Magnotherapy – Science or Science Fiction?
I’ve been criticised for being too logical and intellectual. Me! The happy meadow wanderer and animal lover. I guess I should be flattered. I admit to being the kid that many teachers dread – the one with endless questions, full of “whys” and “buts”. I’m not the type to go for anything unless I’ve done considerable research on the subject. You can’t sell snake oil to me, unless you can provide sufficient evidence from reputable sources that makes sense.
Call me a cynic, but I’ve been suspicious of alternative therapies like magnetic therapy – or magnotherapy – for ages. Come on, give me a break, how can something like a magnetic bracelet improve your health and alleviate pain? Then recently, when I couldn’t bear to see my sister continue suffering knee pain despite years of taking analgesics, I decided to take a fresh look at –gasp! – magnetic therapy. What I discovered was certainly intriguing.
Magnetism is a natural part of life, like water and air. All life, human, animal and plant, comes under the influence of the Earth’s magnetic field. Electromagnetic fields produced by the movement of electro-chemicals (ions) within the body control all physical and mental functions. We are actually bio-electrical beings, comprised of energy.
When an injury occurs and tissue is damaged, positively charged ions converge on the affected area, causing pain and swelling. For healing to take place, the injured site must be restored to its natural negative electromagnetic charge.
Electro-chemicals related to pain and inflammation have to be removed while oxygen and nutrients must be transported to the area. The application of a magnetic field to an injured area – popularly known as magnetic therapy or magnotherapy – helps restore the normal electromagnetic balance. The magnetic field relaxes capillary walls, as well as surrounding muscle and connective tissues, allowing for increased blood flow. More oxygen and nutrients are transferred to the injury site, while pain and inflammatory related electro-chemicals are more efficiently removed.
So why have magnetic bracelets been around for so many years? The wrists have many biologically-active points linked to the internal organs. Think about how acupuncture works. However, not all bracelets are created equal. Cheap ones are invariably made of cheap materials and have no therapeutic value whatsoever. My sister bought a cheap magnetic bracelet some years back and it was completely useless.
After studying various types of magnetic jewelry on the market, one caught my attention. This one incorporated four advanced technologies in one bracelet, Unipolar Neodymium Magnets, Far Infrared Ray Therapy (FIR), Negative Ions and Germanium. These four kinds of technology are designed to work together in a non-invasive approach to produce powerful therapeutic and healing effects. There were several styles for men and women, crafted from stainless steel, with additional gold plating for the ladies’ bracelet, for a durable finish.
If I shared just some of what I learned about the properties and benefits of Unipolar Neodymium Magnets, Far Infrared Rays (FIR), Negative Ions and Germanium here, this post would never end. So I’ll just touch on one technology – Unipolar Neodymium Magnets – for now. The other three technologies will be examined in other posts.
Apparently, NASA uses Neodymium magnets to help prevent bone muscle and muscle loss in astronauts during space flights. Neodymium magnets are also used in MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanning machines and other medical devices such as pacemakers. These magnets are often used in machines made for the health industry. Doctors use pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) for bone growth stimulation to treat broken bones that have not healed correctly. This method, approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in the 1970s, can mend bones that have not responded to other treatment. PEMF technology has also been used successfully to treat chronic wounds.
Here’s one to tickle your funny bone: one unusual use for Neodymium magnets is by people who believe that they were abducted by aliens who implanted devices into their ears. Plagued by incessant ringing in their ears, they use Neodymium magnets to disable these alien implants!
Neodymium Magnets exert extremely powerful magnetic fields, stronger than standard magnets. The main two types of material used in magnetic therapy or magnotherapy are Ferrite – sometimes called ceramic magnets – and Neodymium magnets. Ferrite or ceramic magnets: are made of a mixture of iron and barium. They are commonly used for crafts.
Neodymium magnets are a more recent discovery, and are made of iron, boron and the rare earth neodymium, which is why they are also called rare earth magnets. These magnets are very strong in comparison to their mass and, with proper care, hold their strength for many years. Neodymium magnets have 10 times the power of Ferrite magnets.
Unipolar magnets have the north pole on one side and the south pole on the other. Unipolar magnets tend to have greater penetration than bipolar magnets because the polarity is uniform on each side. The magnetic bracelet which aroused my interest uses Unipolar Neodymium Magnets.
Most magnetic therapy products use permanent magnets. Permanent magnets are materials that generate magnetic fields on their own and, with proper usage and care, never lose their strength. Over a period of 10 to 15 years of normal use, a magnet will lose only a tiny fraction of its magnetisation. Magnets can remain magnetised for 100,000 years.
So there you go. Magnetic therapy is basically the application of a magnetic field to an injured area to restore the normal electromagnetic balance in the body. This is supposed to aid healing and promote good health. Obviously, the efficacy of this kind of alternative therapy depends on the quality and intensity of the magnets used. According to medical researchers writing in the British Medical Journal in 2004, “Pain from osteoarthritis of the hip and knee decreases when wearing magnetic bracelets.” Their findings suggested that the benefit of magnetic bracelets was clinically useful, but higher strength magnets (such as Neodymium magnets) seemed to be needed. The magnetic bracelet I eventually chose to give to my sister uses 1,500 Gauss magnets.
In my next post, I’ll cover another technology – Far Infrared Rays – utilised in this particular magnetic bracelet.