The Healing with Magnets
Natural Healing – Magnetic Healing
Let’s face it: Therapy using magnets has a bad reputation. From the days of Anton Mesmer (the source of the word “mesmerize”) and his “animal magnetism,” to folks selling magnetic bracelets and mugs as a cure for everything from stress to “poor hydration,” one great way to completely ruin the reputation of a therapy is to let it get assimilated by snake-oil salesmen. Such is the fate of magnet therapy. There are plenty of folks out there who are desperate, hurting, or otherwise vulnerable to being coaxed out of their hard-earned bucks in exchange for a magical way to cure what-ails-you.
I’m not saying all magnet mongers are liars. Many believe with religious-like fervor that their magnets will cure any disease you can name, from cancer to AIDS to eczema. That’s like the modern doctor’s blind belief in chemical drugs for health. Both extremes are enthusiastically wrong and dangerous.
Despite all the exaggerated claims for magnets, there is solid science behind magnet therapy for a variety of conditions. For the record I will experiment with magnets, both personally and professionally, but I don’t currently rely solely on this modality for any condition. I am optimistic, though, so let’s examine the truth as we know it in 2009. I’ll give you the extreme views, then my take on the science.
Magnet mongers say: Doctors don’t want anyone to believe in magnet therapy because it’ll put them out of work.
Nay-sayers say: There’s been no good research.
Science says: “Good research” means randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies conducted on a large enough population to determine whether results are significant. That means the people being tested are randomly assigned to groups (randomized), one receiving the real treatment (the treatment group) and one receiving fake treatment (the placebo or control group), and neither the researchers nor the patients know who’s getting what until after the data have been gathered and analyzed (they’re double-blinded). As a general rule, there have to be at least 5 subjects (patients, laboratory rats, tissue cultures, whatever) in each group for there to be a chance of statistical significance.
The double-blinded requirement stymies researchers because unless the treatments are given in a clinic situation, where the magnets stay in the clinic, patients can take their magnets home and see if they stick to the refrigerator door. If they don’t, the device is obviously the placebo. In some studies, researchers tried to get around that by giving strong magnets to the treatment group and weak magnets to the control group, but it isn’t necessarily the stronger magnets that have the greatest therapeutic effect. Blinding a study is important because of the proven (and very powerful) mind-body connection that’s responsible for the placebo effect – improvement in subjective symptoms even though no real treatment has been given. Currently, the best magnet therapy studies either use subjects that aren’t vulnerable to the placebo effect, such as laboratory rats, or eliminate home-treatment. The results from studies that aren’t able to work within these limitations can still be valid; they just carry less weight, until they get support from more stringently conducted studies.
Magnet mongers say: Magnets are proven to relieve pain.
Nay-sayers say: It’s been proven that magnets have no effect on pain.
Science says: Neither conclusion is appropriate. Whether or not magnet therapy is effective in relieving pain depends on the specifics of the pain and the therapy. There are many different kinds of pain, and many different ways to use magnets. What strength of magnetic field is being used? Is it a static field or a pulsating field? How long is each treatment session, how many sessions are given, and how long does the total treatment program last? Is the therapy aimed at “where it hurts,” or on associated trigger points, or on acupuncture points? To claim that magnet therapy works (or doesn’t), without specifying the treatment and the condition being treated, is like putting a cast on a broken leg, leaving it on for 10 minutes, taking it off, and concluding it didn’t work because the leg is still broken. Here are some examples of well-designed studies (randomized, controlled, double-blinded) showing that magnet therapy truly does have potential in treating of pain:
A recent study showed that laboratory mice with pain from identical experimental causes, exhibited that pain by writhing on the floor of their cages. (I know, it’s awful, but bear with me.) Static magnetic fields created with magnets of a particular strength, arranged on the mice in a particular way, relieved the pain so well that the writhing was reduced by 80 percent.
Another excellent study, conducted at the National Institutes of Health’s Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, got around the “blind” problem by testing two different strengths of magnets on people diagnosed with chronic sciatica (low back pain radiating down their leg). The size, construction, weight, and arrangement of the magnets along the spine were all strictly controlled, and the treatment period lasted for five weeks. Leg pain was significantly reduced by the stronger magnets.
In a Harvard Medical School study of 29 patients with painful osteoarthritis of the knee, treatments were given in a clinic setting for four hours, eliminating the possibility of ruining the placebo effect. The pain scores decreased by 79 points in the treatment group, versus only 10 points in the placebo group.
Patients suffering from the painful symptoms of diabetic neuropathy enjoyed significantly less burning, numbness, tingling, and exercise-induced foot pain when treated with magnet therapy. These benefits occurred gradually, over about four months’ time.
A review study found that among 42 scientific reports, 37 showed that magnets brought significant pain relief, especially when magnets were placed on trigger points rather than directly on where it hurt.
So, certain kinds of magnet therapy can effectively treat certain kinds of pain. The professionals most likely to be up on the potential for magnet therapy in the treatment of pain are physical therapists.
In addition to whether it works, another piece of the research puzzle is how. Studies show that a magnetic field has a direct effect on nerves by inhibiting their ability to chemically transmit the electrochemical message of pain from one neuron to the next.
The Healing Power of Magnets
Magnets have been used for their healing properties since ancient times, and now a new study has found that they can reduce swelling when applied immediately after an inflammatory injury.
In their initial study, researchers from the University of Virginia set out to investigate the effect of magnetic therapy on microcirculation, which is blood flow through tiny blood vessels.
They placed magnets of 70 milliTesla (mT) field strength, which is about 10 times the strength of the common refrigerator magnet, near rats’ blood vessels and found that they dilated constricted blood vessels, and constricted vessels that were dilated. The results suggested that the magnetic filed could relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.
In the more recent study, the researchers used magnets on rats’ paws that had been treated with inflammatory agents to simulate tissue injury. The magnets significantly reduced swelling in the rats’ paws by up to 50 percent when applied immediately after the injury.
Dilation of blood vessels is a major cause of swelling, and it’s thought that the magnets worked by limiting blood flow.
Muscle bruising and joint sprains are the most common injuries worldwide, and since injuries that don’t swell heal faster, the magnet therapy could have widespread applications.
The researchers envisioned using magnets in place of ice packs and compression to treat injuries in high school, college, and professional sports teams, as well as among retirement communities.
Magnet mongers say: Magnets are proven to speed healing.
Nay-sayers say: There is no reliable proof that they have any effect at all on healing.
Science says: Good studies on humans in this area are understandably few and not well designed, because every accidental wound is different. Studies on surgical incisions are fraught with pitfalls because each patient comes to the surgery with different health issues, and goes home to different situations and different levels of post-surgical wound care.
An excellent study on laboratory rats, with standardized wounds on their backs, showed that the wounds that were treated with magnets healed completely in 15 days, compared to 20 days for the rats with fake magnets.
Researchers using a different type of magnet therapy, called ion cyclotron resonance (ICR), found that it significantly helps bones heal, even in fractures that otherwise refuse to knit. In fact, the FDA has approved two devices using ICR. One device is approved for use in treating those stubborn fractures, and the other is for accelerating spinal fusion after back surgery.
Magnet mongers say: Magnets can help people who’ve had strokes.
Nay-sayers say: Any such “benefit” is entirely from the placebo effect.
Science says: The brain and peripheral nerves are essentially bundles of electrochemical “wires,” and it’s logical that electromagnetic fields could affect them. Thus far, the research is promising. For example, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), where magnets are applied to both sides of the head or torso, has been shown to stimulate the firing of neurons in the brain and spinal cord.
TMS was put to the test in a well-designed Harvard Medical School study of stroke patients who lost normal motor functioning on one side of the body. Those patients in the treatment group had significantly improved motor performance of the affected side, compared to the placebo group.Healing with Magnets
A similar study was done with patients afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, and the treatment group had significant improvements in several Parkinson’s-related symptoms compared to the placebo group.
I’m watching for studies on the use of magnet therapy to replace shock therapy in the treatment of severe depression, and to help reduce or eliminate the need for psychotropic drugs in the treatment of other psychiatric disorders such as clinical depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and possibly even schizophrenia. I would also love to find a way to use magnet therapy to help people with seizure disorders.
Magnet mongers say: Magnets can cure urinary incontinence.
Nay-sayers say: The results are mixed.
Science says: There’s a reason for the mixed results. A special electromagnetic chair was invented several years ago, for magnet therapy of middle-aged women who had urinary incontinence. One study found more than 60 percent improvement in measurements of key pelvic floor muscles after treatment, but there was no significant difference in the incontinence itself. The problem with the chair is that it’s an expensive and non-portable piece of equipment that stays in the clinic. Therefore, patients get treated only intermittently, when they come to the clinic. In another study, treatment was done with portable magnets so the therapy was applied continuously, day and night, for two months. Compared to the control group, the treatment group’s incontinence improved significantly.Healing with Magnets
As you can see, magnets can be useful, no matter what the skeptics say. It’s all a matter of knowing what you’re doing, and paying attention to the results.
Magnetic therapy is a $5-billion market worldwide, and it is no surprise that in the United States the U.S. Food and Drug Administration makes it illegal to market magnets to treat significant conditions like HIV, asthma, or arthritis.
Do be aware, however, that it requires certain strengths of magnets to promote healing in the different areas of your body.
So if you’re looking to try this out yourself, it will take some work for you to do the research and find the correct strength and type of magnet for the specific condition you’re looking to heal.
I have actually been intrigued with magnet therapy for some time, as it seems promising and generally has very few side effects. And while magnets do not treat the underlying cause of any problem, they are far less dangerous than using drugs or surgery.
In addition to reducing swelling, magnets have been found to help with:
Age-related mental decline
There are countless products available, from magnetic bracelets and ankle straps to shoe insoles and mattresses, and it is really a buyer beware environment to make sure you are getting a quality product. Many commercial products do NOT have the proper field strength to be very effective.
Since I do not sell magnets, however, it is perfectly legal for me to explain to you how this process works.
Magnet therapy uses “static” magnets, which are called static because the resulting magnetic field is unchanging. (Please do not confuse these with electromagnets, which produce magnetic fields when an electric current is applied and really shouldn’t be used on your own.)Healing with Magnets
To use static magnets for pain relief, you must find a magnet of sufficient strength to provide a benefit. You can test this out yourself by placing the magnet next to a piece of clothing or sock, then placing a paper clip on the other side. If the magnet is not strong enough to hold the paper clip through your sock, then it will not penetrate your body either.
Alternatively, you should check out the strength of the magnet before you buy it. They are typically measured in units called gauss (G). Simple refrigerator magnets range from 35 to 200 G, but the magnets that may treat your pain range from 300 to 5,000 G. Some practitioners start with a lower gauss and gradually move up to a more intense level as necessary.
Magnet polarity is also important, as each magnet has two sides, negative and positive. The negative end, or north pole, generally has a cooling, sedating effect that is useful for relieving pain and inflammation.
The positive end, or the south pole, has the opposite effect and is stimulating, even to bacteria and viruses. So the positive end of the magnet needs to be used cautiously as it could actually promote disease and increase pain if it is used incorrectly. Because of this, the positive end of a magnet is typically used VERY carefully for conditions such as numbness, weak muscles, paralysis and scarring.
Most therapeutic magnets have their polarity marked, but to be sure you can check it using a magnetometer.
Once you have gauged the magnet’s polarity, you can place the proper side directly onto your skin and secure it in place with an elastic bandage. You will need to experiment with how long it should be kept on. Some conditions respond relatively quickly, while others can take much longer.
While on the topic of magnetic therapy, I can state that for the last six months I have been sleeping on a magnetic bed, which seems to have helped certain health challenges I was having.
I will review this more in future issues but let me make it very clear that this is NOT a bipolar magnetic bed that I was using. Bipolar magnets are thought to direct the potentially dangerous positive magnetic energy into your body, and I would caution all to avoid bipolar beds as I am convinced that they will actually increase your risk of cancer. This has been reported by a number of highly respectable clinicians in this field.
I was sleeping on a unipolar magnetic mattress pad, which more closely approximate the earth’s magnetic field and I believe is the far wiser choice.
Energy treatments like magnetic therapy are likely to gain even more steam in coming years, but remember that even a safe, alternative treatment like this will not remove the root cause of your pain or disease. However, when combined with my 10-step program for optimal health, magnetic therapy could be a safe, inexpensive addition.
1. Address your emotional traumas
2. Get optimal sunlight exposure
3. Drink enough pure water
4. Avoid toxins
5. Eat the right fats
6. Eat right for your Nutritional Type
7. Eat plenty of raw food
8. Control your insulin and leptin levels
10. Sleep properly
A little patience helps, too. Magnets work by affecting energy fields rather than biochemical pathways, so it can take a while for the benefits to appear. Have faith, and stick with the program, and you’ll become a strong believer in the power of magnets. Healing with Magnets
Here’s to being naturally well, today and every day.
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