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Magnet Therapy What Is It?
Magnet therapy involves the use of a magnetised device placed on or near the body to either facilitate healing or relieve pain.
The magnetic products available today come in many types. They can be attached to the skin, worn as jewellery, placed in your shoes, or slept on. Arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, insomnia and headaches are among the list of ailments for which many people claim can benefit from magnet therapy. Although no one is sure how magnets work, supporters claim that they can have a profound effect on the body, particularly in the area of pain relief.
The use of magnets for medical purposes is not new; the ancient Greeks believed that natural magnetic rocks had therapeutic powers. In the sixteenth century a Swiss-born alchemist and physician, Philippus von Hohenheim, purportedly used magnets to draw illness from the body. Over the past decade, magnet therapy has become increasingly popular, especially among professional athletes who use it for aches and pains. Nearly 80 touring golf pros now use some form of magnet therapy for help in relieving muscle soreness, back pain, arthritis, and other ailments. Even so, magnet therapy remains controversial. Scientists have only recently begun the scientific research needed to persuade most mainstream doctors to add magnets to their medicinal arsenals, although the British National Health Service (NHS) has recently (March 2006) recommended doctors to prescribe magnetic knee wraps in preference to drugs.
The theory behind magnet therapy is that the fields produced by magnets can affect the functioning of individual cells in the body and improve the working of the nervous system and various organs. Exactly how the magnetic fields do this is unknown, but there are several theories. Some say that the electrical current created by magnets interrupts the transmission of pain signals in the nerves. Others claim magnets increase blood flow to an area, boosting the flow of oxygen and other nutrients, thereby reducing pain and swelling.
It is believed that magnets must be placed precisely to have an effect (they work best when placed over a body area that has some degree of intact circulation). Therefore it is best to do magnet therapy under the guidance of a therapist or doctor who is experienced in its use. However, many people choose to use magnets on their own.
If you are trying magnets for arthritis or other types of pain, you may be advised to purchase small magnetic devices that can be secured to the body with elastic bandages, or Velcro.
Depending on how much pain you are experiencing, you might be advised to keep the magnets in place for as little as five minutes or to wear them for a number of hours every day for several weeks. If you are trying magnets to help with insomnia, your doctor may advise using a magnetic pillow or mattress pad.
Magnet therapy is most often used for pain, usually of the muscles, joints and back. Magnets have also been used to relieve post-surgery pain. Some suggest that magnets can reduce stress, as well as relieve insomnia and treat migraine. Others even claim that magnet therapy can fight infection and improve central nervous system disorders, such as seizures. While research has shown that magnet therapy can indeed relieve pain, there is little solid evidence proclaiming its use for other ailments.
One study, published in the American Journal of Pain Management in 1999, showed that magnetic foot insoles were effective in reducing foot pain in those with diabetes.
Magnet therapy may be practiced by a therapist or doctor, or it may be self-administered. It is best to work with an experienced practitioner who is knowledgeable about the therapeutic use of magnets.
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