Magnetic Therapy – Ability to Heal Or Simply Placebo Effect?

It is probably fair to say that most people have noticed that there are numerous magnetic therapy products on the market. You often see jewellery that has magnets in it at the check-out counter of pharmacies. For many sceptical people however, the question is: does it really work?

There are a number of companies that make their living promoting the healing abilities of magnets. According to Dr. Mercola of in a 2008 article entitled “The healing power of magnets”, magnetic therapy is a $5 billion market annually around the world. All the same, as a student of science, I like to see studies performed following clinical trial methodology before I spend my hard earned dollars on what may otherwise be “snake-oil”.

About 2 years ago, I did a short consulting stint with a company in Bristol, England called Magnopulse, a family run business who were interested in expanding their markets outside of the UK. Magnopulse designs, manufactures and sells a full line of magnetic therapy products. I was struck initially by two aspects of the company. The first was that the company was created about 12 years ago when Founder and President Derek Price was looking for a way to help his dog who was suffering from arthritis that numerous vets were unable to cure. After fashioning a collar with a magnet on it, the dog’s health improved dramatically, and Derek began a quest that continues to this day, to find ways of helping people (and yes, their pets too) using magnetic therapy. Secondly, Derek was mostly interested in finding new ways to help people manage their pains and ailments, more so than his interest in growing sales.

Is it all hearsay?

Okay, I see how that all works for marketing, but though still sceptical, what struck me next was that Magnopulse had spent a great deal of time, energy and money performing consumer and clinical trials. One such trial was a double-blind, placebo controlled trial, overseen by a qualified medical practitioner and eventually published in the respected Journal of Wound Care. It tested the ability of a product called 4Ulcercare to help heal open sores (ulcers) on the legs of people with very poor circulation as a result of age, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. I could relate to this problem, because my own father, after surgery in Florida to place a pin in a badly broken ankle, had a surgical incision that never healed and remained an open wound for the 4 years that he lived afterwards.

The published results of the trial stated that although the trial group was small, there was significant improvement in the group that wore the real 4Ulcercare wrap relative to the placebo group. Speaking from experience, there is little else available to help heal leg ulcers, beyond compression wraps and antibiotic creams, and lest anyone doubt the value of these results, as a direct result of the trials, the National Health Service in the UK added the product to their drug tariff, which means that a doctor or nurse can prescribe the product for a patient and the state buys it for them. In my mind, this gives not just this product, but all of the Magnopulse products, a leg up on credibility that I hadn’t previously expected to see in the industry.

My Eureka Moment

When I left England, Derek gave me a magnetic wrist band product for my mother. She experienced a stroke in 2002 that has left her paralyzed on the left side. During the ensuing time, her mostly inert left hand had become like a claw. This was in spite of years of at least bi-weekly therapy that included painful alternated hot and cold baths and massage. Without much hope, since her hand seemed beyond help, I placed the band on her wrist and thought little more about it. Wasn’t I surprised, when the next day she called me and told me that her hand was “almost completely loose”. It went from being so brittle that you thought you would break her fingers by just touching them, to being just like anyone else’s hand in less than a day! This is not to say that she suddenly had use of her hand again. Far from it, but the fingers loosened up, the pain was gone and no more painful treatment was required. All for a wrist band that cost about $50 and lasts a lifetime.

To say the least, I was no longer a sceptic and in fact I have used many Magnopulse products myself, for chronic sore back, neck and shoulders, sore knees from hockey, and my wife has used the product for menstrual pain and PMS: all with terrific results and all because of simple but remarkable technology in my mind.

Healing or Placebo?

This question can only be answered with expensive clinical trials on each and every product for each and every purpose. The trial of 4Ulcercare has given proven results for one product from one company, for the rest we may have to look at the wealth of testimonials, including my own experience. In the end, I can’t help but think that it doesn’t matter much either way. If my mother is really gullible and believed in these magnets so much that her hand got better, then so be it. If I only think that my back pain subsides when I wear the general pain products, again, I can live with that. After all, there is a neck product for migraines that doesn’t work for me (which somewhat negates the whole placebo question – for me personally at least), but my mother-in-law puts it on every time she starts to experience the aura for a migraine and it takes it away. If it’s a placebo effect, fair enough; one less migraine is a welcome improvement regardless of the reason.

I can’t answer that question for anyone else, but this author is personally sold on magnetic therapy. Part of the reason that these particular products are successful, in my opinion, is that Derek is very committed to the science behind them. He has constantly improved the technology, while insisting that the negative pole must be against the skin (unlike some companies who either don’t think it matters or who intentionally alternate the positive and negative poles) and has developed a US patented technology called “directional plate” which apparently boosts the penetration power of the magnetic field into the body.

Does it give us a general answer on magnetic products for all of the many claims they make? No, definitely not. But all products related to alternative and complementary medicine vary a great deal. Prescribed levels of various supplements are all over the map, the sources of those same supplements vary a great deal, making them more or less potent and the evidence to support specific advantages is sometimes outweighed by the potential other effects or side-effects.

Personal Research

The best thing one can do in assessing the claims of alternative medicine generally and magnetic therapy particularly, is to research all of the potential benefits and side-effects and make a short-term or inexpensive commitment to seeing what works for you individually. In the end, magnetic therapy may save you from all sorts of suffering or may just leave you wondering what all the fuss was about, but if you’ve only bought one $50 item, you won’t be too far out of pocket. If that first one works, well, who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones that will be able to avoid using pills for every ache and pain for the rest of your life!

Find more information about how magnetic therapy manages pain and illness here.

Source by Leigh Smout

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