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Animal Magnetism

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For thousands of years, magnets have been used to treat everything fromgeneral fatigue, pain and circulatory problems to stimulating the flow of.

For thousands of years, magnets have been used to treat everything from general fatigue, pain and circulatory problems to stimulating the flow of energy to needed parts of the body. Recently there has been a resurgence of this safe, simple and inexpensive healing modality, but not just for humans.Pet owners are now seeing the health benefits of using magnets for their cats, dogs and horses with no harmful side-effects.

The founder of modern magnetic health research is Dr. Kyoichi Nakagawa. His studies began in the 1950s, and, in 1976, he published an article in the Japan Medical Journal claiming that the strength of the earth's natural magnetic field has decreased considerably and is being further reduced by steel buildings, cars, high voltage power lines and other manmade electrical fields. As a result, people and animals are suffering from symptoms such as fatigue, aches and pains, muscle cramps and insomnia, which he termed "magnetic field deficiency syndrome." Dr. Nakagawa's clinical studies showed that these symptoms were alleviated by the external application of magnets to the body. In the last 20 years or so, many magnetic devices have been developed based on his research, including ones specifically designed for animals.

How do Magnets Work?

Permanent magnets, also called static magnets, are usually constructed of a combination of iron, nickel, cobalt, aluminum, ceramic and neodymium, and are "magnetized" by placing them near a coil of wire to which a large, brief pulse of direct electrical current is applied. Therapeutic permanent magnets usually range from 200 to 3,000 gauss, a measurement of the density of
magnetic lines of force. The higher the gauss number, the more powerful the magnet. Larger animals require therapy with more magnetic strength than smaller animals, simply because of their greater body mass.

There are two types of permanent magnets, unipolar and bipolar. One of the most controversial topics today among magnet therapists and researchers is which type is more effective therapeutically. Unipolar refers to a healing magnet manufactured in bars or beads with a north pole on one surface and a south pole on the opposite surface. Most manufacturers mark the north and south poles for proper application north pole facing the body and the south pole facing away.

Bipolar magnets are the most recent addition to the magnetics field and are designed so that both the north and south poles face the body. They are usually made in long strips, cut to specific shapes and laid down parallel to each other or in concentric circles so that, when placed on the body, both the north and south poles come in contact with the animal.

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy systems (PEMF) are also gaining widespread use. The battery powered, portable devices generate a pulsating electromagnetic field and are used extensively in equine sports medicine primarily to treat acute and chronic leg and neck injuries and for maintenance therapy of chronic musculoskeletal conditions. PEMF therapy sessions generally last from 30 to 60 minutes.

Clinical Applications

Magnets are quickly becoming a popular method of treating localized and chronic conditions in pets. They can be safely used on their own or combined with alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbs or massage-especially when the goal is reduction of inflammation and associated pain. It is believed that magnets accelerate the healing process by increasing blood flow to the capillaries that bring more nutrients and oxygen to the injured area and also by increasing the activity of phagocytes, specialized cells that remove toxins, repair tissue and counteract the inflammation that causes pain.

Since magnets can also increase endorphin levels, the body's natural pain relievers, conditions such as degenerative joint disease, hip dysplasia, rheumatoid arthritis, vertebral disorders, sprains, lameness and tendonitis all benefit from a daily, general application of magnets. Dr. Michael Strazza's 1996 article in the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association reported a 40 to 50 percent reduction in the healing time of simple fractures by placing a magnet inside the bandage. This meant that dogs could bear their own weight sooner. He also achieved positive responses in 60 to 70 percent of dogs with spinal arthritis and paralysis, chronic disk disease, hip dysplasia and senior dogs whose movements were stiff and slow after exercise.

Most experts believe that, while magnetic therapy is safe, the use of magnetic products should be avoided with fresh injuries, pregnant females and internal bleeding. Applying magnets in the area of implanted metal plates and screws should also be avoided. Many practitioners also discourage the use of bipolar magnets on cancerous growths and for acute viral and bacterial infections.

The challenge in using magnets on pets is keeping them in place. Convenient unipolar collars and wraps specifically designed for shoulder, hip and knee use are made of flexible material and secured with adjustable Velcro closures that still allow the animal to move around freely. Bipolar blankets and pads embedded with magnets work well for cats and horses. Another option is to create a quiet environment for you and your pet and hold the magnets in place over the affected area. Practitioners generally recommend applying the magnet for 10 to 20 minute periods daily until the pain or inflammation subsides.

Pet owners should always consult with a veterinarian to determine an accurate diagnosis for persistent or acute problems that could require more than magnetic therapy. However, when used correctly, there is enough evidence to support its use for pain relief and speeding recovery from injuries and other traumas. It may also offer more subtle and long-lasting benefits by restoring balance to the body.

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