Another electromagnetic field scam

Electromagnetic waves (EM) are real, and living things are electrical to some extent. Electrical and magnetic stimulation are also used for legitimate medical diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. But questionable health claims about magnetic fields, or electromagnetic waves, are really a two-century-old snake oil scam. Magnetic fields look like magic and advanced science at the same time, and they seem gentle and non-invasive, yet have an air of believability to them. This is the perfect recipe for snake oil.

I’ve written before about pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and some of the questionable claims made about them. Another problematic product caught my attention, namely the BEMER blanket (based on the more general BEMER effect, or “bioelectromagnetic energy regulation”) or BEMER mattress. You can find complaints online about relatives who spent $6,000 on a mattress that made all the usual vague alternative medicine claims, but most specifically increased “microcirculation.”There are a lot of red flags for suspicious people Computer Aided Manufacturing The product is first sold as an MLM product and the customer becomes the dealer.

The basic claim is that PEMF can increase microcirculation – the flow of blood through capillaries and small blood vessels. Additionally, it should increase the number of white blood cells circulating in the blood. The “increased circulation” claim is always a red flag because it’s so common in snake oil products. This statement and the history of BEMER also do not fill me with confidence. But let’s review what was released first.

BEMER was proposed by Dr. Rainer Klopp of Germany in 1998. There have been very few publications on this technology over the past 25 years, which in itself is questionable. Very few of the studies I could find were preliminary, low quality, or simply negative. For example, this is the only study I could find that addresses the core claim, which is to increase circulation. They compared cutaneous blood flow measured by Doppler in healthy subjects with one leg treated with the BEMER blanket and the other leg serving as a blind control. One nice thing about this claim is that it’s really easy to blind because the placebo blanket doesn’t emit electromagnetic fields at all. They found:

Comparing the two groups, there were no differences in the measured values ​​during the experiment (p > 0.05), except that the control group had higher flow values ​​(P = 0.03). There were no significant differences in baseline values ​​between the two groups over time (p > 0.05).

There were no differences between the two groups. This is very strong evidence against the core claim of the BEMER effect. Of course, there is often statistical noise in such studies, and in this case, blood flow was higher in the control group. So, to say that BEMMER reduced blood flow in this study, although I doubt that was the true effect.

For clinical use, there was also a double-blind placebo-controlled trial of BEMMER in fibromyalgia – completely negative.

Bemer blankets are also sold to horses, and I found a study that looked at potential physiological indicators in horses. They found:

After two weeks of treatment, although not statistically significant, horses treated with BEMER had lower hematocrit (%) measured immediately after exercise (48.30% 3.21) than no blanket (51.15% 3.57) and placebo blanket (49.58% 5.77 ). After wearing the BEMER blanket and treatment, horses had lower LF/HF ratios compared with the other groups, although this difference was not statistically significant. These results may indicate an effect of BEMER therapy on vagal activity and relaxation.

This is also completely negative – not a statistically significant difference. But they try to explain unimportant trends into something meaningful. LF/HF refers to low frequency/high frequency and refers to heart rate variability. This in itself is suspicious, in my opinion. This does not mean that heart rate variability has no effect, but it is a noisy system that can easily be exploited to create a false impression of the results, and the importance of the LF/HF ratio is “debatable”.

There have been a few other studies, mostly small, looking at subjective outcomes. A clear pattern is that objective outcome measures are always negative. For a treatment that has been around for 25 years, there isn’t much to show for it. Most of these studies are preliminary, small pilot studies, and the best results are negative. However, the promotion of BEMER products was enthusiastic and widespread. This is an obvious pseudoscientific model.

The company also made some questionable claims. First, they mentioned the “BEMER Institute”. Some good detective work tried to track down the institute, but it turned out it didn’t exist. The “Institute” is Dr. Klopp, and the various addresses given over the years are only his addresses. There were never any research labs or hardware infrastructure – it was entirely a virtual entity. “One man’s system” is a common feature of such dubious claims, making them appear more legitimate than they actually are.

BEMER also claims that they are working with NASA and makes it clear that this proves the legitimacy of their technology. They claim to be working with NASA to develop spacesuits to improve the health of astronauts. However, I found zero mention of this collaboration on the NASA website. NASA did not issue any press release announcing the collaboration (which is standard NASA procedure). Just like the “research institute”, this cooperation with NASA seems to be a “phantom”. In my experience, what organizations selling snake oil have done in the past is take advantage of some superficial relationship with NASA—such as giving presentations—and then portray it as NASA backing their claims. However, NASA seems to be completely silent on BEMER.

Some distributors of BEMER also claim that their products are “FDA approved,” although the BEMER website more accurately says “FDA approved.” We’ve also discussed this – the FDA “approving” medical devices simply verifies that they will not cause direct harm to patients. That’s it. They will not short out and give the user a fatal electric shock. No evidence of efficacy is required, and the FDA makes no claims about the underlying technology and medical claims. But most consumers don’t know this and are encouraged to interpret “FDA approval” as if it means the FDA has signed off on a clinical statement.

BEMER technology, the concept that pulsed electromagnetic fields somehow increase blood circulation, and the clinical claims of its products all carry the red flags of pseudoscientific snake oil.The few clinical studies that exist also show a very familiar pattern of results SBM – Consistent with the null hypothesis, the statement is untrue. Of course, no one has scientifically verified these claims through high-quality, reproducible clinical studies.You’ll also notice that BEMER is still on the fringe, at Computer Aided Manufacturingbut failed to gain mainstream acceptance—because the claims were questionable and lacked evidence.

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