Healing with Magnets
Do magnets have health benefits? Can sleeping on a magnetic underlay, wearing a magnetic pad or drinking magnetised water improve your wellbeing? Those pushing magnetic therapy claim that the health benefits can range from simply reducing pain to the extreme, and irresponsible, claim of curing cancer. Do they really work or are they just a scam, a waste of money?
No, they don't work. It's a scam.
Magnets and their Use in Medicine
What if... Magnets attract the iron in our blood?
Magnetic healing is nothing new
Magnets don't cure, but they will heal
What is 'Magnetic Therapy'? Put simply, it is the use of magnets to treat or ease the symptoms of various diseases and conditions, including pain.
There are excellent articles on the Internet explaining and debunking magnetic therapy and we will provide links to some of these at the end of this essay. However we don't wish to just restate this information, so the main focus of this essay will be to explore some 'what if' scenarios. What if magnetic therapy really did work the way magnetic therapy proponents say it does? How would our bodies really react?
While these scenarios are no doubt obvious to those that investigate and subsequently criticise magnet therapy, those that purchase magnetic products seldom think too much about the 'science' claims. But by using some basic science and logic anyone can quickly see that magnetic therapy just couldn't work the way they say it does.
Although we'll mainly refer to 'Magnetic Therapy' in this essay, 'healing with magnets', 'biomagnetic therapy', 'bio-magnetics' and 'bioelectromagnetic therapy' are some of the other names given to this scam.
Of course some will be skeptical that magnetic therapy is a scam, stating that they can vaguely recall accounts of doctors, scientists, researchers etc using magnets to diagnose and treat medical problems. And this is perfectly true. However this apparent contradiction results from there being two types of 'magnetic therapy'.
To explain this, first we need to differentiate between two types of medicine. One is conventional medicine and the other is alternative medicine. Conventional medicine is what doctors are trained in and what we find in our hospitals. Alternative medicine is what unqualified and untrained therapists practise in their kitchen or promote on the Internet. Of course conventional medicine is more correctly called scientific medicine and alternative medicine is more correctly called unproven, superstitious or pseudoscientific medicine. If an alternative medicine is scientifically shown to be effective it quickly dumps its 'alternative' tag and simply becomes 'medicine'. Alternative therapies yearn for the respect of conventional therapies.
Magnets are definitely used in both types of medicine, conventional and alternative. However the phrase 'magnetic therapy' as used by the general public almost always refers to the 'magnetic therapy' of alternative medicine.
Problems arise when people confuse the positive and proven results of magnetic fields used in conventional medicine with the bogus claims of alternative medicine's 'magnetic therapy'.
You may reply that magnets are magnets, they all produce magnetic fields, and whether used by hospitals or alternative therapists, their curative potential is the same. However this fallacy rests on the belief that all magnets are the same. They're not. The hospitals use powerful and expensive electromagnets while the magnetic therapists are trying to do the same job with not much more than fridge magnets.
To understand why this makes a difference we need to differentiate between the two types of magnets, either of which can be used in the field of medicine, both conventional and alternative.
There are basically two types of magnets — electromagnets and permanent magnets. Both produce magnetic fields. The type of magnet that people are most familiar with is the permanent magnet. This is the sort that you played with at school to attract nails and iron filings and the type that holds notes on your fridge. Permanent magnets have been known throughout history and can be found in nature.
Electromagnets on the other hand are recent inventions and, as the name suggests, utilise electricity to create a temporary magnetic field. The magnetic field that electromagnets produce can be switched on and off. Switching the field on and off very quickly is known as a pulsed magnetic field. And not only that, but electromagnets also generate electric fields which can cause electric currents to flow in their surroundings. The magnetic field of permanent magnets is static and can not be switched off. It's on all the time. And unlike electromagnets, static permanent magnets do not produce electric fields.
So which type of magnet do conventional medicine and alternative medicine practitioners commonly use?
Basically speaking, conventional medicine uses electromagnets whereas alternative medicine practitioners use permanent magnets. Although both types of magnet obviously produce magnetic fields, the strength of these fields and their effects can be vastly different. Think of comparing a 1908 Model T vintage car to a modern Ferrari sports car. Technically they're both cars, but the difference in their performance is worlds apart. You can't drive a Model T and claim that it performs like a Ferrari. Likewise you can't use a permanent magnet and claim that it has the same effect as a pulsed electromagnet.
But if conventional medicine really does use magnetic fields, doesn't that mean that some form of magnet can cure, just as magnetic therapists say they can? Yes, to a degree. Pulsed electromagnetic fields have been found to aid healing in some bone fractures and to reduce certain types of pain for example. However they do not reduce pain in general or increase blood circulation etc as claimed by magnetic therapists. And they most certainly don't cure cancer. For a very few specific aliments the use of highly specialised magnets, usually pulsed electromagnets, can have positive health effects.
One other area of confusion often mentioned by the public and encouraged by magnetic therapists is the MRI scanner, a very powerful, very expensive, very complicated medical tool. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging which uses an extremely powerful magnetic field produced by an electromagnet, along with radio waves, computers etc, to produce 3D images of the inside of the body. However it must be remembered that MRI scanners cure no one. It is merely a diagnostic device, albeit a very impressive one. No matter how long you spend inside one, you will be just as ill when you come out as when you went in. It merely helps reveal what your illness might be. Other means must then be employed to cure you. The magnetic field from an MRI has no therapeutic effect on the body, anymore than a doctor's stethoscope has an effect on the heart. Magnetic therapists capitalise on the public's awe of the MRI and its mysterious magnetic field and allow them to believe that the MRI's diagnostic power has somehow been converted into healing power and that they can have some of this healing power in their magnetic underlay.
There's nothing wrong in claiming that hospitals may use magnetic fields to diagnose you and even treat you in rare cases, but it's utterly bogus to claim you can perform the same treatment with a silly magnetic underlay.
So why can't this limited success with magnets be carried over into the alternative medicine version of magnetic therapy? Well it could be, but unfortunately magnetic therapists refuse to use the same tools that conventional medicine uses. They replace the highly specialised, expensive, powerful, pulsed electromagnets with simple, cheap, weak, static magnets. They can't even treat the few aliments that conventional medicine can, yet they have the nerve to claim that their el' cheapo magnets actually have more curative powers than those of conventional medicine.
They try and convince you that since magnetic fields are a valid part of conventional medicine, supported by scientific research, clinical studies etc, that the use of their souped-up fridge magnets will give you the same health benefits, without the expense. They refuse to highlight the fact that they are comparing apples with oranges, that their magnets perform very differently to those used by hospitals. Remember that electromagnets produce electric fields whereas ordinary magnets do not. A lot of modern technology uses electromagnets, eg TVs, and if all electromagnets were replaced with ordinary magnets they simply wouldn't work. Magnets and electromagnets are not interchangeable.
So let's recap because this is extremely important:
Conventional medicine uses electromagnets with pulsed magnetic fields that have proven health effects.This is where people jump in with claims that there is plenty of proof that the magnets used in magnetic underlays etc produce positive health effects, such as pain reduction and increased blood flow. However these people are no different from those who claim proof of ghosts and UFOs exist. When pressed they always fail to produce this evidence. Some refer to real magnet studies while neglecting to mention that the study used pulsed magnetic fields, not the static magnets found in magnetic therapy products. Others use testimonials and anecdotes that are nothing more than uninformed opinions that are offered when no evidence exists. Others simply relate snippets of a study that a friend of a friend told them about, but which they can't, unfortunately, locate. Others simply lie and make up support for their claims.
What if magnetic therapy really did work the way magnetic therapy proponents say it does? How would our bodies really react? Would magnets heal us or harm us?
The main therapeutic claim of magnetic therapy can be summed up in claims from some New Zealand Magnetic Therapy companies:
Magne-Sleep:The key to pain reduction and healing, according to magnetic therapy advocates, is improved blood circulation. So do these companies offer an explanation of how magnets could improve blood circulation, and more importantly, do magnets actually increase blood circulation? I know every hawker of magnet products say they do, but do they really?
Many do appear to provide a 'scientific' explanation of how magnets could work at improving blood circulation, but these are nothing more than pseudoscientific ramblings. These people simply write a paragraph sprinkled with scientific terms, phrases and the odd real fact and pretend they reach a conclusion that real science does not support. They sound scientific but they are absolute nonsense. They rely on the public's superficial knowledge of science to carry out their scam.
Of those that do attempt to explain the effect on blood circulation, the two most common reasons given is that magnets attract the iron in our blood and/or that magnets affect the ions (electrically charged particles) in our bodies. Let's examine why these claims are false.
BioMag makes a typical claim that magnets attract the iron in our blood:
The extraordinary success of the scientifically-designed Genuine BioMag magnetic underlay is because it improves your circulation so efficiently. The magnetic force stimulates nerve-endings to improve blood flow to injured or swollen joints. It does this by drawing trace elements, for instance, iron, towards the magnets. The human body contains about 5 grams of iron, much of it in the form of haemoglobin which plays a vital role moving oxygen from your lungs around your body. The improvement in blood circulation eases the swelling around injured or deteriorated joints, and thus the pain.BioMag clearly states that iron in our blood in the form of haemoglobin is drawn towards the magnets. Part of this is true. Part of it is false. It is perfectly true that the haemoglobin in our blood contains iron. However it is completely false that magnets attract this iron. The iron in the haemoglobin is of a different configuration to that in an iron nail, a configuration that is not magnetic, and thus the magnets used in magnetic therapy products have no hope of attracting haemoglobin iron. The iron in your blood might as well be made of plastic for all the effect magnets have on it.
In fact, if magnets did have a noticeable effect on your blood flow, I believe they would cause more harm than good.
To explain this, let's assume for a moment that magnets work exactly as magnet therapists say they do — they attract blood. Let's assume that science is wrong, a view recently expressed to me as, "Scientists! What do they know?"
First let's remember that 'attract' means to 'pull towards' the magnets. Assume you have an injury on your stomach and you sleep on your back, on top of a magnetic underlay. Since the magnetic therapists tell us that magnets attract the blood, all your blood will be pulled towards your back, towards the magnets, and away from the site of injury. All your blood would tend to pool at the back of your body, closest to the magnets. Rather than improve the blood flow to the injury, the magnets would reduce it. Likewise the magnets would pull all the blood to the back of your brain, starving the rest of your brain. This can't be a good idea since we know that brain cells starved of oxygen enriched blood for greater than 5 minutes will result in brain damage. And yet people spend hours every night on these blood-sucking magnets.
Also note that if magnets really do attract blood, this won't do anything to improve blood circulation. Blood will simply be pulled towards the magnets, and if they are strong enough, it will stay there. The oxygen will be removed by the cells along the back of your body, but the blood will not be able to flow back to the heart and lungs to get more oxygen because it is being held there by the magnets. Every cell in your body will die. You will die.
As we discovered in the previous section, it's claimed that magnets attract the iron in the blood, but this means that it is pulled towards the magnetic underlay and not pushed sideways, not up or down the reclining body where much of the blood actually travels. However, let's assume now that magnets can, somehow, contrary to scientific evidence, actually affect the iron to increase the flow in blood vessels. Rather than pulling the iron, and therefore the blood, directly towards the magnets, let's pretend that the magnetic field pushes the iron sideways, say to the right. It doesn't attract the iron (as magnets normally do), but deflects it in a specific direction. This extra push speeds up the flow and increases circulation. Unfortunately even this idea doesn't make sense, for the following reason.
Blood is always travelling in many different directions within the body — up, down, across etc.
Arteries are taking blood from the heart to the cells and veins are doing just the opposite, taking blood from the cells back to the heart. Since blood flow is balanced and equal in both directions, how could a static magnetic field increase blood flow in two opposing directions at the same time?
For example, how could magnets increase blood flow in one direction in an artery and in the opposite direction in an adjacent and parallel vein? Any positive effect in one would be a negative effect in the other. If flow increased in the artery it would slow down in the adjacent vein. Remember that the magnets will be affecting all the iron in all your blood in exactly the same manner. Magnets can't tell the difference between arteries and veins. If magnets are 'pushing' the iron in your blood, let's say towards the right, this will be occurring in every blood vessel, even if the heart is trying to push the blood in the opposite direction. Thus an imbalance would occur, with the heart trying to pump more blood out than it was receiving, or vice versa if you lay the opposite way on your bed's magnetic underlay. And remember that all your blood has iron, thus magnets wouldn't just affect blood flow in problem areas, but the entire body. The heart is continuously trying to pump blood up to the brain and down to your legs at the same time. If magnets could somehow increase that blood flow, the increase would all be in one direction, either up or down, but not both. If the brain benefited, the legs would suffer and vice versa. The magnetic field produced by permanent magnets is static. It doesn't change. It would increase the blood flow in one direction and one direction only. Of course some magnetic underlays alternate the north and south poles of their magnets, but this would result in alternate magnets pushing equally in opposite directions. In other words their effects would cancel each other out. The net effect on blood flow would be zero. So alternating magnetic poles would effectively do nothing and thus have no health impact.
Using magnets of all the same pole however would increase the flow in one direction only, while fighting the efforts of the heart in the opposite direction.
So it's pretty obvious that if magnets pulled blood to one side of the body or increased the flow in one direction while reducing it in the other, either way this would not be a healthy situation. Your health would suffer rather than improve.
The fact is that magnets don't attract blood, which anyone can prove for themselves by simply putting a fridge magnet on their skin. Remember that people blush when blood is drawn near the skin surface, so a magnet should also make the skin red. It doesn't. We also have the fact that people don't die when they undergo an MRI scan, which should happen if all their blood is being sucked to one side of their body. Remember that the earth's magnetic field, which affects every one of us continuously, has a magnetic field strength of only around 0.5 Gauss. This is the sort of field strength that our bodies have evolved to handle. A fridge magnet can be around 35 to 200 Gauss whereas magnets commonly used in magnetic therapy are usually between 300 and 1000 Gauss. By comparison, MRI scanners can be up to 200,000 Gauss. Since magnetic therapists insist that their comparatively weak magnets are strong enough to attract blood, the extremely high magnetic field strength of the MRI should suck every drop of blood to one side of the body, effectively killing the patient. Amazing enough this doesn't happen. Our bodies just aren't magnetic. Also note that people working in extremely high magnetic fields are found to be no more healthy or unhealthy than those working in normal professions. If magnetic fields really did have a measurable effect on your body, good or bad, it should show up in these people. It doesn't.
(To read articles that support the conclusion that magnets don't attract the iron in our blood nor improve blood circulation, go to the Links section at the end of this essay.)
Another common attempt to explain why magnetic therapy works involves electrically charged particles or ions. Here is a typical claim made by those promoting magnetic therapy:
Research indicates that in general, magnetic therapy works because of the electromagnetic nature of the body. Every cell in our body consists of electrically charged particles that are either positive or negative ions. All are directly affected by exposure to external magnetic fields.Unlike a magnet's effect on metals and other magnets, magnetic fields don't attract or repel ions, but they can deflect ions under certain conditions. The ions must not only be moving, they must move on a path perpendicular to the magnetic field. While very high magnetic fields can affect the body, such as an MRI, the effect is extremely small and very sensitive instruments are required to detect this change. Also when the field is switched off, the effect disappears. To move ions the magnetic field would have to be much, much greater than that generated by the magnets used in magnetic therapy products.
But let's assume for the moment that the magnets in magnetic underlays are powerful enough to deflect ions within every cell in the body. Would this actually be a good thing to expose yourself to?
You may be aware that one of the disadvantages of cancer treatments such as radiotherapy is that the radiation can't differentiate between cancerous cells and healthy cells. It acts on both equally and therefore kills both. The same would be true of a magnetic field deflecting ions. Every single ion in your body that is moving in the appropriate direction would be deflected from the path it is presently moving on. For example, ions can move in and out of cells through gateways known as ion channels. Thus if an ion is moving towards an ion channel to exit the cell, the magnet will deflect it from it's target. The ion will not now exit through the ion channel because of this deflection and therefore the ion's cellular purpose will not be fulfilled. The cellular processes will break down. The cells will die and then the body. This is a blind action that you are performing with the magnets. The effect is not just felt on the problem area but over the entire body. The magnetic field would affect every ion, not just the 'unhealthy' ones. For example, assuming that only 1% of ions needs deflecting to correct their action, the other 99% of 'healthy' ions in your body will also be deflected and will therefore fail in their action. This is like fixing one problem and causing 99 others. The action of the magnetic field is not specific, and if it really had an effect, then the problems it caused would be astronomical compared to those it corrected.
The following left-hand diagram shows ions (red arrows) correctly leaving healthy cells through the ion channels. The right-hand diagram shows the ion in the middle 'unhealthy' cell missing the ion channel. The ion is 'trapped' in the cell.
Exposing these cells to a magnetic field in an attempt to correct the ion in the 'unhealthy' cell will deflect the 'faulty' ion so that it now lines up with the ion channel, but unfortunately the other ions are also deflected and now miss their ion channels.
As simplistic as these diagrams are, remember that this is how magnetic therapists say that their magnets affect ions. It's no good claiming that magnets might actually alter the electrical potential of the cell rather than deflect the ions because static magnets can't do this. Electromagnets can, but they are not the type of magnet used by those promoting magnetic therapy. Also, like Goldilock's and the bed that was 'just right', the strength of the magnet would have to exactly match the problem. Too weak or too strong or deflecting ions in the wrong direction and magnets would disrupt every cell, without even fixing the problem cell. Even ignoring the damage they would do to healthy cells, the magnets would have to be 'just right' for each particular problem. Yet the magnetic underlays have the same magnets for every person and every problem.
As we've said, magnetic fields will only deflect ions moving across the magnetic field. This will be a small proportion of the total number of ions in the body. The field will have no effect on the majority of ions — stationary ions or ions moving in the wrong direction. Thus while magnetic fields could deflect some ions from their current path, they won't 'correct' errant ions, pushing them back onto their 'correct' path. Magnetic fields have no idea about the 'correct' paths of ions. Every ion that the field can act on will be deflected, whether it is in a healthy cell or an unhealthy cell. So it's not that magnetic fields couldn't affect ions, they could if the field was strong enough, it's just that this field would act equally on all the ions it encountered. Any extremely small positive effect the field may have on a problem area would be completely swamped by the enormous negative effect it had on the rest of the body. By applying the same blanket 'fix' to the whole body you will have made your health considerably worse than it was. For every 'unhealthy' cell that you brought back into synch, you would push trillions out of synch. The cure would be considerably worse than the disease.
If magnets blindly deflected random ions in your body as you slept on your magnetic underlay, trillions upon trillions of cellular processes would be disrupted and your health would get progressively worse. Rather than heal, your magnetic underlay would kill.
You may not have heard of the Universal Spiral Theory, but it is evidently the mechanism by which magnets cure cancer. Not content with simple pain reduction, these shameless charlatans claim they have a 100% success rate on curing cancer, and not just one or two types of cancer, but all types. And no lying on a bed of magnets is required, just one 'supermagnet', and even though it's a 'supermagnet', it's seemingly still small enough to be comfortably worn around the neck.
CURING CANCER WITH MAGNETS" (all successfully)You'll notice that these turkeys don't provide any evidence to back up their claims that they can cure cancer, that magnetism or cancer cells really are 'spirals' or that the 'universal spiral theory' is any different from the likes of the 'invisible magic fairy theory'. They also make mistakes, eg only some galaxies are spiral, the rest are not, and DNA doesn't exist in every cell. Red blood cells, the favourite cell of magnetic therapy proponents, have no DNA.
But this aside, let's see what would happen to your body if their 'super magnetism' really did work according to their 'universal spiral theory'. Remember, this is how they said 'super magnetism' works:
"We propose that magnetism and cancer cells are spirals on different scales. When super magnetism is applied to cancer tumors, the magnetic spirals, being larger, are dominating, and at the end, kill the smaller cancer cell spirals."So the simple logic is that large spirals dominate and kill smaller spirals. If this were the case, the magnetic spirals would also go on to destroy your entire DNA, which remember is also 'spiral' and much smaller still than cancer cells. And without DNA you die. Their 'supermagnets' would kill every living thing they came in contact with.
It's interesting to note that even without 'magnetic spirals', the 'cancer cell spirals' should have destroyed all the smaller DNA 'spirals' in their own cells, and effectively committed suicide. Unfortunately we know that cancer doesn't destroy itself, with or without magnets, and wearing one of their 'supermagnets' is as effective as wearing a jelly donut around your neck. Remember also that we live in a spiral galaxy called the 'Milky Way'. This enormous spiral would, according to their silly theory, dominate and kill all spirals within it, thus eliminating all life in the Galaxy. The fact that we're still here pretty much says it all. Their theory is a devious attempt to take your money, and worst of all, it may even prevent some cancer sufferers from accessing real cancer treatment. These people are the evil scum of magnetic therapy.
Thus concludes our look at some 'what if… ' scenarios. They clearly demonstrate that if magnetic therapy worked the way promoters say it does, you'd be dead.
This is another scam that is becoming popular among magnetic therapy promoters. Here's some typical claims:
"Drinking magnetised water is another good habit to get into."Here's more claims from two Internet Magnetic Therapy sites that offer the same 'evidence' that magnetised water has health benefits:
Magnetized WaterAs far as I'm aware there's no evidence that the earth's magnetic field is any higher at these sites than elsewhere. For many gullible Christians however, Lourdes in France is promoted as a site of healing. Although no 'healing' has ever been shown to have occurred there, magnetic therapists deviously subvert the religious nature of this 'healing' site and instead attribute it to magnetic energy. I suspect the Pope would disagree with this view, preferring to believe that any healing comes from God rather than some impersonal magnetic field.
As for Sedona in Arizona, it's also a site of claimed healing. New Age morons flock there to perform silly rituals at numerous imaginary energy vortexes. Again, like Lourdes, no 'healing' has ever been shown to have occurred there, yet both of the above internet sites (and numerous others) claim that the Hopi Indians receive cancer protection due to drinking the 'magnetised water' found there. Note that they say, "The proclaimed healing powers of various… places" and "It is believed the water contains less bacteria…" No evidence is provided, only that it is "proclaimed" and "it is believed". Even if this was true, most Hopi Indians don't live in Sedona, and even if they did, they are only a small part of the population. If the "high magnetic field" and its effect on the water in Sedona really reduced cancer, everyone there should experience that reduction, not just the Indians. If it's just the Hopi Indians as these claims insist, then it's something particular to the Hopi, genetic or diet for example, but definitely not the magnetic field.
If Sedona's magnetic fields were really protecting the Hopi Indians, why do they need a 'Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund'?
Of course there is one basic scientific fact that can be used to discredit any claim of therapeutic benefit from magnetised water, and it is this:
Water can NOT be magnetised!Magnetised water proponents want you to believe that you can magnetise water in the same way that you can magnetise an iron nail. Expose a nail to magnets, remove the magnets and the nail remains magnetised. Here's one Internet site's description of how to obtain magnetised water:
One way to naturally magnetize water is to run it through 30 feet of sand where it will emerge negatively poled because of the effect of minute quartz sand crystals.However water doesn't behave this way. It can't be permanently magnetised like nails. While it's true that very powerful magnets can have an effect on water molecules, this effect is very, very small and only temporary. To give your glass of water a magnetic field strength of 1 Gauss, you would need to expose it to magnets with a field strength of 100,000 Gauss. But even this would be a waste of time, because as soon as you remove the external magnets, the extremely tiny magnetic field in the water immediately disappears. Even if you built some apparatus to weakly magnetise water, as soon as you remove it to drink it, the water reverts to normal. You'd have to drink the magnets as well, and since they'd be 100,000 times more magnetic than the water, why bother with the water at all?
Also I fail to see why running water through sand would have a magnetic effect on it, but even if it did, a "negatively poled" (north pole) magnetic substance is impossible. Magnetic poles always exist together, north and south. A glass of magnetised water is impossible, a 'negatively poled' one doubly so.
If you're still not convinced that magnetised water is a scam, fill up a glass with said water and see if you can get metal objects to stick to it. After all, this is what magnets do.
All of the magnet therapy proponents love to tell their potential clients that mankind has been using magnets to heal throughout history:
"That magnetic healing is nothing new can be seen by looking at early records of scientifically advanced civilisations… Ancient Greece… the Egyptians… Cleopatra frequently adorned herself with magnetic jewellery to preserve youthfulness… Chinese manuscripts dating back thousands of years"According to Miguel A. Sabadell, astrophysicist and associate professor at the University of Zaragoza, "Neither Egyptians nor Chinese knew [of] this therapeutic use of magnets. Egyptians probably didn't even know the existence of magnets".
Also, only someone ignorant of history and science, or a con man, would describe these civilisations as "scientifically advanced". This blunder aside, the aim of this argument is to convince us that ancient man learnt long ago what we are just now rediscovering. The one group from history that is everyone's favourite is the Chinese, and the following magnetic healing argument is typical:
One question we love to ask is "How can something used in Asia, China in particular for over 2000 years, not have some basis in fact?"This is a really stupid argument, but you see it used over and over again in scams. The fact that ancient man used something or believed something has no bearing on whether that use was justified or that belief was correct.
For example, let's say that I state that the world is flat, and then I try and support this claim with the identical argument as used above by the magnetic therapists:
"How can something that has been believed over the whole world for tens of thousands of years not have some basis in fact?"Remember that for nearly all of history man has believed that the world was flat, yet we now know this is wrong and therefore thousands of years of belief was wrong. Thus this type of argument is flawed and can be ignored.
Claims must be evaluated on whether they work and whether they conform to known facts, not whether some ignorant peasant thought they made sense millennia ago. Imagine if you went to your doctor with a severe headache and he wanted to drill holes in your head to release evil vapours or perform an exorcism. These treatments may have been used for thousands of years, but only idiots would now claim they must have some basis in fact and therefore submit to this treatment.
Magnetic therapy proponents expect us to believe that as ignorant as ancient man was about the rest of science, medicine and human physiology, when it came to magnets and healing, they insist that ancient man got it absolutely spot on.
Another way of looking at this is that if magnetic therapy has really been around for thousands of years, and it really worked, then magnetic therapy would underpin our hospitals and our health regime. But it doesn't. We would be using magnets for pain management. But we don't. Also there would be an enormous amount of accumulated evidence in its favour. But there isn't. None at all in fact. Actually what evidence there is actually rejects magnetic therapy rather than supporting it.
The BioMag website tells us that:
"Magnetic therapy is not a cure"On page two of Magne-Sleep's product catalogue it clearly states:
"Magnets don't cure."This is a typical disclaimer, found in various guises in most promotional material for magnetic therapy products. Here are some more from other magnet distributors:
While there are many testimonials to relief from illness and pain, to date there is no solid, scientific evidence that the use of magnets results in any physical benefits. The FDA has yet to approve magnetic therapy as a healing method or practice.What? Magnets don't cure? Then what's the point of using them? Now, now, don't panic. Magne-Sleep and others can't be up front and say that magnets "cure" because then people could take them to court for false advertising. It's just a legal thing to stop them having to give everyone their money back.
But don't worry, now that they've got the legal disclaimer out of the way, they will reinforce the view that magnets really will fix what ails you. They just won't use the word "cure".
For example in Magne-Sleep's promotional material they make the following claim three times:
"Hundreds of cases of diseases have been reversed by the application of magnetic fields."This means that the disease has been cured. The reversal of a disease is a cure. No ifs, no buts. If you're healthy and then develop some disease, you're ill. But if you then reverse that trend you will end up being healthy again. That's the whole purpose of medicine — to cure you of a disease. Magne-Sleep clearly claims that it can reverse your illness:
Imagine your aches and pains gone, your illnesses and injuries being eased away quickly and painlessly. magnetic therapy can change your life, ease your aches, pains, illnesses and injuriesSo Magne-Sleep needs to imply "cure" without actually saying "cure". What other words also mean "cure"? My dictionary offers the following:
Synonyms: cure, heal, remedy.Thus to "cure" means to "heal", and a "therapy" is a "healing" power. So rather than using "cure", perhaps Magne-Sleep has mischievously substituted the words "healing, therapy and therapeutic" for "cure"? Is this the case?
The title of the booklet Magne-Sleep supplies to support their claims is called:
"Healing With Magnets - The Power of Magnetic Therapy"Sprinkled throughout their promotional material are claims such as:
"natural healing ability of magnetic therapy"The phrase "magnetic therapy" or "therapeutic magnets" is used on every page of their brochure, except the cover. The cover uses "Magnetic Pain Relief" and "making it better with magnets". On the back page, entitled "Can MAGNETS do it for you?", the phrase "magnetic therapy" is used five times.
Thus prospective clients are left with no doubt that magnets are healing and therapeutic. They categorically say that magnets won't cure, then, page after page, they set about instilling the view that magnets will heal. But remember that heal is just another word for cure. This is a typical ploy of scams. They promise you everything at the same time as promising you nothing — magnets will heal (ie cure) but they won't cure (ie heal).
So after you've spent all that money on their silly magnet products and discover that they didn't do one bit of good, remember that they did warn you — "Magnets don't cure."
Perhaps you're still thinking of purchasing a magnetic underlay or a device to magnetise your drinking water? You've read some of their promotional material and it all sounds quite impressive. Why, even NASA astronauts use magnetic therapy.
In this section we'll have a look at the credibility of some of the magnetic therapy proponents. We will use their own statements, those that they use to sell their products. Are their claims factual or are they pure fantasy? If fantasy, do they demonstrate a simple ignorance of science or are they outright lies designed to deceive?
The following examples are sourced from numerous magnetic therapy proponents and all clearly demonstrate that their claims about magnets and their effects are nonsense and demonstrate an ignorance of science. It's obvious that most magnetic therapy companies simply copy and edit 'magnetic therapy information' from other companies' brochures and websites, possibly assuming that they are factual, and so are unwittingly perpetuating the myths. However the morons that wrote the original claims have simply written a blurb sprinkled with scientific terms hoping that most people won't realise it is absolute nonsense. By using scientific terms they hope to convince the scientifically illiterate that there are rational reasons to believe in the healing powers of magnetism. They hope that while the reader may not understand these reasons, they'll nevertheless be confident that the scientists do. The reader often doesn't realise that they're being fed meaningless nonsense. The authors however often claim scientific qualifications and research experience, so they most definitely would know that their explanations are bogus, and should at least offer explanations that were scientifically plausible. The fact that they don't would suggest that they are incapable of doing so, which would further suggest that their qualifications are bogus as well.
Of course you may reply that we only show that their simple scientific claims are bogus. What about examining their more complex claims, you know, like whether magnetic fields affect a cell's depolarisation potential? It's pretty obvious that if the authors of these magnetic promotions don't understand basic science, like the difference between gravity and magnetism, then they give us no reason to believe their complex science claims are anything other than nonsense as well.
Would you trust a salesman who claimed his product had been reverse-engineered from a crashed UFO, assembled by elves at the North Pole and then sent to his shop using a transporter beam similar to that used by Captain Kirk in 'Star Trek'? Any intelligent, educated person would state that since they doubt the existence of UFOs, elves and transporter beams, they therefore couldn't really trust anything the salesman says. Only an idiot would continue to trust someone who, in trying to convince you of something, spins fantasy after fantasy and insists they are all true.
Regardless of whether the salesman knows he is telling lies or actually believes these fantasies (either through ignorance or poor research), the important fact to remember is that they are false. The following fantasies fed to us by magnetic therapy proponents should be enough to signal a scam in progress.
NASA astronauts have magnets fitted into their spacesuits
Everyone is impressed by astronauts aren't they? Impressed by the huge amount of knowledge and expertise that is required to get them into space and back again safely. So if NASA was seen to support magnetic therapy then this must be a huge recommendation towards their efficacy… right? I mean these guys are rocket scientists, they wouldn't use magnets if they didn't work would they?
The Magne-Sleep company show us this photo of an astronaut and tell us the following:
"Exposure to the earth's magnetic field plays an essential role in our health, a fact clearly demonstrated when the first astronauts returned to earth sick. Their illness was soon attributed to a lack of magnetism in outer space and the problem was subsequently resolved when NASA placed magnets in their space suits and spaceships."This is something the magnet therapy proponents call "Magnetic Field Deficiency Syndrome". If you search the Internet for sites that make this claim, they are numerous. Yet without exception they are all sites that are promoting the healing power of magnets, pushing alternative healing, spouting New Age nonsense and similar bogus sites. There are NO scientific sites that support this claim, and most noticeable, there are NO NASA sites or documents that support this silly claim. The only two scientific oriented sites I found that mentioned it both stated that it was absolute nonsense. It is a myth, a bold lie constructed to appear to give scientific support to their magnetic healing fantasy.
Furthermore, NASA would not want to generate magnetic fields that could interfere with onboard electronics, navigation, instruments etc. Also depending on which type was used, two problems would arise — permanent magnets would severely increase the weight of spacecraft and spacesuits, and electromagnets would be a huge drain on power resources. Also astronauts actually spend little time in their spacesuits — only during launch, re-entry and spacewalks.
Most bogus sites, including Magne-Sleep, don't mention what health problems the astronauts actually experienced, but those that do usually cite the loss of bone density. For example, this is a typical claim from one site promoting magnetic therapy:
When the first cosmonauts and astronauts were going into space, physicians noted that they experienced bone calcium loss and muscle cramps when they were out of the Earth's magnetic field for any extended period of time. After this discovery was made, artificial magnetic fields were placed in the space capsules.This is partially correct, astronauts can experience a problem with the loss of bone density, but it is due to the lack of gravity (ie weightlessness), not the lack of magnetism. Even an idiot should realise this, but it doesn't stop the magnetic therapy proponents from attaching a real problem to their fantasy. Again, they just hope their clients are ignorant of anything regarding real science.
I repeat. NASA does NOT use magnetic therapy. This is a lie spread by Magne-Sleep and numerous others promoting magnetic therapy. They must resort to lies simply because there are no real examples that they can use.
Ok. So let's continue with a selection of silly statements from magnetic therapy proponents. Their claims are in purple. Our comments follow in black.
"We know that magnetism itself was an ingredient in the primordial soup from which the universe and our planet came forth." (Magne-Sleep) (This is a perfect example of a scientific sounding sentence which appears valid but which is actually utter rubbish. For one, the universe did not arise from a "primordial soup". They are obviously confusing the origin of the universe with the origin of life on earth, which often refers to life evolving from a "primordial soup". The term they should have used was "Big Bang". Regardless of what you call this beginning, magnetism was not "an ingredient in the primordial soup from which the universe… came forth." Scientists believe that there was only one unified force when "the universe… came forth." It was only later that this force split into gravitation, the strong and weak nuclear forces and electromagnetism. And finally, our planet did not come forth from "the primordial soup [or Big Bang] from which the universe… came forth." The universe had been around for some 10 billion years before the earth was formed. The author of this sentence demonstrates their complete ignorance of science.)
"Magnetism is the force that keeps order in the galaxy, allowing stars and planets to spin at significant velocities." (Magne-Sleep) (This is utter crap. Any kid can tell you that "the force that keeps order in the galaxy" is gravity, not magnetism. Magnetism is not the reason stars and planets spin. Their ignorance of science astounds me.)
As children in school we learned that magnetism is an energy force on earth. Each atom has a nucleus around which spins positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons... (Note that this sentence and its 'proton' error is identical to the previous article. I wonder which was the original? These idiots simply copy each other's lies and shuffle them around. Obviously he didn't learn as much at school as he thought he had. From another site we get another 'expert' that doesn't know that you don't get orbiting protons: Dr. Bonlie claimed that this… increase in energy is expressed by an increase in the velocity of some of the orbiting electrons and protons. (They try to impress us by calling themselves 'Dr. Bonlie', but they merely demonstrate their ignorance.)
Biomagnetics (IndianGyan - The source for Alternative medicines and Holistic health)
The following two statements are quotes from two different magnetic therapy websites:
How does the Earth's Magnetic Field Affect Us?
Although magnetic lines of force are invisible, they exert a very powerful force on objects within their field… a permanent… magnet, for example, creates… lines of force, then these lines of force act on the human body, they induce a weak current in the same manner as they do on a metal wire. This electric current has a profound effect on the circulatory system, the muscles and the nervous system of the human body. (Rubbish. Permanent magnets do not induce electric currents. If the magnetic field is static, electromagnetic induction does not occur.)
Magnetic Therapy Principle by Ray Padfield-Krala
How Magnetic Therapy Works - A Natural Pain Reliever
What is Magnetic Therapy? … How They Work.
How does Magnet therapy work?
MAN AND MAGNETIC THERAPY
Magnetic Therapy for Pain Relief
How does magnetic therapy work?
Extract from a "Double Blind Study" by St Paul's College of Veterinary Medicine USA 1995.
electromagnetism is equivalent in definition to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concept of 'Qi', or the East Indian Ayurvedic definition of 'Prana'. These concepts are what many in the West, regard as the 'life force'. (Utter rubbish. Electromagnetism is no more equivalent to 'Qi' or 'Prana' than it's equivalent to unicorns or leprechauns. Only scientifically illiterate morons surrounded by superstition believe in this mystical "life force".)
"Chinese manuscripts dating back thousands of years describe the Eastern belief that the life force, termed "qi", is generated by the earth's magnetic force." (It's easy and meaningless to claim that imaginary things are generated by the earth's magnetic field. For example, "The power behind voodoo curses is generated by the earth's magnetic field". Without evidence to support them, these statements are worthless.)
magnetic therapy [is] very accessible to those who have an energetic approach to treatment and it would include Traditional hebalism, TCM, Ayurveda and some Western 'holistically' oriented mind-body therapies. (In other words, those who have already been sucked into other worthless treatments, especially those involving ancient superstitions, readily accept magnetic therapy.)
Magnets… stimulate the acupuncture points and meridians. (Yet another silly explanation as to how it 'works'. I wonder if anyone has attributed magnetic therapy to channelling the 'force' from "Star Wars"?)
About nine thousand years ago in ancient Persia, the prophet Zarathushtra revealed to the world the dynamic laws of Nature, of Creation… Today's quantum physics teaches us what the ancient seers revealed to the world centuries ago… The electro-magnetic (EM) waves constitutes an integral part of all God's creation. (Neither Zarathushtra nor Persia existed 9,000 years ago (7,000 BC). Zarathushtra (or Zoroaster) lived in the 6th Century BC, when Persia also came into existence. That's around 2,550 years ago, not 9,000. Where do these idiots get their 'facts'? Also this idiot sees no contradiction in believing in both God and in the revelations of the prophet Zarathushtra. This is as silly as saying the Hindu prophets described how the Christian God created the world. You can't believe in both.)
Ok that's enough. We could go on and on documenting their mistakes. It's obvious that their magnetic therapy promotions are pure fantasy, but is it due to simple ignorance of science or are they outright lies designed to deceive? I suspect both. Many small players, desperate to earn a buck and poorly educated, will be ignorant of the bogus nature of their claims, but any intelligent person with a reasonable education will be fully aware that they are telling lies to promote their product.
The following is typical of proponents of magnetic therapy:
The positive effects of magnetic treatment have been confirmed by clinical tests and are recognized by modern medical science around the world.Do you believe these claims, and if you do, why? What clinical tests support magnetic therapy and since when has modern medical science proscribed a treatment of magnets? Since they provide no real evidence whatsoever that their claims are in fact true, this statement is worthless, just as worthless as the following claims that I might make:
'The positive effects of treatment using Eskimo magic has been confirmed by clinical tests and is recognized by modern medical science around the world'.Or how about this one:
'Many scientists believe the Moon is made out of green cheese, and suppressed government files support this belief'.These examples clearly demonstrate that saying something is true does not make it so. Magnetic therapy proponents can make bogus claim after bogus claim on their websites and in their promotional brochures, but this doesn't mean there is any truth to them. They can claim that science and research supports their claims, just like I can claim Eskimo magic works and that the moon is made of green cheese, but you shouldn't believe either of us until we provide supporting evidence.
And remember, before you label us hypocrites, that the burden of proof is on those that claim something new or controversial. It's up to magnetic therapists to prove their case, not others to disprove it. And if they had proven it, then magnets would be in every hospital and in every doctor's bag. They're not. Magnetic therapists may claim that their case is proven, that numerous studies support them, but no one else is convinced.
As with anything, sensible purchasers should always evaluate the claims of the product promoter. There are questions we must ask if we aren't going to get ripped off.
Why should we believe what they say? Why should we trust their claims? Some good reasons to support a product would be:
The most important reason that we should reject their claims is the last point in the list:
While there is no good evidence supporting magnetic therapy, there is good evidence and good reasons that demonstrate it doesn't work. There is good evidence that magnetic therapy as promoted by alternative medicine is a scam.Of course supporters of magnetic therapy will claim there is a mountain of good evidence supporting their claims. But then supporters of healing with crystals, Reiki, pyramid power, faith healing, rebirthing, prayer, age regression, past life regression, dream interpretation and psychic healing etc all maintain there is good evidence supporting their claims as well. Yet their products and services are only found in alternative therapy and New Age magazines, at healing and psychic fairs and spiritual retreats. These beliefs remain on the lunatic fringe for good reason. When mainstream, conventional medicine starts to offer these treatments we can begin to take them seriously. Until then they have no more credibility than the Tooth Fairy.
Authors: John L. Ateo, Jason C.
There are some excellent articles on the Internet explaining and debunking magnetic therapy. The following articles will provide you with some of the information needed to start looking critically at the claims of those promoting magnetic therapy products.
Magnets: Can they help or hinder your health?
Magnet Therapy: A Skeptical View
Magnetic Therapy: Plausible Attraction?
Does MRI attract the iron in your blood?
Magnet study contradicts "increased circulation" claim
Magnet Therapy - A Billion-dollar Boondoggle
Magnet therapy? Puh-leeze
Biomagnetic Pseudoscience and Nonsense Claims
Magnets Unplugged - Is the force field for real?
Magnetize Your Beverages?
Magnet therapy - Extraordinary claims, but no proved benefits
Magnetic Water and Fuel Treatment: Myth, Magic, or Mainstream Science?
Florsheim's MagneForce Shoes - Should We Worry about "Magnetic Deficiency"?
Magnet Therapy: What's The Attraction?
Last Updated Jun 2007