Positive Health Online (originally published in issue 16 - December 1996)
A middle-aged, previously healthy woman suddenly started having epileptic fits. Going from specialist to specialist, she was fortunate to find another doctor specialising in complementary medicine and particularly magnet-therapy (sometimes called magneto-therapy). Using state of the art computerised equipment, Dr David Dowson discovered that this woman's house was in the proximity of her local fire station. The onset of her epilepsy coincided with the installation by the local fire service of a bleeper system to rouse its part-time crews. The 80 MHz signal from the fire station had triggered her fits. (Abbreviation for megahertz. One MHz represents one million cycles per second.) She has since been desensitized, lessening her chances of this particular signal wave-length affecting her again.
We live in a polluted environment with our water and food tainted by chemicals; the air we breathe contains waste and smoke. Our electro-magnetic (EM) environment is also polluted.
The earth's surface has a natural electromagnetic (EM) field (negative polarity) of around 7.8–15 cycles per second (cps) or Hz (after discoverer Heinrich Hertz), in which natural life prospers. But the EM environment in towns and cities is usually fouled by electronic and chemical smog from a myriad of engines and electrical machinery; by photo-copiers, printers, computers, radio and television broadcast frequencies, portable phones and bleeps. And radar. Many of these gadgets work on 50–60Hz (positive polarity), sometimes more. How do the waste-products of Am-European progress affect your lifestyle?
Life expectancy has increased this century but now we have a rash of degenerative diseases such as cancers, leukaemia, arthritis, rheumatism, heart and vascular disease. Skeletal problems such as crumbling hips and knees requiring replacement surgery: it's as if Britain is losing bone.
The list of degenerative adaptations is long; repetitive strain injury; stress; insomnia; back pain; mental illness; epilepsy; schizophrenia; depression; diabetes; IBS; diverticulosis; allergies; PMS, ME. etc. Conventional medicine has a dismal record with these problems.
This has prompted more research in, and practice of complementary disciplines such as acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic, herbalism, nutrition, hypnosis and yoga. Magnet therapy appears to share three specific areas with these traditions, cleansing and nutrition at cellular level and balancing of electrical and magnetic fields.
Keith, a middle aged executive needed two hip replacements. He could barely walk 25 feet. He had to have his office moved to the room nearest the front door. He had already booked 2 hip replacements; whilst waiting for the operations, he was introduced to electro-magnetic therapy and recovered in a few months using a negative polarity (north-pole) pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy unit. He has just finished painting his house, clipping a 120' five foot high hedge and mowing the lawn. He avoided the operations.
One of the most consistent medical uses of PEMF therapy has been with speeding the healing of bone fractures, particularly with non-union fractures that will not knit and join. Mr R. Lightwood of the Department of Surgery, Clinical Research Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham recounts the successes he has had with PEMF therapy over many years. These include circulatory disease of the lower limbs, oedema, bronchial oedema, pain relief, dental pain and deep vein thrombosis. Bone fractures were sometimes healing in half the normal time.
Mr W.J.W. Sharrard MD, ChM. FRCS, from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield ran a double-blind trial from 1981 - 1987 on fractures of the tibial shaft. These cases were picked for clinical and radiological signs of delayed union. The effect of treatment was shown to be highly significant
In 1990 It was estimated that in America over 100,000 operations were conducted annually using PEMF therapy for assisting healing times.
Units have been designed specifically for horses, and are now being used widely in stables around the world for soft tissue wounds or sprains, and for healing fractures.,
I met Dr Sergei Gerasimov from the State Medical University, Lvov, Ukraine at the 1996 World Congress on Magneto-therapy, held at the Royal Society of Medicine in May. He brought good news for asthmatic children, describing the use of PEMFs treatment of asthma. In a controlled study with 98 children he found improvement in 70%, compared with only 32% of the controls. This congress brought experts from all over the world to discuss 2 decades of PEMF therapy in clinical practice.
As well as large commercial PEMF units there have in recent years been smaller, simpler therapy units available for home use. These come in a variety of forms.
1 Portable mains powered units giving off PEMFS. These may be north pole fields (- negative fields – safe, calming, restful); or south pole (+ positive fields – stimulating over short periods of time only, followed by long periods of negative field frequencies). Then there are bi-polar fields (negative and positive mixed). These units come with capacities of various magnetic strengths (guass) and frequencies to suit varying problems (and pockets).
2 There are solid state magnets which give off permanent negative magnetic fields. These are incorporated into articles of clothing, bedding, cushions5, belts and spectacles for eye treatment, bracelets, necklaces, and – you guessed it – hats, of high guass neodymium magnets consisting of north pole fields which are placed over the crown of the head.
Whilst EM fields with low frequencies which mimic the natural frequencies (negative polarity) of the earth's surface are beneficial, heavy plant like radar, power-lines, X-rays almost certainly create unhealthy fields. America has legislated against erecting high voltage lines near dwellings; to many peoples' disappointment the UK has not.
However, even 60 Hz can be problematical, which is the frequency of many domestic appliances. George Washnis and Richard Hricak's electric and eclectic book Discovery of Magnetic Health, a Health Care Alternative3 is a boundary mover. They recall many doctors' and practitioners' research over the past decade. One researcher discovered that cancer cells exposed to 60 Hz (positive polarity) field for 24 hours underwent 6 times normal growth within a week. Could portable telephones working on high 80m Hz with south pole (positive fields) be hazardous?
Happily the opposite appears also to apply. 18 years of American research on cancers in animals showed north pole (negative) treatments resulted in tumour development reduced or stopped, in 90% of cases. South pole (positive) fields reversed this, showing aggravation of pathological conditions and advancement of tumours.,
Medical doctors in America are using magnet therapy for patients with certain tumours. Dr Harry Park of Vancouver, Washington successfully treats breast cancer patients with PEMF therapy (and herbal drinks which speed up [X ten] detoxification symptoms): there are many more examples in this important book.
British magno-therapist Malcolm Cummings, spent a large proportion of his working life as a successful executive for a large oil company, when catastrophe struck in 1982. He was hit by a viral infection of the glandular system, which led to years of chronic fatigue. He recalls how he could hardly walk 50 yards, and used to spend at least 16 hours a day in bed. This went on for 8 miserable years, with all the symptoms of ME (which then was not recognised by medicine), as he sampled all the latest drugs and their side-effects.
Hearing about magnet therapy he ordered a magnetic mattress, pillows, cushion, shoe insoles, and a mains powered PEMF unit. The first few days were bad, he admits, but improvement rapidly followed, and in as little as three months he was back to normal.
Cummings went on to develop the first pocket portable PEMF home treatment unit – the Mini-Bio. This is the first portable PEMFs machine which gives off twin north pole fields. Patented in 1995, it has recently been awarded the highest CE mark of European certification. He has now invented the Maxi-bio, a larger unit for clinicians and veterinarians.
Malcolm Cummings is to be congratulated on being invited to address the American Institute of Stress (AIS) 1997 at their annual conference in Montreux, Switzerland to demonstrate his therapy, and outline successful clinical applications of magno-therapy on stress. AIS pride themselves on being at the cutting edge of science.
Testimonials include a man who had been suffering for 15 years from sinusitis and tinnitus was cured in ten days. A lady in a wheel chair lost the oedema in her legs, and 'at last' found sitting more comfortable. A son, so impressed by the 'remarkable improvement' of his mother (who suffered from depression and lethargy, a painful knee and neck), that he 'borrowed' the unit and tried it on his long-standing eczema and was completely cured in 12 days. Recovery from Jet-lag was found to be more rapid. All these people treated themselves at home, using the Mini-bio mentioned above, or were treated by David Smith at the Leicester Therapy Centre (0116 263 8880), one of the few clinics specialising in PEMF treatment. He also advises business clients on matters of EM pollution.
So it seems that the question in 1996 is not 'Does magnet therapy work?' but 'How does it work?'
Mirroring the planet and the atom, each human cell has a positive charge inside and a negative charge on the outside (of the cell membrane; there is a difference in voltage of about 70 millivolts).
There seems general agreement among clinicians that beneficial magnetic fields:-
1 – increase blood flow and improve the oxygen carrying abilities of haemoglobin. As 4% of the latter is iron, beneficial low frequency magnetic fields make molecules spin into vortices (the Hall Effect). Greater oxygenation in tissues increases resistance to micro-organism invasion as such organisms tolerate oxygen less than human cells.
2 – affect the calcium bicarbonate bonds, stretching, bending and breaking them, converting calcium bicarbonate to calcium hydroxide (+ carbon dioxide); thus increasing alkalinity in extra-cellular fluids – capable of absorbing more oxygen than a low pH fluid. Micro-organisms thrive in more acid conditions., Calcium ions, can now migrate to where they should be: not getting stacked against cell walls, but winging their way electrically to feed or mend bone, or to withdraw from a painfully arthritic hand or knee. Improved transportation of ions of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, chromium, etc, means better cell nutrition (and excretion).
3 – stimulate the pineal gland in the brain encouraging the production of melatonin. Melatonin prevents production of free-radicals: It has been described as 'a central governing neuro-hormone, having anti-stress, anti-ageing, anti-infectious and anti-cancerous effects'. (Semm, P., Nature. 1980.) Perhaps it should not be surprising therefore to find that magnet therapy has helped with psychoneuroimmunological problems such as ME, depression, Seasonally Adjusted Depression, lethargy, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. Do happy people have lots of melatonin?
4 – can increase or decrease hormone production of the endocrine glands. At this stage I refer any gallant reader who may still be with me to the medical textbooks and the internet for more stimulating reading.
There are critics of course, and in plenty among medical and scientific professionals. They are right in saying more research needs to be done. Many perhaps will have had neither time for research, nor the use of a PEMF unit for their own practice. Let's hope change comes soon, and that research is well-funded.
Magnet therapy appears to be complementary to many types of medicine, preventive and curative.
Whilst some cures are swift, others are more drawn out and sadly not all conditions will respond to magnet-therapy.
PEMF therapy should not be applied to those with pace-makers, if pregnant, in dialysis or it they have had recent cases of chicken pox. Always ask your doctor first.
When buying equipment ensure correct polarities, magnetic strengths and frequencies. If advice is needed ask a reputable supplier. There are some cowboys out there to whom technical knowledge comes low in priorities.
1. R. Lightwood, Department of Surgery, Clinical Research Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham BIS OTH. J.Blomed.Eng. 1989, Vol 11, September.
2. W.J.W. Sharrard MD, ChM, FRCS, the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield Professor Associate of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Sheffield, and Emeritus Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, 140 Manchester Road, Sheffield S1O SDL; (J Bone Joint Surgery [Br] 1990; 72-B; 347 – 55, May)
3. Discovery of Magnetic Health, A Health Care Alternative, Washnis G.J. & Hricak R.Z., Nova Publishing Company, Rockville, Maryland, USA, 1993). (Fax 301 816 0816). Available in the UK from 15 Argyll Mansions, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8QG.
4. Davids A.R. & Rawis W. Magnetic Blueprint of Life. 1979, (in 3) above).
5. Zenith Marketing Ltd. (all magnetic products). 6 Langton Green, Woolston. Warrington, Cheshire WAl 4BU
6. For information concerning the publication of The Proceedings of the 1996 Congress on Magneto-therapy, please send A5 SAE plus £1.00 stamps to 15 Argyll Mansions, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8QG
7. Shakti Chakra. PO Box 3984, London SE12 OEJ tel 0956 233694 fax 020 8304 3949
8. Gerasimov, Dr, Sergei, Tkachenko S. Coghil R. Extra high frequency EMF in supplemental management in childhood asthma.
9. Semm, P., Nature, ref 8, 228 (1980) 206. Magnetic Sensitivity of the Pineal Gland.
10. David J. Smith, Magnatherapist. The Leicester Therapy Clinic, Alternative & Complementary Healthcare Counselling & Advisory Centre, 94 Cyprus Road, Leicester LE2 8QS tel/fax 0116 2838880
11. When an atom or molecule becomes electrically charged, it is called an Ion.
12. When water is passed through a magnetic field, It becomes more alkaline (higher pH).
14. Equestrian Innovations. Phil Scott. Equestrian Innovations Ltd, Mount Ballan Manor, Crick, Gwent, NP6 4XP. tel 01291 424 710
Treatment is often holistic, checking for allergies, food or chemical sensitivities, diet analysis and advice.
Detoxification symptoms can be experienced in the first five days.
Natural food supplements such as chlorella (A), spirulina (B) and aphanizomenon flos aquae (C), or a mixture of the three (ABC): Propolis (D); vitamin C with zinc, and fresh organic wheatgerm (Vitamin E) is a basic nutritious and cleansing supplement which will encourage good food intake.