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Condensed history of magnetic therapy bracelets

One of the questions I am often asked is “magnetic bracelets do they work?”
To answer this question, we need to look at the history of the magnetic bracelet and other magnetic jewellery.

Using magnets to treat illness and pain goes back to the ancient world. The ancient Chinese used such treatments four thousand years ago, as did the earliest Egyptian Pharaoh’s. In these societies, magnetic bracelets for women in these societies were regarded as not only ornamental but also therapeutic.

But it would be wrong to conclude that this was a purely eastern phenomenon. For there was a similar history of the use of Magnetic jewelry in the west. In ancient Greece, no less a philosopher Aristotle described magnet therapy as far back as 300 b.c. Four hundred years later, the younger Pliny – himself a physician of some repute – described the use of magnets therapy to treat diseases of the eyes!

Moving on another fifty years, a famous Roman doctor called Galen described the use of magnetic products as an effective treatment for constipation. And in the year 400, a French doctor wrote about magnetic therapy pain relief.

It appears that for the last four millennia, there has never been a time when magnetic therapy has not been used in one or another human society. This endurance and continuity attests to the power of the treatment. Thus in 1600, a certain William Gilbert – the personal doctor of England’s Queen Elizabeth the First – authored a grand treatise under the Latin title of De Magnete, in which he drew on his scholarship as a scientist to describe and enumerate the many facets of magnetism, including its healing properties.

Later, in the eighteenth century, the Royal Society of Medicine in France commissioned two learned scholars to evaluate magnetic therapy and after thorough analysis they expressed positive conclusions. But that is not to say that there was never controversy. Both the French hypnotist Mesmer and the doctor Baron von Reichenbach were criticized for the their use of magnets, the latter actually forbidden to practice medicine.

But this backlash of orthodoxy has not stamped out continued use of magnetic therapy and a resurgence of research in the twentieth century and beyond. Indeed scholars continue to this day to discuss and debate the power of such treatments. But perhaps what has given this area of alternative medicine a new lease of life is the fact that magnetic jewellery makes it possible to combine treatment with aesthetics.