28 June 2011

Magnets can improve blood flow

I was totally gobsmacked to see an article on this topic at Physics Buzz.  Here are some excerpts:
Blood, like the motor oil in a car’s engine, has an ideal viscosity, or thickness, that keeps the body’s circulatory system running smoothly. When a person’s blood is too viscous (too thick and sticky) his or her blood vessels build up more plaque leading to a greater risk of heart attack. Finding a way to decrease the blood’s viscosity, by taking aspirin for example, reduces those risks. The problem with aspirin, though, is that it may cause as much harm as it does help.

Rongjia Tao, chair of the Department of Physics at Temple University, and his former student have found a mechanical alternative to aspirin to thin highly viscous blood.

“It’s quite simple,” Tao said of the technique. He uses a magnetic field to rearrange a person’s red blood cells, streamlining blood that is too thick. A magnetic field of 1.3 Tesla (about the same as an MRI – magnetic resonance imaging - machine) applied to blood for about one minute can reduce its viscosity by 20 to 30 percent....

Huang and Tao tested the technique on human blood samples acquired from Temple University... A huge magnet, weighing near a thousand pounds, created a magnetic field that was applied to the sample with the magnetic field pointed in the blood flow direction.

When applied, the magnetic field polarizes the red blood cells causing them to link together in short chains. Because the field is aligned to the blood flow direction, the chains also form in the same direction, streamlining the movement of the blood. Additionally, because the chains are larger than the single blood cells, they tend to flow down the center of the tube reducing the friction against the walls of the blood vessels. The combined effects reduce the viscosity of the blood, helping it to flow more freely...

Just like in an MRI, the magnet Tao and Huang used does not have the ionizing radiation, like that found in CT scans, which can be harmful to the body. The technique also does not interfere with the normal oxygen delivery and waste removal function of the red blood cells, the researchers said, and is not dependent on blood type.

Tao is still doing research on the technique and hopes that clinical trials will soon follow.
How they are reportedly able to polarize the nonmagnetic iron in hemoglobin is beyond my understanding, but my greater concern is that reports like this will be misused by those who claim that conventional magnets placed near the body provide health benefits.  (Or maybe they do... ?)

Addendum:  A hat tip to Mama Bean, who found a discussion of this research at Science-Based Medicine


  1. i don't think they are polarizing the iron in the blood cells. more likely the polar water molecules (much like MRI affects water) You're right to be skeptical re: normal magnets held close to the body having any effect. Our blood flows in many directions through many vessels, so I'm not sure how they could replicate this in a body.

  2. Magnetic fields are usedin the oil industry to lower the viscosity of crudeoil tto improve flow speed. Magnetic therapy and healing has been around since before Aristotle. It has been used in vetinary medicine for years. Just visit any race track and talk to the jockeys and trainers. The horses all love magnets but they can't comment. My experience with magnets started with and old horse shoe magnet under the pillow which seemed to help hand spasm but could have been placebo effect. I next tried a set of fish tank magnets as a lark. these are used to clean algea from the inside glass. Each one has a three pound pull. One on top of the hand will hold the other to the palm allowing the magnetic field to pass thru the cappilary bed in the hand. The effests on me and several others have been very dramatic not only on the hand but in other parts of the body due to changes in oxygen transfer and waste removal being inhanced somehow! These include toe nail fungus healing, arthritic finger straightening as well as muscle cramps and spasm going away. It also has eliminated pain and promoted rapid healing in cuts and burns as well as broken bones+. The reason that adequate researh has not been done is that there is no big money to be made!! Irwin Sternberg

  3. If they need a MRI magnet to get the job done.... Scratch that, if they need a Superconducting magnet to make your blood align, then I doubt that even your rare earth buckyballs will make your blood align, let alone those silly magnets they sell at stores for health benefits.

  4. Yeah and I hear you can buy magnets for your car's fuel line that increase your mileage and your house's water pipes that reduce corrosion. I wonder if the water magnet company and/or the fuel manget company are going to start marketing the blood magnet. I can't wait for the infomercial.

  5. I knew Science-Based Medicine would weigh in on this: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/magnets-and-blood-flow/

    This is what I was trying to say, but with more words, and smarter.

  6. Thanks, Mama Bean. I've appended the link you found to my post.


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