Magnetic therapy: ability to cure or simply placebo effect?

It’s probably fair to say that most people have noticed that there are numerous magnetic therapy products on the market. You often see jewelry that has magnets on it in drugstore checkouts. However, for many skeptical people, 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 Mercola.com in a 2008 article titled “The Healing Power of Magnets,” magnetic therapy is a $5 billion yearly market worldwide. Anyway, as a science student, I like to see studies done following clinical trial methodology before spending my hard-earned money on what would otherwise be “snake oil.”

About 2 years ago I spent a short period consulting with a company in Bristol, England called Magnopulse, a family business that was interested in expanding their markets outside of the UK. Magnopulse designs, manufactures, and sells a complete line of magnetic therapy products. Two aspects of the company initially caught my attention. 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 suffered from arthritis that numerous vets couldn’t cure. After designing a collar with a magnet, the dog’s health dramatically improved and Derek began a quest that continues to this day, to find ways to help people (and yes, their pets too) through magnetic therapy. Second, Derek was more interested in finding new ways to help people manage their ailments and pains than he was in increasing sales.

Are they all rumours?

Okay, I see how all of that works for marketing, but while I was still skeptical, what struck me next was that Magnopulse had invested a significant amount of time, energy, and money conducting clinical and consumer trials. One of those trials was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, supervised by a qualified physician and eventually published in the respected Journal of Wound Care. He 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 empathize with this problem, because my own father, after surgery in Florida to place a pin in a severely broken ankle, had a surgical incision that he never healed and remained an open wound for the 4 years he lived after.

The published results of the trial indicated that although the trial group was small, there was a significant improvement in the group using the actual 4Ulcercare wrap relative to the placebo group. Speaking from experience, there is little else available to help heal leg ulcers beyond compression bandages and antibiotic creams, and no one doubts the value of these results, as a direct result of trials, the National Service for UK Health added the product. at their drug rate, which means that a doctor or nurse can prescribe the product to a patient and the state buys it for them. In my opinion, this gives not just this product, but all Magnopulse products, an edge in credibility that I didn’t expect to see in the industry.

my eureka moment

When I left England, Derek gave me a magnetic bracelet for my mother. She suffered a stroke in 2002 that left her paralyzed on her left side. During the time that she followed, her left hand, mostly inert, had turned into a claw. This was despite years of therapy at least twice a week that included painful baths and massages alternated with hot and cold water. Without much hope, since her hand seemed beyond help, I put the band on her wrist and thought some more about it. Wasn’t I surprised when he called me the next day and told me that her hand was “almost completely loose.” She went from being so fragile you thought you’d break her fingers just by touching them, to just like anyone else’s hand in less than a day! This is not to say that he suddenly had use of his hand again. Far from it, but his fingers loosened, the pain disappeared, and he required no more painful treatment. All for a wrist brace that costs around $50 and lasts a lifetime.

To say the least, I was no longer a skeptic, and in fact, I have used many Magnopulse products myself, for chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain, knee pain from hockey, and my wife has used the product for her menstrual pain and PMS – all with great results and all thanks to a simple but remarkable technology in my mind.

Cure or Placebo?

This question can only be answered with expensive clinical trials on each and every product for each and every purpose. The 4Ulcercare test has given proven results for one company’s product, for the rest we may have to look at the plethora 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 she believed in these magnets so much that her hand got better, then so be it. If I just think my back pain goes down when I use 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 sort of negates the whole placebo question, at least for me personally), but my mother-in-law puts it on whenever she starts experiencing the aura for a migraine and removes it. If it’s a placebo effect, pretty good; one less migraine is a welcome improvement no matter the reason.

I can’t answer that question for anyone else, but this author is personally convinced of magnetic therapy. Part of the reason 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 be against the skin (unlike some companies who don’t think it matters or intentionally alternate the positive and negative poles) and has developed US patented technology. The so-called “directional plate” apparently increases the penetrating power of the magnetic field into the body.

Can you give us a blanket answer about magnetic products for all the claims they make? No, definitely not. But all complementary and alternative medicine related products vary greatly. Prescription levels of various supplements are everywhere, the sources of those same supplements vary greatly, making them more or less potent, and the evidence to support specific benefits is sometimes outweighed by the possible other effects or side effects.

Personal Investigation

The best thing to do when evaluating alternative medicine claims in general, and magnetic therapy in particular, is to research all possible benefits and side effects and make a short-term or financial commitment to see what works for you individually. In the end, magnetic therapy can save you from all kinds of misery or it can leave you wondering what all the fuss is about, but if you only bought a $50 item, it won’t be too far out of pocket. If the first one works, well, who knows, you might be one of the lucky ones who will be able to avoid every pain pill for the rest of your life!

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

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