Magnetic field therapy is a form of alternative medicine treatment based on the idea that magnetic fields have healing powers, named after the famous Greek shepherd Magnes, who found that the iron nails of his sandals were pulled to a large rock by invisible force (now known as the Magnes stone or lodestone). Upon disengaging from the rock, Magnes also found that if he stuck rock fragments in his sandals, he could walk longer.
Many ancient cultures, including Chinese, Eastern Indian, Arabian, Jewish, and early Egyptian cultures, used magnets as healing tools.
The physicist Paracelsus of the 16th century believed the whole Earth to be a huge magnet, and advocated the use of magnets as healing devices for certain disorders.
Various pioneers of magnetism as therapy were the French Royal Society of Medicine in 1777; Franz Anton Mesmer, who catalyzed the use of hypnosis and ' animal magnetism ' in mind-body medicine; the French chemist Louis Pasteur, who believed that magnets stimulated the fermentation process; and Dr. C.J.Thacher of the Chicago Magnet Company, who assumed that using the body and clothing magnets and accessories helped alleviate disease-related pain in the limbs.
The father of modern homeopathy Samuel Hahnemann frequently experimented with and promoted the use of therapeutic magnets.
Contemporary theory says that magnetic fields can affect the human body's work.
In his book A Practical Guide to Vibrational Medicine (New York: Quill, 2000, p. 266), Richard Gerber, M.D., wrote: "The spectrum of natural and man-made magnetic fields includes a variety of different forms and characters of magnetism. Each of these magnetic field forms has the potential to influence human biology openly or silently.
For human survival both internal and external magnetic energy fields are required.
In Magnet Therapy: An Alternative Medicine Complete Guide (AlternativeMedicine.com Books, 2000), co-authored by Dwight K. Kalita, Ph.D., and William H. Philpott, M.D. Burton Goldberg, wrote that negative magnetic fields
While negative fields have a tranquilizing effect, positive magnetic fields have a stressful effect, disrupting metabolic function, producing acidity, inhibiting cell oxygen flow, and encouraging microorganism growth.
Supporters of magnetic therapy also assert that magnets used in beds, clothes and chair pads affect the ability of the body to fight exhaustion and control body temperature even under severe atmospheric conditions.
Many patients may experience discomfort or symptomatic reactions to certain medications, or may have more serious toxin reactions that may be released into the body.
Magnets are also not approved for use during pregnancy or for prolonged periods on the abdomen.
While modern practitioners have widely accepted magnetic field diagnostic procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the application of the positive magnetic pole is known to stimulate tumor growth, facilitate addictive behaviour, and cause seizures, hallucinations, insomnia and hyperactivity.
Clinical monitoring is needed for magnetic therapy. Gerber also cites an illness identified by Japanese researchers led by Dr. Kyoichi Nakagawa in the 1950s called "magnetic-field deficiency syndrome (MFDS).
Several people in Japanese cities encountered symptoms including chronic fatigue and insomnia that were ultimately due to the fact that in large modern buildings iron and steel girders blocked the flow of magnetic energy from the Earth.
It was concluded that people who spent considerable time in those buildings did not receive as much magnetic energy as those who spent time in wood buildings or other organic materials did.
In other experiments, blocking the flow of magnetism by covering the heads and adrenal regions of master dowsers with magnetically shielded material has affected their ability to detect weak magnetic fields.
Magnetic field therapy is reported to have beneficial effects on conditions such as:
Magnetic belts, braces, patches, and a host of items are now popular with arthritis sufferers; headaches; chronic back, hip, and foot pain, and many other ailments.
According to Robert Todd Carroll, author of The Skeptic’s Dictionary (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 1994–2003), “Some claim that magnets can help broken bones heal faster, but most of the advocacy comes from those who claim that magnets relieve pain. Most of the support for these notions is
in the form of testimonials and anecdotes, and can be attributed to “placebo effects and other effects
accompanying their use” (Livingston 1998).
There is virtually no scientific evidence to support magnet therapy. A highly advertised exception is a double-blind study performed at Baylor College of Medicine that measured the effects of magnets and placebo magnets on 50 post-polio patients ' knee pain.The experimental group indicated that the pain relief was significantly greater than the control group.The research has yet to be repeated.
Additional information is available by contacting
Bio-Electro-Magnetics Institute, 2490 West Moana
Lane, Reno, NV 89509-3936, or (702) 827-9099,
and Enviro-Tech Products, 17171 Southeast 29th
Street, Choctaw, OK 73020, or (405) 390-3499 or
Encyclopedia of Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- Tova Navarra, B.A., R.N.
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