by Tom Edward
The idea of magnetic energy or magnetic 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 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 bed 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 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 which can alleviate insomnia, joint pain, muscle spasm and fibromyalgia. Magnetic inner soles 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.
IS ALL MAGNETIC ENERGY HEALING?
As previously stated, magnetic energy is a basic force of nature and necessary to all biological systems. Magnetic energy pulses from far-off galaxies; the sun showers us with magnetic fields. Our earth, itself a huge electromagnet with north and south poles, protects us from harmful cosmic radiation. Cosmic radiation is so potent that it is capable of penetrating a 12 foot thick block of lead. But it cannot penetrate the earth's protective magnetic shield.
There is increasing evidence that there are harmful effects from high pulsating magnetic energy emitted from power transmission lines, TVs, radios, computers, microwaves and myriad electric appliances. The ordinary 60 cycle alternating electromagnetic fields created by technology seem to exert stress on the body's cellular level. It is reported that they can cause memory loss, headaches, changes in heartbeat and blood chemistry. Melatonin production can be reduced, and the brain's electromagnetic signals to the cells can be blocked, diluting the body's disease-fighting ability.
Studies of exposure to alternating electromagnetic fields have shown mutagenic effects, cancer cell promotion and a lowering of the body's pH to a more acidic level.
In addition, energy deprivation caused by living in concrete buildings also appears to have negative effects on the body. Dr. Kyochi Nakagawa, Director of Isuzu Hospital in Tokyo says that "Magnetic Field Deficiency Syndrome," produces symptoms such as headaches, back and neck pains, insomnia, heaviness of head and general lassitude.
USING MAGNETIC 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.