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A guide to magnets and magnetic therapy
Long before the advancement of evidence based medicine, health practitioners used a variety of therapies to treat and prevent pain. From the earliest recorded history of medicine, physicians and scientists were fascinated with magnetic substances and the way in which they affected the human body.
Ancient Egyptians reportedly used lodestones to prolong life and improve health. Lodestones are naturally magnetised rock that contains a lot of iron. This means is can be used as a magnet. It is documented that Cleopatra wore a polished lodestone, in the belief that it helped to maintain her youth and beauty. In more recent times, Paracelsus (1493-1541), considered to be the father of modern medicine, believed that the ‘life force’ of the body was most influenced by the force found in magnets.
Today, magnetic therapy is a widely used form of alternative medicine with over 250 million people worldwide experiencing the purported effects.
What is magnetic therapy and how does it work?
Magnetic therapy is a complementary, non-invasive, natural therapy that has few side effects. It fits comfortably within the category of alternative medicine alongside acupuncture, homeopathy and even hypnotherapy. Despite this, it’s been subjected to significantly more clinical scrutiny and evaluation than most!
Magnetic therapy products are designed to have an effect on the blood flow. The body’s cells have electromagnetic properties which means they can be energised by a magnetic field. Magnets can encourage blood flow and increase cellular activity in the body. In short, when a powerful magnet is placed against the body, cellular activity is increased and this in turn can increase the rate at which cells regenerate and repair.
Bioflow works with one of the world’s leading developers and suppliers of magnets and has done so for over 25 years now. The strength of this relationship gives us the ideal opportunity to be at the forefront of technological developments, sharing ideas and experience. This ensures that our products are at the leading edge of our chosen market space.
Today, the highest quality “sintered” neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) magnets are used and are manufactured to our own exacting standards. These rare-earth magnets are produced exclusively for us after a 14-stage manufacturing process. In short, these aren’t any old magnets!
What is the difference between biomagnetic therapy and magnetic therapy?
Biomagnetic therapy is a natural therapy that proposes reestablishing the normal internal cellular environment through the use of pairs of magnets of medium intensity that seek to equalize the organism’s pH level. The therapy is carried out by a Biomagnetism practitioner and each session can take between 1 and 2 hours.
Magnetic therapy is the application of a magnetic field through permanent static magnets or electromagnetic devices on certain parts the body to relieve pain.
The only similarity between biomagnetic therapy and magnetic therapy is that they both use magnets to change a condition in the biological system.
Magnetic therapy is a therapy for stimulating blood flow through veins, arteries and capillaries, and electromagnetic flow through the nervous system, whilst biomagnetic therapy alters the terrain where pathogens are disturbing equilibrium.
What types of magnetic therapy are there and how is it used?
There are two main types of magnetic therapy, Static and Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF).
Static magnet therapy consists of placing permanent magnets on certain parts of the body to relieve pain.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy has been accredited in the U.S since 1991, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “for use within the remedy of palliative postoperative pain and swelling, particularly about the remedy of surface soft tissue.” Used most often by orthopedists, PEMF sessions require the patient to have electromagnetic pulses directly applied to the injury to reduce pain. Electro Magnets create magnetic fields only when electrical current flows through them and are currently used under the supervision of a physician or in clinical trials.
Static magnetic therapy is incorporated into a huge number of products for both people and animals. These include:
- Jewellery – bracelets, wristbands and necklaces
- Body wraps and belts
- Mattress toppers
- Pet collars, coats and beds
- Horse wraps, boots and rugs
There are also different types of magnets used in static magnetic therapy. These are:
Flexible rubber magnets
Flexible magnetic rubber magnets are commonly formed in sheets or strips and used for magnetic therapy in shoe insoles. On average, products made with this type of material will measure 200-350 gauss on the surface, depending on the thickness of the material.
Ceramic magnets are most commonly used in body wraps, pads and cushions. On average, ceramic magnets used in magnet therapy products will measure 800-1100 gauss on the surface depending on the size of the magnet.
Most commonly used in magnetic bracelets and wristbands and individually on pain trigger or acupuncture points. A typical neodymium magnet used as above will measure 1000-3500 gauss on the surface depending on its size.
Samarium cobalt magnets
These expensive, very brittle magnets are used in high quality jewellery where rusting is to be avoided. On average, a samarium cobalt magnet used in jewellery will measure 1000-2500 gauss depending on its size.
Hematite has many natural bio-magnetic properties for humans. Commonly used as bead magnets in high quality jewellery where bead strands are used to create bracelets, necklaces or belts. On average, a hematite magnet will measure 1000-2500 gauss depending on the size of each bead.
Does magnetic therapy actually work?
There have been many reports that document magnetic therapy and it’s effects. Harvard Medical School, New York Medical School, University of Tennessee, University of Texas, Baylor College of Medicine (Houston) and the Peninsula Medical School (Exeter) are just a few of the prestigious organisations that have both looked at and assessed magnets and magnetic therapy.
There are a large number of scientific, clinical trial reports that support the use and effectiveness of magnets and magnetic therapy. Do they all support the use of magnets as a definitive therapy? No, they don’t. But each of these listed below as a sample agree that, with varying degrees of effectiveness, the use of static magnets in the treatment of certain conditions does have a beneficial effect for the subject(s).
Here are a few examples:
i. “Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine”, 2004, 10(2): 36-43, Harvard Medical School – a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical test, said that, “magnets showed statistically significant efficacy compared to placebo…”
ii. ‘Efficacy of static magnet field therapy in chronic pelvic pain’, 2000, Brown et al., 48th Annual Meeting of the American College of Obstetrician Gynaecologists – a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study concluded that: “Static magnetic field therapy… may reduce pain when active magnets are worn continuously for 4 weeks in patients with chronic pelvic pain.”
iii. ‘Response of pain to static magnetic fields in post-polio patients’, 1997, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Vol. 78, Issue 11 – a double-blind pilot study found that “the application of a device delivering static magnetic fields of 300 to 500 Gauss over a pain trigger point results in significant and prompt relief of pain in post polio subjects”.
iv. ‘A critical review of randomised controlled trials of static magnets for pain relief’, 2005, Eccles, J Altern Complement Medicine, Jun; 11 (3): 495 – 509 concluded that “the weight of evidence from published, well- conducted and controlled trials suggests that static magnetic fields are able to induce analgesia”.
v. ‘Use of magnet therapy to heal abdominal wound: a case study’, Szor & Topp, Ostomy / wound Management, 19 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/969754498, 44(5): 24-29. In this study, a 51-year-old paraplegic patient, whose abdominal wounds had failed to respond to conventional treatment, was given a static magnet within her usual wound dressing. Within one month, the wound had completely healed.
Whether the effect is a placebo or if it is real, there is significant anecdotal evidence to demonstrate that magnetic therapy is beneficial. In instances where an effect is not proven, it is identified that the use of such magnets on the skin surface has not been found to be detrimental to the health of the user.
What is magnetic therapy used for?
Magnetic therapy has been reported to help with a number of health conditions.
- Sports injuries
- Muscle spasms and soft tissue injury
- Poor circulation
- Travel sickness and vertigo
- Fatigue syndrome
- Sleep issues
- Menstrual pain
It is important to highlight, however, that magnetic therapy is not guaranteed to alleviate any of the above conditions. There is no substitute for sound medical advice and we always recommend consulting a doctor or medical professional if you are concerned about a health issue.
What time of year is magnetic therapy most advantageous?
Magnetic therapy can be worn all year round. However, cooler temperatures can often cause conditions like osteoporosis, back pain and joint pain to flare up, so this type of alternative treatment is a popular choice during the winter months.
Certain types of magnetic therapy products, such as silicone wristbands, have a waterproof design so these are great for the summer months as they can be worn whilst swimming and partaking in watersports. Warm temperatures have no effect on magnetic strength, so it is perfectly safe to wear these therapeutic bracelets and wristbands in the sun. There is also the advantage that they are easy to travel with too, so you can still benefit from magnetic therapy on the go!
Who uses magnetic therapy?
While magnetic therapy isn’t for everyone, there are many people who may benefit from this natural and non-invasive treatment, often trying magnetic therapy for the first time when traditional medicinal methods haven’t proved successful for them or their pet. There are styles to suit everyone, offering magnetic therapy that is comfortable and discreet.
Arthritis is more common in women than men as women are more prone to chronic illnesses than men. There are many different reasons why someone might want to invest in a magnetic bracelet, meaning that magnetic therapy is popular with a range of both men and women, as well as pets!
It is important to note that magnetic therapy should not be worn by anyone with a pacemaker or any other implant that could be affected by magnetic fields. Pregnant women are also advised to consult their doctors before using magnetic products.
Is magnetic therapy suitable for children?
There is no firm evidence to say that magnetic therapy can’t be worn by children however it is always worth seeking advice from a doctor before considering any alternative treatment for your child.
Parents should avoid using magnetic therapy on very young children due to the use of small parts that may present a choking hazard.