Using magnets to stimulate the healing of muscular pain is a technique that has been used for thousands of years. However, medical research has been unable to prove that healing with magnets is actually possible and claims that they are more of placebos than real healing agents. Many therapists and users, though, firmly believe that magnets are actually effective. Statistics say that at least $1 billion worth of magnets are sold each year for therapeutic purposes. If you choose to use the therapy, know that it is a safe, non-invasive form of healing and does not have any side effects. But, what is magnet therapy? And, how does it work? Read ahead and find out.
Here are some of the devices that you can use to get magnet therapy.
What is Magnet Therapy?
A form of alternative healing, uses static magnets or unmoving magnets, as they are also called. Depending on their composition and strength, magnets can be classified into four different categories, namely static or permanent magnets, temporary magnets, electromagnets, and superconductors. To make use of the therapeutic properties of magnets, your therapist will likely recommend that you wear them in the form of bracelets, necklaces, rings, or inserts inside your shoes. Accordingly, you’ll wear them on the wrist, ankle, knee, foot, elbow, waist, or lower back.
You can buy blankets or magnetic mattresses and slumber pads to sleep on. Companies sell you clothes that can be worn to give you the positive effects of magnets. Your therapist may also recommend that you buy smaller magnets and wear them next to the skin with the help of adhesive bandages. The period for which you must use them depends on the specific medical issue you’re looking to treat and its severity.
Magnets Used in Magnet Therapy
Permanent magnets are typically made from metals like iron or alloys created from mixtures of metal and nonmetal elements. They have different strengths that are measured in units such as Gauss (G) or Tesla (T). To give you an idea, the magnetic field of the earth is measured as 0.5 G but the magnets used in an MRI machine is around 15,000 G and above. The magnets used to conduct magnet therapy have a very light charge similar to that of picking up a paper clip with a magnet through a sock and is measured at 300 to 800 G.
Therapeutic magnets may have two kinds of charges:
- Unipolar where one side of the magnet has a negative charge while the other has a positive charge.
- Alternating poles where the magnetic material is in the form of a sheet with the positive and negative charges lined up in an alternating design.
How Magnet Therapy Works
Magnet therapy is known to work in three ways:
- Magnets generate a magnetic field, a fact that is accepted by science. Accordingly, the theory behind magnet therapy is that when magnets are placed close to the human body, they can influence the bio-magnetic field created by the body and work to heal illnesses and repair injuries. This bio-magnetic field or life energy of the body is also called “prana,” “chi” or “qi” in different cultures.
- Since the human blood contains iron, it should respond to the stimulation from the magnets. Perhaps, this is why; blood circulation is promoted in the body. A boost in blood circulation levels, in turn, stimulates the faster healing of tissues. However, medical science says that the iron in the blood is attached to hemoglobin and cannot respond to the magnets since it does not have the attracting property needed.
- Believers of magnet therapy also say that the negative feature of magnetic fields can promote higher levels of metabolism in the body and thus, make more oxygen available to the cells. As a result, the acidic effects in the body are corrected to stimulate healing.
History of Magnet Therapy
According to a report released by New York University’s Langone Medical Center, magnet therapy has been practiced for more than 2,000 to 2,500 years. Documented history talks about how magnets were first discovered in Asia Minor somewhere between 2,500 to 3,000 BC. The first accounts that talk about using magnets for therapeutic purposes originate in Egypt from where they were passed on to the Greeks. Traditional Chinese Medicine has also used magnets for 2,000 years in the practice of acupuncture and reflexology.
In more recent times, magnets and their healing properties were first studied in the 16th century by Dr. William Gilbert, an English physician. In the 20th century, several researchers have been exploring magnets and their healing effects with different science institutions carrying out studies to understand how they work. Many celebrities like Venus Williams, Bill Clinton, Andre Agassi, Prince William, and Anthony Hopkins, among others, have talked about how magnet therapy has helped them.
Benefits of Magnet Therapy
Users of magnet therapy and some studies reveal that magnets can help relieve pain and stress, raise energy levels, and contribute to a longer lifespan. Whether or not they are actually effective is an issue still under discussion but you can safely use them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers them harmless with no medical benefits. Supporters of the therapy use them for these illnesses and ailments:
- Mental issues like schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression
- Arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis of the knees
- Blood circulation disorders
- Nerve disease resulting from diabetes
- Sciatica pain
- Weakened immunity
- Multiple sclerosis
- Back pain and foot pain
- Wounds and fractures
Precautions to Take When Using Magnet Therapy
Magnet therapy is a safe, non-surgical method for helping you with illnesses. But, you must exercise caution when using them. Here are some important points to keep in mind.
- Use magnets only to complement the conventional methods of treatment. If you think you have an illness or you’re in pain for any reason, it is not advisable to rely on magnet healing and postpone consulting a qualified medical practitioner.
- Inform your doctor about the magnet therapy you’re taking so she can coordinate the proper care you need.
- Never substitute magnet therapy for conventional health care.
Contraindications of Magnet Therapy
Magnet therapy has no side effects and anyone can safely use it by wearing it against the skin. However, if you’re using devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps, you should know that the magnets may interfere with the optimum functioning of these gadgets. Do not use magnets and make sure to check with your medical practitioner before getting the therapy.
Research Conducted on the Efficacy of Magnet Therapy
Several studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of magnet therapy. But, the results have been declared inconclusive by the conventional medical community since it only accepts the readings from random people who are unaware that they are being studied. Here are a few of the positive results.
- A study conducted at the National Institutes of Health’s Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine tested two groups of patients with magnets of different strengths. They were tested for sciatica pain. The group that received stronger magnets showed a marked improvement in their leg pain.
- The Harvard Medical School studied 29 patients who had osteoarthritis of the knee. After sessions of magnet therapy that lasted for four hours, the patients tested with magnets showed a reduction in pain by 79 points. The patients in the placebo group had a pain reduction of 10 points only.
- The FDA has approved the use of two kinds of devices that use a different kind of magnets such as ion cyclotron resonance (ICR). These devices can help in the healing of bones after fractures and fusion of spinal bones after back surgery.
Although science is not convinced that magnet therapy can help patients with pain and other mental and physical medical issues, you can consider getting the treatment. It is safe to use and does not use any invasive measures. Even if it does not provide any positive effects, it is not likely to hurt you either. Try the therapy and you can assess its efficacy for yourself.
“Magnets” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Feb 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
Palermo, Elizabeth. “Does Magnetic Therapy Work?” LiveScience. 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
“Medical Definition of Magnet therapy” MedicineNet.com. 13 May 2016. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
Laux, Marcus Dr. “Healing with Magnets.” Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine. Feb 2009. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
“The History of Magnets.” Magnetic Therapy Council. n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.