magnet therapy and magnetic therapy

Magnet Therapy vs. Magnetic Therapy: Understanding the Differences and Applications

Separating Fact from Fiction: A Critical Look at Magnet Therapy and Magnetic Therapy Treatments

In the realm of alternative medicine, magnet therapy and magnetic therapy have emerged as intriguing options for those seeking unconventional approaches to health and wellness. These therapies, which involve the use of magnetic fields and magnets, have gained significant attention for their purported ability to address a wide range of health issues, from chronic pain to complex psychiatric disorders.

Magnet Therapy and Magnetic Therapy

Magnet therapy and magnetic therapy are often used interchangeably, but there can be subtle differences in their usage and interpretation:

  1. Magnet Therapy:
    • Typically refers to the use of static (permanent) magnets
    • Involves applying magnets directly to the body
    • Common products include magnetic bracelets, necklaces, or insoles
    • Uses static magnetic fields
  2. Magnetic Therapy:
    • A broader term that encompasses all forms of therapy using magnetic fields
    • Includes both static magnets and electromagnetically generated fields
    • Can involve more complex devices and treatments

In practice, magnetic therapy is often used as an umbrella term that includes magnet therapy.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • All magnet therapy is a form of magnetic therapy
  • Not all magnetic therapy uses static magnets (e.g., pulsed electromagnetic field therapy)

Understanding Magnetic Therapy Treatments

Magnetic therapy, also known as magnetic field therapy, is based on the principle that the body naturally has magnetic and electric fields. Practitioners of magnetic field therapy believe that by applying external magnetic fields, they can influence these internal fields and promote healing. The therapy uses various types of magnetic devices, including static magnets, electromagnetic therapy devices, and pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy equipment.

Types of Magnetic Therapy Treatments

  1. Static Magnetic Field Therapy: This involves the application of static magnets or permanent magnets directly to the body. Practitioners use magnetic bracelets, magnetic straps, magnetic mattress pads, and even small magnetic balls for this purpose.
  2. Electromagnetic Therapy: This type uses electromagnetic fields generated by electric current. It includes pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF therapy) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
  3. Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF): This therapy uses magnetic coils to generate alternating magnetic fields, which are thought to penetrate deep into the body’s tissues.
  4. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): A form of electromagnetic therapy used in the treatment of certain psychiatric conditions. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a variation of this technique.


Applications of Magnetic Therapy Treatments

Proponents of magnetic therapy claim it can be used for various conditions:

  • Pain Management: Including treatment of back pain, low back pain, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and wrist pain attributed to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Blood Flow Improvement: Some believe magnetic fields can enhance circulation.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: Magnetic therapy has been explored as a potential treatment for this challenging condition.
  • Mental Health: TMS is used in the treatment of depression and other psychiatric disorders.

The Science Behind Magnetic Therapy Treatments

The thought behind magnetic therapy is that magnetic fields may affect the body at the cellular level. Some theories suggest that static magnetic fields may influence ion movement in the body, potentially affecting cell activity and pain perception. However, the exact mechanisms remain unclear.

scientific evidence and controversies
Scientific Evidence and Controversies

Scientific Evidence and Controversies

While some studies suggest potential benefits of magnetic therapy for conditions like diabetic neuropathy and osteoarthritis, the scientific evidence remains mixed. Many studies show results similar to placebo effects, highlighting the need for more rigorous clinical trials.

The strength of magnets used in therapy typically ranges from 300 to 5000 gauss, with most therapy magnets falling between 400 to 800 gauss. However, studies on humans have often failed to prove the effectiveness of static magnets for pain relief.

PEMF therapy has shown more promising results, particularly in healing fractures, with success rates reported above 80%. The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in medical diagnostics also demonstrates the potential for magnetic fields in healthcare applications.

Regulation and Safety

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken action against companies making unsubstantiated health claims about magnetic therapy products. While generally considered safe, magnetic therapy is not without risks and contraindications.

Potential Risks and Contraindications

  • Interference with cardiac pacemakers or implanted defibrillators
  • Not recommended for use by pregnant women
  • Caution advised for young children
  • Potential interference with radiology procedures and MRI scans

Practical Considerations

The effectiveness of magnetic therapy may depend on individual factors. Different types of pain may respond differently to magnetic treatments. The application of magnets and the duration of therapy can vary based on the specific condition being treated.

future prospects and ongoing research
Future Prospects and Ongoing Research

Future Prospects and Ongoing Research

Research into the effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields and extremely low-frequency magnetic fields continues. Scientists are exploring the potential benefits of magnetic therapy for various conditions, including its use in pain management and psychiatric treatment.


While magnet therapy and magnetic therapy continue to intrigue many seeking alternative treatments, the scientific community remains divided on their efficacy. Some studies suggest potential benefits for certain conditions, but more comprehensive research is needed to fully understand the effects of magnetic fields on human health.

As with any alternative therapy, individuals considering magnetic therapy should consult with healthcare professionals, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions or those using medical devices. The future of magnetic therapy in healthcare remains an area of active research and debate, with ongoing studies aiming to clarify its potential benefits and limitations.