Homeopathy, Magnetic Therapy and Placebos

This is an excellent article from Prof. Edzard Ernst and his homeopathic journey from advocate to sceptic. Personally, I know very little about homeopathy and will not pass judgement. But we are experts in magnetic therapy and these are observations after thousands of patients treated, being familiar with almost all of the published literature and conducting our own university sponsored randomised controlled trial.

How can the placebo effect explain the following observations with Q magnet application?

RANDOMISED CONTROLLED TRIALS:
The gold standard for medical research is the double-blind randomised controlled trial and one of the better trials was run by Dr Vallbona who was reportedly trying to debunk the notion of magnetic therapy.

Vallbona Post-Polio Magnetic Therapy Table of Results

Outcome measures were scored using the Mc Gill Pain Questionnaire.  The results of the patients using the placebo devices experienced a decrease of 1.1 ± 1.6 points (p<0.005) on a 10 point scale while the active group a decrease of 5.2 ± 3.2 (p<0.0001). Needless to say, Dr Vallbona was astonished at the therapeutic effectiveness of the magnets he used.

CLEAR OBSERVABLE EFFECTS:
Soft tissue injuries and haematomas are a common occurrence  for athletes playing contact and extreme sports. Placing Q magnets over a bruise right after impact consistently produces clear observable therapeutic effects. See before and after photos here, here and here.

There is now a significant body of evidence from cell studies, animal studies, case studies and randomized controlled trials that static magnetic fields can be optimised for therapeutic effects.

SCEPTICS RELUCTANTLY GIVING Q MAGNETS A GO:
If the placebo response comes from positive non-specific effects, the nocebo is the opposite where by strong beliefs in the ineffectiveness of a therapy can render it futile or even harmful. We have lots of cases like this. From an attendee of an educational session who was keen to show what a lot of nonsense this was, to this professional athlete who reluctantly used a Q magnet over an over use strain from his sport of shooting.

CORRECT Q MAGNET PLACEMENT AND SPECIFICITY:
There are six variables in the application of magnetic therapy and specificity is critical for good clinical outcomes. The placement of a device can be out by as much as 10mm or 1/2“ and it will not be as effective.

It is not uncommon for patients to experience great results immediately after Q magnets have been professionally applied with adhesive tape. However, within a few days and unbeknown to them the tape moves and suddenly the patient’s pain returns. They make a trip back to their therapist explaining their frustration, who notices the shift and correctly reapplies the devices and they immediately begin to work again.  Some athletes have permanent tattoos so they know exactly where to place them over L4/5 of the lumbar spine for instance. While the devices remain in the correct placement, they continue to be effective.

A mistake some patients make after removing and reapplying a Q magnet is that they don’t realise the purpose of the flux plate. They are sometimes inadvertantly applied back-to-front so that the plate shields the field from penetrating into the body. This is precisely what happened with Sam. Sam had almost immediate relief after a 15 year history of debilitating back pain. The following week Sam had his wife reapply the OF50-3 right back where it was placed over L4/5/S1 but she reapplied it with the flux plate/sticker side to the body. His pain returned to normal levels almost immediately causing disappointment. After a few days he thought to check the placement when he noticed the device had been applied incorrectly and with proper placement the pain relief was once again immediate.

TISSUE HEALING IN ANIMALS:
How does the placebo effect explain this response to tissue damage in rabbits?

 

NO PATIENT-CLINICIAN INTERACTION:
One of Prof. Ernst’s conclusions is that “Patients get better, not because of the homeopathic remedy but because of a placebo-effect and the lengthy consultation with a compassionate clinician”. While this experience does not negate the placebo effect alone we have hundreds of customers who order Q magnets through the shopping cart with no personal interaction. The devices are shipped to their door without any magic spells and the customer applies them and later on we get this type of amazing feedback!

 

While some of these observations do not negate a placebo effect, they do add to the body of evidence that there are types of magnetic therapy that are safe and effective and worthy of further investigation.

 

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