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History of Magnets for Health Uses

Magnets have been used for many centuries for a variety of health purposes. By various accounts, magnets were discovered when people first noticed the presence of naturally magnetized stones, also called lodestones. By the third century A.D., Greek physicians were using magnetic rings to treat arthritis and magnetized pills made of amber to stop bleeding. In the Middle Ages, doctors used magnets to treat gout, arthritis, poisoning, and baldness; to clean wounds; and to retrieve arrowheads and other iron-containing objects from the body.

In the United States, magnetic devices (such as hairbrushes and insoles), magnetic ointments, and clothes with magnets attached came into wide use after the Civil War, especially in some rural areas where few doctors were available. Healers claimed that magnetic fields existed in the blood, and that people became ill when their magnetic fields were depleted. Thus, healers marketed magnets as a means of replenishing these magnetic fields. Magnets were promoted as cures for a wide range of health conditions, including paralysis, headache, backache, sleeplessness, upset stomach, and liver and kidney problems.

The use of magnets to treat medical problems remained popular well into the 20th century. Today, magnets are used for many different types of pain, including foot pain and back pain from conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.

It is important not to use magnets in place of proven treatments for serious medical conditions. Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.