NCCIH (formerly NCCAM) recently used the modern communication method of Twitter to tweet their outdated review of the science and evidence for magnetic therapy. Their information page has the title “get the facts” and since they managed to leave out the most important facts, we felt compelled to write the following explanation.
The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health is part of the US government’s National Institute of Health. In 2005 it put out a so called fact sheet on magnetic therapy. We have made it available on our magnetic therapy resources page since around 2008.
The relevant information page on the NCCIH website on magnetic therapy said it was last updated in February, 2013.
The most credible research into magnetic therapy came out of Vanderbilt Medical University by a group of neurologists lead by Dr Robert Holcomb M.D., PhD. From over 10 years of research undertaken at Vanderbilt, they concluded that it was not the strength or intensity of the magnetic field that was the determining factor in the blockade of action potentials, but the magnetic field gradient. This was confirmed in the following cell studies…
- Measurement and analysis of static magnetic fields that block action potentials in cultured neurons.
- Effects of non-uniform static magnetic fields on the rate of myosin phosphorylation.
- Effects of Steady Magnetic Fields on Action Potentials of Sensory Neurons in Vitro.
It was also confirmed in the many thousands of patients treated by Dr Holcomb and in their clinical trials. None of this material even rates a mention in the NCCAM information page on magnetic therapy. The page makes no mention of magnetic field gradients or inhomogeneous magnetic fields.
More recently, Dr Janos Laszlo from Hungry published a series of cell and animal studies and randomised controlled trials with encouraging results. None of these are even mentioned in the NCCIH so-called fact sheet on the science. Dr Laszlo’s book; From Microbes To Man: Biological Responses in Microbes, Animals, and Humans Upon Exposure to Artificial Static Magnetic Fields is available from Bentham Books. If you’re serious about getting facts on magnetic field therapy, we would highly recommend you purchase Dr Laszlo’s book as we have.
If you want a more indicative review of the science, we have listed much of the published research on magnetic therapy which investigates where a magnetic field gradient generating device (an inhomogeneous field) is applied directly over the pain or over the nerves that innervate the painful area. We have also described the process of central sensitization which could prove to be a novel application of Q magnets.
Out of the nine placebo controlled clinical trials we list, NCCIH has only bothered to list three of them. Brown and Weintraub were two modestly positive studies and of course nearly everyone seeking to build a case against magnetic therapy references Collacott since it was published in JAMA and showed no efficacy. But even as the Collacott study admitted, it more than likely showed no efficacy since the investigators used very weak 30mT (300 Gauss) flexible rubber magnets which would penetrate less than 10mm (o.4″) and are far too weak to have an effect on lower back pain.
But the proof is in the outcomes. We see over and over again the effectiveness of Q magnet therapy in the customers who purchase magnetic therapy products through this website, the feedback from professional athletes who use them to get back on the track sooner.
While we are not saying that the evidence overwhelmingly supports the use of Q magnet type devices, it is still encouraging and warrants further investigation. If a treatment so promising has virtually no potential risk to the patient and is relatively inexpensive with a one off purchase, why wouldn’t you try it?
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