Does Magnet Therapy Really Work?

Shantha Kalia

Magnet therapy is a natural healing technique that has been used for centuries to heal ailments all over the world as traditional folk medicine.  Chinese medical practitioners believed in the healing properties of magnets as far back as 2,000 years ago.  Around 1940, magnets became popular in Japan, and magnet therapy became a self-administered medical technique.  In the 1970s, magnets were used to treat sports injuries and gained popularity amongst athletes.  Soon thereafter, magnetic products became popular as an alternative form of treatment for various medical conditions.

Magnets of various sizes and strengths are used that can be worn directly against the skin.  Magnetic pads are used in mattresses and pillows as well.  Static magnets are placed directly on the body in products such as belts or in jewelry including bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.

How Does Magnet Therapy Work?

The strength of static magnets is measured in units called gauss and tesla.  One tesla equals 10,000 gauss.  Therapeutic magnets can range in strength from 200 to 10,000 gauss, although the most common magnets used in magnet therapy measure 400 to 800 gauss.  A magnet with a weak magnetic field may not have any therapeutic effect.  Magnets have a North Pole and a South Pole.  The North Pole is generally placed closest to the body, because the North Pole is believed to have greater effectiveness than the South Pole.  The magnetic product placed directly on the skin balances the energies within our body.  Our body’s energy is electromagnetic, and can be affected by an external magnetic field increasing energy levels and altering the levels of body functions.

Products are designed and worn in different parts of the body to provide therapeutic benefits to that area by increasing blood flow, just like exercising increases blood flow in the body.  As magnetic waves pass through the tissue, muscles relax and lengthen, and the body’s own endorphin system is triggered helping to reduce swelling, pain, and discomfort in the area.

According to researchers, the natural geomagnetic field of the earth is essential for our wellbeing, but has been reduced by about 5 percent.  NASA researchers found that early astronauts suffered from diminished bone density and immunity compromise probably linked to the diminished geomagnetic field.  They designed space suits lined with magnetic material to ensure that astronauts do not suffer from poor health during their long months in space.  Chinese were the first to discuss the magnetic deficiency syndrome, which NASA accepted later.

Magnet therapy benefits most conditions because the molecular structure of the blood is temporarily altered in that area and flows easily into cartilage and bone, helping the healing process.  Magnets are widely used to treat fibromyalgia, arthritis, rheumatism, bone degeneration, stiffness in bones, and lack of energy.  It helps calcium absorption in the bones while preventing calcium from adhering to bone joints and causing inflammation.  Magnets also give a boost to the circulation and immunity in the body.  It helps patients with chronic depression.  Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, low back pain, generalized musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis are all improved with magnet therapy.

A magnetic bracelet is worn to provide relief from wrist pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome or similar conditions.  A magnetic belt works to reduce back pain.  Magnetic insoles worn inside footwear relieve foot pain.  The products are specially designed to act on the particular area where it is used.

Sources for this article include:

  • Basford JR.  A historical perspective of the popular use of electric and magnetic therapy.  Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2001 Sep;82(9):1261-9.
  • Richmond SJ.  Magnet therapy for the relief of pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (CAMBRA): A randomised placebo-controlled crossover trial.  Trials. 2008 Sep 12;9:53.
About the Author: Shantha Kalia is a health care professional at a New York City hospital. She completed her masters in Public Health, and has worked in various capacities in health care for over 15 years. She is a freelancer and contributes articles to various websites on various medical and health-related topics. Her interests include health and wellness, diet and nutrition, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To read more articles by Shantha, please visit
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