Evidence is showing that magnet therapy could be the answer to treating many symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Those are the findings of researchers who published a study in October, in the journal Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, on the benefits of pulsing magnetic fields on a common presenting symptom of MS — paresthesia, commonly known as “pins and needles.”
The concept of magnets as healing devices dates back to 3,000 B.C., according to the Magnetic Therapy Council.
Magnets have been used around the world. Now, researchers say scientific findings are backing up this ancient method of healing.
Two types of therapy
There are two types of magnet-related therapies.
One involves static electromagnetic fields (EMF). The other involves time-varied/pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF).
Static magnets are what we find on the refrigerator. They can also be found in bracelets, shoe inserts, necklaces, and other devices.
Supporters say the healing powers of EMF are based on their ability to influence the tissues that come in direct contact with the magnet and its static magnetic field. EMF are often an option used in alternative medicine.
Advocates say PEMF provide an electrical frequency, as well as strength, and work by stimulating ions and electrolytes in the human body. This action improves circulation and energy and may be found in devices that range from portable pads to full size mattress pads.
While the static type of therapy is unproven, the use of PEMF therapy is gaining momentum as a healing therapy and is finding application in the treatment of people with MS.
“By significantly increasing circulation and oxygenation throughout the body PEMF allows the body to heal itself,” Dr. Gene DeLucia, D.O., of Florida, told Healthline. “It’s the future of medicine — progressive healing and repair at the cellular level.”
Keeping an eye on symptoms
People with MS and their doctors keep track of symptoms because they could reflect the progression of the disease in an individual.
Managing these symptoms is critical to people with MS wanting to maintain quality of life and daily activities, as well as limiting disability.
Researchers in the October study concluded paresthesia could be successfully treated with magnetic impulses.
A 2013 study concluded that stimulation and electromagnetic therapies also had beneficial effects on MS-related spasticity.
Fatigue also affects many people with MS and can often be debilitating. It is frequently treated with pharmaceuticals, many with serious side effects.
People with MS looking for a more natural treatment may find relief with exposure to PEMF, according to a 2009 study.
EMF were found to reduce damage and help repair myelin, according to a 2012 study. Repairing myelin is key in halting and reversing MS damage.
Magnets may have more control over MS than we know.
A geomagnetic storm is a naturally occurring, temporary disturbance of the earth’s magnetosphere. A study published in April concluded the rate of hospital and doctor visits due to acute MS relapses was higher during these solar and geomagnetic events.
And there may be effects after a storm.
The April study also stated there is a primary peak in MS remission rates shortly after intense geomagnetic storms, followed by a "secondary" peak seven to eight months later.
Editor’s Note: Caroline Craven is a patient expert living with MS. Her award winning blog is GirlwithMS.com, and she can be found @thegirlwithms.