PHYS-L Magnets and Healing

Date: Sun, 3 Mar 1996 09:03:43 -0700
From: Jane Jackson <jane.jacksonASUedu>
To: Multiple recipients of list PHYS-L <PHYS-L@UWF.BITNET>
Subject: Re: Magnetic Healing

Richard Swanson wrote:
"Vets and trainers are wrapping magnets of some kind around injured or
healing parts of horses.  The claim is that healing is enhanced.  One
horse person just showed me a blanket that had one-inch diameter metal
discs attached about every six inches all over a horse blanket (cost
about $1000).  After a night of wearing the blanket, her horse's
injury-related muscle soreness was noticeably improved.  Very reputable
trainers and vets observe the positive effects."

Richard asks for info and insight. Here are some examples:

1. I have an abstract of a paper from the College of Veterinary Medicine at
the University of Minnesota.  Calvin Kobluk, DVM, Gary Johnson, DVM, and
Linda Lauper, BVSc did the study using a pad in which magnets were
embedded.  I quote the abstract:

Eight horses were randomly assigned to a treatment and control forelimb in
a crossover design study. The treatment limb had an EQUINEpad (TM) applied
to the dorsal third metacarpus (shin) with a modified Robert-Jones bandage
for 48 hours with one bandage change.  The control limbs were treated in an
identical fashion except for the EQUINEpad (TM). At 48 hours scintigraphy
was performed in three phases:

        1. Vascular phase
        2. Soft tissue phase
        3. Bone phase

Total counts were recorded for the treatment and control limbs
simultaneously. Sixteen trials were performed with each limb acting as a
treatment and a control. These results were analyzed statistically using a
paire T test.

The results of the vascular phase show a HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT (p < .01)
increase in counts associated with magnet application.  Fifteen of the
sixteen limbs tested showd increased vascular response. The soft tissue
pphase also had a HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT response (p=.01) with thirteen of the
sixteen limbs showing increased activity, as did the bone phase (p<.01)
with fourteen of the sixteen limbs showing increased activity.

This study shows that application of the EQUINEpad (TM) to the third
metacarpus of the horse increases the circulation and metabolic activity of
the soft tissue and bone....
(I don't know the date or any other particulars of this study.)

2. Since life is partly stories, too, I'll tell one of my stories.  A few
years ago I developed an ache above one of my top teeth. The dentist took
an x-ray and could find nothing wrong.  I taped a disc magnet over the area
and noticed that the pain disappeared within 10 minutes.  Whenever I took
off the magnet the pain returned.  I wore the magnet most of the time for
about a month - simply for expediency: I didn't enjoy being in pain and the
magnet helped significantly. After about a month, as I recall, the
condition cleared itself.

3. Another story: I have a good friend, a retired symphony conductor in his
70's. One of his fingers is severely deformed with arthritis (too much work
with hammers in earlier years, he said).  The finger used to hurt
chronically, and it was especially painful when it bumped against something
- even when it was just a light bump.  Last fall I suggested that he tape
two 1/2 inch disc magnets to that finger each night when he went to bed.
After doing this for some time (on the order of days or weeks), he told me
that the pain decreased to practically nothing, even when he taps it
against something.  He continues to use the magnets nightly, since they
help him so much.

If you have an older friend with arthritis in a finger or toe joint, you
might get them to try it; it's easy to do.

More research needs to be done on permanent magnets.

4. I've heard that the large oil companies use permanent magnets to improve
the flow of crude oil in pipes. Their engineers would know, I suppose.
Anyone got any contacts?

5. Thousands of articles have been published in medical and biological
journals on studies of healing done with pulsed magnetic fields.  The
increase in circulation is documented.  One postulate to explain the
reduction in pain is that the threshold of the action potential is modified
slightly. I would like to see more on this; my impression is that the
mechanisms aren't known well.

6. One of the most complete series of studies of pulsed magnetic fields
that I know of is from a biotechnology company, Orthologic, in Phoenix.
(The CEO, Alan Weinstein, is a PhD bioengineer; they work with ASU. I heard
him give a colloquium there.) They patented a bone healing device which
uses a static and an alternating magnetic field, both the size of the
Earth's field.  Sounds amazing, doesn't it!

Orthologic's research culminated in a clinical study of more than 180
people with non-union bone fractures which hadn't healed in more than 9
months. 100 or so of the people used the device next to the non-union
fracture for 1/2 hour per day for 3 months.  Every bone fracture healed!

It turns out that the frequency is the crucial variable: bone healing only
occurs when the frequency is any harmonic of the cyclotron frequencies of
both calcium and magnesium. (One of these ions stimulates growth, the other
stimulates maturation of bone.) The right frequency improves the ability of
these ions to move through the cell membrane.  (As little as 1 or 2 extra
calcium ions transported through the membrane has been shown to make the
difference in activation of healing; apparently a cascading effect occurs.)
The mechanisms aren't known well, but I've seen a few models proposed in
journal articles (ex. Journal of Bioelectricity).

Jane Jackson, PhD. Professor of Physics, Scottsdale Comm.Col. (on leave)
Box 871504, Dept. of Physics, Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ 85287-1504.
phone:(602) 965-8438      fax: 965-7331     e-mail: jane.jacksonASUedu
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