Aviva Directory » Health & Well-Being » Alternative Medicine » Energy Therapies » Magnet Therapy

Sometimes used in conjunction with acupuncture or reflexology, magnet therapy is an alternative or complementary medical procedure using various types of magnets to treat some conditions or to boost overall health.

Alternative medical treatments are those used instead of standard medical treatments, while complementary treatments are those used alongside conventional medical protocols.

Also known as magnetic therapy, it has become a popular complementary strategy for controlling pain, although it is also used for other therapeutic purposes.

Static or permanent magnets are used, as well as electromagnets, and there are several types of magnet therapies in use, including static magnetic field therapy, radionics, electromagnetic therapy, and magnet therapy in conjunction with acupuncture.

Static or permanent magnets are made from metals or alloys. While their magnetic strength might be weak, moderate, or strong, their magnetic fields are always on and do not change. Static magnetic field therapy usually involves placing static magnets near or on the body for pain relief or healing. Static magnets are often encased in a wrap, such as a wristband, that is placed against the skin near the location of the pain. They might also be embedded in jewelry, mats, pillows, bed pads, or shoes. Magnetic creams, magnetic supplements, magnetic plasters or patches, and water that has been magnetized, may also be used.

Static magnetic field therapy may be used for unspecified pain relief or for the relief of pain associated with cancer, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Practitioners hold that subjecting certain parts of the body to magnetic fields can result in beneficial health effects. One theory is that magnets improve blood flow in the underlying tissues, thus enhancing the body's natural healing process. It is true that hemoglobin, the protein of the blood that carries oxygen, is diamagnetic (when oxygenated) and paramagnetic (when deoxygenated), but skeptics argue that the magnets used are far too weak to have a measurable effect on blood flow. Skeptics attribute positive outcomes as anecdotal, or to the placebo effect.

Regardless of efficacy, these devices are considered safe unless the therapy leads to a delay in treatment or diagnosis of a serious illness.

While conventional medicine considers static magnetic field therapy as being based on pseudoscience, transcranial magnetic stimulation, deemed to be a scientifically valid form of therapy, uses a changing magnetic field to induce an electric current at specific areas of the brain for its therapeutic potential on the central nervous system.

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, also known as PEMF therapy (PEMFT) or low field magnetic stimulation (LFMS), uses electromagnetic fields to aid in the healing of non-union fractures and depression. Although conventional medical wisdom is that PEMFT is an alternative therapy, PEMFT stimulation devices have been cleared by the FDA for the use of such fractures and in the treatment of depression, although the FDA has warned against using the device for the treatment of cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury.

Early PEMFT devices consisted of a Helmholtz coil, which generated a magnetic field. The patient's body was placed within the magnetic field during treatment. Most newer devices resemble a Yoga mat but are slightly thicker, housing several flat spiral coils that produce an even electromagnetic field. A frequency generator is used to energize the coils to create the pulsed electromagnetic field. In the United States, these devices are permitted to be sold as general wellness products, but manufacturers are not allowed to make medical claims as to their effectiveness in treating disease.

Also known as electromagnetic therapy or the Abrams Method, radionics is an alternative treatment that uses electromagnetic radiation, such as radio waves, to treat arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, burns, cancer, cerebral palsy, chronic pain, diabetes, gum infections, headaches, heart disease, nerve disorders, spinal cord injuries, and ulcers. The FDA does not recognize any legitimate medical use for radionic devices, and conventional medicine considers radionic therapy to be within the realm of pseudoscience.

Concepts behind magnetic therapy are based on the fact that the human body has natural magnetic and electric fields. Each of the molecules within the body has some degree of magnetic energy. The goal of magnetic therapy is to bring these magnetic fields into balance. By placing a magnetic field near the body, practitioners hold that these fields can be brought back to normal.

Setting aside arguments as to whether the therapy works or not, it is considered safe for most people to wear low-intensity static magnets, but it is not a good idea for people who are pregnant, or who have a pacemaker or insulin pump, to use these therapies.



Recommended Resources

Search for Magnet Therapy on Google or Bing