Magnetic therapy is nothing new and in recent years it has become the latest thing to help heal both humans and horses. Even I have been swayed by magnets recently and have started using them on both me and Scottie. But with many people swearing by them and very little research backing up these claims, it can be hard to know if magnets actually help healing or not.
Electricity is Everything
Living things are all slightly electric. Your cells communicate using tiny electrical signals. Your heartbeat is controlled by an electrical wave and every cell in your body has an electrical charge.
If you have ever put a strong magnet near a watch, you may have noticed that the watch stops working. This is because the magnet attracts the electrons. Electrons make up the electrical current, so when the magnet pulls the electrons away from where they should be going, the electrical device goes dead.
Since your body can also be thought of as having an electrical current running through it, putting magnets against your body can alter this current in your body. This is where magnetic therapy comes in, as it is believed that editing the body’s electrical current can have beneficial effects.
What does Magnetic Therapy do?
While researchers disagree on whether magnets have a healing and pain relief affect on the body, there are some things they do agree on. Research has found that magnet therapy:
- Increased circulation
- Vasodilatation (widening of blood vessels)
- Muscle relaxation
- Reduction of swelling and inflammation
- Reduction of nerve-cell firing
- Reduction of free radicals
Reduction of nerve-cell firing is linked to reducing pain and the reduction of free radicals is linked to reducing inflammation and giving the immune system a boost. However, studies have been unable to confirm whether magnet therapy does indeed reduce pain and improve the immune system.
Risks of Magnetic Therapy
Unfortunately, as there is very little evidence to determine the benefits of magnetic therapy, there is even less evidence of the risks of magnetic therapy. I am yet to see a medical professional say the general use of magnets is too risky, there are rough guidelines out there to help prevent some possible issues.
One example of this is not to use magnetics on or near and open wound. This is because if magnets increase blood flow, you don’t really want this as it could cause the wound to keep bleeding. There has also been suggestions that magnet therapy can increase the temperature in the area. Which depending on the injury is not a great thing!
Types of Magnetic Therapy
Static Magnetic Therapy
The most common type of magnetic therapy is static magnetic therapy. This is where you have one or multiple magnets close to the skin. Magnetic jewellery, horse boots and stable wraps are all examples of static magnetic therapy.
Electro/Pulse Magnet Therapy
This is where the electromagnets are used. They tend to be stronger and can be turned on and off. There is conflicting evidence as to which type of magnet therapy is better. But for the every day person, static magnetic therapy is more accessible.
Should you use Magnetic Therapy?
While the jury is still out on the true benefits of magnetic therapy and any associated risks, many professionals believe that it is a therapy worth trying. Anyone with a horse suffering with stiffness and/or arthritis should consider magnet therapy as circulation is a key factor in improving this. You may have also seen that I am currently trying magnetic therapy with Scottie to see if it improves his niggling lameness.