Magnets applied to acupuncture points as therapy - a literature review

Acupunct Med. 2008 Sep;26(3):160-70. doi: 10.1136/aim.26.3.160.


Objectives: To summarise the acu-magnet therapy literature and determine if the evidence justifies further investigation of acu-magnet therapy for specific clinical indications.

Methods: Using various search strategies, a professional librarian searched six electronic databases (PubMed, AMED, ScienceDirect College Edition, China Academic Journals, Acubriefs, and the in-house Journal Article Index maintained by the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine Library). English and Chinese language human studies with all study designs and for all clinical indications were included. Excluded were experimental and animal studies, electroacupuncture and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Data were extracted on clinical indication, study design, number, age and gender of subjects, magnetic devices used, acu-magnet dosing regimens (acu-point site of magnet application and frequency and duration of treatment), control devices and control groups, outcomes, and adverse events.

Results: Three hundred and eight citations were retrieved and 50 studies met our inclusion criteria. We were able to obtain and translate (when necessary) 42 studies. The language of 31 studies was English and 11 studies were in Chinese. The 42 studies reported on 32 different clinical conditions in 6453 patients from 19862007. A variety of magnetic devices, dosing regimens and control devices were used. Thirty seven of 42 studies (88%) reported therapeutic benefit. The only adverse events reported were exacerbation of hot flushes and skin irritation from adhesives.

Conclusions: Based on this literature review we believe further investigation of acu-magnet therapy is warranted particularly for the management of diabetes and insomnia. The overall poor quality of the controlled trials precludes any evidence based treatment recommendations at this time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points
  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Field Therapy / methods*
  • Pain Management*
  • Research Design