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7 Articles in Volume 1, Issue #5
Accidentally Speaking
Breaking Down the Barriers of Pain: Part 5
Cancer Pain: Successful Management of Patients’ Fears
Emergency Medicine: Emergency Department Protocols
Magnets & Medicine
The Neural Plasticity Model of Fibromyalgia Theory, Assessment, and Treatment: Part 3
Thinking About Pain

Magnets & Medicine

A non-invasive approach to treating pain conditions, magnetic therapy offers an alternative to traditional medicine.
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The increasing use of complementary and alternative medicine treatments has brought forth a growing interest in magnetic therapies. This non-invasive approach is gaining acceptance from the established medical community, with research being conducted at many major medical centers around the world. Recent advances in the therapeutic application of pulsed and static magnetic field therapy has led to the use of this modality in clinical treatment of chronic pain patients.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine is interested in research in the area of Frontier Medicine. Frontier Medicine is defined as those complementary and alternative procedures for which there is no plausible biomedical explanation. Research is being conducted in many major medical institutions across the country and NIH is interested in funding this exploratory research. The Public Health Service and Health, Education and Welfare through “Healthy People 2010” is committed to health promotion and disease prevention as a national priority.

Research Studies

Recent investigations in the United States have identified improved nerve function, regeneration in nerve function, and alleviation of pain states otherwise untreatable.1 In addition, studies by Valbona and Associates at Baylor2 and by Weintraub3 have been reported in the current mainstream literature as to the efficacy in alleviation of static magnetic applications for a variety of pain states.4 Studies by A.R. Davis5 have shown that two different polarities north (negative) and south (positive) have different effects on biological systems. Davis demonstrated that negative magnetic fields have a beneficial effect on living organisms and positive magnetic fields have a negative effect on living organisms. In the U.S. numerous athletes, including most of the senior golf tour members, wear magnets.

General Mechanisms of Action of Magnets

The human body is composed of cells with each having a polarity or an electric charge. The forces that govern the body are electrochemical and the cell membranes transporting the elements into and out of the cells are controlled by the activity of the cell membranes. These membranes have charges that affect the permeability and their ability to attract and repel other cells.


Negative Field (North Pole)
Assists in acid base balance
Enhances tissue Oxygenation
Removes edema from tissues
Assists with withdrawal symptoms
Inhibits growth of microorganisms
Creates “order” in biological tissue
Promotes release of trophic hormones,
melatonin and growth hormone
Cancels free radicals

Positive Field (South Pole)
Creates acidity
Creates oxygen deficiency
Producess edema
May be pro-addicting through endorphin release
Promotes growth of microorganisms
Creates “disorder” in biologic tissue
Promotes catabolis hormone release (hormones that
break down tissues)
Produces free radicals

Adapted from Alternative Medicine, “Magnetic Therapy,” Further Medical Publishing, Fife, Washington 1994

Positive and negative ions are separated and result in polarization in cell membranes. This leads to a modified ion milieu and may stimulate the metabolism of the cell. Each individual cell possesses a positive electrical charge at its nucleus and a negative electrical charge on its outer membrane. The cell membrane may change its characteristics. For proper functioning, this charge differential must be at least 60 millivolts. With a greater charge differential, the greater the exchange of nutrients and water through the cell wall will occur. When increasing the body’s negative magnetic fields, a negative electric charge will take place in the blood and plasma. There will be more hydroxyl (OH)- ions produced which will tend to make the body fluids more alkaline. The increase in pH will make the blood more oxygenated. The exchange of waste and toxins are drawn out of the cells when hydroxyl ions attach to glyco-proteins on the outer membrane wall. There is an increased charge differential and the excess toxins in the blood stream may cause symptoms in the body. It should be noted that people on medication may develop symptoms of excess medication as drugs become more effective and dose may have to be down regulated. Symptoms may occur by using positive or negative polarity. The action of the magnetic field on the cell membrane will influence the flow of the ions into and out of the cell.

Oxygen is a paramagnetic substance and with a strong magnetic field the supply of the cells with oxygen can be enhanced. The nervous system is influenced by magnetic fields and affects a cell potential, which may cause a “spike”. Such “spikes” are called miniature potentials and they may be summed to make a miniature action potential. The miniature potential is proportional to the time variation of the field and or the magnetic induction. With very weak fields it is possible to influence the autonomic nervous system and influence feedback loops with interesting results.

Last updated on: May 16, 2011