IS MAGNETIC THERAPY BENEFICIAL IN MAINTAINING HEALTH? 

 

Magnetic therapy is now being considered as a promising treatment for a wide range of medical ailments. The successes of these magnet treatments may at first glance seem impressive, but there is a need for this form of treatment to be carefully evaluated and documented, before any prior approval or universal acceptance can be given. The purpose of this present paper is to evaluate some of the important current concepts underlying the use of magnetic therapy through the use of pertinent questions on the subject which are answered below.

What is magnetic therapy? Magnetic therapy is considered a safe, non-invasive method of applying magnetic fields to the body for therapeutic purposes. It may help to speed the healing process and improve quality of sleep without any adverse side effects. Whether used independently or as an adjunct to any current treatment, magnet therapy may be effective for natural pain relief due to musculoskeletal injuries and chronic conditions.

When was magnetic therapy first used? The earliest mention of the magnet as a healing agent is one of the four Vedas on the treatise of medicine, ¬ the Atharvaveda. Many indigenous and ancient civilizations, including the Hebrews, Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Egyptians and Greeks used magnets for healing. According to legend, Cleopatra wore a magnetic amulet on her forehead to preserve her youth; this placement put it near the brain's magnetically sensitive pineal gland.

As early as 1960s, clinical studies in the United States have shown that magnetic therapy may be an effective method for relieving pain and discomfort. Japan and many eastern European countries have conducted studies for over 30 years and researchers continue to find that it provides tremendous benefits for a wide range of conditions. Physicians in the United States using magnetic therapy in their practices have reported many case histories showing positive benefits for their patients as well.

What are some examples of life's magnetic nature? Examples of life's magnetic nature are abundant and found everywhere. Many birds and insects, such as homing pigeons, butterflies and bees navigate using Earth's magnetic field. Even humans can roughly sense magnetic direction. These abilities, in part, appear to be mediated through a magnetic substance called magnetite, which has been discovered in the tissue, including the human brain, of many living organisms. Researchers have found magnetite clusters near the brain's, magnetically sensitive pineal gland, which secretes hormones affecting the entire body.

What was the original thinking on the use of magnets? Some supporters of magnetic therapy seem to base their belief on a metaphysical assumption that all illness is due to some sort of imbalance or disharmony in energy. This balance or flow of electromagnetic energy must be restored in order to restore health, and magnets are thought to be able to do this. Until recently, scientists believed that life was mostly a biochemical process. The idea that magnetic fields could significantly influence living systems seemed far-fetched. Perspectives have shifted rapidly, however, and many scientists now believe that at some level we are fundamentally "electromagnetic creatures." What is the mysterious force called magnetism? Magnetism is created primarily by the spin of electrons within a substance. If the spin of sufficient numbers of electrons is aligned, the substance becomes magnetic. Although iron is readily magnetized because of its many surplus electrons, virtually all substances can be magnetized. Natural magnets called lodestones were created when iron-containing lava cooled and was magnetized by Earth's magnetic field.

Can magnetism promote healing? Healing may be regarded as restoring balance to the body. The physical body can generate electrical energy and is effected by anything with an electromagnetic field - such as magnets. If used corrected magnets may relieve pain and speed healing.

Can humans generate magnetic fields? Not only are we affected by magnetic fields but we also generate them. For example, scientists can measure the brain and heart's magnetic fields with instruments called the magnetoencephalograph and magnetocardiogram, respectively.

How is the magnetic field of energy of a magnet measured? The force or magnetic field of energy from a magnet is measured in gauss strength. Magnets used for pain relief and healing typically measure between 300¬ to10, 000 gauss.

How many types of magnets are there? There are three main types of magnets currently in use, these are as follows: 1.Neodymium magnets have a 12,300 gauss rating at its core. 2.Ceramic magnets have a 3,900 gauss rating at its core 3.Flexible magnets have a 2,750 gauss rating at its core. How does magnet therapy work? There is still much research and debate about how magnets work. Different theories have been put forward by researchers and scientists. But the most accepted theory is described below. When a magnet is applied to the body, muscle and soft tissue lengthen and relax. Magnetic waves pass through the tissue and secondary currents are induced. When currents clash with magnetic waves they produce impacting heat on electrons in the body cells. This impacting heat is suggestive of bringing about healing. The application of a magnetic field to an injured area helps restore the normal electromagnetic balance. The magnetic field relaxes capillary walls, as well as surrounding muscles and connective tissues, allowing for increased blood flow. More oxygen and nutrients are transferred to the injury site, while pain and inflammatory-related electro-chemicals are more efficiently removed. The overall process restores the normal electromagnetic balance of the area, relieving pain and inflammation and promoting accelerated healing. Individual response time will vary and can range from a few minutes, to a few weeks. The effectiveness of magnetic therapy is dependent upon using the correct magnetic products, the length of time they are applied, and the type and severity of the problem. Is magnetic therapy safe? Magnetic therapy has been reported to be safe so far. No complications have ever been reported with its proper use. However, there are certain conditions where magnet therapy should not be used. Magnetic therapy should not be used if you are wearing a pacemaker, defibrillator, insulin pump or any other implanted electro-medical device. It should not be used if you are pregnant either.

How effective is magnetic therapy? Most experts in the field argue that if magnetic therapy products are designed and used properly they can be 80% to 90% effective. Knowing how to accomplish this level of effectiveness is no easy task. It requires highly specialized designs and manufacturing and educated guidance for proper use.

What determines the effectiveness of a magnetic therapy product? To be effective, a product must create a magnetic field of sufficient strength and coverage at the affected area. The problem is that the strength of a magnetic field dissipates rapidly with increasing distance from a magnet. Many times an injured area can be several inches below the skin. If a product is not properly designed, the magnetic field could easily stop before it even reaches the injury site, rendering the product completely ineffective. The Manufacturer's Gauss Rating (MGR) of a magnet indicates the amount of energy that a particular magnetic material can conserve. It is identical for all magnets made of the same material regardless of their size or the total number of magnets used. Four factors determine the strength and penetration depth, that is, how far the magnetic field can reach when applied to the body: 1.Mass (surface area and thickness) of magnets. 2.Quantity of magnets used. 3.Polarity facing the body. 4.Manufacturer's gauss rating. How to use magnets? •Start with localizing the painful area or zone. •Probe by pressing the painful zone, particularly the depressions, for finding the points most painful. If necessary mark them with the tip of a pen. •Prepare the magnet by gently washing with soap and drying it well with a soft cloth. •Cut a piece of micropore surgical tape or a sticking plaster and attach the magnet with its help with the shining face towards your skin at the selected areas or painful zone. Does it make a difference which magnetic pole is used in magnetic therapy? Different magnetic poles have different effects on the body. The negative magnetic field or North Pole is the one to use on the body. It calms the body and is believed to expand capillaries resulting in increased blood and oxygen to the area. The positive field or South Pole stresses the body and can be dangerous with long-term exposure. Only doctors should apply the South Pole to their patients for special treatments. Some of the effects of the South Pole and North Pole are given below: Positive/South Pole Negative/North Pole Stresses the body Calms the body Increases acidityNeutralizes pH Reduces oxygen Increases oxygen Increases cellular swelling Reduces cellular swelling

What are the side effects of magnetic therapy? There are no reported side effects of magnetic therapy thus far. Occasionally a person may feel a slight tingling sensation, which may be due to improved circulation.

There are a few contraindications. Do not use magnetic therapy if you: •Have a pacemaker or other implanted electrical device; •Received a localized cortisone injection in the past 2-3 weeks; •Are pregnant; •Have metallic strips after a surgical operation inside your body; •Have convulsions; •Have open wounds or during the period of menstruation; •Just had a meal or one and half hour following a meal; •Have placed a magnet on your head for a period exceeding 48 hours; •Experience pain or increased pain, remove magnet and reverse them or discontinue use. How to make a simple magnet? Most magnets are now made by passing a strong surge of direct-current electricity through an iron bar. The strength of the magnet could be further increased by combining iron with other elements.

How to store magnets? •Keep unused magnets inside wooden boxes, which will block their magnetic fields. •Handle them with care, since they are fragile. If it falls, it can break or it can get scratched. •If exposed to a temperature above 80° C, it would loose forever its magnetic properties. •Store magnets in a cool, dry place.

How to increase the strength of magnets? •Place a piece of iron against one pole of the magnet, the strength of the other pole will be increased by 20%. •Attach a magnet of similar strength to one of the poles of the magnet, increases the strength of the other pole by 30 %. •Lowering the temperature increases the strength of the magnet, but this effect is temporary.

What are the possible reported uses of magnetic therapy? •It helps alleviate pain and improve mobility of arthritic joints; •Recovery of nerve sensation; •It aids recovery of thorn ligaments, muscles and tendons; •It reduces bruising and swelling; •It speeds recovery in sports injuries; •Greater resistance to infection; •It improves circulation in the body and extremity warming; •It helps removal of waste products from the blood such as lactic acids, calcium, cholesterol and fat deposits; •It increases energy and strength; •It speeds healing for example bone fractures; •It helps recovery or can prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; •It alleviates migraine and headache; •It improves overall health.

Can water be magnetized? Water is capable of being magnetized. Like oxygen, it's paramagnetic, meaning that it holds a magnetic charge. Some researchers think that magnetized water has a reduced surface tension due to water clusters being separated. In other words the water is better able to penetrate cell walls because it's thinner, wetter, and more absorbable. Magnetic energy can be transported to every cell in the body by drinking magnetic water. Magnetized water is sweet with a pH of about 8-9.

How can water be magnetized? Water can be magnetized simply by placing magnets on the water intake pipe or by placing a jug or glass of water on a circular magnet for several hours.

Is magnetized water beneficial for health? Disease causes the body's acid-alkaline balance (pH) to become overly acidic. Drinking magnetized, alkaline water may help to restore the body's pH balance.

CONCLUSIONS •Magnetic therapy has been implicated in the treatment of wide range of medical conditions and may be beneficial in maintaining health. •The success of magnet therapy, even though beneficial for some patients may not be effective for others. The clinical implications of magnetic therapy are now being extensively investigated in the present scientific literature. But, there is an increasing need for more clinical trials and greater participation in clinical trials and extensive validation of research findings, in order for magnetic therapy studies to become more acceptable among the scientific community. •Like all medical treatments the pros and cons of magnetic therapy must be carefully evaluated before the commencement of any treatment. •Magnetic therapy may be more beneficial if used in conjunction with other proven therapies.

REFERENCES Jacobson Resonance Enterprises, Jacobson Resonance Enterprises, Inc. Announces Texas A&M Study Demonstrates Magnetized Water May Enhance Growth of Squash. PR Newswire, Jan. 19, 1999.

Miller R. Methods of Detecting and Measuring Healing Energies. Future Science, edited by J.W. White and S. Krippner, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977, 431-444. Sharp K. Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Kristine K and Jacqueline L, Longe Eds, Gale Group, Detroit 1114, 2001. Vallbona C, Hazlewood C.F, Jurida G. Response of Pain to Static Magnetic Fields in Postpolio Patients: A Double-Blind Pilot Study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1997; 78: 1200-3. Vegari G. Magnetic Therapy. Claxton Publishing Group, London, 2002.


About the Author

Dr. Pattron is a Public Health Scientist attached to the Ministry of Health in Trinidad.