Magnetic Massage


By Peter J. LaGrasse, B.S., B.A., L.M.T.
April 2003


Bioelectromagnetics is the emerging science that studies how living organisms interact with electromagnetic fields. Electrical currents exist in the body that is capable if producing magnetic fields that extend outside the body. As a consequence external magnetic fields and electromagnetic fields can influence this internal electric current. Changes in the body’s natural magnetic fields may produce physical and behavioral changes.1.

In this presentation I will attempt to describe what is the basis of all so called “energy work” and of magnet therapy specifically.

The basis of magnetism is the atomic particle, the electron. The movement of an electron in a conductor, much as current flows in a wire, generates a magnetic field. This was first observed in 1820 by Hans Christian Oersted.2 This magnet field projects in a circular fashion around the conductor. In an electromagnet, this effect is enhanced by wrapping an iron core with a wire conductor many times. 3 In a magnet, either a natural loadstone or a modern permanent magnet, the observed m magnet field is caused by the circular collective movement of many electrons, all aligned in one direction. Each atom then generates a small magnet, but they add up to an external force because of their collective alignment.4 This is the basic physics, and is the basis of bioelectromagnetics.

In a single straight conductor, the strength of its magnetic field depends on the amount of current that is flowing in the conductor. If the current is steady in one direction (DC current) the magnetic field is steady. If the current fluctuates (as in AC current) the magnet field in turn fluctuates. The fluctuating field extends indefinitely into space, albeit weakly. The proprogation of a fluctuating magnet field is called an Electromagnetic wave. Depending on the frequency of the AC current, the electromagnetic wave can exist in a wide spectrum of frequencies from zero for DC current to gamma and cosmic rays, including X rays, visible light, microwave, TV and radio waves.

Some electromagnetic waves or radiation is harmful to human tissue. X rays and Gamma waves strongly ionize tissue. Ultraviolet band may cause injury. Microwaves and radar bands, although no ionizing, can cause burns and affect tissue.

A biological beneficial effect can be had from extremely low frequency (ELF) EM fields and was reported by Becker and Marino in 1982 and Brighton and Pollack in 1991. 5 Specific frequencies have highly specific effects on tissue in the body. 5

How electromagnet fields effect human and animal tissue is a subject of intense study.

History of Biomagnetic Therapy

The use of electricity and magnetic forces to treat diseases has intrigued the general public and the scientific community since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. 6

Notable historic figures in medicine that were intrigued by magnet therapy include Paracelsus (1493-1542), who used it on cases of epilepsy, diarrhea and hemorrhage. He recommended using the south pole of a magnet near the head and the North Pole near the abdomen for epilepsy to push and pull the disease from the body.

Benjamin Franklin in the mid 1700s studied the therapeutic effects of electricity. He experimented wi5th the use of electric shocks as a cure for paralysis.

An Austrian physician, Franz Onton Mesmer (1734-1815) applied magnets to his patients and achieved astounding cures. 7 Mesmer quickly shifted from magnet therapy to what would be described as the early start of psychology and hypnosis from which his name b became proverbial, mesmerize. In his effort to different his treatment from his mentor, a Doctor Maximillian Hall who published a thesis on magnet therapy in 1775, Mesmer claimed to be able to magnetize various non-magnetic substances including water.7

In the United States, Elisha Perkins, a Connecticut physician, in 1795 developed devices to draw off noxious electrical fluids; they were small m etal wedges of copper and other metals.

The next era of strong interest in Electromedicine was post- Civil War Mid-Western United States. One flamboyant figure, a C.J. Thatcher, wore a magnetic cap, waistcoat, stockings liner and insoles. He claimed magnetic garments were beneficial because they restored the bloods magnetic field. 8 His, and his competitors companies produced garments containing more than 700 magnets. 9

Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, the father of Homeopathy, (1755-1843) was fully convinced of the powers of magnets. 10

LOUIS Pasteur in 1862 discovered that the earth’s magnetic field exercised a positive effect on the growth of plants. 12

By 1890 several scientific papers and books supported a role for electromagnetic therapy in medicine. 11.

Since the 1930’s there has been extensive research on biomagnetics in America, Russia, Japan, England and France. 13&14

Dr. I.N. Komorov of Russia doubled the life of horseflies by feeding them magnetized sugar. 15

Dr. Shiro Saito of Japan successfully treated cancerous tumors of mice. 15, p. 15

Dr. Maclean’s experiments show that regular application of magnets proves a great help in preserving the general health, vigor and youthfulness of a person. 15 p 16

Modalities of Magnet Therapy

Several different modalities of applying magnet therapy exist.

Dr. H.L. Bansal in his book Magneto Therapy describes the use of hockey puck size magnets, putting one on the hand and the other on the other hand, one North, the other South. Likewise, using the magnets on the feet or alternate foot and hand. 15, p.94, 16, p.26, 17,

Magnetized water is perhaps the most controversial aspect of magnet therapy. The practice is to place a gallon jug on the North face of a magnet for 24 hours and then to drink the water .15, p. 125

Hagar Hannemann in his book, Magnet Therapy, describes the use of tiny magnets, lentil sized. These are taped on the acupuncture points. 18 & 19

Another method is to place a strong magnet on the body at the site of the lesion.

Pulsing magnets are the most researched type of magnet therapy. A pulsing magnet is a magnet field that varies in strength over time, either due to the physical movement of the permanent magnet, or due to the variation in current of an electromagnet.

Brief Survey of Magnet Therapy Research

When considering the research on Magnet Therapy, foremost to come to mind is the research in bone repair done by Robert O. Becker, M.D. 17 & 18. The developments in this area are truly astounding and have resulted in the FDA approving various devices whose basis is the electrical stimulation of cells. Direct intervention with implanted electrodes connected to a current source have been used. However, pulsed magnetic fields are equally effective, the fields applied by a devise outside the body (The BodyEelectric, p. 176)



© 2008 Peter J. LaGrasse
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