In doing research for this article, I came across various opinions regarding the use of magnetic therapy. Magnetic therapy can be practically a cure-all, possibly beneficial, shows some promise, and down – right “it’s a quack” therapy. It is my purpose to review both sides. Only you and your health care provider can decide what treatment is right for you.
The use of magnets can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages when they were used to find metal things in the body, like when a person was shot with an arrowhead. They were also used to treat gout, arthritis, and baldness. The modern use of magnets started in the 1970s when it was discovered that the body would react to positive and negative charges. Some think that when a person is injured or develops an illness, the electromagnetic pulses that the body normally gives off are disrupted. The purpose of magnets would be to bring these pulses back to normal. Some also believe that magnets can increase blood flow, decrease pain over a localized area, and realign thought patterns for an overall emotional well being. Usually the patient has either a magnet taped to the affected area of the body or wears magnets as a bracelet or necklace. Or they can be used in insoles for shoes. Generally, magnets are considered safe except for in patients with a pace maker or other electronic device.
Of course, any website selling magnetic devices are going to sing praises of the benefits of magnetic therapy. A web search of magnetic therapy products will give you a long list of companies that sell a variety of magnetic therapy products. Some even boast being part of the Better Business Bureau Online Reliability Program. Again, I am not endorsing these products or a particular website in any way. In fact, I found that the FDA’s warning about buying medical devices on line worth reading, and I mention it later in this article.
The National Institute for Health has an article on its website dealing with magnets for pain. Listed in the sources at the end is the link to the article. The NIH says that there are mixed results as to the effectiveness of magnets treating pain. More research is needed. It also recommends consulting your health care provider regarding any alternative therapy.
FDA warns about buying “medical devices” over the web and cites magnets as an example. It gives this warning: “Buying online has advantages, but it also can produce pitfalls for some consumers. Buying on-line offers privacy, convenience and potential cost-savings, but personal data given by the consumer can be misused by unscrupulous dealers. While the Internet offers many quality medical devices from legitimate sites, it also offers medical devices that don’t work and some that may even harm you or your family. Some Web sites sell medical devices for unapproved uses, or they sell medical devices that have not been cleared or approved by FDA. Other Web sites sell prescription medical devices without asking for a prescription. Some foreign Web sites sell medical devices to customers in the United States where the medical devices have not been cleared or approved for sale. Below are some examples of problems with Internet purchases…Magnets are advertised to cure multiple conditions such as carpal tunnel, motion sickness, and back ache.” The FDA then uses the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” It also recommends finding out if the product has been approved by the FDA. The FDA encourages consumers to search its device databases at www.fda.gov/cdrh to see if a particular device has been approved. Or you can call CDRH at (800) 638-2041.
Article on cancer.org
NIH: Magnets for Pain