magnetic therapy

A number of years ago, some one close to me  started wearing a copper bracelet in the hope that it would alleviate rheumatic pains to his wrist.  I was skeptical at the time, and believed that any apparent amelioration of his condition would be psychosomatic and due to the placebo effect.  However, as there are no real medical remedies besides pain killers and I didn’t want to deprive him of the psychological benefit of his belief, I said nothing at the time – or since.

Now a cousin of mine is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.  However the pains are chronic and all over and he is not one for New Age medicine.  I wouldn’t dream of suggesting copper bracelets to him, not only because if my own skepticism, but also because of his.

However there is also another kind of alternative treatment for such chronic conditions and that is so-called “magnetic therapy.”  This is a sector that has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years in much the same way as yoga did from the late sixties to the early seventies.  It seems that every age must have its New Age fad and today is no exception.  That is not to say that people are turning their backs on technology today, any more than they were turning their backs on technology in the era that gave us the moon landing.  It is just that there will always be some people looking for an alternative.

So what then is magnetic therapy.  The basis for it is that because our red blood cells contain iron (in the form of haemoglobin) and because iron responds to magnets, that wearing magnets in the form of bracelets, necklaces etc can improve our health.  Now the first and most obvious observation is that if magnets can affect our health, then how can it guaranteed that they are not damaging it?   After all, not every effect is a good effect!  In fact the question is irrelevant because  the magnets in these products are not nearly strong enough to have any affect whatsoever on the blood.   Even the magnets in powerful Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging Machines do not affect the blood   (How they work is beyond the scope of this article.)

Having said that, there is some evidence that powerful electromagnets can be used in the treatment of certain psychological or psychiatric conditions – at least those that have neurological causes.  However even this evidence is tenuous and limited.  The jury is still out on these matters, although they are areas that scientists have deemed worthy of further research.  But little magnets in bracelets and necklaces?  They won’t make you healthy… or ill.

That said, some of them look nice – and they’re a damn sight cheaper than silver, gold and platinum!