Magnetic Field Therapy

Topic Overview

What is magnetic field therapy?

Magnetic field therapy uses magnets to maintain health and treat illness.

The human body and the earth naturally produce electric and magnetic fields. Electromagnetic fields also can be technologically produced, such as radio and television waves. Practitioners of magnetic field therapy believe that interactions between the body, the earth, and other electromagnetic fields cause physical and emotional changes in humans. They also believe that the body's electromagnetic field must be in balance to maintain good health.

Practitioners apply magnetic field therapy to the outside of the body. The magnets may be:

  • Electrically charged, to deliver an electrical pulse to the treated area.
  • Used with acupuncture needles, to treat energy pathways in the body.
  • Static (not electrically charged) and stationary on the treated area for periods of time, to deliver continuous treatment.

What is magnetic field therapy used for?

People use magnet therapy for a wide range of health problems, including:

Studies on how well magnetic therapy works have been mixed.1

Is magnetic field therapy safe?

Young children and pregnant women should not use magnetic field therapy, because the safety of this therapy is not proved. People who have medical devices or implants with a magnetic field, such as a pacemaker, should not use magnet therapy, because it could interfere with the function of the implant.

Magnet therapy is not thought to have negative side effects or complications when it is combined with conventional medical treatment.

Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy.

References

Citations

  1. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2004). Research Report: Questions and Answers About Using Magnets to Treat Pain (NCCAM Publication No. D208). Available online: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/magnet/magnetq-and-a.htm.

Other Works Consulted

  • Murray MT, Bongiorno PB (2006). Osteoarthritis. In JE Pizzorno Jr, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 3rd ed., pp. 1961–1975. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Brown CS, et al. (2002). Efficacy of static magnetic field therapy in chronic pelvic pain: A double-blind pilot study. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 187(6): 1581–1587.
  • Eccles NK (2005). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study to investigate the effectiveness of a static magnet to relieve dysmenorrhea. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11(4): 681–687.
  • Weintraub M, et al. (2008). Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Pain Management. New York: Springer.
  • Weintraub MI, et al. (2003). Static magnetic field therapy for symptomatic diabetic neuropathy: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 84(5): 736–746.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Marc S. Micozzi, MD, PhD - Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Last Revised June 29, 2011

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