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Magnetic jewellery has certainly taken off with a bang! Its rapid rise in popularity reflects our current interest in complementary therapies, coupled with our 21st century desire for achieving optimum health.

The mysterious properties of magnets, the subject of scientific investigation down the centuries, inspires our present day curiosity to find out more about their effects on the body and possible benefits. Magnetic therapy has sparked the interest of celebrities too, such as Sir Anthony Hopkins, Shirley MacLaine and Bill Clinton.

The wearing of magnetic jewellery is considered to be the logical, self help way of obtaining the benefits of magnetic therapy on a daily basis, and looking good at the same time!
Quartz Carnelian Magnetic Bracelet Magnets

Magnets have long held a fascination for us – an invisible force with the power to attract and repel metallic objects. We can all remember our school experiments with iron filings and a piece of paper, observing as the particles are drawn towards the ends of the magnet and form patterns on the paper.

It was the Chinese in the 4th century who noticed the direction-pointing ability of natural magnetite and by the 12th century were using it as a compass for navigation. The use of this spread and by the 16th century it was used by mariners everywhere. 

Since, prior to this, the Pole Star, or Lode Star, was the prime navigational aid, the magnetite used to magnetise the compass needle became known as the lodestone.

Even today, magnets play a large part in our lives in one way or another – after all, no self-respecting refrigerator door would be seen without at least one magnet to help guide us through our hectic daily schedule!

Magnetic therapy
Recently, there has been an upsurge of interest in the healing aspect of magnetism. It has been credited with beneficial effects for a whole range of ailments such as eczema, depression, chest infections and migraine but predominantly in the easing of pain, increased energy and for encouraging the healing process. It may also have anti-ageing powers. 

The practice of magnetic therapy can be traced back to the Ancient World of the Egyptians and was probably used in the mummification process. Legend has it that Cleopatra’s long lasting beauty was attributed to the application of a magnet on her forehead! 

How it works
It is not known exactly how this magnetic healing process works, but the thinking behind its effectiveness is that the body, which contains about 4% iron, creates an electro-magnetic field which is influenced by magnets. When an area of the body is injured and swelling occurs, blood flow is restricted, giving rise to pain. The magnetic energy somehow increases blood flow to the area, thereby aiding the removal of substances such as lactic acid, and so reducing swelling and pain.

Stimulating the blood flow is thought to also increase the amount of oxygen delivered to the organs. Another suggested beneficial effect is that magnets generate heat in the body, allowing joints to become more flexible.
Early healing
There has been much research into magnetic therapy over the ages but the first person to study the phenomenon was Dr William Gilbert in the 16th century. He was fascinated by magnetism and experimented with magnetic force. It was he who gave us the terms magnetic pole and electrical force.

Later on, in the 18th century, Dr Franz Anton Mesmer, renowned for his work in hypnotism, and giving rise to the term mesmerism, explored the effects of magnetic therapy. He is purported to have succeeded in curing a range of ailments.
Howlite Magnetic Necklace
The founder of homoeopathy, Dr Samuel Hahnemann also experimented with the use of magnetism and concluded that he could cure 1243 symptoms. Interestingly, the origins of chiropractic, in the 1890s, stem back to magnetism when an American, Daniel David Palmer, became interested in magnetic healing.

Modern research
In these more enlightened times, magnetic therapy has encountered a fair amount of scepticism, although its enthusiasts sing praises to its efficacy.

With so much anecdotal evidence in its favour, doctors are now studying magnetic therapy more closely. Research at the Peninsular School in Plymouth, reported by the BMA, found evidence of a “beneficial effect of magnetic wrist bracelets on osteoarthritis of the hip and knee”. In the study, it was found that wearing magnetic bracelets significantly reduced the amount of pain experienced, and consequently lowered the dosage of painkillers.

Also, an electromagnet was found to be of benefit to people with spinal cord injuries. Research performed at Imperial College, London found that stimulation of the cerebral cortex of the brain led to an improvement of muscle movement.

The future of magnetic therapy
Other research seems to be showing favourable results, too. Certainly, the use of magnetic jewellery as a low cost, self help option is gaining momentum as it is considered to be non-toxic and free of side-effects, although it is not recommended for pregnant women or wearers of pacemakers.

Magnetic jewellery
There are many types of magnetic jewellery available, using a variety of materials and in many styles. A feature of the jewellery is the use of hematite, a black or dark grey gemstone with a shiny metallic appearance. It is cold to the touch, even on a warm day and is naturally magnetic. Its name comes from the Greek word for blood, as the gemstone can have a rust-red streak. In Germany it is sometimes referred to as blutstein (bloodstone).

Necklaces and bracelets made of natural shell and gemstones incorporating magnetic beads are also popular and fit right in with current fashion trends. 

More research is certainly needed but in years to come we may see magnetic therapy sit alongside other complementary treatments such as acupuncture, osteopathy and homoeopathy, and even be fully recognised by the mainstream medical establishment.

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