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Makers of therapeutic magnets claim the products can improve circulation, alleviate pain and deliver added energy through targeted magnetism, despite fairly overwhelming medical opposition. From magnetic mattress pads and shoes to joint wraps and jewelry, the intent is to aim magnetic energy into certain joints or muscle groups to target a range of conditions and injuries. Though therapeutic magnet manufacturers are not legally allowed as of 2011 to market these products with promises of effectiveness in the United States and other countries, they are nevertheless sold with those intended purposes throughout the globe.
According to Dr. Stephen Barrett at the Quackwatch Web site, several key legal battles were fought by U.S. federal and state authorities starting in the late 1990s against the marketing claims of some therapeutic magnet manufacturers. This led to an overarching ban on official claims that medical magnets work. Until that time, these products were sold in the United States as pain relievers with proven results, ones that could heal injuries faster and ease symptoms of conditions like arthritis, sciatica and diabetes. Barrett cites two early studies that seemed to indicate some pain benefits of the therapeutic magnet, including one performed by the Baylor College of Medicine; however, more in-depth studies by the likes of the Mayo Clinic and the New York College of Podiatric Medicine found no benefits.
Still, in 2011, vendors in the United States and abroad claim the products are effective, despite no stamp of approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The marketing from American companies selling therapeutic magnet products appears to toe the legal-wrangling line. On the one side, the companies explicitly explain how the products can be effective for improving health problems, while also stating that no official government sanction has been obtained.
The E-Magnet Shop Web site sells therapeutic magnet mattress pads, jewelry, shoe inserts and wraps for body areas from head to toe — all touted for being able to reduce pain and improve vitality. After claiming the results of using this therapy in concert with a well-rounded healthy lifestyle, the company states at the bottom of its home page that no direct claim of effectiveness has been made. The company goes on to state that their products are not being sold as medical devices.
Anyone who is pregnant or using a pace maker is urged to refrain from using therapeutic magnets, even by the companies selling them. It is also commonly advised to keep computers and credit cards a good distance away from the products. The magnets can irrevocably damage such items.