Are Magnets Just a Placebo?

Are magnets truly effective or are they just a placebo?This is a question that I get a lot. You might think that I would get tired of it eventually, but I don’t. I really love this question because there is so much tied up in it.

  • What is a placebo?
  • Is a placebo really a bad thing?
  • Do magnets work?
  • What do magnets do for the body?
  • Are magnets safe for the body?
  • Are magnets just a placebo?

I’m going to look at these questions, give you my take on them, and then you can decide what you think.

What is a Placebo?

You hear the word all the time in health and medical circles, usually when talking about placebo-controlled research studies to test the effectiveness of a drug. But what is a placebo?

According to a placebo is:

substance having no pharmacological effect but given merely to satisfy a patient who supposes it to be a medicine.

The first time I heard the term “placebo” was in an episode of M.A.S.H when I was young. M.A.S.H was a TV comedy show about a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. In this particular episode, the morphine has gone bad so they have no pain killers for the wounded soldiers. They decide to try a placebo, sugar pills, and convince the wounded that they are a new, more effective pain killer to get them through the night until a new supply of morphine arrives in the morning. Of course, it works and they are all amazed.

Is a Placebo a Bad Thing?

The medical / pharmaceutical industry would have you think so.

The whole idea of a placebo shows you how powerful your mind is. Think about it. You can give someone a sugar pill and as long as they believe that it is a powerful pain killer, their pain will be gone and they can move about freely. The reverse is also true. If you take something, even the most effective medication for your condition, and you firmly believe that it doesn’t work, then it won’t. That’s an example of the nocebo effect. Bruce Lipton probably explains the placebo effect and nocebo effect better than anyone.

Bruce Lipton explains that at least 1/3 of all healing is through the placebo effect, or the healing power of your own mind. So a placebo can be a very good thing. Unlike most medications, there are no toxic side-effects to a sugar pill (unless you are diabetic of course, then use something else).

You will always see the drug companies and the industries that they control trying to downplay placebos because they are for-profit corporations and they can’t monetize the power of your mind.

Do Magnets Work?

That brings us back to the topic at hand, magnets. Magnets are mostly made of iron, or an alloy of iron and other minerals, and the magnetic properties come from how the iron atoms are all aligned within the material. This alignment allows the magnet to create a field of influence around itself where other polar materials and energies will align to that field.

The ability of a magnet to affect its surroundings is very well established. We use magnets to move electrons through a wire to create the electricity that powers our lifestyle. Magnets have been holding artwork and other items to the fronts of refrigerators probably for as long as there have been refrigerators.

Compasses don’t contain magnets. Instead, they have a floating metallic needle that responds to the ambient magnetic field around you to (hopefully) find your way toward the magnetic north pole of the Earth. If you have played with a compass then you know that they are also susceptible to other magnetic fields, like those created by the flow of electricity or other electronic devices.

So there’s really no question about whether magnets work or not.

What Do Magnets Do for the Body?

The real question is, what do magnets do for the body? That is a much harder question to answer, at least with any kind of scientific backing. It is next to impossible to do serious research with magnets because there are so many variables to consider.

  • How strong or weak do the magnets need to be?
  • How long should you be exposed to the magnets?
  • How about the size of the magnet, magnetic coverage?
  • Do you use negative poles, positive poles, or a mixture of both?

To perform conclusive research studies on the use of magnets would probably take many lifetimes and require more funding than anyone could come up with, so there aren’t many studies to refer to.

The other issue with referring to studies is that when you do, the FDA and other government agencies consider that a medical claim. If  I was a doctor talking about a medical device then I could get away with that. But I’m not a doctor and there are no medical devices that I’m aware of that use static magnets, so I couldn’t refer to a study to talk about magnets anyway.

What I can say about magnets is that they are generally considered safe to use, especially the relatively weak magnets that I use. Without making medical claims, I can say that they are know to relax the tissues that they are used on, which can reduce inflammation and improve blood flow.

I prefer to look at the energetic aspects. It should be well known that the body creates various energy fields around itself. Actually, each organ and tissue creates its own energetic field. These are measured by instruments like the ECG (electrocardiogram) and the MCG (magnetocardiogram). Those specifically read the electrical and magnetic fields created by the heart. The EEG and MEG (electro- and magnetoencephalogram) read the fields created by the brain. They are the strongest and most commonly used fields.

When two fields interact they change each other. Spin a magnet around a wire and you will cause electrons to flow through the wire creating electricity. If you move a magnet up and down the shaft of a screwdriver you will magnetize it.

Likewise, if you put a static magnet near your body so that the magnet’s field interacts with the body’s fields, then that static field will change the body’s fields which will then affect the organs that create the fields.

Are Magnets Safe for the Body?

As I said before, magnets are generally considered safe, especially the weaker magnets that I use.

Here’s how I look at it. Back before we as a race started driving in cars and living in houses we lived and slept outdoors bathed in the Earth’s natural magnetic field. The same magnetic field that protects us from the harmful radiation from the sun.

Then we built walls that insulate us from that magnetic field and ran electric current through those walls. That electric current creates an artificial magnetic field that pulses at a very unnatural, and possibly harmful, frequency.

Using lower gauss static magnets help to insulate us from the effects of the artificial fields that we have created with the use of AC electricity and brings the benefits that we used to get from Earth’s magnetic field indoors where we spend most of our time now.

Are Magnets Just a Placebo?

Based on what I have already said, no I don’t believe that magnets are a placebo. I understand how they may affect the body. Regardless of my understanding though, many people will still question if magnets work and assign their benefits to the placebo effect until there is scientific proof, which isn’t likely to happen in our lifetime.

There’s one more point to look at that may help you decide that they are not a placebo, and that’s animals. Animals are not thought to be conscious enough to be affected by placebos, therefore if something works on an animal then it must be truly effective. There are many people who treat their animals, especially horses, with magnets. I’ve talked to a few and they absolutely swear by them. They use magnetic blankets and magnetic rollers on them and use magnetic wraps around their hoofs to deal with issues.

But, even if they were a placebo, would it matter? As Dr. Lipton said, the healing effects of even drugs and surgery are at least 1/3 placebo effect. What matters is our belief in their effectiveness. I firmly believe that magnets work, as do many others, so they do work for us. You get to decide if they will work for you.

If you are curious, you can go here to see the magnets that I use.

If you have never used magnets before then you may not know where to start. I have another blog post that will help you choose the right magnet to get your first experience with.

I appreciate you reading all the way to the end of this post. By now you should have some thoughts or opinions about using magnets. Please contribute to the conversation and share them in a comment below.

Disclaimer and Disclosure

I am not a doctor and I do not make any medical claims regarding magnets. If you have a serious condition that requires medical attention then please consult your physician or other qualified medical practitioner. I am an independent distributor for the magnets that I use. I may earn a commission if you order anything through the links on this website.

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6 Responses to Are Magnets Just a Placebo?

  1. Dana says:

    Hi Ben,

    This is an interesting topic.

    I’ve never used (or even thought about using) magnets for anything other than holding things up on my refrigerator.

    But I don’t doubt there must be something to this only because I believe all possibilities exist. I’ll have to look more into this – especially since Donna sais she has direct experience with this and I do trust her opinion.

    I’m familiar with Dr. Lipton’s work. I like what he has to say about both the placebo and the “nocebo” effect. It was interesting to read about the effect magnets had on animals because you’re right – since they don’t contemplate the way humans do, they don’t believe one thing vs. another – and this is what the placebo effect is.

    I’m going to pin this for reference. I don’t want to forget about it and I’d love to delve further into this topic.

    Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    • Ben says:

      Hi Dana. First, thank you for validating the concept of social proof through blog comments by mentioning Donna’s comment. It’s one thing to read about it and quite another to see it work on your blog.

      I don’t know if this means anything or not, but our cat has always spent most of his sleeping time on our magnetic pads. He rarely spends time on furniture that doesn’t have a magnetic pad, unless he is one someone’s lap.

      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment Dana.

  2. John says:

    Great post Ben and very interesting.
    I have been hearing for quite a while about the benefits of magnets for pain relief.
    I wear one on my wrist for back pain and do believe that it helps somewhat.
    My wife wears one on her wrist as well and swears black and blue that it works for her!
    So placebo or not, I definitely think that they have merit.
    Thanks for the article.

    • Ben says:

      Thanks for sharing John. I can understand people questioning how a magnet on your wrist can help with back pain. It seems to me that would have to be working through the internal and external energy fields, not by blood or nerve conduction. It doesn’t really matter thought as long as it is working for you. I’m glad to hear that.

      Thanks for the comment John.

  3. Do magnets work? Sure they do. I had used them in the past for a muscle spasm and they worked fine. I’m not a fan of taking drugs. I like to use alternative methods and when I had this muscle problem, western meds wanted me to take pain killers. Oh yea…that will help lol.

    Instead, I ran into a friend of mine that does healing work. I went for a few sessions and my muscles started to relax.

    Magnets can be used for just about any ailment or for wellness. I do believe it works because of our own magnetic energy…just makes sense to me.


    • Ben says:

      Thanks for sharing your story Donna. I’m not a fan of taking drugs either when I have a safer alternative. I don’t think you could find even an aspirin in our house. I always appreciate your visits and comments. Thank you.

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