Wednesday, March 08, 2006

NZ Herald on 'Magnet Therapy'

Jeremy Laurance loves it.
It's hard not to agree with this statement:
But when the NHS includes a product in the Drug Tariff, you have to sit up and take notice.
Although this statement is a bit rich:
Professional sceptics of alternative medicine got their comeuppance last week
What's a professional sceptic of alternative medicine? hhhm, i think they're just called doctors.

So if the NHS is paying for magnet therapy, which lets not be obtuse here, means that we're ALL paying for magnet therapy, there must be compelling, irrefutible evidence gathered from double blind trials designed to weed out eroneous factors and placebo effects. What is the evidence?
Ben Goldacre at The Guardian gives it a go with less than stellar results.
Quackwatch sums up most of the literature here and includes a couple of howlers that are peddled.
Lets look at random site A - Herbal Remedies
How do they work? Magnetic energy increases the blood flow to the area, increasing circulation, thus speeding healing and reducing pain and inflammation.
This is bollocks, hold a magnet to your skin, does it go bright red (because of all the blood flowing toward it) ? No. Nor do you explode while having cat scans in hospitals or die doing an NMR in your average chemistry lab. Magnetic fields have little/no effect on you (can get complicated with electric fields however).

The polarities are said to have the following effect:

    North Pole (+): Calming, relaxing effect
    South Pole (-): Stimulating, activating effect
OMFG! I don't even know where to start with this pile of stinking dung... You can't get an isolate magnetic pole - they ALWAYS come in pairs (Maxwell's Equations - go ahead, look it up, i'll wait the 2.5 secs it'll take for you to freak out and skulk back. Don't think i'm insulting you, EVERYBODY takes one look at Maxwell's Equations and tries to skulk out of the room before anyone notices). Chop a magnet in half and you get 2 other magnets, both with the usual compliment of N and S poles. Your bollox meter should be off scale by now.

Conclusion? the only reasonable conclusion to make is that some snake oil merchants have succeded in bilking the NHS out of some serious wads of cash. If you think (some, albeit tiny fraction of) doctors aren't going to decieve people for cash, i've got a bridge to sell you.
Buying magnets to help heal yourself is NOT justified by the evidence, you've become part of the cargo cult.

If you subscribe to the 'what can it hurt?' school of thought, its a small slippery slope to becoming the morons that killed their kid a couple months ago when they decided to pray for him rather than take him to the doctor. Science is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, you don't get to just pick the bits you like.


Blogger Matt said...

You say that magnetic therapy is not a way of healing but i use it and know many people who use it and have success and that is why i built a website supporting it

3:54 AM  

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