Monday, December 1, 2008

Magnets Do What?

The holiday season has started and so has the season of wu. In our local mall a company from Colorado is selling magnet therapy. Now if you want to buy these charms as jewelry that is one legitamate option, and they do look good. However, these sales people are hawking the magnets as, according to their broucher, a "wholly natural event". And, mind you, and it is "neither magic nor medicine." They claim that for thousands of years the Chinese have been using to help with a whole panaply of ailments. They list arthritis, migraines, sports injuries ease the pain. That is only some, here are more: acne, allergies, asthma, back pain, high blood pressure, bunions, bursititis, diabetes, carpel tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, cramps, earaches, fibromylagia, frozen shoulder, heel spurs, insomnia, joint pain (wait I thought that was arthritis, it is different?), menstrual cramps, osteoporosis, poor circulation, rheumatoid arthritis and tennis elbow. It is recommended by these charlatons that you wear the magnets 24 hours a day, and only removing them to bath. They apparently have testimony that migraine suffers get relief in 20 minutes, and most people, dare I say gullibles, notice results in 3-5 days, but may take a couple weeks.

They claim that sports medicine people, physical therapists, neurologists, chiropractors, and doctors are recommending them. All sorts of people from young to old and the family pets and race horses use them. They say that research has shown that they work. Really? A 1997 study at Baylor College of Medicine did a double blind study of 50 patients with post polio pain syndrome for pain in there knees. They found an effect. However, no study since has been able to reproduce those results. A University of Maryland physics professor Robert Park casts doubt with explaining there is no plausible explaination. There is no evidence in the archeological record that the Chinese in ancient times used magnets. Anton Mesmer, of mesmerizing fame, a Viennese physician met a Jesuit priest in the 1770s by the name of Maximillian Hell who claimed that he used magnets to cure people. He copied it, but later found that he could get the same results without the magnets. New York Podiatric Medical College in a study found no effect on heel pain. C. Z. Hong in 1982 found no effect in wearing necklaces made of magnets in relieving neck or shoulder pain. A study in 2002 found no effect in carpel tunnel syndrome.

Magnets are $150 million industry in the U.S. and maybe more. There is only one study by a Dr. Mark S. George, an Asst. Prof. of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Radiology at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston who has done a double blind controlled study in only 12 patients using repetative transcranial magnetic stimulation, with very strong specific type of magnetism and has found some effect with depression. More research is being done. The magnets used by these people is no more effective than the every day common refrigerator magnet. If one takes, say, anywhere from 4-10 pieces of plan paper between the magnet and a paper clip, the effect is negated and a paper clip will fall. That is to say if you wear a magnet its force cannot even get through your skin, let alone get to the site that ails you. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (a segment of NIH) states "overall, the reseach findings so far do not firmly support claims that magnets are effective for treatment of pain."

The marketers have some laughable precautions if you are pregnant, have a pacemaker, and warn about using them on your abdomen after eating. They guarantee the product and promise to buy them back if they don't work. Right? If you want a piece of jewelry that is one thing, but buying something that may delay seeking out legitimate evaluation and treatment for a illness may be lethal if you delay to partake of this wu.

Skeptical DoDo

1 comment:

skepticresident said...

I agree that this is BS, even certifiable maybe. Also the guy who was selling it looked so shady, I wouldn't buy a coke can from him let alone a health aid. But you are right, they do make good jewellery!!