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Negative Side-Effects of Magnetic Therapy

By Ezmeralda Lee ; Updated July 27, 2017

The use of magnetic therapy for pain relief has become increasing popular in the last few years. Traditional physicians are very skeptical of the benefits of magnetic therapy because of the lack of valid scientific evidence to support its use. Magnetic therapy is a form of alternative medicine and is marketed as a pain relief aid. There are even some false claims being made that magnetic therapy can “heal” cancer, but this is without any validity.


In the 1600s, Sir Will Gilbert attempted to explain the difference in magnetism and static electricity. Gilbert reportedly used magnets on Queen Elizabeth I to relieve her arthritis. There is also mention of Chinese healers around 200 B.C. using magnetic lodestones on the body to balance the body’s qi, or energy field. One ancient Hindu scripture, the Vedas, speaks of using lodestones for the treatment of disease.


Magnetic therapy is said to reduce pain, relieve stress, improve circulation, reduce swelling and fight infection. The theory is that magnets produce a small electrical current. When the magnet is applied to the body, these electrical currents stimulate nerves in the area, causing the body to release endorphins. These endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. This causes increased blood flow to the affected area, which speeds healing.

Preparation for Treatment

There is no specific preparation for magnetic therapy. Basically, you just buy a magnet based product and apply it to the area you want to treat. Most alternative practitioners who recommend magnetic therapy suggest that you start with a low intensity magnet and progress to a stronger magnet as therapy continues.

Side Effects

Only minor side effects have been reported with the use of magnetic therapy. Occasional rashes from contact with the magnet have been noted. A report by Dr. Stephen Eidelson states that some people may be overly sensitive to the power of the magnet and this could cause a temporary increase in pain to the affected area at the beginning of treatment.


Magnetic therapy should never be used on a person who has a cardiac pacemaker or defibrillator, as magnets have been shown to interfere with these devices. It is also not recommended to use magnetic therapy if you take blood thinners or have a history of epilepsy. Although it is being studied to see if the use of magnetic therapy can have a positive effect on epilepsy, these studies are in their early stages and should not be attempted until research has determined if magnetic therapy will help. Also, the use of magnetic therapy during pregnancy is not recommended as there have been no studies to determine if magnetic therapy will have a negative effect on the fetus.

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