Magnetism and Healing
Another Ancient Healing Modality Comes of Age
Jim Martin, L. Ac, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)
Like acupuncture, magnetic therapies can be traced to ancient times but are currently experiencing dramatic growth worldwide due to therapeutic benefit and cost effectiveness. As new products enter the market, we are faced with a wide range of choices and confusion regarding relative benefits.
The medical use of magnets is traced back 100,000 years to magnetite mines in Africa. In ancient European, Middle Eastern and oriental cultures great doctors and philosophers including Paracelas, Aristotle and Galen examined magnets in healing, while the Chinese investigated effects of the earth’s magnetic field. As science evolved through the seventeenth century, Gilbert and Mesmer published research but, as is typical of science and medicine throughout history, their work was ridiculed and ignored. In fact, the term ‘Mesmerizing’ came into use at this time in reference to fraudulent, unscientific phenomena. Nonetheless, research continued over the next two centuries. A major setback occurred in the 1920s when researchers at the prestigious Edison Laboratories and later Rosenberg claimed that no healing benefits to magnetic fields could be found. This became the prevailing medical opinion of the time. Research continued in the 1930s and 40s, however, indicating that subjective symptoms of pain, as well as inflammation, responded positively, and that magnetism functions primarily on the autonomic nervous system.
Much of the more recent research on healing applications of magnetism has been performed by the Japanese, millions of whom today use magnets on a daily basis. One major discovery is the concept of the ‘Magnetic Field Deficiency Syndrome’ by Nakagawa. He maintains that any changes in the earth’s magnetic field will negatively impact the human body and function. Specifically, a 50 percent decrease in the magnetic field strength over the last 500 years has been measured, with a predicted reduction to zero within the next 2000 years if the trend continues. This loss, combined with the field reducing effects of steel framed buildings and vehicles, has resulted in a variety of disorders including neck and shoulder tension, headaches, lassitude, chest pains, lumbago, insomnia and constipation. The solution is to apply a magnetic field to the body to correct the imbalance and alleviate symptoms. As most of my patients report these problems, magnetic therapy has been a component of my treatment programs for over ten years.
Magnets for pain? Constipation? Insomnia? “Oh, sure. And sell me some property in the swamp while you’re at it.” Such responses from the uninformed people are not surprising, so it is fortunate that sound scientific theory exists to support the benefits reported by many recipients of magnetic therapies.
Decades of research has proven that electromotive force (EMF) is generated in the body by an external magnetic field. This EMF creates currents which cause dissociation of body fluid which acts on the human body as stress. In other words, the magnetic field converts motion energy of body fluid to electricity which in turn creates beneficial therapeutic effects. Other factors include the Hall Effect of Faraday’s Law that explains how movements of charged particles in blood dilate the vessels and promote increased flow to injured tissues. This enhanced circulation appears to be the bottom line in many therapies including massage, heat lamps, hot water ands liniments. Promoting blood flow to problem areas increases levels of glucose, nutrients and oxygen while eliminating toxins and waste products, thus enhancing healing.
Healing magnets fall into two categories. Electromagnets involve fluctuating fields and are generally used in a series of short applications. Acupuncturists commonly use small diameter permanent bipolar magnets in various forms. The north pole disperses excesses like inflammation, swelling, bacterial growth and pain, while the south pole is warming. More complex magnets composed of various metals in the form of disks and pellets may be employed in combinations and locations depending on diagnosis and symptoms.
A state of the art form of magnet is composed of multiple alternating poles arranged to optimize circulation and healing. This flat, flexible material can be formed into devices specific to different body areas. They may be worn indefinitely, retain field strength, and are cost effective. These products are popular with ordinary people as well as Olympic and professional athletes including NFL and NBA football and basketball players whose livelihoods depend on prevention and fast healing of injuries.
Recently, far infrared (FIR) materials, capable of benefits such as stimulating tissue growth and DNA replication have been combined with magnets to enhance therapeutic effects.
Who, then, will benefit from magnetic therapy? I have seen, for example, a stiff old man able to bend over and touch the floor after less than an hour, and a woman free of pain over night after five years suffering following a car accident. I recommend magnets to anyone with muscular pains, circulatory disorders and slow healing injuries, for starters. I have magnets in my shoes and bed, and drink magnetized water, and I believe every American can benefit from doing the same.
Jim Martin, LAc