Is there any evidence that magnetic therapy works?

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william

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william asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Are there any reputable facts whether magnetic therapy works?

What do you think?

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Offline LeeE

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Is there any evidence that magnetic therapy works?
« Reply #1 on: 07/02/2009 14:36:36 »
My father seems to think it is effective, and that's a reputable fact, but whether he's just experiencing a temporary discomfort that would have eased over the same time period of time with or without the magnets is a different issue.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline _Stefan_

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Is there any evidence that magnetic therapy works?
« Reply #2 on: 07/02/2009 15:32:37 »
There is no reputable scientific evidence that validates the hypothesis that magnetic therapy is effective.

This comprehensive article elaborates: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=18

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Yet the scientific evidence does not, generally, support the use of magnets for specific indications, and the vast majority (if not totality) of claims made for magnetic devices in marketing are either false or unsupported and highly implausible. The media attention given to a recent study of static magnetic fields (SMF) in the treatment of inflammation brings up many important points regarding this disconnect.

However, there is another form of magnetic therapy which does seem to work:
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First, it is important to recognize that not all magnets or magnetic fields are the same. The most significant difference is between pulsating magnetic fields and static magnetic fields. Electricity and magnetism are actually manifestations of the same fundamental force: electromagnetism. This was first recognized when it was discovered that a changing magnetic field can generate and electrical current, and a changing electrical current can generate a magnetic field. A pulsating magnetic field, therefore, is capable of generating an electrical current. Many aspect of cell function and communication involve electrical potentials or currents, and therefore it is plausible - at least from a physical point of view - for a pulsating magnetic field to affect electrical current in tissue and thereby manifest an effect. The best established clinical use of a pulsating magnetic field is in the healing of bone fractures. Although this effect is modest, the evidence so far supports the conclusion that there is a relevant biological response.

Science-Based Medicine is a great blog to help people separate the science from the quackery.

As I think Lee was hinting, anecdote is not scientific evidence and so cannot be used to test scientific claims.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline LeeE

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Is there any evidence that magnetic therapy works?
« Reply #3 on: 07/02/2009 17:31:50 »
Yup.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Science is continually evolving. Nothing is set in stone. Question everything and everyone. Always consider vested interests as a reason for miss-direction. But most of all explore and find answers that you are comfortable with

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lyner

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Is there any evidence that magnetic therapy works?
« Reply #5 on: 26/02/2009 22:40:35 »
And the conclusion from that thread?

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Offline LeeE

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Is there any evidence that magnetic therapy works?
« Reply #6 on: 27/02/2009 01:11:09 »
Sheryl Crowe: "if it makes you happy, it can't be that bad at all"
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Nizzle

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Is there any evidence that magnetic therapy works?
« Reply #7 on: 24/08/2009 13:12:38 »
I don't think it's allowed to post links to product/sale websites.
Best remove it before a mod spots it..
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Most poems rhyme,
but this one doesn't

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Offline that mad man

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Is there any evidence that magnetic therapy works?
« Reply #8 on: 26/08/2009 13:44:33 »
Magnets can affect the body but the magnetic strength has to be very high, around 1-3 Tesla's. At that strength it affects the water molecules in the body and the effect is used for MRI scanning. I cant see how a much weaker magnet could do anything (placebo maybe) plus we are also surrounded by the earth's magnetic field so in effect we are already in a magnet.

I think MRI scanners use pulsating electromagnetic fields as well.