The rising popularity of PEMF grounding mats - do they stand up to the hype?

Written by: Holly Rothschild


Healf Journal

All living beings produce electrical signals, it is the method by which our cells communicate and numerous automatic physiological processes are regulated - think nerve impulses and the human need for electrolytes. Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy operates by interacting with these signals promoting changes at a cellular level.

Despite its current surge in popularity, PEMF is not a new therapy form. 

Written by Holly Rothschild, Nutritional Therapist at Integral Wellness, unravels the science and whether the hype matches the benefits.

PEMF has been used for years as a non-invasive treatment which involves the application of intermittent bursts of low-level electromagnetic pulses to a targeted part of the body over a short period of time. The electromagnetic current is created by running an electrical current through a copper coil.

PEMF penetrates tissue and is believed to work by favorably influencing the communication between our intracellular (inside cell) and extracellular (outside cell) environments and by doing so initiates the body’s natural healing process by promoting both cellular repair and regeneration. 

Unraveling the science of PEMF

Clinical studies have demonstrated that PEMF promotes tissue healing and reduces inflammation and pain. The therapeutic effects are yielded due to improved circulation and the cellular exchange of nutrients and waste. The enhanced blood flow facilitates the delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

One vital cellular function that is believed to be enhanced is the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is effectively the energy currency of the body, required for myriad cellular functions such as DNA synthesis, transport of nutrients and waste and metabolism. ATP itself has also been found to have significant pain-relieving potential.

In addition, PEMF is believed to modify the action potential (change in voltage) of cellular membranes. The action potential is affected by the concentration of intracellular vs extracellular ions, which can hold either a negative or positive charge. For example, PEMF modulates the flow of Calcium ions across the cellular membrane, contributing to intracellular messaging and influencing numerous cellular processes including muscle contraction and nerve signaling, as well as cell proliferation and differentiation.

Research also suggests that PEMF modulates other pathways associated with other ions including potassium and sodium. PEMF has also been found to modulate the expression of genes that influence inflammation, tissue repair and apoptosis (cell death). 

Due to these benefits, PEMF is already an approved therapy for promoting bone repair and pain relief and the main body of research focuses on various musculoskeletal applications such as fibromyalgia, osteoporosis and arthritis. 

Following this, it is also a favoured therapy of athletes and fitness enthusiasts due to its positive impact on tissue repair and muscle recovery. Studies are also investigating the effectiveness of PEMF in the treatment of various neurological conditions including Parkinson’s and stroke; neuro regeneration, endometriosis pain, sleep quality and depression.

Although the research around PEMF is growing for many applications, more clinical studies arerequired to be able to elucidate optimal pulse frequency, as well as length and frequency oftherapy sessions.

Would I benefit from a PEMF Grounding Mat?

PEMF mats are now available to buy for home use, but the pulsation patterns will vary in intensity and frequency with different products. Although this means that the therapy can be personalised and adjusted it also means it is not necessarily being applied in a method that has been studied for efficacy or safety. Within clinical trials, PEMF is typically applied to a targeted area of the body, whereas commercially available full-body mats are non-specific in their target tissue.

Whilst PEMF is considered a safe therapy, there are always nuances and it is not suitable for all. It shouldn’t be used during pregnancy or for wearers of electronic medical devices including pacemakers and insulin pumps. It is also contraindicated in certain medical conditions such as epilepsy so it is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider about your own specific health needs before use.

However, it must be acknowledged that PEMF continues to gain positive feedback anecdotally for its impact on wellbeing including increased relaxation, focus and stress reduction. Whilst not conclusive in itself it does complement the narrative provided by research and offers a holistic view of the overall benefits that could potentially be experienced through independent accessibility to PEMF therapy. 

Would you recommend it for me? - A note from Holly

I am a great believer in anecdotal evidence, within the field of holistic wellness some of the most effective therapies don’t have a plethora of scientific evidence to back the claims, but this is not true for PEMF. There is clear evidence as well as clinical trials that demonstrate efficacy.I think that the only drawback is the cost of investment. However, for people suffering from long-term chronic conditions particularly those who experience chronic pain and inflammation, being able to access PEMF within the home environment may provide another avenue that could help to alleviate symptoms. If using independently at home I would always reach out to the manufacturer to discuss your specific needs and make sure you are using the device that suits your needs. There are also numerous wellbeing clinics that provide PEMF therapy so there is always the option to try before you buy.


This article is for informational purposes only, even if and regardless of whether it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Healf