DOES MAGNETIC HEALING WORK?
The idea of magnetic energy or magnetic healing therapy is centuries old. Legend has it that Cleopatra wore magnetic bracelets and necklaces for healing. Though actively employed by medical doctors in America in the 1800's and early 1900's, magnetic therapy eventually fell out of favor. But in the past decade, magnetic therapy has become a 100 million dollar a year industry in this country (magnetic therapy has long been used as an effective healing tool in China, France, India and Japan, especially in repairing soft-tissue injuries).
Studies on magnetic healing therapies in the Journal of Electro-and Magnetobiology led some pioneering doctors in this country to experiment with magnets in their practice. Their activities helped to standardize the use of some magnets, the magnet size and strength-in treating various conditions. The length of exposure to a magnet for healing certain ailments was also determined. Because of their work we know which magnets work most efficiently-for example, a magnet placed in one specific area of the body may not activate the entire body's healing power, whereas sleeping on a magnetic mattress pad radiates a magnetic field that can penetrate evenly into every part of the body and boost the entire immune system.
Through the growth of the magnetic healing therapy industry, different magnetic products have been designed which can be useful in treating many conditions. Some of the most commonly used magnetic products include the previously mentioned magnetic mattress pad which can alleviate insomnia, joint pain, muscle spasm and fibromyalgia. Magnetic insoles for shoes are often helpful in relieving painful inflammation resulting from bone spurs, and for gout and to improve circulation. Magnetic pads and wraps which can be secured to the lower back, knees and elbows are recommended for arthritic joints, inflamed tendons and carpal tunnel syndrome.
WHAT IS A MAGNET?
In any material that is capable of being magnetized, there are groups of atoms with their own magnetic orientation arranged haphazardly in the material. When that material comes into contact with a strong magnetic field, it rearranges the groups of atoms so that they are in alignment. As the groups of atoms become aligned, they project a magnetic field.
Magnetic energy has different names. Some people call it energy or life force; the Chinese call it Chi, the Indians know it as Prana. Whatever you choose to call it, magnetic energy is a basic force of life-it pulses throughout the galaxies and is found everywhere in nature.
HOW DO MAGNETS HEAL THE BODY?
Some researchers and doctors say that magnets don't actually heal the body. Science knows that the human body is composed of numerous cells that combine to form blood, tissues, bones and organs. These cells are in the constant state of renewing themselves. Dr. Robert Becker, one of the leading medical doctors who advocates the use of magnets in healing, believes that the force which stimulates ,cellular growth and division is electromagnetic energy.
He and other scientists contend that the charge on the cells of the body gets depleted as cells perform their normal daily functions and that the body tries to "recharge" the worn down cells by sending pulses of electromagnetic energy from the brain through the nervous system.
James Souder, President of Norso Biomagnetics in Raleigh, North Carolina, claims that studies performed on animals, and microscopic examination of blood vessels, indicate that capillary blood flow is stimulated by the movement of magnetic fields through tissue and is the dominant factor in magnetic field therapy.
USING MAGNETIC HEALING ENERGY BENEFICIALLY
While there are many applications claimed for magnetics from the reduction of scar tissue to the treatment of internal organs, the predominant use of magnetic devices is the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and myofacial pain. While, as previously stated, the mechanism by which this pain relief occurs is subject to much conjecture, there is a consensus that heightened blood flow to the area under the footprint of the magnet is one of the primary results of magnetic treatment. The results have been demonstrated by both thermographic and nuclear medicine studies. There have also been evidence of pain blocking phenomena in certain nerve fibers related to the application of magnetic fields. And researchers have been able to demonstrate changes in the electrical potential of nerve cells which raise the threshold for transmitting pain impulses as a result of magnetic fields.
Some scientists subscribe to the "Hall Effect," which promotes the idea that ions in the blood are manipulated by magnetic fields thus producing a heating effect in the magnetized area and increasing blood circulation. James Souder disagrees, and insists that "from a biological perspective, magnets activate or turn on capillaries creating extra blood supply at the cellular level as opposed to the older notion that magnets produce a local heating effect to stimulate blood supply which is essentially what the Hall effect is about."
Dr. Dean Bonlie, Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the North American Academy of Magnetic Therapy, explains that when the body is fatigued, a "loss of static charge" on the body's cells causes a "clumping of red blood cells." Through magnetic field supplementation, he says, chemical reactions are enhanced, building up the charge on cell walls which cause the cells to repel each other, reducing the clumping. With more surface area available, he says, the oxygen-carrying capacity of the cells is increased which in turn reinvigorates the body.
Another source of disagreement among magnetic therapy advocates is the healing quality of negative and positive poles. Such prominent voices in the magnetic therapy movement as Dr. Philpott say that "there are distinct and opposite effects of the two separate magnetic poles on metabolic function...in terms of biological response, the separate negative and positive polarities are as distinctly opposite as day and night, hot and cold, and acid and alkali." Dr. Philpott claims that his clinical observations show that negative magnetic field energy should be used to fight infection, normalize acid base balance, increase cellular oxygen and reduce fluid retention. He claims that using positive magnetic field energy can actually decrease cellular oxygen, accelerate microorganism growth and result in acidic metabolic response. James Joseph, an independent research consultant for Optimal Living Associates, agrees with Dr. Philpott.
Dr. Philpott concluded that positive magnetic field energy creates an acidic condition in the tissue and negative magnetic field energy creates alkalinity after performing before and after saliva tests on patients being treated with a whole-body negative magnetic field. Dr. Bonlie, in a similar test, found that patients who had tested over-alkaline in pre-testing became more acidic, indicating that whole body treatment with a negative magnetic field brings normalcy from either end of the spectrum. Dr. Bonlie claimed that this happened because of "simple rules of physics." "When an atom is placed in an increased magnetic field," says Dr. Bonlie, "the charge is increased on the atom for a fraction of a second. This increase in energy is expressed by an increase in the velocity of some of the orbiting electrons and protons. In the case of paired electrons, one is sped up and the other slowed down. This imbalance causes a phenomenon known in physics as precession (wobble). This is much like increased molecular action which takes place from heating a solution to make a chemical reaction take place. Precession causes electron transfer which is the basis of all chemical reactions in the body. In summary, when the magnetic field is increased in which the atoms of the body exist, body chemistry is enhanced, assisting it in normalcy which improves body performance and healing."
While the physics of magnetic energy is debated, its benefits are being experienced by people around the country. Dr. Ronald Lawrence of Agoura Hills, California asserts that magnets have been extremely effective in the control of arthritic pain in many of his patients. Dee Massengale, an exercise physiologist in Atlanta, Georgia suffering with fibromyaglia since 1982, says that of all the therapies she's tried magnetic devices have been one of the most valuable tools for pain management.
In one of our own experiments, Anne Ziselman of Hollywood, Florida slept with magnet wraps strapped above her kneecap. She reported a reduction of arthritic swelling and a softening of the inflammation after four nights of use. "Sometimes the swelling goes away by itself, but the only times my knee has softened was when I had a cortisone shot," said Mrs. Ziselman.
GETTING STARTED WITH MAGNETIC HEALING THERAPY
First some caveats. Magnets are NOT meant to be used with pacemakers or automatic internal defibrillators. Nor in cases of pregnancy.
There are some other basics to know about magnets. To begin with the power of a magnet. The strength of a magnet is measured by a gauss meter in gauss units power by the iron weight it can lift (the term gauss denotes the electromagnetic unit of magnetic flux density equal to one maxwell per square centimeter). For example, a magnet that can lift two pounds of iron weight has 530-600 gauss power; five pounds of iron weight has 900-1250 power; 25 pounds has 2500 gauss power. The magnet's strength is determined by its size, weight and the type of materiaI it is made of.
Magnetic therapists have general guidelines for magnetic use. Magnets with 1000 to 3000 gauss power are recommended for chronic diseases like rheumatism, paralysis, backache and injury to large muscles. More delicate parts of the body such as eyes or ears require less gauss power of around 500. 500 gauss should also be employed when treating children.
The depth of penetration of a magnetic field into the body is another important factor in magnetic healing and is in direct relationship to the size of the magnet as well as its gauss power. A magnet can have a strength of over 10,000 gauss but if it is small it might only penetrate an inch or two into the body. But a magnet of 4x6 and 1000 gauss can penetrate the body completely (magnetic energy has not been fully standardized in terms of application for all diseases, but a rule of thumb for use established by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare is a minimum of 500 gauss for any significant illness).
Drinking magnetically treated water is another way to reap the benefits of magnetic energy. Magnetically treated water is relaxing to the body. Put an 8-ounce glass of water on the negative pole of a magnet for five minutes or longer and drink twice a day as a general preventative.
Lastly, scientists have been recording the strength of the earth's magnetic field over the past 158 years and they claim that its magnetic field, and subsequently the intake of magnetic energy into our bodies, has been reduced by more than 8% in that time (this rate of decline has been verified by measurement of the decrease of north-south orientation of magnetite crystals in deposits in volcanic flows and sediments that date hack as far as 4,000 years). As the human body is electromagnetic by design composed of charged particles such as atoms and ions-advocates of magnetic therapy say that chemical and electrical actions of the body can be strengthened by exposure to the right kind of magnetic fields.
The range of healing using magnetic energy has been found effective in treating complaints from acne to asthma, but knowing the proper gauss strength, how and where to place a magnet on the body and the duration of exposure to magnetic energy are variables that a trained practitioner would know best. Keep an open mind as you explore this alternative therapy, but be practical and find a therapist who can help you to maximize its benefits rapidly and safely.
Article by tom Edwards, Newlife, July 1996
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