Magnetism – as old as the world
The History of Magnetism has been written by the earth itself. The earth‘s strong magnetic field has a direct influence on all life. This is associated with the electromagnetic vibrations of atoms, which form the core of every living being.This influence was recognised extremely early in human history, and the therapeutic properties of magnets were used for healing purposes
Pre-Christian civilisations, such as the Chinese, used magnetic stones in conjunction with acupuncture points in order to remedy imbalances in the human body, and to allow the ‘Chi’, or life energy, once again to flow freely.
Hieroglyphs from Ancient Egypt also show that magnetic therapy was indispensable then. The legendary Cleopatra is said to have worn a magnetic amulet to heal a range of illnesses, as well as to preserve her beauty and youth.
Aristotle‘s records document magnetic healing procedures, and there are further detailed findings from the Middle Ages.
The famous Abbess and healer Hildegard von Bingen, who lived in the 12th century, probably had the greatest influence of all.
Magnetite was mined and used in the preparation of food, converted into ointments or rubbed into the hair. Our knowledge can be traced back to hematite mines in Africa (magnetic iron ore).
From 2780 BC
”The Yellow Emperor‘s Classic of Internal Medicine“, the oldest work on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), explained more than 2000 years ago how imbalances in the human body could be corrected using remedies like acupuncture and moxibustion (the warming of acupuncture points) and through the application of magnetic stones on acupuncture points and meridians.
Egyptian hieroglyphs and documents in cuneiform show that magnet therapy was an indispensable method in the treatment of diseases. Pictorial representations – in temples and elsewhere – confirm its use. Even the legendary Cleopatra is said to have worn a magnetic amulet to preserve her youth and beauty.
From 2000 BC
Chinese medicine is based on the premise that health is dependent on the circulation of energy along described pathways called meridians. Chi (the Chinese term for vital energy), comes from two opposing influences, Yin and Yang. Diseases come about when Yin and Yang are not in balance and the natural flow of chi (energy) in the meridians is blocked. Other ancient civilizations like the Hebrews, the Hindus, the Mayans and the Aztecs also used magnets for therapeutic purposes.
In the Middle Ages, doctors in Europe reported that magnets could cure not only arthritis and gout but also melancholia, baldness and several types of poisoning. They were used to remove foreign bodies like iron knife blades and arrowheads from the body. Magnets were attributed with wondrous powers and were even reputed to be an aphrodisiac.
Hildegard von Bingen wrote not only religious and philosophical but also medical treatises during the 1150s. Her writings on plants and diseases are of biological and medical interest. One of her books, Causae et Curae (Causes and Cures), deals with the development and treatment of different diseases. The second of her works on the natural sciences is entitled ”Book on the Inner Nature of Different Creatures and Plants“ (translating the title from the Latin). Because of this, Hildegard is nowadays often called the first German woman doctor. Magnetism was an integral part of her method of healing.
The most important precursor of the Modern Age in terms of the medical use of magnets is the Swiss natural healer and Doctor Paracelsus.
The Modern Age 1734 -1815
Therapeutic magnetism received new impulses from physician Franz Anton Mesmer. After many experiments and treatments with a mineral magnet, he one day came to the following conclusion on the basis of a personal experience: ”Properties are found in the human body that are analogous to those of the magnet! Opposite poles can likewise be distinguished therein, which can be communicated, changed, destroyed and reinforced.“ From this point onwards, his methods included the laying on of hands and the transfer of animal magnetism.
Friedrich Wilhelm III established a Chair of Magnetic Healing at the University of Berlin, to which he appointed Karl Christian Wolfart, his personal physician an admirer and pupil of Mesmer. At the start of the 19th century Professor Wolfart also ran a magnetic healing clinic in Berlin.
The twelve-volume ”Archiv für tierischen Magnetismus“ published by professors Kieser, Eschenmayer and Nasse, Staatsbibliothek München, reported that Mesmer‘s method of healing was used by a very great number of doctors.
In a forensic opinion, the famous Geheimrat von Nußbaum stated, ”An animal magnetism definitely exists and is of such great power that the touching with hands or the magnetizing of water has a great effect …“
Linus Carl Pauling received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of the magnetic properties of hemoglobin. This discovery was particularly important because not only is iron the oxygen carrier in hemoglobin (red blood cell pigment), it also plays a major role in the intracellular metabolism. Iron is an important energy carrier because it is easily magnetized.
Manned space flight demonstrates the extent to which mankind is dependent on magnetic radiation. When the first astronauts returned to earth, they were found to have health problems ranging from disturbed sleep to depression. The main cause was energy exhaustion, attributed to the absence of the earth‘s magnetic field in space.
Experiments in California showed that the magnetic flux of a magnet activates metabolic processes and promotes the formation of amino acids. In the case of the enzyme trypsin, the activity could be influenced or increased by placing it between the poles of a magnetic field or between the palms of a healer‘s hands.
Japanese doctor Yoshia Oay conducted a double-blind study on 80 patients complaining of problems of the lumbar spine. More than 90 % of the subjects, who wore a magnetic belt for a certain amount of time, evaluated its effect as positive.
2003 – 2006
Dr. h. c. Petra Döring conducted a survey of over 5000 wearers of magnetic jewellery, with clear guidelines and structured questionnaires (more than one complaint could be mentioned!) It examined the effectiveness of the jewellery for complaints ranging from headaches to insomnia. Result: 92 % of respondents felt an improvement in at least one complaint.
Mainstream medicine likes to dismiss the effect of magnetic jewellery as a placebo effect. However, a British study of 194 osteoarthritis patients showed that magnetic bracelets, for instance, can reduce osteoarthritis pain of the hip or knee. The results of the investigation were published first in the British Medical Journal and later throughout the world.
Over a million people throughout the world are dying of malaria. Henry Lai, a biologist at the University of Washington, claims to have found a totally pain- and side-effect-free way of stopping plasmodium, the pathogen of malaria, in its tracks: with magnetism. The melodiously named parasite contains a quantity of hemoglobin, the remains of its meal of human blood. Hemoglobin is an iron-carrying molecule. In a weak, oscillating magnetic field, the remains of the hemoglobin will start vibrating. They oscillate more and more, colliding violently with the parasite’s delicate cell membrane, destroying the cell organelles and tearing the malaria pathogen to pieces.
Magnetism continues to fascinate researchers. Physicists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the University of Cologne have discovered a new type of magnetic structure in manganese silicon. A team headed by physicist Sebastian Mühlbauer and Professor Christian Pfleiderer (both TUM) was able to visualize the lattice of magnetic vortex filaments whose existence had long been suspected, using neutrons from the TUM‘s Heinz Maier-Leibnitz (FRM II) research neutron source. Their spectacular discovery, which answers a decades-old question about the building blocks of the universe and could also initiate new developments in magnetic data processing, was published in Science on 13 February 2009.