Magnetic healing a “new” medical treatment

Before he founded the chiropractic profession more than 100 years ago, Daniel David Palmer (known to most people as DD Palmer), used magnetism to treat his patients. For more than a century, Palmer’s identification as a “magnetic healer” was the subject of ridicule and was used to denigrate chiropractic.

Magnetic Therapy

Ironically, “modern medicine” is beginning to recognize the potential of magnetic charges to address a wide variety of physical and emotional issues. Of course, MDs and medical practitioners avoid calling it magnetic healing. Instead, it’s now called “electromagnetic therapy,” even “transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)” by medical institutions such as Loyola University Medical Center, where it’s touted as a “a new high-tech, non-invasive therapy that uses magnetic waves to treat” conditions such as manic depression.

According to Loyola, TMS delivers a series of electrical pulses to the part of the brain associated with depression and other mood disorders. The pulses generate an electric current in the brain that stimulates neurons to increase the release of more mood-enhancing chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

“The electrical pulses target the nerve cells in the region of the brain called the left prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain that regulates our moods,” said Dr. Murali S. Rao, chairman of Loyola’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience Services.

A study involving 301 patients that was recently published in the journal Brain Stimulation found TMS to be “an effective, long-term treatment for major depression.”

There is nothing new about the use of electricity to treat depression. For years, a treatment called electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) — also known as “electric shock treatment” — has been used to induce seizures in anesthetized patients for therapeutic results.

“But since TMS uses an electrical field, not electricity like ECT, there is very little risk of a seizure from the procedure,” Rao said. “The pulses are mild and painless and patients are able to immediately return to normal activities.”

TMS is FDA-approved and is performed on an outpatient basis in a psychiatrist’s office. Patients sit in a device that resembles a comfortable dentist’s chair. The chair reclines and has a padded headrest. It also has a touch-screen control panel and an electrical magnetic coil positioned on a precise spot on the patient’s head.

Another recent research study, published in the September issue of the European Journal of Neurology, found that stroke patients who were left partially paralyzed improved significantly after they received magnetic therapy. “We believe that people develop partial paralysis down one side after they have a stroke because the hemispheres of the brain become unbalanced,” explained research co-author Anwar El Etribi, professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Ain Shams University in Cairo. “The hemisphere that has not been affected can become over-active, while the damaged hemisphere can become inhibited…Our treatment worked on the theory that increasing the activity of the hemisphere affected by the stroke and reducing the activity of the unaffected hemisphere can reduce muscle weakness and improve overall motor function.”

So far, TMS has been tested as a treatment tool for various neurological and psychiatric disorders including migraines, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, tinnitus, depression, and auditory hallucinations.

But put magnetic healing technology in the hands of alternative practitioners, and it’s dismissed as quackery. In his book, “Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud,” author Robert Park demonstrated both his ignorance and his short-sightedness when he proclaimed: “… magnetic fields (are) of no value in healing.” Would he like to tell that to the doctors at Loyola University?