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Hazel and David Croucher

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF MAGNETIC THERAPY


This page looks at the development of magnetic therapy
and why effective magnotherapy is a very recent thing.


The strange phenomenon of magnetism

Magnets first became known through lodestones — natural magnetisable crystals of the iron ore we call Magnetite, which can carry a natural magnetic flux.  This is rarely stronger than the earth’s current magnetic field, but lodestones will be attracted to each other and to iron and other magnetite, and will face in a consistent direction when dangled from a thread — a compass.  

This ‘magic’ made them truly magical objects.  So it’s not surprising that they came to be used for healing, and the consistent stories over the millennia make it likely that some people did respond to lodestone therapy.  We think that it occasionally works today.  


Here are some early examples:

The Yellow Emperor:  The first mention of magnotherapy comes from China in about 2,500 BC, from one of the first books ever written.  Huang-Ti, the Yellow Emperor, commissioned The Yellow Emperor's Book of Internal Medicine which mentions using lodestones on the body as well as magnetising acupuncture needles with lodestones for greater healing effect.

4,500 years later, modern Chinese doctors are still using traditional magnotherapy. There is a recent Chinese medical study on its use for parasites in small children. It mentions fewer side effects compared with conventional medicines.

Cleopatra is said to have slept with a lodestone on her forehead to keep her young and preserve her beauty. The Indian Ayurveda medical books also recommended using lodestones on the body for healing.  Tibetan monks still use magnets on the forehead to help memory and learning ability.

The Greek physician Galen in 200 AD wrote of using them as a purgative.  It’s not clear whether this was an external or internal application.  Galen worked in a Gladiator hospital.

Around 1000 AD, Ali Abbas, a Persian physician, wrote about using lodestones for gout and spasms in his Perfect Book of the Art of Medicine.

During the early 1500s the Swiss physician Paraclesus used magnets to treat hernia, dropsy and jaundice, as well as many other diseases.

The doctors of Elizabeth I are said to have prescribed magnets for the arthritis in her back.   But there was a dissenting minority opinion among them.  In 1600, one of them, William Gilbert, was the first person to state that the Earth itself acts like a giant magnet. He built a spherical model of the Earth out of lodestone and showed that it had a magnetic field around it similar to the field of the Earth.   He also suggested the first links between electricity and magnetism.   However, he did not agree with his colleagues that magnets had curative properties.

Historically, therapeutic magnets were used with only one pole against the body — no-one had yet discovered about juxtaposing several poles in a small area. Results were doubtful, often showing magnetic therapy as a kind of magic. However, reports from the time of the Age of Enlightenment onwards were often from sound observation, so there must have been some genuine cures.

  

Why is effective magnotherapy so recent, then?

Three things were lacking which stopped modern magnetic therapy from getting started earlier:

  1. All magnets were weak.  The first strong magnets were 19th century electromagnets and these were used to create stronger static magnets: super-lodestones, if you like.  But even these weren’t enough for sound treatment.  
  2. The value of comparative scientific study was not understood except by a few gifted people.  So, discovering why things worked — or didn’t — was very difficult.
  3. The huge advantage of using alternating magnetic flux for therapy was still a long way from being discovered.

Medically-attested modern magnotherapy uses pulsing or alternating magnetic poles against the body or — in hospitals — electromagnetic coils operated by alternating current.  Both of these methods are now well enough proven to be credible therapy.  

Yet even today, the majority of magnetic therapy appliances you can buy use the age old single-pole-to-the-body system which has been found in hundreds of medical trials to have little effect.  With such a wealth of medical evidence showing the way to go, why so?  Possibly because the Bioflow patent covers the only effective therapy outside clinics.



   With thanks to John Bain.


Where now?   Click next to see how modern science has solved the problem.

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Emperor Huang-Ti Cleopatra VII of Egypt Paraclesus Elizabeth I of England Magnotherapy IN ACTION