By: Ellen Bell
Most people have a basic understanding of what a magnet is, but don't really contemplate the many ways in which magnets can be used. Did you know that magnets play important roles in our everyday lives? Without magnet technology, our cell phones, computers, and even many automobiles would cease to function. Magnet technology has come a long way in the last few decades, but some of the most amazing advances have occurred in the field of health care.
X-ray technology has been around for over 100 years. Many of us are familiar with the process of having x-rays taken, and we have all seen doctors look at x-ray images. In 1977, through the use of magnets, a new medical technology was developed as an alternative to (or an advanced version of) the x-ray.
The technology was first called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, but later became more commonly called Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI. MRI technology utilizes a powerful magnetic field to visualize the structure and functions in the human body. Unlike an x-ray, which can only depict a two dimensional image, MRI evaluates the body three dimensionally, allowing more careful evaluation and study of the body. These systems are used a great deal in the field of oncology or diagnosis of cancer.
Though MRI technology is relatively new, only 30 years old, it has already become a very important a diagnostic tool. There are now mobile MRI units carried in specialized semi trailer trucks that travel to service rural areas. For those rural hospitals that cannot afford their own MRI unit, they can schedule the mobile MRI semi truck to visit on a somewhat regular basis so that doctors in the area can schedule patients to have an MRI as needed. The magnetic field created by an MRI machine is so strong that lead lined walls are used in the semi trailer to prevent the magnets from pulling automobiles off the road and into the side of the vehicle.
In some other exploratory areas of medicine, magnets are now being used for pain reduction and healing. Some doctors and medical researchers believe magnet therapy is a better alternative than drugs or surgery, because there are no potentially harmful side effects or long recovery time. Whether or not magnet therapy really works is a hotly debated topic. Many testimonials have been recorded from satisfied patients. Is the relief real or only in the minds of the patients? Time will tell, as current research continues to evaluate the ability of magnet technology to reduce pain and enhance the natural healing process of the body.
Interestingly enough, magnets have been used in health care for hundreds of centuries. The old recorded history of magnets being used for medicinal purposes is traced back to Africa, where a magnetite mine has been discovered. The mine, which is believed to be over 100,000 years old, was a major source of magnetite for medicinal purposes. The magnetite was ground up and used in topical ointments, potions, and foods for health purposes.
In Eastern medicine, magnets have been used since 600 B.C. to reduce pain, much in the same way as acupuncture. Magnets were placed on specific points of the body called meridian channels, so as to improve blood flow and reduce pain. From a holistic medicine standpoint, magnets are a good alternative to traditional Western medicines because they provide a non-invasive treatment option. Many Asian cultures believe that magnets can be used to promote and enhance overall well-being and health.
Modern medicine has come a long way in its use of magnet technology, and new discoveries continue to be made about what magnets can do for us. There is no question that the future will continue to bring new advancements in the medicinal uses of magnet technology.
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