For many, it's not necessary to know how magnets work - it's enough that they find some relief while using them. Nevertheless, at a time when scientific explanations lend commercial credibility to a product, many theories have been put forward. Some believe that magnets react with iron in the blood to increase blood flow. Others believe that magnets desensitise sensory neurons, reducing pain in the treated area. Also put forward are an increased oxygen content and increased alkalinity of bodily fluids, magnetic forces on moving ions and decreased deposition on blood-vessel walls.
The broadest explanation was offered by Dr Kyochi Nakagawa in 1976, published in the Japan Medical Journal. He claimed that many chronic health conditions arise because of 'magnetic field deficiency syndrome'. Indeed, the earth's magnetic field has decreased by about 6 per cent since 1830, and possibly by as much as 30 per cent over the last millennium. Dr Nakagawa argues that magnetic therapy replaces some of this lost magnetic field.
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