Magnet therapy has been popular for a number of years now.
It has often been used as a healing modality for arthritis or cancer. And though The American Cancer Society has stated that there is no evidence-based research that can prove or document success using magnets, many people report magnet therapy has helped them.
Doctors don’t approve magnetic bracelets or write scripts for them, but there remains a brisk business in the sale of magnets for health.
In fact, world sales top over 5 billion annually.
Magnetic devices and how they work
Magnet therapy is the application of the magnetic field of electromagnetic devices or permanent static magnets to the body for purported health benefits. Some believers assign different effects based on the orientation of the magnet; under the laws of physics, magnetic poles are symmetric.
Magnetic devices are available for wrists, ankles, knees and the back.
And new products featuring magnets include: mattresses, blankets, shoe insoles, jewelry, patches and even supplements and topical creams.
Application is usually performed by the patient.
So how do they work?
Enthusiasts believe that the magnetic field of the device can heal or offer the patient health benefits. For some, the orientation of the magnet is key – suggesting symmetry is necessary for success. Another popular belief is that the body’s red blood cells, made up of iron rich hemoglobin are affected by electromagnetic fields.
Therefore, magnetic therapy is often used to help increase blood flow to an area, to encourage healing.
Proponents suggest various medical conditions are due to an imbalance in the body’s electromagnetic field. For example, the nervous system is dependent on electrical impulses, as is the heart.
The magnet is generally placed close to where the illness manifests itself.
For example, wrist magnets are often sold to treat arthritis pain in the hands and wrist. Magnetics to treat hip pain are usually put in pants pockets. Heart conditions may warrant a breast pocket magnet.
The strengths of these magnetic are much higher than the usual refrigerator magnetic. Strength is measured in ”Teslas” named after the inventor Nikola Tesla.
Medical magnets are generally ten times more powerful than household magnets.
Magnetic therapy for pain and other health condition
Anecdotal evidence supports the use of magnets for a number of conditions.
People wear magnets to treat painful conditions such as: pain after surgery, low back pain, foot pain, heel pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), carpel tunnel syndrome, painful menstrual periods, nerve pain caused by diabetes (diabetic neuropathy), sports injuries, and migraine headaches.
Products are easily found in wellness or health stores and online – ranging in price from a few dollars to a few hundred.
Magnets are also worn for treating water retention, wounds, male sexual performance problems (erectile dysfunction, ED), trouble sleeping (insomnia), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), epilepsy, trouble controlling urination (incontinence), and many other conditions.
Magnet therapy is a big business.
Worldwide sales of magnets for treatment is estimated at over $5 billion annually. In the US the market is about $500 million.
How does it work?
There is interest in magnet therapy for medical conditions due to the variety of electromagnetic fields that naturally occur within the body. For example, nervous system transmissions and related muscle contractions are associated with magnetic activity. The heart generates the largest magnetic field in the body.
Several other activities in the body are associated with magnetic activity.