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.
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:
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.)
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.
Magnets Can Strengthen Your Mind:
Tests in mice have shown that stimulating the brain with a magnetic coil appears to promote the growth of new neurons in areas associated with learning and memory.
If there is a similar effect in humans, it could lead to new ways of treating age-related memory decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) refers to the use of a magnetic coil to induce electric fields in the brain tissue, which activates or deactivates groups of neurons.
It's thought that this process, called long-term potentiation (LTP), may help to strengthen brain circuits, thereby aiding learning and memory. It has previously been used experimentally to treat a range of brain disorders, including depression and schizophrenia, and to rehabilitate people after a stroke.
In the latest experiment, mice were given TMS for five days, after which their brains were analyzed for evidence of cell proliferation. Proliferation was enhanced in all areas of the brain tested, and there were large increases in the proliferation of stem cells in the dentate gyrus hippocampus. These cells are believed to play a crucial role in memory and mood regulation.
NewScientist.com May 24, 2007
Depressed? Magnets Might Help
People with depression that does not respond to traditional treatments may benefit from magnet therapy, according to a study. Patient groups given either high- or low-frequency treatments of magnetic stimulation of their scalps had improvements in their depression, as compared to a group that got a sham treatment with no improvement. Patients had to be treated for at least four weeks before results were seen.
Archives General Psychiatry October, 2003;60(10):1002-8
Magnetic Fields May Destroy Malaria
Scientists from the University of Washington in Seattle have devised an innovative strategy for destroying malaria parasites using an oscillating magnetic field. If further studies confirm their findings and their application in animals and people, this would be an inexpensive and simple way to treat a disease that affects 500 million people every year, almost all in Third World countries.
Malaria parasites feed on the "globin" part of hemoglobin, the pigment found in red blood cells. But the parasites lack the enzyme necessary to break down the iron-containing heme portion of hemoglobin -- and heme is in fact toxic to them. In order to eliminate the toxic effects of free heme, malaria parasites form hemozoins -- "quasi-crystalline" arrays of heme molecules.
In their study, the researchers took advantage of the fact that these hemozoins act essentially as small bar magnets, and can be shaken apart and again rendered toxic to the parasite with a sufficient magnetic force. The investigators exposed human red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite to a magnetic field "just a little stronger than the Earth's, the difference is that it is oscillating. Exposure to the magnetic field reduced the number of parasites present in blood by between 33% and 70%.
The next step is to determine if the oscillating magnets can be safely used to treat malaria infection in animals and humans. The researcher envisions rooms or trucks lined with the magnets where patients can "sit and read" while being treated for malaria infection. He added that this strategy, if proven safe and effective, would have several important advantages: the approach is "inexpensive and simple," and it is unlikely that malaria parasites would be able to develop resistance to magnetic fields.
University of Washington March 2000