Magnetic Field Therapy
How can magnetic field therapy nourish you?
The human body naturally produces a low-intensity magnetic field, and it has been speculated that magnetic healing therapy may interact with this field to relieve pain and support overall health. This non-invasive form of alternative medicine involves bringing permanent magnets in contact with or close to the skin, or using powered electromagnets to create magnetic pulses. Another variety of this modality involves placing static magnets on acupuncture points.
Documents dating back at least 2,000 years indicate that natural magnets (or lodestones) were used by Chinese physicians to treat their patients. The discovery of lodestones by other ancient cultures including the Greeks and Egyptians also inspired people to explore their possible healing properties. In the 16th century, the Swiss alchemist and physician Paracelsus, best-known for his discoveries concerning the connection between chemistry and medicine, experimented with magnets for therapeutic purposes.
Benefits of magnetic field therapy
Static magnetic therapy involves using permanent magnets placed on your body or integrated into jewellery or insoles, and is most commonly intended for pain relief. Whether or not static magnets offer greater benefits than sham treatment is a controversial subject, although the results of one study suggest it may be effective for long-term pain relief in people with diabetic neuropathy.
It has also been reported that static magnetic fields may have statistically significant benefits for arthritis pain relief, and research suggests medical-grade electromagnetic devices may provide lower back pain relief for people suffering from degenerative disc disease.
Trials of electromagnetic treatments such as pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy suggest that these artificially induced fields may reduce inflammation and help bone fractures to heal. PEMF may be beneficial for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, such as reducing neck pain and supporting the healing of shoulder injuries, and there is evidence to suggest it may improve quality of sleep for people suffering from insomnia.
A recently developed treatment for depression which involves stimulating specific regions of the brain using a rapidly pulsed magnetic field is called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). Clinical trials suggest rTMS may be as effective as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT or electroshock treatment) in alleviating the symptoms of major depression.
Magnetic field therapy may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
What to expect from a magnetic field therapy session
Using permanent magnets for pain relief is usually a self-administered treatment, although some therapists place magnets on acupuncture points instead of needles.
If you are undergoing rTMS therapy for depression, your therapist will start by explaining the treatment to you, providing support and answering any questions. You will be asked to remove any items that might be affected by magnetic fields, such as jewellery, and given hearing protection.
The treatment takes place while you are fully conscious and seated in a comfortable chair, and your therapist will position an electromagnetic coil over a precise area of your head. Most people report that the treatment produces a tapping sensation, and it typically lasts about 20-45 minutes. Your ability to drive will not be affected, but some people feel more comfortable about someone else taking them home after treatment.
Magnetic field therapy is not suitable for people with implanted medical devices such as a pacemaker or insulin pump, as even weak magnetic fields may interfere with their function. It is often advised that you do not undergo magnetic field therapy if you are pregnant, or might be. Research suggests that TMS for depression is unlikely to pose a risk during pregnancy, but further trials are recommended.
As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing magnetic field therapy. If you have an injury or other health issue, or any concerns at all, also speak to your magnetic field therapist, who will be happy to address these and advise you on how suitable this treatment might be for you.
- Magnetic fields produced by steady currents in the body
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