the subject: https://community.simplefoc.com/t/t-pemf-0-1-50hz-brainwave-stimulation/2146

    I do not have any experience using this devise.

    I fully get the skepticisms regarding the efficacy. This is from a professor of psychiatry:

    »I would say that I was very skeptical about it at first because it sounded too good to be true, but we have tried it on patients here in Glostrup, and it has a fantastic effect, and we have not observed no side effects at all. This is very, very interesting, and our patients with chronic depression are starting to ask if they can buy it, so they have it left at home until the next time the depression returns. I would do the same if I was in their situation myself, “says Poul Videbech – professor of psychiatry and chief physician at Psychiatric Center Glostrup

    The project mentioned in the article above, although I believe it can generate electromagnetic pulses, I would not use on my head. I do believe it is possible to make a circuit and coils with a integrated control-loop. since its 50hz AC waveforms, it should be possible to plot each puls by a decent MCU and thereby introduce a safety mechanism which can ensure that such a devise is operating within the specified and approved waveform/magnetic field.

    1. AC waveforms are not PEMF, PEMF are meant to be single direction only not alternating
      Unfortunately depression is one of those conditions that is highly variable from one individual to another, and many forms are psychosomatic or self induced. People get upset, fixate on their problems and become depressed, just thinking about something else is often enough to relieve the condition. Some forms of depression have a biochemical/genetic basis and cannot be treated with suggestion. The article you cited does not appear to be a scientific article but rather one persons personal experience.
      Again how was the frequency, waveform and intensity selected were there other groups tested with different parameters? where is the science?

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