Language: English | Español

Magnetic Therapy Research: Headaches and Migraines


Treatment of migraine with pulsing electromagnetic fields: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Sherman RA, Acosta NM, Robson L.

Orthopedic Surgery Service, Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA 98431, USA.

The effect of exposure to pulsing electromagnetic fields on migraine activity was evaluated by having 42 subjects (34 women and 8 men), who met the International Headache Society's criteria for migraine, participate in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Each subject kept a 1-month, pretreatment, baseline log of headache activity prior to being randomized to having either actual or placebo pulsing electromagnetic fields applied to their inner thighs for 1 hour per day, 5 days per week, for 2 weeks. After exposure, all subjects kept the log for at least 1 follow-up month. During the first month of follow-up, 73% of those receiving actual exposure reported decreased headaches (45% good decrease, 14% excellent decrease) compared to half of those receiving the placebo (15% worse, 20% good, 0% excellent). Ten of the 22 subjects who had actual exposure received 2 additional weeks of actual exposure after their initial 1-month follow-up. All showed decreased headache activity (50% good, 38% excellent). Thirteen subjects from the actual exposure group elected not to receive additional exposure. Twelve of them showed decreased headache activity by the second month (29% good, 43% excellent). Eight of the subjects in the placebo group elected to receive 2 weeks of actual exposure after the initial 1-month follow-up with 75% showing decreased headache activity (38% good, 38% excellent). In conclusion, exposure of the inner thighs to pulsing electromagnetic fields for at least 3 weeks is an effective, short-term intervention for migraine, but not tension headaches.

Headache. 1999 Sep;39(8):567-75.

Return to top


Initial exploration of pulsing electromagnetic fields for treatment of migraine.

Sherman RA, Robson L, Marden LA.

Service of Orthopedic Surgery, Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, Wash. 98431, USA.

Two studies were conducted during which 23 patients with chronic migraine were exposed to pulsing electromagnetic fields over the inner thigh. In an open study, 11 subjects kept a 2-week headache log before and after 2 to 3 weeks of exposure to pulsing electromagnetic fields for 1 hour per day, 5 days per week. The number of headaches per week decreased from 4.03 during the baseline period to 0.43 during the initial 2-week follow-up period and to 0.14 during the extended follow-up which averaged 8.1 months. In a double-blind study, 9 subjects kept a 3-week log of headache activity and were randomly assigned to receive 2 weeks of real or placebo pulsing electromagnetic field exposures as described above. They were subsequently switched to 2 weeks of the other mode, after which they kept a final 3-week log. Three additional subjects in the blind study inadvertently received half-power pulsing electromagnetic field exposures. The 6 subjects exposed to the actual device first showed a change in headache activity from 3.32 per week to 0.58 per week. The 3 subjects exposed to only half the dose showed no change in headache activity. Large controlled studies should be performed to determine whether this intervention is actually effective.

Headache. 1998 Mar;38(3):208-13.

Return to top


The influence of the pineal gland on migraine and cluster headaches and effects of treatment with picoTesla magnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

NeuroCommunication Research Laboratory, Danburg, CT 06811.

For over half a century the generally accepted views on the pathogenesis of migraine were based on the theories of Harold Wolff implicating changes in cerebral vascular tone in the development of migraine. Recent studies, which are based on Leao's concept of spreading depression, favor primary neuronal injury with secondary involvement of the cerebral circulation. In contrast to migraine, the pathogenesis of cluster headache (CH) remains entirely elusive. Both migraine and CH are cyclical disorders which are characterised by spontaneous exacerbations and remissions, seasonal variability of symptoms, and a relationship to a variety of environmental trigger factors. CH in particular has a strong circadian and seasonal regularity. It is now well established that the pineal gland is an adaptive organ which maintains and regulates cerebral homeostasis by "fine tuning" biological rhythms through the mediation of melatonin. Since migraine and CH reflect abnormal adaptive responses to environmental influences resulting in heightened neurovascular reactivity, I propose that the pineal gland is a critical mediator in their pathogenesis. This novel hypothesis provides a framework for future research and development of new therapeutic modalities for these chronic headache syndromes. The successful treatment of a patient with an acute migraine attack with external magnetic fields, which acutely inhibit melatonin secretion in animals and humans, attests to the importance of the pineal gland in the pathogenesis of migraine headache.

Int J Neurosci. 1992 Nov-Dec;67(1-4):145-71.

Return to top


Effect of pulsating electromagnetic field therapy on cell volume and phagocytosis activity in multiple sclerosis and migraine.

Mix E, Jenssen HL, Lehmitz R, Lakner K, Hitzschke B, Richter M, Heydenreich A

Neurologische Abteilung, Universitat Rostock.

PEMF treatment was studied in 10 patients with multiple sclerosis and 10 patients with migraine. In both patients' groups a single treatment induced a significant rise of yeast particle uptake by blood granulocytes. The percentage of phagocytizing cells was increased in migraine patients only. In both patients' groups 20 PEMF treatments caused a reduction of particle uptake, whereas the percentage of phagocytizing cells remained unchanged. In migraine patients the opsonic capacity of serum and the mean cell volume of erythrocytes, lymphocytes and granulocytes were initially reduced, but increased during the course of 20 PEMF treatments. The biphasic changes of cell volume and phagocytic activity are interpreted as a result of counter-regulation of the organism in response to the primary PEMF effect.

Psychiatr Neurol Med Psychol (Leipz). 1990 Aug;42(8):457-66.

Return to top


Magnetic field associated with spreading depression: a model for the detection of migraine.

Okada YC, Lauritzen M, Nicholson C.

Department of Physiology and Biophysics, New York University Medical Center, NY 10016.

Slow variations of the magnetic field were recorded in real time during spreading depression (SD) in the isolated turtle cerebellum. The magnetic signal lasted for 2-10 min with the largest amplitude in the first minute. The field strength was of sufficient magnitude to be measured unaveraged at 2-4 cm from the tissue. The directions and time course of the magnetic signal indicated that cerebellar SD is accompanied by current normal to the cerebellar surface. The observations reported here are of clinical interest due to the potential involvement of SD in various neurological disorders, notably head trauma and migraine.

Brain Res. 1988 Feb 23;442(1):185-90.

Return to top


Cerebral use of a pulsating magnetic field in neuropsychiatry patients with long-term headache.

Grunner O.

A pulsed magnetic field (f = 260 Hz; t = 3 ms; induction B = 1.9 mT; gradient = 0.5 mT/cm) was applied at 40 patients with headaches of various etiology. The change of cephalea intensity was evaluated according the patients statements. These statements were further compared with the changes of the EEG. By means of frequency analysis of the EEG significant changes in percentages of delta and alpha 1 activities (7.5-9.5/s) were stated after the application of the real treatment regarding the sham treatment. Any treatment lasted one half hour. The retreat of subjective difficulties as well as the amelioration of EEG were stated accordingly at headaches, which were bounded with cerebral arteriosclerosis, with states after cerebral concussion, with depressive neurosis, or with tension headache. Pulsed magnetic field could be applied only there, where the visual evaluation stated EEG as physiological.

EEG EMG Z Elektroenzephalogr Elektromyogr Verwandte Geb. 1985 Dec;16(4):227-30.

Return to top