Magnetic therapy – the basics
Magnetic therapy is a set of complementary medicine techniques involving the use of magnetic fields (from either electromagnets or permanent magnets). By exposing the body or selected areas of it to magnetic fields better health is encouraged and wellbeing is promoted. These effects are well-attested to by healers and patients alike and a number of health and healing effects have been identified.
For example haemoglobin, a protein molecule in red blood cells that acts as an oxygen transporter in the body, is diamagnetic and is repelled by magnetic fields. This does not refer to uniform magnetic fields as you might find in one of those large scanner machines but rather the field gradients created by small powerful magnets such as rare earth magnets. Indeed, field gradients are used in biomedical processes to separate different types of blood cell.
Most skilled magnet therapy healers identify different processes and consequences depending on the polar orientation of the magnet. These health benefits can be achieved not only through healing sessions with a magnets therapy healer but also via the self-help route through the purchase of any of a huge range of items from a magnetic products store.
Such products may include copper magnetic bracelets for men, titanium magnetic bracelets for men and women, i balance silicone magnetic bracelets, hematite bracelets, magnetic straps and supports for limbs, joints, neck and back, magnetic blankets and magnetic water.
Proponents and critics alike of magnetic therapy admit that it is very hard to conduct true double blind studies as it is easy to determine if a device is magnetic or not. However such studies as have been undertaken suggest that pain relief is one area where the effect of magnetic therapy is undeniable. Some critics and sceptics have attempted to argue that these apparent benefits are due to the placebo effect.
However recent research has thrown a spanner in the works, because the placebo effect has itself been called into question by a study that showed that patients benefit from a placebo even when they are told that it is a placebo! This suggests that the placebo affect is itself potentially mythical and thus cannot be used to refute the measurable and proven claims of pain relief from magnet therapy.