Some of the benefits that magnetic therapy claims to provide include:
• pain relief
• reduction of swelling
• improved tissue alkalinization
• more restful sleep
• increased tissue oxygenation • relief of stress
• increased levels of cellular oxygen
• improved blood circulation
• anti-infective activity
There are two theories that are used to explain magnetic therapy. One theory maintains that magnets produce a slight electrical current. When magnets are applied to a painful area of the body, the nerves in that area are stimulated, thus releasing the body’s natural painkillers. The other theory maintains that when magnets are applied to a painful area of the body, all the cells in that area react to increase blood circulation, ion ex- change, and oxygen flow to the area. Magnetic fields attract and repel charged particles in the bloodstream, increasing blood flow and producing heat. Increased oxygen in the tissues and blood stream is thought to make a considerable difference in the speed of healing.
There are no special preparations for using magnetic therapy .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.
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.
In 2000, a federally funded study began at the University of Virginia. This study evaluated the effectiveness of magnetic mattress pads in easing the muscle pain, stiffness and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. 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. Progress continues on the study of magnets and the brain. In 2002, more than 2,000 patients had undergone transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression at the University of South Carolina with promis- ing preliminary results.
TMS is less shocking to the brain than electroconvulsive therapy. Another study was testing the use of magnets for therapy of essential tremors. By using a control group with sham repetitive TMS, the re- searchers noted tremor improvement and no adverse effects from the magnet therapy. These applications of magnet therapy are still under study and some of them are approved and others aren’t (by the FDA.)