Magnet therapy

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Magnet therapy, magnetic therapy, or magnotherapy is an alternative medicine practice involving the use of static magnetic fields. Practitioners claim that subjecting certain parts of the body to magnetostatic fields produced by permanent magnets has beneficial health effects. Magnet therapy is considered pseudoscientific due to both physical and biological implausibility, as well as a lack of any established effect on health or healing.[1][2][3] Although hemoglobin, the blood protein that carries oxygen, is weakly diamagnetic and is repulsed by magnetic fields, the magnets used in magnetic therapy are many orders of magnitude too weak to have any measurable effect on blood flow.[4]

Contents

Description

Magnet therapy is the application of the magnetic field of electromagnetic devices or permanent static magnets to the body for purported health benefits. These benefits may be specific, as in the case of wound healing, or more general, as for increased energy and vitality. In the latter case, malaise is sometimes described as "Magnetic Field Deficiency Syndrome".[5] Some practitioners assign different effects based on the orientation of the magnet; under the laws of physics, magnetic poles are symmetric.[6][7] Products include magnetic bracelets and jewelry; magnetic straps for wrists, ankles, knees, and the back; shoe insoles; mattresses; magnetic blankets (blankets with magnets woven into the material); magnetic creams; magnetic supplements;[8] and water that has been "magnetized". Application is usually performed by the patient.[9]

Safety and efficacy

These devices are generally considered safe in themselves, though there can be significant financial and opportunity costs to magnet therapy, especially when treatment or diagnosis are avoided or delayed.[9][10][11]

Perhaps the most common suggested mechanism is that magnets might improve blood flow in underlying tissues. The field surrounding magnet therapy devices is far too weak and falls off with distance far too quickly to appreciably affect hemoglobin, other blood components, muscle tissue, bones, blood vessels, or organs.[1][12] A 1991 study on humans of static field strengths up to 1 T found no effect on local blood flow.[4][13] Tissue oxygenation is similarly unaffected.[12] Some practitioners claim that the magnets can restore the body's theorized "electromagnetic energy balance", but no such balance is medically recognized. Even in the magnetic fields used in magnetic resonance imaging, which are many times stronger, none of the claimed effects are observed.[14]

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