Magnetic Therapy

Magnetic therapy, magnetotherapy or biomagnetism is a pseudoscientific alternative medicine practice in which static magnetic fields are applied. Its practitioners claim that subjecting certain parts of the body to magnetostatic fields produced by permanent magnets has beneficial health effects.

These physical and biological claims are unfounded, and have no proven curative health effects. Although hemoglobin, the protein in the blood that carries oxygen, is weakly diamagnetic (when oxygenated) or paramagnetic (when deoxygenated), the magnets used in magnetic therapy are many orders of magnitude too weak to have any measurable effect on blood flow.

Methods of application
Magnetic therapy is the application of the magnetic field of electromagnetic devices or permanent static magnets to the body for supposed health benefits. Some believers attribute different effects based on the orientation of the magnet; however, under the laws of physics, the magnetic poles are symmetrical.

Products include magnetic bracelets and jewelry; magnetic wrist, ankle, knee, and back straps; shoe insoles; mattresses; magnetic blankets (blankets with magnets embedded in the material); magnetic creams; magnetic inserts; gauze pads/pads; and water that has been “magnetized.” The application is usually performed by the patient himself.

Putative Mechanisms of Action
Perhaps the most common suggested mechanism is that magnets can improve blood flow in underlying tissues. The field around magnetic therapy devices is too weak and decays too rapidly with distance to noticeably affect hemoglobin, other blood components, muscle tissue, bone, blood vessels, or organs.

Tissue oxygenation is also unaffected. Some practitioners claim that magnets can restore a hypothetical “electromagnetic energy balance” in the body, but clinically there is no such balance. Even in the magnetic fields used in MRI , which are many times stronger, none of the claimed effects are observed. If the body were significantly affected by the weak magnets used in magnetic therapy, MRI would be unfeasible.

Several studies have been conducted in recent years to investigate what role, if any, static magnetic fields may play in health and healing. Unbiased studies of magnetic therapy are problematic because magnetization can easily be detected, for example, by attractive forces on iron-containing objects; therefore, effective blinding of studies (in which neither the patients nor the evaluators know who is receiving treatment and who is receiving placebo) is difficult.

Incomplete or insufficient blinding tends to exaggerate treatment effects, especially when these effects are small. Health claims about longevity and cancer treatment are implausible and are not supported by any research. More mundane , more commonly anecdotal claims about pain relief also lack any credible proposed mechanism and clinical research is not promising.

Magnetic therapy has been promoted as a treatment for cancer and other diseases; the American Cancer Society states that “the available scientific evidence does not support these claims.”

The effects of magnetic therapy on pain relief beyond the non-specific placebo response have not been adequately demonstrated. A 2008 systematic review of magnetic therapy for all indications found no evidence of a pain relief effect. It has been reported that small sample sizes, inadequate randomization, and difficulty in concealing such allocation tend to bias positive studies and limit the strength of conclusions.

In 2009, the results of a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of the use of magnetic bracelets (a leather wristband with a magnetic insert) for osteoarthritis were published, addressing the lack of data in the previous systematic review. This study showed that magnetic wristbands are ineffective in treating pain, stiffness, and physical function in osteoarthritis. The authors concluded that “the reported benefits are likely attributable to nonspecific placebo effects.”

Source: Wikipedia

Ricardo Pereira

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