Magnetic field therapy uses several kinds of magnets on the body to boost your overall health. It may also help cure certain conditions.
Various types of magnetic therapy include the following;
Static Magnetic Field Therapy
In this type, you let a magnet touch your skin. You might wear either a magnetic bracelet or some other magnetized jewelry. It could either be a bandage with a magnet in it, or you may also wear a magnet as a shoe insole. You could as well sleep on a special mattress with magnet pads.
Electrically Charged Magnetic Therapy
The magnets used here have an electric charge (electromagnetic therapy). Treatment with electromagnetic therapy often comes through an electric pulse.
Magnetic Therapy with Acupuncture
Magnets can also go on the same sections of your skin that an acupuncture session would probably focus on. You may hear these areas known as your energy channels or pathways.
How It Works
Your body naturally has some magnetic and electric fields. All your cells have a small level of magnetic energy in them. The knowledge behind magnetic field therapy is that some problems happen because the magnetic fields in your body are out of balance. Should you put a magnetic field close to your body, it is believed that things will go back to normal.
Ions like potassium and calcium help your cells send signals. In some experiments, scientists have proved magnets change how these body ions act. Nevertheless, to date, there is no evidence that magnets have a similar effect on cells when they are in your body.
Science has designed a hydrogel filled with magnetic particles and lab-grown neurons. By smearing magnetic force, the researchers lowered the pain signaling of the neurons.
Magnetic Force Reduces Neuronal Pain Signals
Tay and his group designed a hydrogel with the use of hyaluronic acid, which is a molecule capable of holding water and has an essential role in skin aging and skin moisture. As well, hyaluronic acid can be seen between the cells of the brain and in the spinal cord.
After developing this hyaluronic hydrogel, scientists packed it with small magnetic particles. Then, they developed a type of brain cell known as dorsal root ganglion neurons (inside the gel).
After that, Tay and his team applied magnetic force on these particles, which further enabled the conduction of the magnetic field through the hydrogel and to those neural cells. By quantifying the calcium ions in the neurons, the team was able to tell whether the cells reacted to the magnetic pull (and they did).
Finally, these researchers progressively increased the magnetic force and discovered that doing so lowered the neurons’ pain signaling. In a further attempt to return to a state of stability, the brain cells reacted to the magnetic stimulation by lowering their pain signals.
Who Shouldn’t Use It
While it is generally secure for most people to put on low-intensity static magnets, it is never a good idea to have magnetic field therapy should you:
- Have an insulin pump
- Use a pacemaker
- Are pregnant
You should also remove any magnets before taking an X-ray or getting an MRI.
Some folks who have magnetic field treatment have side effects such as:
However, these side effects are not common.
Where The Theory Comes From
The idea behind using magnets for therapeutic purposes spans from the Renaissance period. It is believed that magnets possessed some living energy, and they would put on a bracelet or piece of metallic substance in the hope of combating infections or to ease chronic pain. But with the advancements in medicine all through the 1800s, it never took long before magnets came to be believed worthless, even as harmful therapeutic devices.
Magnetic treatment enjoyed a renaissance in the 1970s with Albert Roy Davis, who studied the diverse effects that negative and positive charges have on human biology. Davis proved that magnetic energy could eliminate malignant cells, ease arthritis pain, and even cure infertility.
So, Do They Work?
According to the majority of research, the answer remains no. Davis’ declaration and a 1976 study have been widely disproven, and there is little to no evidence these magnetic bracelets have any prospect in pain management.
A 2007 study of research inferred that magnetic bracelets do not help treat pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia. Another study from 2013 agreed that both copper and magnetic wristbands have not much effect on pain management than the control (placebos). The bracelets were examined for their effects on inflammation, pain, and physical function.
As per the NCCIH (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health), static magnets, such as those in a bracelet, do not work. They warn folks not to use any kind of magnet as a supplement for any medical attention and treatment.
Are Magnets Dangerous?
Most magnets traded for pain relief are developed from either pure metal (such as iron or copper) or alloys (combinations of metals or both metals with nonmetals). They come in power between 300 and 5,000 gauss, which is not as strong as the magnetic force in things like MRI machines.
While they are generally harmless, the NCCIH warns that these magnetic devices can be very dangerous for some folks. They warn against using them should one use an insulin pump or pacemaker, as they might trigger interference.
What The Studies Say
Scientific findings on human subjects have failed to prove the efficacy of using magnets to cure pain or muscle and joint stiffness. One of the largest findings was published in 2007 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (an organized review of various past studies on static magnets).
While other smaller studies in this review claimed therapeutic value, larger studies did not. The researchers inferred that the findings do not fully support the use of static magnets for analgesic effect and that magnets should never be suggested as an effective treatment.
A positive result always cited by magnetic therapy promoters is a 1997 study from Baylor College of Medicine, named “Response of pain to static magnetic fields in some post-polio patients: a double-blind pilot research study.”
The study, led by Carlos Vallbona, claimed “significant and rapid relief of pain in post-polio subjects” through using a 300-500 gauss magnet (about 10 folds stronger than a refrigerator’s magnet) for up to 45 minutes on the affected parts of 50 patients in pain.
But the Baylor findings were both small and somehow controversial, as per James Livingston, a retired MIT lecturer and physicist with General Electric. The two doctors who conducted the study claimed that they had used magnets to ease their knee pain before the study. This triggers some doubts about the researchers’ aim, Livingston said.
Vallbona and his team researcher never made a copy of their positive results in a larger study and never published again on the theme.
UC Irvine’s Flamm (in 2006) took a closer look at the science following therapeutic magnets in an article that he published together with Leonard Finegold, a physics professor at Drexel University. For their published article in the British Medical Journal, the researchers reviewed the scientific literature on the efficiency of commercially available therapeutic magnets to cure a variety of ailments. They found no proof that such magnets work out.
The use of magnets for the curing of pain dates back centuries. In more current decades, researchers have put static magnet treatment to the test. Magnets create electromagnetic fields that can pierce the body. It is claimed that this inhibits nervous system functioning, boosts blood circulation to the tissue, and has other possible analgesic effects.
But study findings have generally been unencouraging. For example, in a 2010 study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation by a pilot, folks with carpal tunnel syndrome who wrapped a magnet to their wrist at night for a month and a half did no better than others who used a sham magnet. And also, in a 2009 British study, a magnetic wrist wrap worn for a month was no better than a copper or demagnetized bracelet in managing pain and stiffness in folks with osteoarthritis.
Despite the fame of magnetic bracelets, science has widely disproven the efficiency of such magnets in curing chronic pain, disease, inflammation, and general health issues.
Do not use magnets as a substitute for reputable medical attention, and avoid them completely if you have used an insulin pump or have a pacemaker.