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Magnets for Health. A skeptical MD admits it works.

In 1999, an old friend introduced me to the idea of magnets for health, and I reacted with cool skepticism. As a conventional medical doctor, this had nothing to do with my education and training, and it seemed pretty far-fetched. But as fate would have it, not long after that, I began to have some pretty severe low back pain. And my open-minded wife Gail challenged me to drop my closed-minded attitude and at least give magnets for pain relief a try. If only to preserve marital bliss, I did, and was more than a little surprised to find that it worked well. That really marked the beginning of my professional journey into holistic and integrative medicine, since it so profoundly challenged my false assumption that everything that I needed to know about health was in the conventional medical model. How wrong I was!

Since that early experience with my low back, I have personally experienced in myself or others quite a variety of positive outcomes with magnets for health. The list includes decreased frequency of migraine headaches, relief from low back pain, improvement in neuropathy pain in the feet, less soreness in muscles and joints, improved wound healing after burns, and better sleep at night. Of course as a practicing physician, I stayed skeptical, and spent a lot of time looking for “proof” that these were not placebo effects. One compelling bit of data which convinced me that the effects were “real” was my observation of decreasing arthritis symptoms in my aging Golden Retriever (and my neighbor's dogs also) when sleeping on a magnetic pad.

What about scientific studies on magnets for health or magnets for pain relief? There have been many, but most are from Russia or eastern European countries and have not been translated. The quality of the research design sometimes leaves something to be desired, but there are some interesting and convincing studies nonetheless. The best studies in current medical literature in this country have shown beneficial effects of magnets on neuropathy in the feet; and there are good data showing that pulsed magnetic fields used on the brain can benefit depression.

How could this possibly work? There are many plausible bio-physical mechanisms, from improving blood flow to changing the way nerves conduct electrical energy to changing the flux of charged ions in and out of cells. If you think back to high school physics for a moment, you'll remember that any moving electrical charge creates a magnetic field in the shape of a doughnut around the direction of flow, and the magnetic field will also affect the electrical current. So this can happen in every nerve of the body as it carries electrical signals. And remember that there could be no such thing as the remarkable detail of an MRI scan if every cell of the body did not carry a small magnetic charge. While all the details are not yet known, I am now very open to the possibility that magnet therapy may play a larger role in the medicine of the future.

If you decide to look for magnetic health products, be careful, as there are some unscrupulous sales people who will be happy to take your money for products that were hastily thrown together without much thought to quality. While we no longer sell these products as a business ourselves, Gail and I have used and admire the magnetic health products from Nikken, Inc. and believe you will not go wrong with their health products.

So while there is still much to learn about magnets for health, stay open minded, and look for more well-done studies to confirm what I have already seen to be good results.

To your health and wellness,

Robert Pendergrast, M.D.