Appendix I: Research on Theories and Beliefs on How Magnets Might Relieve Pain
Questions & Answers About Using Magnets to Treat Pain - Part 7
Theory: Static magnets might change how cells function.
Description of Studies: (1) Mouse nerve cells were exposed to static magnetic fields of three different strengths, and the cells were stimulated with pulses of electricity. (2) Mouse nerve cells were exposed to a static magnetic field and capsaicin (a pain-producing substance).
Findings: (1) Exposure of nerve cells in culture to a static 110-G magnetic field reduced their ability to transmit electrical impulses. (2) Magnets prevented mouse nerve cells from responding to capsaicin. Citations: (1) McLean et al., 1995,34 and (2) McLean et al., 2001,32
Theory: Magnets might alter/restore the balance between cell death and growth.
Description of Study: Cultures of the U937 human lymphoma (a tumor of lymph node tissue) cell line were exposed to a static magnetic field at the same time that they were treated with agents that cause cell death.
Findings: Static magnet fields protected some cells from agents that cause cell death and allowed them to survive and grow.
Citation: Fanelli et al., 1999,35
Theory: Static magnets might increase blood flow.
Description of Study: Randomized clinical trial (RCT) of 20 healthy young men who wore static magnets or placebo devices on their forearms for 30 minutes.
Findings: Blood flow was not significantly different when comparing the results of the magnet session with the placebo session.
Citation: Martel et al., 2002,36
Theory: Weak pulsed electromagnets might affect how nerve cells respond to pain.
Description of Study: The pain threshold to a hot surface was measured for rats before and 30 and 60 minutes after exposure to weak pulsed electromagnets for 30 minutes.
Findings: An increase in pain threshold (analgesic effect) was found 30 and 60 minutes after exposure to pulsed electromagnets.
Citation: Ryczko and Persinger, 2002,37
Theory: Pulsed electromagnets might change the brain's perception of pain.
Description of Study: Rats were exposed to pulsed electromagnets (treatment group) or static magnetics (control group) 4 hours/day, for up to 28 days. The brains were removed and changes in the number of serotonin (a brain chemical that affects stress and pain) receptors were examined.
Findings: Significant increases in the number of receptors that bind serotonin were observed in the brains of the rats exposed to a pulsed electromagnet.
Citation: Johnson et al., 2003,38
Theory: Electromagnets might affect the production of white blood cells involved in fighting infection and inflammation.
Description of Study: Human and rat white blood cells were exposed to electromagnets or pulsed electromagnets.
Findings: Both the human and rat cells exposed to either type of electromagnetic therapy (ET) showed a modest increased capacity to multiply.
Citation: Johnson et al., 2001,39
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National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland 20892 USA
NCCAM Publication No. D208