Magnetic and electric therapies have been around for a long time – long before the reasoning behind their therapeutic benefits was understood. To some extent, these therapies were used as far back as 3000BC. The Chinese have written protocols for using lodestones on acupuncture points dating this far back. Even ancient healers learned the practical value of using magnets for healing. There is evidence that lodestones were used by Cleopatra’s physicians. Permanent magnets were used in Europe in the early 1800s.
Only recently have we had a scientific basis to explain these ancient observations that magnetic fields can be used in healing. The many observed actions and effects that magnetic fields have on biologic processes include chemical reactions, ion movement, changes in charges and electrical potentials, effects on lipids, starches, and proteins, hormones and large molecules, and fundamental cellular processes. There is, however, no accepted single concept or unifying principle in physics (yet) of how magnetic fields affect these biologic activities.
Despite the lack of a unified theory, magnetic field effects have been observed and positive clinical actions experienced. As in many other areas of science and medicine, theories or conceptual models are often lacking or lag behind observed uses. Lack of a theory does not prevent magnetic field therapies from being used to help meet people’s healthcare needs, especially since decades of clinical use has shown the relative safety of the therapy.
The body is electric. The water in a human body (or other terrestrial creature) is not unlike the electrolyte solution in a battery. It is composed of many electrolytes, along with saline. Electrolytes compose both positively and negatively metallic ions, including sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, etc. Saline is composed of a combination of sodium and chloride. Because of their charge, electrolyte solutions and saline are highly susceptible to surrounding magnetic fields.
Magnetic fields cause or increase motion of ions and electrolytes in the tissues and fluids of the body. This movement stimulates a vast array of chemical, mechanical, and electric actions in the tissues of the body. Therapeutic magnetic fields are used to induce voltages similar to those produced naturally within the body at the cellular and subcellular level. The electromagnetically-induced field transfers charge to the cells of the body. This induced current can lead to nerve firing, muscle contraction, stimulation of cell signal pathways causing cell growth, and a number of other effects. Because of this most basic level of treatment, magnetic therapies have been shown to have positive effects in a myriad of conditions.