Naturally Rockford: Opposites attract, possibly heal

Most people who religiously wear magnetic jewelry, or sleep on magnetic mattresses, are seen as just a bit odd. But they may be correct in their freethinking ways. Maybe.

Research at the University of Virginia has shown using static (unchanging magnetic field, i.e.: basic magnets) magnets on laboratory rats has both dilated and constricted blood vessel size. This increase/decrease in size allows for blood flow to be somewhat controlled, which permits more nutrients and oxygen to be directed to an injured site, encouraging healing. The static magnets used had strength of 700 Gauss; the earth’s magnetic field is around 1 Gauss. Health-promoting products containing magnets usually range from 200 to 10,000 Gauss.

The effects of static magnets on humans are unsure. Magnets do have an effect on the constriction and dilation of blood vessels in rats. After further studies, magnets may be useful in treating edema, swelling from excessive accumulation of serous fluid in tissue, or ischemia, a decrease in the blood supply to a body part caused by constriction or obstruction of said vessels in humans. But no adequate studies have shown benefits in humans, and required Gauss needed for humans is unknown.

Electromagnets generate magnetic fields only when electrical current flows through them (i.e.: magnets used in computers, brakes, etc.). They have been known to decrease swelling and speed up healing of the bones, mainly in fractures, and are used in medical establishments as such. It is hypothesized the electromagnets speed up electrical signals between cells, promoting this healing, but this is not proven. Electromagnets have also been claimed to promote open wound healing, but again, this is unproven.

People with internal medical equipment, such as pacemakers, defibrillators, or insulin pumps, are warned to stay away from magnets, which can negatively interact with the machine’s functioning. People who use a patch that delivers medication through the skin should also be careful in case magnets cause dilation of blood vessels, which could affect the delivery of the medicine. Pregnant women are also cautioned, as the role of magnets on fetuses is unknown.

Magnets may be able to control blood flow. They may ease pain. Some documentation says claims toward better health through magnetism are only “mind over matter.” No one knows for sure. More research is needed. Either way, talk to your doctor before changing any health regime.


From the July 27-Aug. 2, 2005

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