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Magnet therapyMagnet therapy, or magnetic therapy, is a pseudoscientific form of alternative medicine based on the concept that certain medical disorders can be effectively treated by exposure to magnetic fields. Some believe that magnetic fields emanating from permanent magnets placed close to the body can cause bones to heal faster, relieve pain, and perform other forms of healing to the body. It is most commonly recommended by practitioners as a cure for joint disorders and back problems. Critics charge that no verifiable evidence has been put forth that magnet therapy has any real benefits, and thus relegate it to the realm of pseudo-science. It may act as a placebo in some people.
Proponents of magnet therapy claim that subjecting certain parts of the body to doses of magnetic "energy" (or fields) has a beneficial effect. This belief has led to the popularization of an industry involving the sale of magnetic-based products for "healing" purposes: magnetic bracelets and jewelry; magnetic straps for wrists, ankles, and the back; shoe insoles, mattresses, and magnetic blankets (blankets with magnets woven into the material); and even magnetic water (water that has been "magnetized"). Criticism of these products focuses on various scientific facts about magnets, including the claim that the typical magnet used in a bracelet purchased over-the-counter is not powerful enough to penetrate human skin, let alone strong enough to have a lasting effect on muscle tissue, bones, blood vessels, or organs.
Few have demonstrated scientifically that they actually achieve what they claim, and most magnet healing product manufacturers cannot even agree on what exactly the magnetic fields do. Some claim that the magnets help to circulate the blood by some interaction with the iron in hemoglobin, a major component of red blood cells. Still others claim that the magnets can restore the body's electromagnetic energy balance. There are also claims that the south pole of a magnet acts different on the body than the north pole. The list of ways that manufacturers purport that magnetic fields affect the body is almost endless.
The vast majority of information sources and Web sites promoting magnetic therapy belong to people and understandably biased companies that sell magnetic products.
Animal magnetism was a forerunner of what would later became better known as hypnosis. The term "animal magnetism" is used today as a popular reference to the supposed ability of some people to attract or be attracted to each other.
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