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Electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields can interact with charged components in physiological, cellular and molecular structures; producing various effects on biological systems.

Considering magnetotherapy, both static and time-varying magnetic fields can provide short-term or long-term, therapeutic benefits.  However, if a magnetic field is to have an effect on the trajectory or position of a charged particle, the charged particle either has to be in motion (moving linerly, orbiting, spinning, oscillating, etc.), or the magnetic field must vary with respect to time.  A static magnetic field cannot change the position (or energy state) of a completely motionless charged particle.

Considering the volume and area of a 20 µm mammalian cell, the range of energies associated with 20 mT to 400 mT magnetic field flux densities would be approximately 1.0 pJ to 1.0 nJ. These results can be obtained from the following magnetic field energy relationship:

Magnetic Energy (Instantaneous or Static) =

(1/2 ) B H (Volume) / (magnetic permeability)

Energy levels within the range calculated above can have an effect on weak chemical bonds, ligand-receptor interfaces, transport mechanisms and biochemical responses in the areas and volumes associated with mammalian cells. Experimental evidence provides support for this supposition. Time varying magnetic fields with magnetic flux densities of 1 mT to 400 mT have shown evidence of influencing proliferation of cells in culture, malignant tumor growth inhibition and apoptosis.  Lower magnetic flux densities, from 0.05 mT to 1 mT, appear to have an effect on gene expression of cytokine receptors, expression of oncoproteins and DNA synthesis.

In many cases, the blind application of instantaneous energy relationships (and other energetic arguments) often fail to support the biological applicabity of low-level field strengths (electric or magnetic). However, in these situations, other fundamental mathematical relationships often do indicate the possibility of biological impacts at field intensity values when specific energy relationships do not provide support. An example of this kind of situation follows.

The figure at the right shows a magnetoencephalogram (MEG) representing the left temporal region for a patient with epilepsy (Courtesy of Dr. Photios Anninos, Medical Physics, Department of Medicine, University of Thrace and courtesy of the German Journal of Oncology).  The The MEG data was taken before the patient was treated with pT magnetotherapy (pT-MT).  Treatment with pT-MT involves magnetic flux densities that are more than ten million times lower than the magnetic flux density of the earth's magnetic field (the earth's magnetic flux density is approximately 0.5 G or 0.05 mT).

The color red represents an abnormal condition.  As the color changes from red to yellow-green-blue, the color transition indicates progress toward a normal condition.  The instrument used to obtain these images is a Superconductive Quantum Interference Device (SQUID) biomagnetometer, operating at a liquid helium temperature.  The SQUID is capable of detecting magnetic flux densities down to the 0.01 pT level.

The next picture, at the right, is the MEG data of the left temporal region for the same patient, taken after several treatments with pT magnetotherapy.  The application of pT magnetic fields to the left temporal region of this patient appears to have produced a significant therapeutic effect for the patient's epileptic condition.  With additional treatments, the patient's seizure activity decreased in severity and frequency. 

How can we achieve a therapeutic effect from pT magnetotherapy?  Some skeptics claim that magnetic flux densies at the pT level are much too low to have any effect at all.  Many physics models and energy concepts have been used to prove that pT fields are much too weak to have any significant impact on biological systems.  However, the basic problem with all of this skepticism is that therapeutic applications of pT magnetic fields have proven to be very effective in the treatment for certain non-trauma induced epilepsy and Parkinson's disease patients.  At this point, the scientific mission can no longer remain in the state of denial, using various analytical efforts trying to prove that pT-MT does not work.  We now must recognize that, in many cases, pT-MT DOES WORK. Our scientific mission now has to concentrate on finding out why pT-MT works and determining the mechanisms involved.

From the standpoint of electromagnetic wave fundamentals, there are no relationships in field theory (such as Maxwell's equations, or the components of Maxwell's equations) that would refute or deny the claim that picoTesla magnetic fields could have an impact on biological systems, or a significant therapeutic effect for certain neurological disorders.  In fact, Maxwell's equations and recent data on electrical currents in the nervous system, indicate the possibility that therapeutic benefits can be achieved with pT magnetic fields.

One of Maxwell's differential equations states that a change of magnetic field intensity (H(x)) in one direction, can produce a current density (J(y)) that is perpendicular to the direction of the magnetic field intensity vectors:

                            dH(x)/dz  =  J(y).

If a magnetic flux density on the cranial area of 80 pT is assumed, the magnetic flux density equation, shown in the first figure above, indicates that the corresponding magnetic field intensity will be approximately 64 µA-turns/m.   Using the relationship between magnetic flux density (B), magnetic field intensity (H) and current (I), in the first figure shown above, we find that the magnetic field could be produced by a 2 µA current in thin wire coils that are located a few centimeters away from the cranium.  We can also assume that, in a certain region of the brain, the magnetic field intensity produced by the current in the wire coils varies from a maximum of 64 µA-turns/m to a value of 43 µA-turns/m over a distance of 1 cm.  In this case, one of Maxwell's differential equations (shown above) indicates that the current density would be approximately 2.1 mA per meter squared.  The resulting current in a 100 µm diameter nerve fiber would be approximately 16.5 pA.

Therefore, an applied 80 pT spatially varying magnetic field can produce currents that are reasonably close to the 50 pA to 75 pA current levels associated with miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSC) in hippocampal synapses, as reported by Beattie, et. al. in Science.  It has been determined that, with the application of relatively high magnetic fields in repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), the interaction between the magnetic field and the nerve fiber involves nerve polarization changes and a subsequent impact on action potentials.  For pT magnetic fields, the interaction between the magnetic field and nerve fiber could possibly involve modulation of mEPSC current levels in certain synapses and neural pathways.  Maxwells equations along with basic field equations in physics tend to support this possibility, and this could be part of the reason why pT magnetic fields are able to provide a therapeutic effect for certain neurological disorders.

From:  P. Anninos, et. al., International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 60, 1991; E. Hirakawa, et. al., Bioelectromagnetics, Vol. 17, 1996; J. Schimmelpfeng and H. Dertinger, Bioelectromagnetics, Vol. 18, 1997; P. Anninos, et. al., Brain Topography, Vol. 13, 2000; S. Tofani, et. al., Bioelectromagnetics, Vol. 22, 2001; E.C. Beattie, et. al., Science, Vol. 295, 2002; G. D. O'Clock, German Journal of Oncology, Vol. 35, 2003; G.D. O'Clock, Electrotherapeutic Devices: Principles, Design and Applications, Artech House, Boston, MA (2007).