It has been proven that some cells and tissues in the body emit electromagnetic pulses. (ref 1) Therefore, proponents postulate, when cells and tissues are unhealthy, the flow of pulses is interrupted, which causes various illnesses of the body. Because magnets interact with other magnetic fields, including those embedded in the body, proponents theorize that they also may work to restore homeostasis of the magnetic energy fields affected. Consumers are generally marketed static magnets–magnets with a permanent magnetic field.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Most research into magnetic therapy has centered on the frequently-marketed claim that magnets are effective as pain relievers and can reverse some diseases.
Alternative Pain Relief
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The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that no types of magnets have conclusively been proven to alleviate pain, though some patients have reported relief. Electromagnetic therapy research produced better results for pain relief than static magnetic therapy in clinical trials. Under medical supervision, electromagnetic therapy has shown promise in facilitating healing of broken bones and relieving some types of pain.
Magnetic Therapy for Cancer
In 1970, research by Dr. Albert Roy Davis revealed that positive and negative magnetic fields had differing effects on the body's biological systems. To date, magnetic therapy has not proven an effective anticancer treatment.
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Consumers, lured by marketing literature, mostly purchase magnets as a self-treatment through the internet and without first consulting with their physician. It's important to note that manufacturers must get approval from the FDA before they can make claims about a device's ability to treat a medical condition, and this includes magnets.
The Food and Drug Administration warns consumers of possible unknown side effects of static magnetic therapy for some populations. Therefore, pregnant women are cautioned against usage, as well as people who use a medical device such as:
- a pacemaker
- or insulin pump,
- those who use a patch that delivers medication through the skin
It is recommended that you consult with your physician before trying any type of alternative therapy.
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- American Cancer Society: Magnetic Therapy
- Bausell RB. Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2007.
- Weiner RS. Pain Management: A Practical Guide for Clinicians, Sixth Edition. CRS Press: Boca Raton, FL; 2002.
- Arndt M. Bloomberg News. Florsheim Shoes' Magnetic Appeal. July 3, 2000.
- Justia Patents. Dynamic magnetic device and method, and components thereof. Feb 13, 2002.
- Yuksel C, Ankarali S, Yuksel NA. The use of neodymium magnets in healthcare and their effects on health. North Clin Istanb. 2018;5(3):268-273. doi:10.14744/nci.2017.00483
- Winemiller MH, Billow RG, Laskowski ER, Harmsen WS. Effect of magnetic vs sham-magnetic insoles on nonspecific foot pain in the workplace: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Mayo Clin Proc. 2005;80(9):1138-45. doi:10.4065/80.9.1138
- Jonas WB. Reframing placebo in research and practice. Philos Trans R Soc Lond, B, Biol Sci. 2011;366(1572):1896-904. doi:10.1098/rstb.2010.0405
- Weintraub MI, Wolfe GI, Barohn RA, et al. Static magnetic field therapy for symptomatic diabetic neuropathy: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2003;84(5):736-46. doi:10.1016/s0003-9993(03)00106-0
- Federal Trade Commission. Federal Trade Commission Decisions Complaint in the Matter of Magnetic Therapeutic Technologies, Inc., et al. 1999.
- Winemiller MH, Billow RG, Laskowski ER, Harmsen WS. Effect of magnetic vs sham-magnetic insoles on plantar heel pain: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2003;290(11):1474-8. doi:10.1001/jama.290.11.1474
- Riskowski J, Dufour AB, Hannan MT. Arthritis, foot pain and shoe wear: current musculoskeletal research on feet. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2011;23(2):148-55. doi:10.1097/BOR.0b013e3283422cf5
- Basford JR. A historical perspective of the popular use of electric and magnetic therapy. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2001;82:1261-9.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Magnets. Updated February 2013.
A fitness professional since 1997, Raina Casarez is an experienced group fitness instructor teaching a variety of formats. As a member of The Exergaming Network (TEN,) she specializes in the burgeoning field of Wii fitness. Casarez has received certifications from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), SCW Fitness, and completed Georgia State University's tai chi program.