Autoimmune diseases

Electrical Stimulation Hulda Clark Zapper
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In a double-blind trial, 42 people with migraine headaches were given treatment with real or placebo pulsed electromagnetic therapy to the inner thighs for 1 hour, 5 times per week for 2 weeks.  The results showed benefits in headache frequency and severity. However, the study design was rather convoluted and nonstandard, and, therefore, the results are difficult to interpret.

Electromagnetic Therapy: Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Unlike PEMF, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) does in fact involve magnetic fields, and is, therefore, more closely related to standard magnet therapy. It involves applying low-frequency magnetic pulses to the brain. rTMS has been investigated for treating emotional illnesses and other conditions that originate in the brain. The results of preliminary studies have been generally promising.


About 20 small studies have evaluated rTMS for the treatment of depression (including severe depression that does not respond to standard treatment, as well as the depressive phase of bipolar illness), and most found it effective.

In one of the best of these studies, 70 people with major depression were given rTMS or sham rTMS in a double-blind setting over a period of 2 weeks  The results showed that participants who had received actual treatment experienced significantly greater improvement than did those receiving sham treatment.

In another trial involving 92 older patients whose depression had been linked to poor blood flow to the brain (so-called vascular depression), actual rTMS was significantly more effective than sham rTMS. Benefits were more notable in younger patients.

Two separate studies suggest that rTMS may be an effective additional treatment for the 20%-30% of depressed people for whom conventional drug therapy is not successful.  ECT (electroconvulsive therapy, or shock treatment) is often used for people who fall in this category, but rTMS may be an equally effective and less traumatic alternative. 


In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 24 people with epilepsy (technically, partial complex seizures or secondarily generalized seizures) not fully responsive to drug treatment were given treatment with rTMS or sham rTMS twice daily for a week.The results showed a mild reduction in seizures among the people given real rTMS. However, the benefits rapidly disappeared when treatment was stopped. Similarly short-lived effects were seen in an open trial.


A double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial looked at the use of low-frequency rTMS in 12 people diagnosed with schizophrenia and manifesting frequent and treatment-resistant auditory hallucinations (hearing voices).  Participants received rTMS for 4 days, with length of treatment building from 4 minutes on the first day to 16 minutes on the fourth day. Active stimulation significantly reduced the incidence of auditory hallucinations compared to sham stimulation. The extent of the benefit varied widely, lasting from 1 day in one participant to 2 months in another. Possible benefits were seen in other small studies as well.

Parkinson's Disease

A 2-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 18 people with Parkinson's disease compared rTMS against placebo. The results suggest that rTMS therapy can improve Parkinson's symptoms.  Benefits were seen in two other small studies too. 

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome is a condition similar to fibromyalgia but more localized; while fibromyalgia involves tender trigger points all over the body, myofascial pain syndrome involves trigger points clustered in one portion of the body only. One controlled trial found indications that a form of rTMS applied to the painful area (rather than to the brain) may be effective for myofascial pain syndrome of the trapezius muscle.

Surgery Support (Reducing Pain)

One study of 165 people failed to find that use of static magnets over the surgical incision reduced post surgical pain.


One preliminary study found indications that rTMS may be helpful for (ringing in the ear).

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

A small, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that use of rTMS may be able to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cigarette Addiction

A very small, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found evidence that rTMS may reduce craving for cigarettes in people attempting to give up smokeing Myotropic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gerhig's Disease)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nerve disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness. A small pilot study hinted that rTMS may be beneficial at least temporarily.

To learn about electrical treatments see Electrical Stimulation Therapy