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Do Magnets Have Any Value?
WRITTEN BY: RIRDC Equine Research News   [January 1999]

One of the more popular products with which horse owners can treat their horse is the wrap containing low-intensity magnets. Although the biological effects of low-level magnetic fields have been studied since the 1500ís, there is no consensus as to the effects and whether, if they exist, they have any physiological significance. A group of researchers has recently conducted a study to investigate the effect of low-intensity static magnetic pads on the blood flow in the cannon bone region of the horse (DW Ramey, P Steyn and JL Kirschvink Effect of Therapeutic Magnetic Wraps on Circulation in the Third Metacarpal Region AAEP Proceedings 1998, Vol. 44 ).

The authors used 6 horses in this randomised, controlled, double-blind study. A pair of commercial magnetic wraps containing magnets were used, one magnetic pad was demagnetised and the wraps were applied to each forelimb in a randomised fashion and were left in place for 48 hours. The wraps were labelled A and B and the researchers did not know which wrap contained the pad that had been demagnetised. Blood flow in the cannon bone area was measured before the wrap was applied and after removal. The difference in these blood flow measurements was calculated and these values used to evaluate the effect of wraps A and B. Upon completion of the study the pads were retested for magnetic field strength and the inactive and magnetised pads were identified. Pad A was identified as being magnetised and the field strength was identical to that at the commencement of the study. To prevent any possibility of incomplete demagnetisation, the magnet in pad B had been replaced with a Teflon sheet by the third author, without prior knowledge of the first two authors. Teflon is inert and nonmagnetic.

The researchers found no significant difference in blood circulation between the two wrapping methods.

Another finding was that measurements of the magnetic pad revealed a rapidly decreasing field strength. At approximately 1cm from the magnetic pad there was no detectable magnetic field from the pad. This would imply that there can be no effect from a wrap-produced magnetic field on tissues deeper than 1cm from the magnet surface.

From the results of this study the authors concluded that there is no effect of low-intensity static magnetic field on blood circulation to the cannon bone region of horses.

Reprinted from the RIRDC Equine Research News with the permission of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

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