History of magnets

How do magnets work?

Magnetic strength and measurement

Uses of magnets for common ailments

Application of magnetic therapy

Magnetic Therapy Research

Magnetic water

Animals and Magnetic therapy

Painkillers And Their Side-Effects

How Healthy Are You?


By Dr. Michael Tierra L.AC., O.M.D.

Magnetic energy is a structuring force of the universe. As such, it is a reflection of the order that causes the infinite stars and planets throughout the galaxies to revolve and spin at incredible velocities while remaining in their respective orbits. As one of the four fundamental forces of nature along with gravity, nuclear energy and radioactivity, electromagnetism is equivalent in definition to the traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concept of ‘Qi’, or the East Indian Ayurvedic definition of ‘Prana’. These concepts are what many in the West, regard as the ‘life force’.

Personally, I have had long occasion to experiment and use magnets beginning with myself and then extending to family, friends, students and patients. Two particular occasions on myself were most convincing. Both were soft tissue injuries, one to my elbow and the other, a ligament injury to my knee, which I will describe further on. The elbow pain stemmed from an unknown cause, perhaps an injury or strain. It had persisted for at least 2 weeks, during that time I tried acupuncture and herbal treatments, which offered only minor temporary relief. As is well known, soft tissue injuries can take some time for repair. It would be most helpful, however, if during that time, there was a simple, non-invasive method to hasten the healing and relieve the pain.

I decided to experiment using magnets to treat the problem. While I had previously heard of magnet therapy, basically that there was a difference therapeutically between the magnet’s North and South polarities, I had no previous experience or further knowledge of their use. When I taped a small 1000 acuband magnet directly on the skin over the ‘trigger’ point or centre of the pain in my arm. I was amazed to find that the pain almost completely disappeared within 5 minutes. I decided to experiment further, first by removing and reapplying the magnet a few times. Each time the pain returned when the magnet was removed and all but completely disappeared again when reapplied. I then experimented by turning the magnet over to change its polarity from the North, which is cooling and dispersing, to South, which is heating and building. I discovered that when the South side of the magnet was against the skin, the pain intensified and by reversing the magnet to North, it was alleviated.

Since that time, I have been intrigued with the therapeutic possibilities of bio-magnetic therapy. However, I still had no idea whether the magnetic treatment to my own arm was only symptomatic or could eventually promote complete healing. Further, I found that there were discrepancies both in print and from various distributors concerning the importance and definition of the North and South sides of a magnet. Despite my confusion, I tentatively began to use magnets on my patients. Because, however, I had such an unsure grasp of any basic theoretical or practical methodology, my results were inconclusive.

I say all this because there may be others who, like myself, felt or presently feel unsure about the value and results of an experience of biomagnetic therapy. Through my example they may appreciate a further corroboration by another who has become fully convinced that biomagnetic therapy may well be one of the safest and most powerful natural healing methods, especially for the relief of pain ever discovered by humankind.

My interest in magnets was rekindled a few years later when I had a crippling tissue injury to the medial aspect of my right knee. It was particularly debilitating because there were few positions standing, sitting or reclining that could provide relief. Having nearly all but forgotten about my previous experience with the magnets on my elbow, I began by using acupuncture, moxabustion (heat applied to a specific acupuncture points) and herbal poultices, fomentations and liniments. Everything helped but I still could barely walk or find a comfortable position to either sit or recline.

I certainly was not looking forward to having to stand and be present at a forthcoming natural products trade show that included a promised diversion to my excited young son to a nearby entertainment park. In desperation I remembered the all-but-forgotten magnets that I had stored in a cupboard near my bed. I systematically applied the North magnets to the trigger points located near the site of pain around my knee. Estimating what meridians were involved, I positioned the South magnets further up the femur and hip on the Gall Bladder and Bladder Meridians. I found, however, that it was the local application of the North magnets around the knee that was most effective. Within two hours after their application, the pain was 95% gone.

Again, I decided to conduct the same experiments on my knee that I had done a few years previous on my elbow pain, by removing and reapplying them, changing the magnets to irrelevant locations and reversing their polarity. My previous findings were absolutely corroborated. I eventually discovered that I needed to wear the magnets on the trigger points around my knee nearly continuously for about two months before the problem became sufficiently stabilized and resolved.

After this second powerful experience with bio-magnetic therapy, I decided to apply magnets on all my patients along with the acupuncture, dietary and herbal therapy that was part of my normal practice. I wanted to discover for myself the range of their effectiveness for a wide variety of complaints. Since that time, I have found bio-magnetic therapy to be around 90% effective for the relief of pains and conditions caused by inflammation. For examples, a woman with diagnosed symptoms of colitis, had tried many forms of conventional and non-conventional treatment over the year previous but was relieved with the application of magnets to her lower abdomen within a week. Another man with arthritis in his hands and fingers with only minimal response from acupuncture and herbal therapy used magnetic balls to relieve and eventually remedy his condition completely. Similarly, another man had encroaching stiffness in his fingers that was threatening to impair his main love, playing the guitar. He also found the results he was seeking with the use of magnetic balls. As a pianist, I can only imagine the benefit these simple magnetic balls could be to the many who have suffered injury from repetitive use or wrong playing.

Everyone who had acute or chronic lower back, elbow or knee problems found relief and in many cases, complete recovery from the local application of magnets. Patients with asthma, found that the application of magnets to their upper back or chest would provide them the relief they desperately needed without any further external medication. The list goes on to include patients with upper respiratory allergies, gastro-intestinal and digestive complaints, migraine headaches—all were relieved with use of magnets—and the list of conditions continues to expand. Now with the expanded methods of application using magnetized water, magnetized oils, magnetic mattresses and mattress pads, jewellery and so forth, I am convinced that there is no condition that bio-magnetic therapy would not be at least helpful.

Because of my experience with traditional Eastern systems of medicine, including Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) and East Indian Ayurvedic medicine, I was able to tangibly experience the fundamental energetic basis of healing with magnets described in various traditional healing systems around the world. I could tangibly understand that the North facing side of a magnet was equivalent in energy to the definition in TCM of Yin, or in Ayurveda of Shakti energy. The South facing side was equivalent to TCM Yang, or Ayurvedic Shiva energy. I also understood that the relative strength of a magnet determined whether it was to be used as an important energetic nutrient when in low strength (under 1000 gauss), or a high powered therapeutic tool in high strength (over3000 gauss) that should be used with due respect.

Essentially, like other forms of natural healing energy, if reasonably used, magnets are very forgiving. Except for the obvious contraindications noted, it is rare that anyone would experience anything more than a minor discomfort or aggravation usually caused by using magnets too strong, applying the wrong North-South polarity for a given area or generally an over exposure to a strong magnetic field. If, for instance, one misapplies them over a wrong area, uses the wrong polarity or uses magnets that are inappropriately too strong, there may be a period of minor aggravation and discomfort that is easily remedied as soon as they are appropriately changed or removed. As with herbs, acupuncture and all other systems of natural healing, trial and error is a valid approach to bio-magnetic therapy.

Science recognizes a close relationship between electricity and magnetism. In 1820, Hans Oerstead of Denmark discovered a direct relationship between electricity and magnetism by showing that an electric current flowing in a wire caused by a nearby compass needle to be deflected. Following the discoveries of Oersted, Ampere, the 18th century physicist whose notable achievements were germinal to the harnessing of electrical energy, discovered a quantitative relationship between the strength of an electric current with the magnetic field it creates (Ampere’s theorem). Noting the close relationship between electricity and magnetism, he described magnetism as 'electricity thrown into curves'.

Just as stars and planets revolve in galactic orbits, each atom has a nucleus around which spins various positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons that in turn generate a magnetic field. To reiterate, health represents a balance of these positive and negative forces described in TCM as Yin and Yang, in Ayurvedic medicine as ‘Shiva’ and ‘Shakti’, and in Western physiology as the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

The current theory of ‘free radicals’ as the cause of degenerative diseases and aging, is based on the concept of a negatively charged electron spinning out of their orbit, invading another cell which in turn causes a cellular disruption that sends other subatomic particles off their respective orbits. This results in cellular chaos. Bio-magnetic healing is able to passively provide a stimulus for the restoration og balance at a subatomic level and offset the devastating domino-effect of harmful free radicals.

Because every atom generates an electromagnetic (EM) field, we, along with nature, are imbued with the power of electromagnetism. It is also possible for us to channel our innate positive electromagnetic energy for healing both others and ourselves.

Stressing the importance of electromagnetism, Einstein, ‘we may therefore regard matter as being constituted by the regions of space in which the field is extremely intense…there is no place in this new kind of physics both for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.’ (Our italics)

The mystic founder of Theosophy, Madame Blavatsky states similarly in different terms when she describes: ‘Matter is spirit at its lowest level and spirit is matter at its highest level.’

It is said that what may be described as matter, the nucleus of an atom, is so infinitesimal that if we were able together all the nuclei of a human body, it would be no larger than a period at the end of a sentence. Thus, modern physics theorizes that what we call matter may not be particles at all, but the presence of an impenetrable electro-magnetic field.

Life, comprised of a complex chain of bio-chemical and physiological processes is activated and animated by an invisible bio-magnetic force. Apropos of this, Dr. F.K. Bellokossy of Denver Colorado, described life as an 'infinitely intelligent interaction of electro-magnetic energies carried by chemical substances.'

Modern medicine has come to depend upon such high tech diagnostic procedures as the (ECG) electro-cardiogram, the (EEG) electroencephalogram, the (EMG) electromyogram to measure the electrical activity in the heart, the cerebral cortex, and the skeletal muscles respectively. If there were no electrical energy in the body, such tests would not be possible.

From the perspective of bio-magnetics, health is based upon the individual cells of the body vibrating at a characteristic normal frequency. Disease, on the other hand, represents an abnormal change in cellular vibration. The therapeutic application of magnets and herbs, at the deepest level, is based on the principle of restoring normal cellular vibration.

This understanding should make magnetic therapy very accessible to those who have an energetic approach to treatment and it would include Traditional hebalism, TCM, Ayurveda and some Western ‘holistically’ oriented mind-body therapies.


Four thousand years ago, in the magnesia area of Northern Greece, a shepherd by the name of Magnes, is said to have stood upon a black rock, and been able to separate the metal tip of his staff, or the nails in his shoes from it.  The rock was subsequently named magnetite, and the polarity pointing devices we know today, became ‘magnets’.  However the first ‘real’ magnet, was Earth itself, having a North and South pole, and being surrounded by a magnetic field.  Such things affect the Earth’s magnetic field as the passage of the Moon, and bombardment by solar storms, so that the magnetic North and South poles do not always match the geographic ones.

It was inevitable, that sooner or later Man would attempt to harness the power of magnets for various uses, including ‘medical’ ones.  As far back as 2000B.C. magnetic stones are mentioned in the oldest medical text ever found, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.  Aristotle would write about their healing properties in the third century B.C.  and on it would go, through 1777 when the French Royal Society of Medicine became the first academy to study the magnetic treatment of illnesses.  Du Bois Raymond, having proven the body produces electrical impulses, started a revolution in medical investigation of the use of magnets.

Proponents of magnetic therapy for human and animal illness or pain are quick to point out that all life exists in, and responds to, the magnetic forces of Earth.  Their practice of magnetic therapy is not a treatment they have created out of thin air, but is simply utilising the magnetic properties of the body, to help it heal itself.  The fact that we now live in an environment where microwaves, electrical wires, computers and other forces also apply magnetic force in our daily lives, is cited as one cause for the disturbance or the body’s own natural magnetic balance.

In theory, magnets are said to increase the blood flow in capillaries, flushing out lactic acid and other inflammatory substances from tissues, thereby relieving pain and inflammation.  Increased blood flow results in more oxygen being carried to muscles that may be cramped or experiencing spasms for lack of it.  Besides the development of such tools as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which has replaced x-ray; and magneto encephalography to record brain activity, basic magnets are being touted as the way to treat a variety of illnesses, plus bring pain relief without drugs.

Numerous medical researchers, who have flocked to the discipline, work on the premise that the human body is governed by varying ionic currents, and natural magnetic fields.  The Earth’s negative field at night induces sleep, healing, and reduction of inflammation among other benefits.  The Sun’s positive magnetic influences during the day, are exactly the opposite, causing stress, pain, cramps, and an assortment of other illnesses, particularly when paired with the man-made magnetic fields of modern technology.  Their goal therefore, is to adjust the body’s magnetic fields, by the generation of magnetic force, or the placement of magnets on the body, in order to create a negative force field.  The benefits of this negative force are claims to relieve everything from stress, arthritis, sleeplessness, viral infection and cancers, to dozens of other common and rare disorders or syndromes.

While there are many testimonials to relief from illness and pain, to date there is no solid, scientific evidence that the use of magnets results in any physical benefits.  The FDA has yet to approve magnetic therapy as a healing method or practice.

What anyone seeking an alternative to traditional medicines needs to ask themselves is, whether they want to tamper with the natural flux and balance of the magnetic field in their bodies, and if so, how can they be sure that the results will be beneficial.  Despite the ambivalence of the medical profession towards the practice as a whole, it warns pregnant women, and those with pacemakers or defibrillating regulators to avoid contact with magnets, which pose definite threats.

How much ‘drawing power’ magnetic therapy will have for the future, remains to be seen.


by Dr. William Pawluk, MD, MSc.

The human body floats in a sea of magnetic fields—those of the earth, moon, and other galactic fields. The body is full of magnetic materials. Every cell and atom of the body is a small magnetic dynamo. The body's fields, which are very tiny, are measured in devices called SQUIDS. The earth's field is 100,000 times stronger than the body's! We are so dependant on the earth's fields that astronauts in space for long periods require artificial magnetic fields to maintain health.

Magnetic fields penetrate the body as if it were air. Nothing in the body stands in the way of a magnetic field. The body is 70% or more water, which doesn't reduce or block magnetic fields. A strong magnet held on one side of the hand can easily deflect a compass needle on the other side of the same hand.

SQUIDS show that tissues exposed to magnets have enhanced magnetic signals afterward for some time. Various types of magnets produce these effects. They include permanent magnets, such as flat magnetic pads and electromagnets of various kinds, such as MRI machines and nerve conduction testing devices.

Some acupuncturists use permanent magnets because they are painless and allow treatment to continue after a visit. While a student in acupuncture, I was experimenting on myself with two of the most powerful acupuncture magnets available. In two separate trials, I felt an obvious buzzing sensation in my chest and abdomen. By chance I stimulated two acupuncture meridians! This proved that magnets significantly affect acupuncture points and meridians. I also worked with a physician friend who owns some sensitive electrical testing equipment. We were able to show that magnets increase the energy (chi) flow along a hard meridian. In my practice, I now frequently replace needles for magnets.

Magnets act on the body in many ways:

  • They stimulate the acupuncture points and meridians. In this way, they can be used for all kinds of problems, especially for pain, fibromyalgia and muscle strains.

  • They work on red blood cells because they contain iron. I placed a round bulls eye magnet on a nurse's knee bruise following a ski injury. The next morning she had a perfect bulls eye pattern over her bruise!

  • Most people report warmth and gentle tingling under the magnets. Europeans have measured increased blood flow. Others have seen this on thermograms too.

  • They affect some chemical processes within and between cells. Chemists use sensitive magnetic equipment to measure simple and complex molecules. Researchers at Harvard found that salt water passes a membrane quicker with a magnetic field.

  • They can affect nerve signals.

High strength magnets can cause anaesthesia, through a principle in physics called the Hall effect.  Dr Robert Becker (author of Body Electric) put salamanders to sleep before surgery with electromagnets more safely than anaesthetics. Magnets can stop epileptic seizures.  They are also used to study and map nerve structures deep in the brain, normally only accessible during brain surgery.

I hope the above has helped to inform you about the exciting new field of biomagnetics which has great potential to help people.  We are clearly seeing a new day in medical sciences and health care with the expanded awareness and use of complementary techniques of care.

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