Health Psychology Home Page
Papers written by students providing scientific reviews of topics related to health and well being
|Search||Home | Weight Loss | Alternative Therapy | Supplements | Eating Disorders | Fitness | Links | Self-Assessment | About this Page ||
As we continue to develop as a society, more and more people are looking for newer methods to help themselves become and stay healthy. One of the ways we have done this was to emulate remedies of the past. A good example of this would be the use of magnets. Magnets were used in early civilizations across the globe. The use of magnets has been found in medical journals of the early Chinese. The Ancient Greeks used magnetic rocks, lodestone, as a healing tool (http://www.magicnet.net/~daw/html/modern.html). Up till today the popularity of magnets has grown tremendously. The idea of magnetic therapy has caught the interest of the public mainly because of its ability to treat pain without the use of drugs or the invasive techniques of surgery.
Table of Contents
How do they work?
There have been many logical explanations as to how the magnets
operate. One explanation for the success of magnetic therapy has been how
they utilize the cell’s magnetic field. When a disease invades the body,
it disrupts the magnetic fields causing them to become disoriented within
the cells. Magnets help realign these fields causing them to be an important
factor in counteracting the disease (http://www.healthy.net/hwlibrarynewsletters/update/magnets.htm).
Magnets also increase blood circulation by attracting and repelling the charged particles within each cell. The improved circulation increases the amount of heat produced within the body and allows the rapid passage of nutrients and oxygen to the affected site, speeding up the healing process. (http://www.healthy.net/hwlibrarynewsletters/update/magnetsports.htm). The heat produced also helps reduce swelling in the affected areas of the body
All the explanations hold nature as the foundation supporting the healing powers of magnets. They work with our body to induce natural healing without side effects, which might account for its growing popularity.
Dr. H.L. Bansal points out that the body contains approximately 4-5 grams of iron; in the blood, in a part called hemoglobin, and in muscles, in a part called myoglobin. Using a magnet increases the movement of hemoglobin, which also accelerates blood flow. While the blood flow increases, deposits alongside blood vessels are decreased and eventually vanish. Making these deposits vanish causes blood to flow smoothly also decrease your risk for high blood pressure (http://home.jinko.com/magnet/articles.html#beninflu).
Table of Contents
The different Uses of Magnets
Magnets are used in a variety of different methods. One popular use of magnets today has been to treat various ailments of pain and discomfort, such as arthritis, tiredness, and shoulder and back pain (http://nt.excite.com/news/pr/980923/health-connection). The body’s nervous system sends a charged pain signal (about -70 mV), which has the ability to depolarize a cell. Using magnets, one can decrease the depolarization ability of the pain signal, thus slowing the pain signal. By placing the magnet over the afflicted area, some people have felt a reduction in pain almost instantly.
Another major use of magnets has been to reduce stress.
Magnets, used at night, increase melatonin levels which has a calming effect
on the body, reducing stress and facilitating relaxation
Other proposed claim s for magnets include energy enhancement, quicker healing, and increased athletic performance.
Table of Contents
Although a fairly new concept in the field of alternative
medicine, the effectiveness of magnets has been tested in a few scientific
studies. One particular study tested the effect of magnets in mattress
pads. This study was done in Japan by three hospitals: San-ikukai Hospital,
Tokyo Communication Hospital, and Kouseikai Suzuki Hospital, and was overlooked
by Dr. Kazuo Shimodaira. This study used 431 subject, 216 male and 215
female. The subjects used for the experiment had complaints with back and
neck pain, insomnia and fatigue. The researchers also tested the subjects
blood pressure, red blood cells, and white blood cells, before the study
to consider the possibility of side effects. The study used 375 magnetic
mattress pads and a placebo of 56 mattress pads without magnets. This double
blind test used 375 magnetic mattress pads and a placebo of 56 mattress
pads without magnets. The study lasted for approximately a year and at
the end of the study, 301 subjects reported positive results while only
74 subjects reported no results. Of the 301 who reported positive results
200 of them reported feeling the effects within 3 days, and after 5 days
approximately 265 subjects felt the effect. In regards to the specific
ailments of the subjects, the chart below show the results of the effect
of sleeping on a magnetic mattress pad.
|Symptoms||Cases||No Results||Positive Results|
|Neck and Shoulder Pain||66||19||47|
At the end of the test the researchers also
tested for any side effects that might have occurred during the study.
They once again tested the patients blood pressure, red blood cells, and
white blood cells along with signs for any hearing, visual, and digestive
problems. No symptoms were found, suggesting there are no side effects.
At the end of the test, Dr. Shimodaira said, “ The magnetized health mattress is proved to be effective on neck and shoulder pain, back and lower back pain, back pain, lower limb pain, insomnia, and fatigue and to have no side effects
One paper reviewed a double blind study on post-polio patients at the Baylor College of Medicine and the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The head researcher for this experiment was Dr. Carlos Vallbona. He wanted to see the effects of magnets on pain among 50 post polio patients, 39 of who were women and 11 of who were men. According to the review, Vallbona had all the subjects who were in their 50’s, to identify pain spots and then rate the pain on a scale of 1- 10. The researchers then gave each patient a an active or inactive magnet and were told to apply that magnet to the pain spot for 45 minutes. After the 45 minute time period, each patient rated his or her pain again (http://www.healthtechnologies.com/magnets/magresearch.html). Out of the 50 participants, 29 had received the active magnet. The results of the treatment were as follows: before the treatment the average pain score was 9.6, after the use of the active magnet the pain score reduced to an average of about 4.4. The group that received the placebo treatment reported pain to be approximately 9.5, and after using the inactive magnet their score decreased to an average of about 8.4. The patients did not report any side effects. According to Vallbona more research is needed to tell whether magnets should be used as an alternative therapy (http://www.healthtechnologies.com/magnets/magresearch3.html)
In another test, the effects of magnets on depression were tested. In this study, Dr. Mark S. George tested 12 adults diagnosed with depression. The therapy consisted of placing the magnets over the same area of the head everyday for 10 days. A small electrical pulse was sent through the magnet for two seconds. After a two-week period, they found that the magnets had reduced depression significantly as compared to those who received a placebo treatment during another two-week period (http://www.healthy.net/hwlibrarynewsletters/update/magnets.htm).
The Magnetech internet site reviewed another study
done on the effects of magnets on menstrual pain. The study was done on
23 student nurses from June to October 1992 at South Korean University.
The subjects were divided into 2 groups: one consisted of 11 women who
were given treatment with an active magnet and the other group consisted
of 12 women who applied the inactive magnet. Both groups rated their pain
on a scale from 1-3.
The groups applied magnets to different part of their body including the pubic area, the lower back region, and above the inner ankles. The pain levels were tested three times during the day: 1) at 9 a.m. 2) 3 hours after the magnet application and 3) 3 hours after the magnets were taken off. The conclusion of this study showed that magnets reduced pain menstrual pain as compared to the placebo group (Kim, 1994)
Tectonic Magnets internet site reviewed a study that tested the effect of electric magnets on wounds sustained after cosmetic surgery operations. The study involved 21 patients, all of whom had had cosmetic surgery. The scientists placed the magnets on 8 patients for hygienic reasons and on 13 patients after the onset of pain, discoloration, and edema (fluid build up). The magnets were put and left on for a total of 48 hours. The researchers inspected the area being treated after 24, 36, 48 and 72 hours after the operation. The resulting effects showed that pain and edema disappeared in approximately 15 patients and pain, edema, and discoloration disappeared in about 12 patients. The researchers concluded that magnets reduce reduced fluid build up, acted as a pain reliever, and had anti-inflammatory effects (Man et al., 1997)
Alan Halpern has come up with one technique that has the ability to regenerate new joint cartilage in a cheaper and less invasive method than regular cartilage–repairing surgery. Halpern places soluble magnets coated with iron within the joints. He then takes cartilage cells and tags them with particles of iron oxide, so that they are attracted toward the magnets within the joints, and injects them within the body. This method increases the rate of cartilage formation in the correct place. Halpern tested this method in rabbits, finding that cartilage grew back successfully. This new method has many benefits: 1) The method does not involve opening the joint fully and 2) The relative inexpensiveness of the surgery as opposed to the average cost of regular cartilage repair surgery.
All of the scientific research done has shown that magnets are useful and are successful in the treatment of many different ailments, without many side effects. Research on magnetic therapy has grown in the past and is becoming more widespread as we move in to the future.
Table of Contents
Who Uses Magnets?
As with any treatment, there are a variety of people who testify to the beneficial effects of the treatment, magnets are no exception. Magnets today are sold alongside items such as heat pads and electrical blankets. Many companies have tapped into the market of magnets to gain the expanding number of consumers. One major portion of consumers is athletes who use magnets to relieve pain before and after games. Bill Romanowski, the linebacker for the Denver Broncos, attributed his ability to play this season to magnets. They helped him become “pain free” after knee surgery this past April allowing him to become part of NFL history by winning the Super Bowl (http://www.healthy.net/hwlibrarynewsletters/update/magnetsports.htm). Many athletes during the Summer Olympic Games have also used magnets. They received “pain relief without any systematic effects that might cause them to be disqualified,” says the president of BIOflex Medical Magnetics, Ted Zablotsky. Other athletes such as Hideki Irabu, pitcher for the New York Yankees, and Senior PGA golfer Jim Colbert, use magnets while they perform. Magnets have become so popular among athletes, that they have started endorsing magnets alongside shoes and drinks. They use the magnets because of the absence of side effects. As Broncos safety Steve Atwater said, “ I figure it can’t hurt me, and it may help me (http://www.magicnet.net/~daw/html/using.html).
Athletes, although constituting a major part of the market, are not the only ones using them. As a popular tool among the masses, magnets have seemed to help many people relieve different ailments. There are many companies who sell to average consumers. The products range from magnetic bracelets to sleeping pads to magnetic foot strips. These different devices have had continuous growth among the public. Last year alone, the public bought 1.5 billion dollars worth of magnet products (http://www.homewatermagnet.com/info.htm). A major attribute of magnets that has attracted so many sales is the ease of use.
Table of Contents
Magnets, although a fairly new concept in the world of medicine, seem to be popular among the masses. But, how did magnets become so popular? The answer to this question lies in the companies that make magnets. They are the ones that have advocated magnetic therapy in many ways. These companies, like any other company selling its product, are looking for consumers to buy magnets. They have taken the idea that magnets heal naturally and have used this to boost the popularity of their product. By going to the computer and typing magnet therapy, you will find pages of companies trying to sell magnets to the public. These same companies in order to get the reader to believe in them, will provide a study of magnets and how they have helped others, not uncommon in the world of advertisements.
Magnets are popular for one reason: they have helped many people. Their natural way of healing provides a logical explanation of why they work. Magnetic therapy today has piqued the interest of many people who want to avoid regular medications. These magnets, usually available through web sites and catalogs, can be contained in bracelets and mattress pads, and articles of clothing. With such versatility, magnet usage has increased within a short period of time, without any major problems. If this trend continues, magnets would be used more in the future.
After extensive research, I found studies that promoted
the use of magnets. None of these studies showed any aversive side effects
that might have hurt the credibility of magnet use. Clearly, the use of
magnets seems to be very a potential treatment in the world of alternative
medicine. One problem that I did encounter, though, was that all internet
sites had very little scientific studies to back their claims. An average
consumer would have no possible way of telling whether these magnetic were
worth their money. I think that out of all the information found on the
internet, more could have been said about specific studies and their treatments.
As for the magnets themselves, I would have no problem using a magnet to
help me treat a future ailment. The only restriction I would pace upon
magnetic therapy, would be the cot of magnets. If I already had a magnet,
then I would use that to treat myself, but I would not buy magnets from
many o the sites that sell them. The magnetic therapy claims and research
studies have got me to a certain extent, but not all the way.
Table of Contents
Kim KS, Lee. “The Effects of Magnetic Application for Primary Dysmenorreah”
Magnetech Therapy Articles 1994.
Man, Daniel; Man, Boris; Plosker, Harvey; Markov, Marko. “Effects of Permanent
Magnetic Field On Postoperative Pain and Wound Healing In Plastic Surgery.”
Tectonic Magnets 1997.
Table of Contents
The Health Psychology Home Page is
produced and maintained by David Schlundt, PhD.
Vanderbilt Homepage | Introduction to Vanderbilt | Admissions | Colleges & Schools | Research Centers | News & Media Information | People at Vanderbilt | Libraries | Administrative Departments | Medical
|Return to the Health Psychology Home Page|
|Send E-mail comments or questions to Dr. Schlundt|