According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) magnetic therapy is used to reduce pain and treat ailments in various parts of the body. Promoters say magnetic rings, bracelets and other magnetic apparatus work because certain cells and tissues in the body emit electromagnetic impulses. Theoretically, when disease or injury hampers their flow, magnetic energy can rectify the imbalance and reestablish health. Magnetic therapy has been marketed as being effective to alleviate migraine headaches, repair broken bones, improve circulation and even cure cancer. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says magnets have no medicinal value.
Magnetic therapy involves the use of fine metal magnets that are often fixed on bracelets or necklaces. The magnets are worn for varying amounts of time depending on the particular ailment receiving the therapy. The length of treatment can range from a few hours to several weeks. The ACS notes the majority of magnets sold are called static or constant magnets because the magnetic field is stationary.
Magnetic bracelets are thought to have therapeutic value because of their possible influence over blood flow at the wrist arteries. It is thought that the magnetism emitting from the bracelet increases the electrical conductivity of the blood and increases the number of ions (atoms that carry a charge of electricity). The ionization process is believed to improve the efficiency of blood flow.
Supporters of magnetic bracelets and other types of magnetic therapy maintain the healing powers of magnets can speed up metabolism and produce a less acidic atmosphere in the body. The ACS says many proponents of magnets believe cancer cells cannot live in an environment where acid is low, so magnetic therapy can therefore stop the spread of tumors. Proponents also maintain magnetic fields can adjust nerve impulses, reduce fatty deposits on artery walls, and even modify the thinking process to boost emotional well-being.
British Researchers at the University of York conducting a randomized placebo-controlled trial concluded that arthritis sufferers may not find any more pain relief from wearing copper bracelets or magnetic wrist straps than those wearing demagnetized bands. The trial involved 70 participants over age 50, 65 of whom completed the study. The findings were reported in the October 2009 issue of "PLoS One."