It has been proven that some cells and tissues in the body emit electromagnetic pulses. (ref 1) Therefore, proponents postulate, when cells and tissues are unhealthy, the flow of pulses is interrupted, which causes various illnesses of the body. Because magnets interact with other magnetic fields, including those embedded in the body, proponents theorize that they also may work to restore homeostasis of the magnetic energy fields affected. Consumers are generally marketed static magnets–magnets with a permanent magnetic field.
Most research into magnetic therapy has centered on the frequently-marketed claim that magnets are effective as pain relievers and can reverse some diseases. Using various types of magnets and therapies, treatments are offered for migraines, broken bones, improving blood flow, to reverse disease and as a cure for cancer.
Alternative Pain Relief
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that no types of magnets have conclusively been proven to alleviate pain, though some patients have reported relief. Electromagnetic therapy research produced better results for pain relief than static magnetic therapy in clinical trials. Under medical supervision, electromagnetic therapy has shown promise in facilitating healing of broken bones and relieving some types of pain.
Magnetic Therapy for Cancer
In 1970, research by Dr. Albert Roy Davis revealed that positive and negative magnetic fields had differing effects on the body's biological systems. His claims, extrapolated from this phenomenon, were that it could kill cancer cells in animals, cure infertility, arthritis pain, glaucoma and improve other medical conditions. To date, magnetic therapy has not proven an effective anticancer treatment.
Consumers, lured by marketing literature, mostly purchase magnets as a self-treatment through the internet and without first consulting with their physician. It's important to note that manufacturers must get approval from the FDA before they can make claims about a device's ability to treat a medical condition, and this includes magnets. Some bogus claims include promoting magnetic therapy devices for conditions such as cancer, viral, parasitic and bacterial infections, obesity, heart disease, burns, and severe cuts, to name a few.
The Food and Drug Administration warns consumers of possible unknown side effects of static magnetic therapy for some populations. Therefore, pregnant women are cautioned against usage, as well as people who use a medical device such as a pacemaker, defibrillator, or insulin pump, and those who use a patch that delivers medication through the skin. It is recommended that you consult with your physician before trying any type of alternative therapy.