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The Magnetic therapy is based on the assumption that all living things have an electromagnetic field that can be influenced or weakened by various factors, which creates health problems. With the help of various types of magnetic therapy, the electromagnetic field in the body is to be positively influenced and health is to be restored.
There are different forms of magnetic field therapy: A distinction is made between static and pulsating therapy. Both are non-invasive. There is also invasive magnetic field therapy, which is also called electro-osteostimulation.
History of magnetic therapy
There are indications that healers in China used magnetic stones for treatment around two thousand years ago. The ancient Romans and Egyptians are said to have used the power of magnetic stones, magnetic bars and magnetic jewelry. The famous Greek doctor Hippocrates (460-375 BC) also suspected that magnets have healing properties, and Paracelsus (1493-1541) also regularly included magnets in his therapy work.
The areas of application were broad and ranged from depression to hemorrhoids and inflammation to general strengthening of health and stimulation of self-healing powers. According to tradition, the doctor Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) even gave a blind pianist her eyesight back with the help of a “magnetic cure”.
The discovery of electricity opened up completely new possibilities for the use of magnets. The "new" magnetic therapy, which subsequently developed, had little in common with the "old" magnetic therapy. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries were the time when many scientists were concerned with the biophysical and physiological mechanisms of action of magnetic field therapy. To date, however, these have not been fully researched and confirmed, although there are now thousands of publications by medical studies on the effectiveness of various health complaints.
The forms of therapy that are predominantly used today are largely due to a procedure that the surgeon Fritz Lechner and the physicist Werner Kraus developed together in the 1970s. Pulsating magnetic fields were used for the first time.
Different types of magnetic therapy
In the following we briefly introduce you to the different types of magnetic therapy.
Static magnetic therapy
In this type of application, magnets are incorporated into bracelets, pillows, mattresses or shoe soles, for example. The magnets develop their field in their environment permanently and statically, i.e. with constant strength.
This is also the reason for a frequently cited criticism of this method: the static magnets are sometimes too weak and the permanent, always the same field cannot be adapted to the type of complaint.
Areas of application for static magnetic field therapy include hormonal disorders or digestive problems.
Static magnetic field therapy is not scientifically recognized as a treatment method and is therefore one of the alternative medical procedures. The costs for the products available without a prescription are normally not covered by the health insurance companies.
Pulsating magnetic therapy
In this form of application, a pulsating magnetic field is generated using electrical devices. There are, for example, mats, coils, rods or pillows. The practitioner can set both the strength of the desired magnetic field and the frequency (frequency) in which the field pulsates on the device. This should make it possible to choose strength and frequency so that they have a favorable effect on certain symptoms. According to supporters of this form of therapy, for example, a different strength and frequency are required to treat skin problems than to treat joint pain.
The pulsating magnetic field therapy takes place while sitting or lying down with a comfortable posture. The diseased part of the body is guided into a so-called tube, which generates the magnetic field. Clothing can be left on during treatment if it does not contain metal. Metallic objects such as jewelry and watches have to be removed. The duration of treatment is approximately fifteen to forty minutes and the therapy is usually carried out two to three times a week. The duration and frequency of use, however, depend on the type and intensity of the symptoms present. For diseases that require a longer use of magnetic field therapy, there is also the option of using home devices.
During the treatment, so-called initial worsening can sometimes occur. A brief worsening of the symptoms is considered by the treating therapists as a good response to the therapy.
Although there are now various studies that suggest the effectiveness of pulsating, non-invasive magnetic field therapy for many symptoms, these have so far not been sufficient to achieve scientific recognition of this form of therapy. Therefore, it is also classified as an alternative medical method. This is most commonly used in naturopathic practices. The health insurance companies generally do not cover the costs, with the exception of some private health insurance companies.
Invasive magnetic therapy or electro-osteostimulation
Invasive magnetic field therapy is used in conventional medicine to accelerate the healing process for broken bones. Success can also be achieved with osteoarthritis. This form of therapy is also known as electro-osteostimulation. Coils are implanted during an operation. These are connected to the injured bone by an electrode. An alternating magnetic field can later be applied from the outside, which generates current in the coils and thus stimulates the growth of the bone cells.
Scientifically recognized evidence of effectiveness is available for invasive magnetic field therapy. Accordingly, the costs for this type of treatment are borne at least in part by the health insurance companies.
Magnetic field therapy is based on the fact that every living being and every human cell has an electromagnetic field. It is believed that health problems arise when this field is weakened by various influences. With magnetic field therapy, a weak magnetic field is generated with the help of technical devices, which should have a positive influence on the electromagnetic field in the cells and thus restore health.
The smallest "living" building block of humans is the cell. Every human being is made up of about a hundred trillion cells. Every single one of them has to be constantly supplied with oxygen and nutrients. There is electrical voltage, the so-called membrane potential, between the outside and the inside of the cell membrane. The cells constantly communicate with each other. Improper nutrition, environmental pollution, stress and much more can have a negative impact. As a result, the cells can no longer work properly. If additional stresses such as smoking, alcohol or the like are added, complaints such as chronic fatigue, headache, loss of performance and sleep disorders can arise.
The membrane potential of the cells normally has a voltage of seventy to ninety millivolts. Representatives of magnetic field therapy assume that sick cells have a lower membrane potential than healthy cells. The use of the magnetic field is intended to provide the cells with an energy boost and revitalize them, which, in this opinion, can alleviate the symptoms or even heal them. The vascular blood flow and thus the oxygen supply and the energy metabolism of the cells are to be improved. The immune system is also said to be boosted by the treatment.
Studies have shown that the energy of a magnet can stimulate the metabolism in the human body to produce more amino acids. These are vital and involved in almost everything in the body. Researchers also found that flooding the body with magnetic energy promotes blood circulation, which can relieve tension.
In the meantime, it has also been scientifically proven that broken bones heal faster under the influence of electromagnetic fields, since new bone formation (callus formation) is stimulated and the healing process is accelerated.
Static magnetic field therapy is mainly used against hormonal and digestive disorders.
School medical doctors use invasive magnetic field therapy primarily for faster healing of broken bones and for various forms of arthrosis.
The pulsating magnetic field therapy is mainly used in naturopathic practices. It has a wide range of applications. These include tension, circulatory disorders, migraines, depression, back pain, chronic sinusitis, nerve pain, kidney problems, sleep disorders, tinnitus, metabolic disorders and the improvement of wound healing.
Almost no side effects are known when using pulsed magnetic field therapy or static magnetic field therapy. Particularly sensitive patients can sometimes experience a feeling of warmth or a slight tingling sensation, which can be alleviated by changing the intensity and / or the duration of treatment. Rarely, palpitations, a feeling of restlessness or tiredness can be observed during treatment.
Since surgery is necessary for invasive magnetic field therapy to attach the appropriate technique to the bone, the risk of side effects is of course correspondingly higher here. Your doctor will be happy to inform you about possible risks and side effects.
Magnetic field therapy is out of the question for patients with pacemakers, defibrillators or magnetic implants. The treatment is also unsuitable for pregnant women. In the case of fever, severe infectious diseases, angina pectoris, acute bleeding, epilepsy, hyperthyroidism or cardiac arrhythmia, this therapy method must also not be used.
Please consult your doctor before the start of treatment whether magnetic therapy is suitable for your individual complaints, which risks may exist and which side effects may occur. (sw, kh)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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- M. Markov: XXIst century magnetotherapy, Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, Sep. 2015, tandfonline.com
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