Magnet therapy is now a billion dollar industry. The price tags go anywhere from $10 for a spot magnet to $2000 for a sleep pad. But what exactly are the buyers paying for?1
Take a magnetic sheet – of the type used on refrigerator doors. Let it hold a sheet of paper on your fridge. Add two more sheets under the magnet. It’ll hold the three sheets. Keep adding sheets of paper. By the time you get to six or seven sheets of paper – a thickness of less than a millimeter – the magnet will start sliding down on the fridge.
So how are the therapeutic magnets working? Magnet therapists claim that because of the iron in them, the red blood cells (RBC) get attracted to the magnet, and their arrival at the pain area relieves discomfort. Actually,
- The iron in the RBCs is in a chemical form that does
not get attracted to magnets. In fact, it happens to be slightly
diamagnetic – a form of iron that is repelled by a magnet. If they were ferromagnetic, the kind that is attracted by magnets, then placing a strong magnet near the skin should make it red due to the accumulation of RBCs underneath. And if the magnet is strong enough – such as the ones routinely used in classroom demonstrations – the force of attraction could rip the skin and spatter the RBCs (and the blood with them) all over the classroom. But, obviously, that never happens!
- The “therapeutic” magnets – such as the bracelets shown above – are usually placed in a velvet strap and tied to the skin. The thickness of the straps are at least a few millimeters – enough to stop the magnetic field from reaching even the outside of the skin!
Magnet therapy is as effective as putting a piece of ordinary cloth, gauze, cotton, leather strap, paper, or any other harmless material on the pain area!