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Magnet Therapy


We are essentially electromagnetic beings living in an electromagnetic universe and many of the activities of our bodies either depend upon or generate electromagnetism. For example, the movement of electrically charged ions known as electrolytes is fundamental to all body processes and both nerve conduction and muscle contraction are electrical phenomena. 

The DNA in our cells may also largely function using electromagnetic energy and its activities are thought to be activated and deactivated by the electromagnetic fields to which we are exposed.

Many animals including bees and homing pigeons use magnetite within their tissues to navigate and humans and other mammals possess this too along with concentrations of magnetite in and around the pineal gland.  

You are probably already familiar with the diagnostic applications of electromagnetic energy such as the electroencephalogram (EEG) which is used to measure the electrical activity of the brain and the electrocardiogram (ECG) used to measure the activity of the heart. And in fact, death is considered to have occurred when there is no recordable electromagnetic activity using these tools.

However, the wider uses and applications of electromagnetic energy for both diagnosis and therapy are part of an emerging science known as biophysics which is set to become as big and as complex as the field of biochemistry. 


A brief history of the therapeutic use of magnets

There are records dating back at least 2,000 years of magnets being used therapeutically by many ancient civilisations including the Hebrews, Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Egyptians and Greeks. Cleopatra, for example, was said to have worn a magnetic amulet on her forehead near to her pineal gland to preserve her youth and beauty.

The 15th century physician, Paracelus, who is rumoured to have been the inspiration for Goethe’s Dr. Faustus, who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge, had visionary insights into the role of electromagnetic forces in healing.


"Magnetism is the King of all Secrets.”



Inspired by Paracelsus, Franz Anton Mesmer in the late eighteenth century incorporated magnets into his hypnotic therapies in what came to be known as mesmerism.

Later, in America the therapeutic use of magnets became popular after the Civil War and people could even order magnets through the Sears Roebuck catalogue. Magnet therapy only fell from use with the introduction of pharmaceutical medicines, but is now gaining popularity as the unpleasant side-effects of drugs become more evident.

The relatively recent introduction of diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses changes in the alignment of a powerful magnetic field to alter the polarisation of some atoms causing their nuclei to produce a rotating magnetic field which is detectable by the scanner.

Therapeutic uses include functional magnetic stimulation which is now being used in those suffering with spinal cord injuries to promote nerve regeneration and enhance a variety of physical processes in those suffering paralysis. There are also currently many studies into various medical applications using pulsed electromagnetic fields where the magnetic field is turned on and off at a specified frequencies.

High-intensity magnetic fields have even been used to cause frogs to levitate. The spinning electrons within the frog align themselves to cumulatively create a small magnetic field and this becomes repulsed by the magnet sufficiently to counteract gravity. So who knows where these applications will lead?


Electromagnetic energy

Magnetism is created primarily by the alignment of the spin of electrons within a substance. For example, natural magnetic rock known as lodestone was created when high iron-content lava cooled whilst polarised by Earth’s magnetic field. 

Electricity and magnetism cannot be separated from one another, but are two sides of the coin of electromagnetism. Electromagnetic energies that are beneficial to humans include: 

  • The Earth's magnetic field
  • Electromagnetic radiation from the sun
  • The magnetic properties of natural foods consumed (processing foods eliminates the magnetic energy of these foods)
  • Healthy people with a positive mental attitude 
  • Supplements that are in ionic form or in forms your body can assimilate
  • The therapeutic use of magnets


Whereas damaging electromagnetic radiation includes:

  • Microwave radiation
  • Radiation from computer screens and televisions
  • Radiation from mobile/cell phones
  • Radiation emitted by all electrical appliances and house wiring
  • Radiation from high electrical tension wires and other high energy sources


Therapeutic magnets

Whilst iron readily lends itself to becoming magnetised because of its many surplus electrons, virtually all substances have the potential to be magnetised. Most magnets are now made by passing a strong surge of direct-current (DC) electricity through an iron bar. The strength of the magnets available has been increased greatly over the years by combining iron with other elements. 


Strength of magnet

A magnet’s therapeutic strength is a function of magnetic flux which is measured in units known as gauss and its physical size. Find listed below some magnet strengths for reference.




Human brain magnetic field




Cupboard door latch magnet


Therapeutic magnets

200 - 10,000

Neodymium-iron-boron (NIB) magnet


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) electromagnet



Size and shape of magnet

The horse-shoe shaped magnets are no good for therapeutic applications. Instead magnets for use in magnet therapy come in a wide-range of materials, strengths and shapes from the tiny patch magnets used by acupuncturists, through small coin sized neodymium (a rare-earth metal) magnets to bar-shaped and circular magnets which may be encased in ceramic and magnets embedded in flexible strips. 

Magnet size is also important when it comes to the therapeutic use of magnets. Whilst small neodymium magnets may have strengths in excess of 10,000 gauss, their penetration is poor so they are only used for treating localised or surface conditions. The larger neodymium disks are about 2 x 1 cm and blocks about 2.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 mm. Smaller neodymium disks only a few millimetres across are commonly taped over acupuncture points. 

In contrast, large block magnets of much lower flux strength may penetrate through the body. Larger magnets for use with serious disorders or strong pain are approximately 8-15 X 5 X 1.5 cm, while small magnets for long-term application may be about 5 X 2 X 1 cm. Strong magnets can be applied for up to one hour daily or longer if they appear beneficial and other magnets can be placed in pockets created in pyjamas, etc., although effectiveness may wear off as the body adapts.

The fact that tissue penetration is related to magnet size, casts the penetrative powers of the giant magnet within the Earth’s core in a new light. The Earth's magnetic field is 90% weaker than it was 10,000 years ago and this may be part of the reason we do not receive all the electromagnetic energy we need to thrive. 


Which pole of the magnet to use

First, the nomenclature can be confusing because physicists use a different way of defining magnetic poles to some therapeutic magnet manufacturers and the US uses a different system to elsewhere. According to the conventions of physics, the north pole is the pole that would seek the north were it to be suspended by a thread. However, some companies name the end of the magnet that attracts the north-pole-seeking end of the compass needle as being north, so do check which applies. Muscle test to see which is most beneficial or just try both ways to see which helps.




Stimulates and energises

Calms and sedates

Increases the circulation and oxygen supply

Decreases the circulation and oxygen supply

Increases water retention and oedema

Decreases swelling and fluid retention

Promotes acidity

Reduces inflammation and normalises pH

Promotes healing, growth and activity

Inhibits healing

Can enhance or increase pain

Decreases pain

Enhances the function of weak organs

Reduces unwanted growths/swellings and arrests infections


In addition magnets can affect hormone production (especially of the pineal gland), alter enzyme activity and other biochemical processes such as the production of ATP (a molecule that provides energy to power all the processes of the body), stimulate electromagnetic energy flow through acupuncture meridians and alter cell chromosome alignment.

If you feel uncomfortable or drained after using a magnet, then remove immediately and possibly apply the opposite pole for a while. Do not use strong magnets on the brain, eyes or heart, if you have a pacemaker or are pregnant and place and remove strong magnets slowly. A wrongly applied north-pointing pole has the potential to increase an infection or tumour growth, whereas a wrongly applied south-pointing pole, generally speaking, is unlikely to cause harm.


Magnetic products

Therapeutic magnetic products include:

  • Shoe insoles
  • Cups, wands and drinks mats to magnetise water
  • Magnetic and haematite bracelets and other jewellery
  • Body wraps for elbows, wrists, ankles, backs, etc
  • Therapy magnets and pads
  • Magnetic beauty and health products
  • Magnetically charged drops and creams
  • Mattress covers and pillows
  • Magnetic collars and bedding underlay 


The applications of magnet therapy

Magnetic therapy has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of:

  • Muscle and joint pain and other musculoskeletal disorders including including herniated discs, tendonitis, arthritis and osteoporosis. Apply the south-pointing pole of the magnet directly to the painful region for several hours and then have a break. Some people wear the magnets only at night, or wear them during the day and take them off at night.
  • The healing of bone fractures, wounds and ulcers
  • The healing of spinal and nerve injuries
  • Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), ALS, epilepsy, post-polio syndrome and after a stroke. Pain was reduced by 76% in one study of post-polio syndrome sufferers (Archives Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, November, 1997) and pulsed magnetic fields have also been shown to provide relief of many of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, August, 1998).
  • Fibromyalgia sufferers may find that sleeping on a magnetic mattress or pillow may help with generalised muscle pain and magnets can be placed on specific painful areas as described above.
  • Migraines and headaches may be relieved by the use of magnetic headbands or placing magnets on the temples.
  • Insomniacs may find using magnetic pillows and pads designed to promote the production of melatonin may help to induce sleep. 
  • Skin disorders including lupus (SLE) and even hair loss
  • Circulatory problems have been aided by the use of magnetic insoles which help to increase the circulation to the legs and improve symptoms such as numbness, burning, aching and cramping. Sleeping on a magnetic mattress is also advised. 
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure
  • Genitourinary, reproductive and sexual disorders
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Psychiatric disorders including depression
  • Dental problems and last, but not least
  • Fatigue!


Further resources

A selection of therapeutic magnetic products are available from companies such as in the UK and or in the USA.

You might also be interested in the following: 

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Pineal Gland

Insomnia: The Hidden Epidemic

Mobile Phones: The Health Dangers

Microwave Oven Radiation Leakage

Book Review: Are You Sleeping in a Safe Place?

Management of Pain


For a comprehensive approach to removing the underlying cause of chronic pain using natural means, please refer to The Natural Recovery Plan book

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Magnets for Health listed under Natural Recovery in the Audio Hub
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Pulsating Electromagnetic Field Therapy


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Magnet therapy: Article summary

This article examines the therapeutic use of magnets. It looks at the history and applications and the significance of the strength, size and pole of the magnets used. 


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The Natural Recovery Plan Ezine January 2011 Issue 13. Copyright Alison Adams 2011. All rights reserved
Dr Alison Adams Dentist, Naturopath, Author and Online Health Coach

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