Does Electromagnetic therapy kill spirochetes?

Electromagnetic Therapy



Other common name(s): electromagnetism, bioelectricity, magnetic field therapy, bioelectromagnetics, bioenergy therapy, BioResonance Tumor Therapy, black boxes, energy medicine, electronic devices, electrical devices, zapping machine, Rife machine, Cell Comm system

Scientific/medical name(s): none


Electromagnetic therapy involves the use of energy to diagnose or treat disease. Electromagnetic energy includes electricity, microwaves, radio waves, and infrared rays, as well as electrically-generated magnetic fields. Even though light is also a type of electromagnetic energy, it is addressed in a separate document (see Light Therapy.)


There are medically approved uses for some electronic devices, such as the electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram (EKG), and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation units (TENS; see Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation). Such devices are used to diagnose nervous system and heart problems and treat pain by interfering with nerve conduction of pain impulses. However, many of the alternative electronic devices promoted to cure disease have not been scientifically proven to be effective.

How is it promoted for use?

Practitioners claim that when electromagnetic frequencies or energy fields within the body go out of balance, disease and illness occurs. They claim that these imbalances disrupt the body’s chemical makeup. By applying electromagnetic energy from outside the body, usually with electronic devices, practitioners claim they can correct the imbalances in the body.

Practitioners claim that these methods can treat ulcers, headaches, burns, chronic pain, nerve disorders, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, gum infections, asthma, bronchitis, arthritis, cerebral palsy, heart disease, and cancer.

Practitioners of BioResonance Tumor Therapy (a kind of electromagnetic treatment) use an electronic device they claim results in the self-destruction of tumor cells by “energizing the p53 gene.” Practitioners say it cures cancer in 80% of cases. However, there is no description of precisely how this is accomplished.

Another electronic device called the Cell Com system is promoted as a regulator of the chemical and electrical communication between cells. Proponents claim it can be used to relieve pain caused by cancer and for fighting recurrent infections, asthma, bronchitis, and arthritis. They further claim the device can stop the growth of cancer cells.

Practitioners claim the Rife machine, another electronic device, can diagnose and eliminate diseases, including cancer, by tuning into electrical impulses given off by diseased tissue. The Rife machine then directs energy of the same frequency back at the diseased tissue. Promoters claim that the device kills microorganisms that cause disease.

Another electronic device that has been promoted to cure cancer is the zapping machine. Based on the claim that cancer is related to parasites, promoters say it kills the parasites that cause cancer.

What does it involve?

Electromagnetic therapy, which includes several different approaches, is claimed to use electromagnetic, microwave, or infrared energy to diagnose or treat an illness by detecting imbalances in the body’s energy fields and then correcting them. Electronic devices, which emit some form of low-voltage electrical current or radio frequency, are often involved. Magnets and other unconventional treatments may also be a part of electromagnetic and energy field therapy (see Crystals, Magnetic Therapy, Polarity Therapy, Reiki, and Therapeutic Touch). The most commonly used electronic devices are listed below.

BioResonance Tumor Therapy

This method uses a small electronic device to create oscillations (vibrations) that are supposed to “re-enliven” the p53 gene in order to cure cancer. While the p53 gene is often defective in cancer tissues (see the American Cancer Society document Oncogenes and Tumor Suppressor Genes), available evidence does not support claims that it can be electrically repaired. Some reports estimate that the program can last up to six weeks.

Cell Com System

This device reportedly transmits low voltage electricity through electrodes that are placed on the hands and feet in order to regulate communication between cells in the body.

Rife Machine

Also called frequency therapy, frequency generator, and Rife frequency generator, this device is used to direct electrical impulses at the feet to break up the supposed accumulated deposits of toxins at nerve endings. During treatment, the patient places his or her feet in a plastic box attached to the Rife unit.

Zapping Machine

A zapping machine is a small, battery-powered device that produces a low-frequency electrical current. Wires connected to copper tubes transmit the electricity to patients.

What is the history behind it?

The effects of magnetism and energy forces have been studied since the time of the Greek and Roman empires. Chinese medicine uses one of the oldest energy-based systems of healing. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the concept of qi (or chi) which is thought to be the vital energy or life force that flows throughout the body. The concept of life force energy is also a central aspect of Indian medical beliefs.

In modern times, the discovery of electricity brought about the promotion of electromagnetic treatments. The use of different forms of electrical devices and frequency generators in medicine has intrigued practitioners and patients for generations. Since the mid 1800s, countless electronic machines have been applied to a long list of ailments. Most of these devices have never been proven effective. In some cases their use has resulted in serious injury or even death. However, some electromagnetic and electrical technologies have become mainstays of modern medical practice, such as diagnostic x-rays, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and cardiac pacemakers.

The first known use of frequency therapy came in the late 1800s when Albert Abrams, MD, developed a number of devices he claimed could detect the frequencies of diseased tissue and heal the underlying imbalances. The idea that disease can be diagnosed and treated by tuning in to radio-like frequencies has also been called radionics. Dr. Abrams was never able to prove his devices were effective. Later proponents have been likewise unsuccessful.

Dozens of similar unconventional and unproven electronic devices have been made and marketed over the years. BioResonance Tumor Therapy, the Cell Com system, the Rife machine, and the zapping machine are four popular systems on the market today.

BioResonance Tumor Therapy was developed by Martin Keymer, a German biophysicist, who claims the therapy is rooted in the age-old idea that it is possible to tap into the vital energy that flows throughout the body. A clinic offering the therapy, which opened in Tijuana, Mexico in 1998, has been the subject of great deal of controversy. The Cell Com system which is said to increase communication between cells was invented by a Danish acupuncturist named Hugo Nielsen.

The Rife machine (or Rife frequency generator) was created by Royal Raymond Rife, an American who asserted that cancer was caused by bacteria. The machine supposedly emitted radio waves at the same frequency as those discharged by offending bacteria. According to Rife, the radio waves created vibrations that “shattered” the bacteria.

The most widely marketed zapping machine today is the Zapper designed by Hulda Clark, PhD, a physiologist with no formal clinical medical training. She currently uses her device to treat patients with cancer, AIDS, and other diseases in a Tijuana, Mexico medical clinic.

Electronic devices and other frequency generators are available through a number of companies. Treatment programs that incorporate the devices are offered in Mexican and Canadian clinics. Practitioners do not need a license to conduct frequency therapy in the United States.

The FDA has not approved any of the alternative machines or products connected to electrical sources (electronic devices) used to cure illness and does not recognize any frequency generator as a legitimate medical device. They have, however, launched an investigation into the industry.

What is the evidence?

Science has established the fact that electrical and magnetic energy exist in the human body. Electrical energy is used by physicians to re-start the heart after heart attacks and is even applied to promote bone growth. Some accepted electrical devices commonly used in hospitals include EEGs to measure electrical activity in the brain and EKGs to measure electrical patterns of heartbeats.

Low level radio waves or tiny electrical impulses are not strong enough to produce a significant effect on the body. There is no evidence that the radio waves produced by these devices can destroy bacteria or any living cells.

Microwaves, another form of electromagnetic therapy, are used in some cancer treatment centers to heat and destroy tumor cells. High-energy radio waves can also be used to “cook” cancer cells, a process called radiofrequency ablation (see Hyperthermia.)

In addition, powerful electromagnetic fields (stronger and of a different type than those produced by radionic devices) may be able to change the responses of certain cells in the body. Early evidence suggests that these electromagnetic fields may help broken bones that are not healing well. Some researchers have reported that pulsed electromagnetic stimulation may reduce frequency of migraine headaches, although larger studies are needed to prove any benefit. Some early studies found that electromagnetic energy may reduce some kinds of pain, although the methods and results still need to be checked by others to learn if they hold true. One review analyzed 2 studies and found that electromagnetic treatment did not seem to help heal pressure sores (bedsores). Scientific studies are looking at whether these powerful electromagnetic fields may help with other problems. These studies are only done in carefully controlled research settings. If they show benefit, it is possible that electromagnets may be used in conventional medicine in the future.

There is no relationship between the conventional medical uses of electromagnetic energy and the alternative devices or methods that use externally applied electrical forces. Available scientific evidence does not support claims that these alternative electrical devices are effective in diagnosing or treating cancer or any other disease.

Are there any possible problems or complications?

Untested, unproven electrical devices may pose some risk. There have been reports of injuries due to faulty electrical wiring, power surges during lightening storms, and misuse of equipment. People with pacemakers, defibrillators, or insulin pumps should avoid exposure to electric current and magnetic fields, including electromagnets.

Relying on this type of treatment alone, and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care, may have serious health consequences. –

Additional Resources

More Information From Your American Cancer Society

The following information on complementary and alternative therapies may also be helpful to you. These materials may be ordered from our toll-free number (1-800-ACS-2345).


American Cancer Society. Questionable methods of cancer management: electronic devices. CA Cancer J Clin. 1994;44:115-127.

Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons. A Report to the National Institutes of Health on Alternative Medical Systems and Practices in the United States. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 1994. NIH publication 94-066.

Barrett S. James Gary Davidson and the Monterrey Wellness Center. Available at: Accessed 03/29/07.

Cassileth B. The Alternative Medicine Handbook. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co; 1998.

Flemming K, Cullum N. Electromagnetic therapy for treating pressure sores (Cochrane Review). The Cochrane Library, Issue 2, 2005.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Report. Questions and Answers about Using Magnets to Treat Pain. Available at Accessed 03/2/9/07.

Rubik B. Energy medicine and the unifying concept of information. Altern Ther Health Med. 1995;1:34-39.

Sherman RA, Acosta NM, Robson L. Treatment of migraine with pulsing electromagnetic fields: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Headache. 1999 Sep;39(8):567-75.

Note: This information may not cover all possible claims, uses, actions, precautions, side effects or interactions. It is not intended as medical advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultation with your doctor, who is familiar with your medical situation.

Revised: 05/23/2007

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3 Responses to “Does Electromagnetic therapy kill spirochetes?”

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