Magnetic therapy is the use of magnets to relieve pain in various areas of the body.
Origins Magnetic therapy dates as far back as the ancient Egyptians. Magnets have long been believed to have healing powers associated with muscle pain and stiffness.
Chinese healers as early as 200 B.C. were said to use magnetic lodestones on the body to correct unhealthy imbalances in the flow of qi, or energy. The ancient Chinese medical text known as The Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine describes this procedure. The Vedas, or ancient Hindu scriptures, also mention the treatment of diseases with lodestones. The word “lodestone” or leading stone, came from the use of these stones as compasses. The word “magnet” probably stems from the Greek Magnes lithos, or “stone from Magnesia,” a region of Greece rich in magnetic stones. The Greek phrase later became magneta in Latin.
There are no special preparations for using magnetic therapy other than purchasing a product that is specific for the painful area being treated. Products available in a range of prices include necklaces and bracelets; knee, back, shoulder and wrist braces; mattress pads; gloves; shoe inserts; and more.
The primary precaution involved with magnetic therapy is to recognize the expense of this therapy.
Magnets have become big business; they can be found in mail-order catalogs and stores ranging from upscale department stores to specialty stores. As is the case with many popular self-administered therapies, many farfetched claims are being made about the effectiveness of magnetic therapy. Consumers should adopt a “let the buyer beware” approach to magnetic therapy.
Persons who are interested in this form of treatment should try out a small, inexpensive item to see if it works for them before investing in the more expensive products.
There are very few side effects from using magnetic therapy. Generally, patients using this therapy find that it either works for them or it does not. Patients using transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of depression reported mild headache as their only side effect.
Research & general acceptance
Magnetic therapy is becoming more and more widely accepted as an alternative method of pain relief.
Magnetic therapy is also being studied in the treatment of depression and for patients with bipolar disorder.
A procedure called repeated transcranial magnetic stimulation has shown promise in treating this condition. In one study, patients with depression had a lower relapse rate than did those using electroconvulsive therapy.
Unlike electroconvulsive therapy, patients using magnetic therapy did not suffer from seizures, memory lapses, or impaired thinking.