Magnetic Polarity Research
We are often asked… “Which side of the magnet do I apply, the north or south pole?”
A more important question however… “Does using the north or south pole actually make any difference?”
In any case, the question is irrelevant when it comes to Quadrapolar magnets.
This is a comprehensive review of the history and evidence of using the north or south pole of a magnet with regard to magnetic therapy.
Click on each subject to navigate directly there…
- Davis & Rawls Books: Their published research claims and their basic evidence
- Contemporary Research: More recent studies claiming differences between north and south polarity. In particular we look at a 2017 paper by Valery Shalatonin Ph.D and the seven scientific articles it references to support the claim of the “fundamental differences in the biophysical effects of the magnetic field of the north and south polarity”.
- Davis & Rawls Patents: The six patents that originated from the work of Davis & Rawls. The beauty of patents for this purpose is that there are specific claims that should have utility and provide a commercial benefit. Decades later we can see what’s become of these claims.
- Basic Physics: The fundamental errors in basic physics made by Davis & Rawls many of which are still repeated to this day.
- Another Book: Magnetic Healing. 1997 by Buryl Payne PhD. A well written book, by a credible author. What evidence does it provide for the difference between north and south pole.
- Clinical Trials: Finally, we examine the three published studies that have independently investigated the claims of different biological effects of a magnet’s north and south pole.
- Summary: This is a long and detailed article with many hours of research. Click to go straight to the summary.
* Placing magnets on acupuncture points or following the protocols of Dr Goiz biomagnetism may affect energy systems throughout the body and are outside the scope of this paper.
Using the north or south pole in magnetic therapy was made famous through the work of Albert Roy Davisand Walter C. Rawls throughout the 1940-70’s and their two books.
Others came later, such as William Philpot MD and doctors Mary and Richard Broeringmeyer. To the best of our knowledge, all are now deceased and with the passing of the decades and in light of newer evidence, it’s time for a systematic review of their published work so as to be better informed.
The question of using the north or south pole is redundant with regards to Quadrapolar magnets since both poles are applied equally. One reason this is necessary is because Q Magnets are a multipolar magnet and for very good reasons both poles are placed facing the body. The close interactions of the two poles introduces a more complex field and magnetic field gradients.
When quadrapolar magnets are used, an array of 2 x 2 alternating poles face the body in what is a symmetrical field, much like the yin-yang symbol. For more detail, see how Q Magnets work.
1. Davis & Rawls Books
There are two relevant books by Davis & Rawls for the purpose of this discussion.
- Magnetism and Its Effects on the Living System. 1974 Albert Roy Davis & Walter C. Rawls Jr. Acres U.S.A., Inc. Austin, Texas. Our copy was published in the year 2000 and in its thirteenth printing, so many thousands of people must have it. Available on Amazon or Download from RexResearch.
- The Magnetic Blueprint For Life. 1979 Albert Roy Davis & Walter C. Rawls Jr. Acres U.S.A., Inc. Kansas City, Missouri. Available on Amazon or Download from Archive.org.
The main theme of Davis & Rawls work can be summarised from these two sentences…
“The discovery that magnetism has at least two separate energy fields, not one as formerly believed, is a discovery that touches upon every life of every human being in our civilisation. It is a natural law that involves industry, agriculture, medical areas, and all the natural areas.” From The Magnetic Blueprint For Life by Davis & Rawls.
First, we should define some terms, some of which are contradictory and the cause of much confusion. This confusion stems from Davis & Rawls own misunderstanding of basic physics with regard to magnetic poles.
Bipolar– all magnets are bipolar, in that they comprise two poles, the north and south pole. In magnetic therapy however, bipolar can mean that both poles are positioned against the body.
Unipolar – all magnets are understood to have two poles, the north and south. So technically speaking a unipolar magnet (monopole) does not exist. In magnetic therapy, unipolar is sometimes used when only one pole is placed against the body.
Multipolar – similar to the term bipolar in the context of magnetic therapy, that is more than one pole is positioned against the body. The term multipolar is preferable as it’s unlikely to be confused with the common description of a “bipolar magnet”.
North pole – referred to by Davis & Rawls as the positive pole, biosouth or the geological south pole and often coloured red. By convention, the north pole of a magnet will point to the geographic North Pole (the Arctic). It follows then that the Earth’s North Pole is actually the magnetic south pole. When Davis & Rawls refer to “north pole magnetic energy”, they are referring to Earth’s magnetic field at the North Pole, which is actually the magnetic south pole.
South pole – referred to by Davis & Rawls as the negative pole, bionorth or the geological north pole and often coloured green. By convention, the north pole of a magnet will point to the geographic North Pole (the Arctic). It follows then that the Earth’s North Pole is actually the magnetic south pole. When Davis & Rawls refer to “south pole magnetic energy”, they are referring to Earth’s magnetic field at the South Pole, which is actually the magnetic north pole.
NOTE: In physics, positive and negative are used in relation to electric charges, but not magnetic poles. The use of the terms positive or negative with regard to magnetic therapy is unhelpful, because it can erroneously imply benefit or harm. The confusion from these terms alone make it very difficult to know whether followers of Davis & Rawls are in fact using the north or south pole of a magnet.
The Primary Discovery
From Chapter 4 of the book “Magnetism and Its Effects on the Living System”.
“The primary discovery that the two poles of a magnet act to change and alter biological systems in two completely different ways was made by Dr Albert Roy Davis in 1936.”
The chance discovery that lead to this line of thinking came through Davis in 1936. Three cardboard dishes of earthworms were inadvertently placed in three different magnetic surrounds. One each on the north and south poles of a large horse shoe magnet and the third off to the side that acted much like a control. According to Davis, by the next morning, the worms on the south pole had eaten through the carboard dish, while the other two showed no change. This one event lead to hundreds of experiments and investigations, that over the ensuing decades produced the published papers and patents that we look at below.
So what of these earthworms? By sheer coincidence, scientists have recently been investigating the effects of magnetic fields on earthworms. What Davis stumbled upon in 1936 was the phenomenon of magnetotropism. Tropisms are the growth or turning of an organism in response to an external stimulus. For example…
- Phototropism – a response to light; e.g. plants grow towards the light
- Gravitropism – a response to gravity; e.g. plant roots grow downward
- Chemotropism – a response to chemicals; e.g. plant roots growing towards nutrients
- Magnetotropism – a response to magnetic fields; e.g. starved earthworms travel down.
A recent experiment took advantage of earthworm behaviour. It’s known that hungry earthworms prefer to migrate down, but when well-fed go up. If the surrounding magnetic field is inverted, the direction of the earthworm migration is reversed. Another experiment used worms from both Britain and Australia which occupy areas on the globe with opposite magnetic polarity. Worms isolated from Australia migrated in the opposite direction of the British worms. See… Vidal-Gadea V. (2018). Temporal and spatial factors that influence magnetotaxis in C. elegans. Download HERE.
Magnetoreception is a more general response whereby organisms can detect a magnetic field and use them for various biologically relevant purposes. It’s well known for instance that animals such as birds and turtles and even bacteria will use the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field for migration. New research is showing that even humans are able to detect changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.
Many of the observations by Davis & Rawls and others that lead to the claim that a magnet’s north and south poles are two separate “energy fields” are simply examples of magnetoreception or magnetotropism. Just like the earthworm experiment, there’s a common trend with regard to almost all of their work. Predictably, it ends with a simple explanation or little or no evidence; read on and see for yourself.
Many of the observations by Davis & Rawls and others that lead to the claim that a magnet’s north and south poles are two separate energy fields are simply examples of magnetoreception or magnetotropism.
For years we’ve been reluctant to dissect the work of Davis & Rawls. After all, what’s not to like about two guys who run experiments out of their garage in order to buck the system? But if through erroneous and unsubstantiated claims, people adopt practices using magnets that are misleading, who benefits?
For instance, many people who follow the work of Davis & Rawls and/or Philpott claim that you should not use multipolar magnets on the body. But, when you consider that around 90% of the positive clinical trials using static magnets do in fact use multipolar magnets such as Quadrapolar, Bioflex and Nikken. You should realise that by following this advice, you are missing out on the best that static magnets have to offer. So when wives’ tales based on fallacy and error are influencing people’s behaviour, then it’s time pick apart the foundations of these ideas.
2. Contemporary Research
Almost all of the current research into the biological effects of static magnetic fields ignore hypothetical differences between the north and south pole. For instance, studies are showing that stronger magnetic fields can assist in making blood less viscous (thinner), which could have applications for protecting against heart disease. But none of these studies mention possible differences in the effects of the north and sole pole, but they do mention magnetic field gradients. Read our article on Blood Flow and Magnet Therapythat debunks myths.
Another area of enquiry is the use of magnets in the treatment of water. What’s widely regarded as the most comprehensive review of magnetic water treatment states that, “the gradient of the magnetic field is more important than the magnetic field strength itself”, but makes no mention of the north or south pole1. Read our article on Magnetised Water to get the latest science in this area.
Those wedded to the north/south pole concept would simply say it’s been avoided, whereas the scientists studying in the field understand that there is almost no rationale or evidence to bother investing time to pursue the subject. This also applies to decades of research into the safety of the MRI and the World Health Organisation’s comprehensive report on the safety of static magnetic fields. The 369 page report by 18 eminent scientists is completely silent on the issue, download the report here.
Recently Published Articles
Recently published material may look credible, take for instance the following paper published in the International Journal of Pharma Medicine and Biological Sciences. 2 The researchers, Shalatonin et. al say that, “It is experimentally shown that there are fundamental differences in the biophysical effects of the magnetic field of the north and south polarity. Some of studies found that each pole of a magnet has specific effects that are quite different.“
This paper references David & Rawls book and seven additional papers in the scientific literature to support its claim that “each pole of a magnet has specific effects that are quite different”. We thought, “this could be interesting” so we accessed and read every paper discussed below.
This study relates to the use of bacteria in the breakdown of industrial waste and has been cited 20 times.3 The results of this study showed that the phenol concentration decreased rapidly under the influence of the south pole in comparison with the north pole. It makes no mention of possible causes of such differences and could be explained by magnetoreception, which many bacteria respond to.
Only one of the 20 papers that cite this study (Stimulation of porphyrin production by application of an external magnetic field to a photosynthetic bacterium, mentioned north and south pole in the table of results, but it wasn’t relevant enough to mention in the summary or discussion.4
So it seems this line of inquiry ended here with no further research on the topic. What’s interesting is that both of Jung’s studies acknowledged Biomagnetic Systems, that is Walter C. Rawls for supporting the study.
The subject of this paper is magnetotaxis (see Topic 1), another phenomenon related to magnetoreception. Magnetotaxis is the response from bacteria to a magnetic field that involves orientation and coordinating movement.5
This study is looking at how reversing the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field might affect the development of a plant. It is very similar to the concept of magnetoreception as explained in Topic 1 and is not relevant to differences in north and south pole “magnetic energy”.6
This study published in International Agrophysics, pre-treated chilli seeds with a 62 μT (micro Tesla) field for both north pole and south pole magnetic fields and took measurements of the stem length at 4, 8, 12 & 24hours. The progress can be seen in the picture below (click for larger image).
In conclusion, the present study shows that primary roots of radish seedlings curved away from stronger magnetic fields when placed under conditions of omnilateral gravity stimulation. The root curvature was found significantly enhanced when roots were exposed in a gradient magnetic field in the vicinity of the south pole of the magnet.
There may be something to this, but you can find a number of studies looking at the effects of pretreating seeds with both static and pulsed magnetic fields and many of them show a benefit. But we could not find another that looked at differences between north pole and south pole magnetism. They were mainly focused on the strength of the magnetic field and for pulsed fields the frequency and also timing and duration of exposure.
The WHO comprehensive report into Static Fieldsreferenced a study by Yano on radish seedlings and attributed the affect to tropism.7 It’s worth noting that much of the research into how magnetic fields effect plant growth focuses on magnetic field gradients (inhomogeneous fields) for enhanced effects, rather than simply the north or south pole.
This paper was presented at the 94th Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly of the National Medical Association and gives the impression of a credible paper claiming differences between north and south pole magnetism. You will often see this paper quoted in books and articles on magnetic therapy to support the supposed differences in a magnets north and south pole.8
The gist is “according to Davis and Rawls ‘the North Pole (negative polarity) slowed, controlled and arrested further development of an active cancer site’ and ‘the South Pole (positive polarity) caused the cancers to become more advanced and then develop, grow, and spread at an accelerated rate’”
It goes on to state that an experiment was performed where human lung carcinoma cells were exposed to a 3.5 kilogauss magnet. “The results indicated that a significant decrease in the growth of these cells occurred between 6 and 144 hours when placed in close proximity to the north field…”. It’s astounding that in a published scientific journal, the only evidence the authors provide to verify this claim is…“written Personal communication, Philip M. Lorio, February, 1988”. That’s it! It may have been observed, it may not, there’s no methodology for the experiment, no results and no discussion. There’s no way to verify the claims and as far as we can tell there’s no evidence of the it being tested in the 30 years since.
Acting on the consequences of such claims, the authors went on to record the polarity and strength of the magnetic fields at various MRI installations. Warning that where the operators are exposed to the positive south pole energy they might be exposed to hazardous risk. You would have to keep an open mind to such a serious claim, but it’s never been tested since.
The safety concerns around strong magnetic fields from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is mainly focused on the risks associated with patient handling and taking necessary precautions. For example, strict screening for foreign bodies such as shrapnel, implants, pacemakers and the like. The actual risks from the magnetic fields themselves outside of pregnancy, are hardly even a consideration. In all the decades of research and training for radiographers, the professionals who operate MRIs, north and south pole magnetism does not even rate a mention. It is completely irrelevant.
The basis of this paper was used to grant patent # 5,197,492. See Topic 3.
A very comprehensive paper on the biological effects of SMF’s and their medical applications, but unfortunately does not even mention or distinguish the magnetic field from the north or south pole.9
As for the Shalatonin paper itself? There may be something in it, it would be nice to see it replicated. But the experiment was not randomised, that is, the researchers knew which setup was the control and which were the north and south pole exposed. This may not matter for distilled water, but as a standard scientific practice, should have been followed.
Like nearly all studies on magnetic fields, the significant results come from magnetic field gradients and varying field strength, not comparing the north and south pole.
Note the following paper that demonstrates some claims of an effect from magnetic fields may be secondary to the magnetic field itself.10
In conclusion, the vaporization or drying process in the air can be significantly enhanced under a magnetic field gradient in the tesla range. As a consequence, when living organisms are placed under a magnetic field with gradient, they may feel colder due to the latent heat of vaporization, and they may experience aqueous environments with different concentration of ingredients from the intended values. These changes in environmental conditions should necessarily cause some change in the experimental results when living organisms are subjected to the magnetic field for examination. Therefore a special consideration must be taken when to judge whether the magnetic field really has an effect on living organisms.
3. Davis & Rawls Patents
Of their theories, Davis & Rawls stated in the Preface of their 1974 book Magnetism and Its Effects on the Living System that their “efforts have been unsuccessful and at this time many researchers at all levels of scientific research refuse to acknowledge or utilize this new discovery for guidance in their work.”
Davis &Rawls were prolific in their work and published numerous books and patents. It now being 2019, 45 years later, we should be able to assess with hindsight whether any of their theories have stood the test of time. For instance, patents would have been commercialised and the benefits flow on to consumers, at the very least now that the patents would have expired and the ideas and methods freely available we should be able to see them or their derivatives in practice.
The following US patents were filed by Davis and/or Rawls or their affiliated company BioMagnetics International.
3,947,533 – Magnetic Field Expansion And Compression Method.
Filed 14 June, 1974. Inventor: Albert Roy Davis. Assignee: BioMagnetics International, Inc.
- north pole magnetism provides a negative form of energy, while south pole magnetism a positive form of energy.
- when molten metal cools while exposed to the north pole it has a finer grain and smoother surface and while exposed to the south pole has a rougher grain and is more porous.
There is no reference to what would be a valuable metallurgical process anywhere else, except the work of Davis.
5,002,068 – Shielding and Focusing of Magnetic Fields.
Filed 17 July, 1989. Inventor: Gregory J. Powell. Assignee: BioMagnetics Systems, Inc
5,197,492 – Focused Magnetic Directional Polarities.
Filed 26 March, 1991. Inventor: Walter C. Rawls & Gregory J. Powell. Assignee: BioMagnetics Systems, Inc
- Static magnetic fields affect living tissue
- South pole magnetic field may adversely affect living organisms
- MRIs and other equipment that generate strong magnetic fields can lead to strong occupational exposure of the south pole magnet
- The purpose of the invention is to shield a worker from the south pole magnetic field.
There isn’t even a mention of south pole magnetic field in relation to the thoroughly researched area of occupational exposure to magnetic fields. See Topic 2, reference.8
4,003,769 – Method Of Making Non-Retentive Al-Ni-Co-Fe Alloy.
Filed 11 Oct 1974. Inventor: Albert Roy Davis. Assignee: BioMagnetics International, Inc.
- A method to convert a high magnetic retentivity alloy to a non-retentive alloy.
Can find no evidence or references elsewhere.
4,020,590 – Apparatus and Method For Exposing Seeds To A Magnetic Field.
Filed 15 Dec, 1975. Inventor: Albert Roy Davis. Assignee: BioMagnetics, International.
- north pole magnetism provides a negative form of energy, while south pole magnetism a positive form of energy.
- An apparatus for magnetically treating seeds to alter the characteristics of plant growth.
- The apparatus allows for the exposure of only one magnetic pole
Davis conflated magnetoreception and magnetotropism with differences in biological response from the magnetic field’s of the north and south pole. See Topic 1.
5,709,223 – Magnetically Modified Microbial Metabolism.
Filed 7 June1, 1994. Inventor: Walter C. Rawls & Gregory J. Powell. Assignee: BioMagnetics Systems, Inc
- north pole magnetism provides a negative form of energy, while south pole magnetism a positive form of energy.
- North directional unipolar magnetic fields decrease the reproduction rate of microbial cells and microbial metabolism.
- South directional unipolar magnetic fields increase the reproduction rate of microbial cells and microbial metabolism.
- Increasing microbial activity can assist biodegradation of contaminated aqueous waste.
See Reference3 by Jung in Topic 2.
There is no evidence that any of these patents were put into commercial practice or had any commercial value. That is, besides attracting investors in the early stages of the product development.
4. Basic Physics
Davis & Rawls claim that physicists through the ages, including all current university courses make three fundamental errors (see pages 7-9 in Magnetism and its Effects on the Living System). The error that:
- Error 1: Magnetic energy leaves one pole and travels to the opposite pole. They believed “the energy” flows both ways.
- Error 2: Magnetic energy flows directly from one pole to the other. They believed the “magnetic energy” travels from one pole to the centre of the magnet and then to the opposite pole.
- Error 3: The magnetic energies of both polarities are essentially the same. They believed that the two magnet fields are completely different and produce different biological effects.
All three so-called errors claimed by Davis & Rawls are not errors at all and reveal a good imagination and their lack of understanding of the physics of magnetism.
Even the terms used, such as magnetic energy shows a complete misunderstanding of the physics of electromagnetism. Like gravity, magnetism is one of the four fundamental forces. You don’t hear the term gravitational energy, except in the context of potential energy. The same with magnetic fields, fields are simply a property of space and if a material that’s attracted to a magnet comes into close proximity to this field, it will be drawn closer and reduce the magnetic potential energy.
You will often see magnetic field lines drawn around a bar magnet (see image below). But in reality, magnetic field lines don’t exist at all. They stem from the way iron filings form patterns around a magnet, but the magnetic field itself is not confined to distinct “field lines”. As each iron filing comes into close proximity to the magnet, it becomes in and of itself a single little magnetic dipole. A dipole having two poles, north and south at each end. This iron filing dipole feels the force of the large magnet, and aligns in the direction of the magnetic field. In addition, each little iron filing magnetic dipole feels a small force from other nearby iron filing dipoles, and they move to minimize their local energy. This causes them to line up in a row and appear like “field lines”.
The fact that there is a north and south pole is only a convention brought about because the “north seeking” pole in a compass orientates to face the North Pole. They might just have been called ying and yang or blue and red. The arrows drawn on the field lines pointing from north to south are also just a convention.
On the picture below, the two images on the left show how magnetic field lines are explained in physics text books. The two images on the right are Davis & Rawls “new” theory of magnetic field lines.
In addition, Davis & Rawls try to use the concept of the Bloch wall to support their erroneous theory of the two completely different magnetic fields, or as they describe as “energy”.
The Bloch wall can be easily explained by the image below. The first thing to understand is that a magnetic field is three dimensional, not two as shown. Also, as a vector quantity, magnetic fields have both magnitude (or strength) and direction. Whether the magnet is a solid static magnet or one produced by a solenoid, the field lines tell the tale. Near the middle of the magnet, the relative strength of the magnetic field is much stronger inside the magnet and very weak on the outside. See the following link for more details…
As a further explanation, watch just a few minutes of this lecture by famous MIT physics lecturer Walter Lewin.
5. Another Book
The power of suggestion:
Buryl Payne PhD is a credible author and his book supports some of the theories of Davis & Rawls. But when you go digging for the scientific research, again it comes up blank.
According to chapter 4 of his book… Magnetic Healing: Advanced Techniques for the Application of Magnetic Forces.
- The bio-south pole (red) stimulates and promotes healing, growth, and activity
- The bio-north pole (white, blue or green) calms, sedates, reduces inflammation, and also promotes healing
But while the author makes these claims as “basic facts”, at the same time he hedges his bets and effectively says, there’s no evidence for what I’ve said above and just do what works for you. He also writes that it was thought that people with arthritis visiting the South Pole for several months and experiencing improvements in arthritis was a result of the change in magnetic field.
Prior to around 1980, no other magnets were used besides the common bipolar magnet. That is, more complex magnets such as multipolar that applied both poles towards the body were yet to be considered. Since there were no other variables to work with, people like Davis & Rawls worked with the only variables they had; bionorth, biosouth and field strength.
The author seems to get this, but then can’t leave the old bionorth and biosouth theories behind!
Buryl Payne states that… “when it was commonly believed that there were magnetic poles and each pole had a characteristic “energy”, it was mistakenly assumed that one pole did one thing and the other pole another. Therefore it was believed that it was necessary to shield one pole from possibly affecting the body in this testing in order to obtain a pure polar effect. But since there are no magnetic poles, just magnetic directions, it is only necessary to reverse the magnetic direction to do a muscle test.”
The first part of this makes complete sense, each pole does not have its own characteristic energy. But, there is yet another misconception in Payne’s description. He gets the mistaken belief of labelling the north and south poles as having different energies.
Where’s the evidence?
Chapter 9 of Buryl Payne’s book is Research & Case Studies and this is what we were finally looking for to learn more about the research in the different biological effects of north and south pole “energies”. The major evidence he mentions to validate the different effects of bio-north and bio-south polarities is to separate a bunch of grapes and treat one with bio-north and the other with bio-south field and after just fifteen minutes, the bio-south treated grapes are so sweet you will just want to gobble them all up. A simple experiment you can try for yourself, give it a go and let us know what you find.
There was one line of research mentioned, a 1976 study by a Japanese Dr Kyoichi Nakagawa, but there’s nothing published to verify any such study or follow up. Irrespective, Nakagawa’s work was famous for his theory of magnetic field deficiency syndrome. That through a combination of the Earth’s slowly diminishing magnetic field and being surrounded with magnetic shielding materials (steel, concrete etc.), we are becoming “deficient”. Symptoms claimed by Nakagawa include stiffness, dizziness, headaches and poorer immune system.
Mesmer was the father of the term Animal Magnetismand in the late 1700’s practiced medicine using these intriguing materials that no one properly understood. He used magnets to place patients under some type of trance and was receiving glowing testimonials from socially prominent individuals. But after a while, he realised he could induce the same trance type state without using magnets. What he had in fact stumbled upon was a type of hypnotism, 60 years prior to the Scottish physician James Baird who coined the term.
The best explanation we can provide as to how people believe in the differences in the north and south pole applied to the body can be explained with The Powerband. That is, it’s purely suggestion. Read the incredible story of the claims of The Powerband at the link below and how a randomised controlled clinical trial was the final nail in the coffin. Eventually the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission stepped in and forced the company selling Powerband to refund their customers, see statement from ACCC here.
Click here to read more on Powerband
6. Clinical Trials
The following advice comes from William Philpot MD’s book, an often quoted source of information on medical magnets.
“It seems, however, that only the effect of north magnetic pole is beneficial and long lasting, and when both magnetic poles being administered to a patient simultaneously unpleasant effects appear.”
The research and clinical experience of many hundreds of medical practitioners informs us that the statement above is highly debatable. What does the research say? There have been three published peer reviewed clinical trials comparing the effects of either magnetic pole on the human body.
Hinman’s study11 was actually a response to a claim by William Philpott. “Philpott claims the heart is the most responsive tissue to the stress or anti-stress fields created by magnets. He states that a significant (10 point) decrease in Heart Rate will occur within a few minutes of exposure to a negative static magnetic field, and that a positive static magnetic field will have the opposite effect.”
So Hinman devised a study whereby he randomly assigned 75 healthy subjects to the following groups.
- 25 people to a negative magnetic field
- 26 people to a positive magnetic field
- 24 people to a sham magnetic field
Subjects laid on a 50 X 60cm magnetic underlay with 42 placebos or strong magnets each measuring 400-500 gauss (40-50mT or around 1,000 times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field). Heart Rate and Blood Pressure measurements were taken after 1, 5, 10 and 15 minutes and at 5 minutes after removal. The results of the study demonstrated no difference between the three groups in heart rate or blood pressure. This study looked at magnetic fields covering relatively large areas of the body. What about very specific points on the body, could the north or south magnetic poles induce different physiological effects?
A study by Mayrovitz12 investigated the localised effect of different magnetic poles and a sham field over the second finger. Mayrovitz exposed 12 healthy volunteers to either a sham field or a rare earth molybdenum magnet over the palmer part of the finger for 15 minutes. Mayrovitz noted that “despite the fact that physics tells us that the field strength at the magnet’s north and south poles are equal, it has been argued that the biological effects strongly depend on which pole is applied to the target tissue”.
Accurate measurements on skin microcirculation were made and showed a significant reduction in blood circulation for both sides of the magnet when compared to the sham field. Interestingly there was no significant difference between the north and south pole groups.
Another application of static magnetic field therapy is Transcranial Static Magnetic Field Stimulation (tSMS). A study by Oliviero13 investigated the effects of placing a strong, weak and sham neodymium magnet against the skull, over the motor cortex to evaluate cortical excitability changes. They found a greater effect with the stronger magnet, but no difference between the north and south pole.
The three studies quoted and our own experiments investigated the biological effects of static magnetic fields on human tissue. They found no differences to objective indicators such as blood pressure, heart rate or an inflammatory response to either positive or negative magnetic field exposure.
However, there are intuitive healers practiced in the art of biomagnetic pairing or channeling energy flow (or chi) through meridians, which may see different effects from the north or south poles, but is not within the scope of this article.
Magnetic field lines are invisible and the naked eye is unable to detect the north or south pole or combination for a magnet. However, the direction of magnetic field lines and field gradients can be observed by sprinkling iron filings over a magnet.
Extensive research by a group of neurologists at Vanderbilt Medical University showed that static magnetic fields could be optimised for physiologic and therapeutic effects. The modelling has shown that the MER (maximally effective region) of the magnet coincided with regions in which the gradient (dB/dx) is predominantly perpendicular to the local field vector.14See article for Q Magnet device selection for more information.
This can be observed in the picture above with the quadrapolar magnet showing iron filings running horizontal to the surface of the magnet where the polarity alternates. See how Q Magnets work for more information.
The short summary is…
After reviewing the evidence in its entirety, it’s reasonable to assert that any differences between the north and south pole can be attributed to magnetoreception, magnetotaxis and/or magnetotropism. There is practically no evidence that these differences might benefit or harm the human body.
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3.Jung J, Sanji B, Godbole S, Sofer S. Biodegradation of phenol: a comparative study with and without applying magnetic fields. J Chem Technol Biotechnol. 1993;56(1):73-76. doi:10.1002/jctb.280560113
4.Utsunomiya T, Yamane Y-I, Watanabe M, Sasaki K. Stimulation of porphyrin production by application of an external magnetic field to a photosynthetic bacterium, Rhodobacter sphaeroides. Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering. Published online January 2003:401-404. doi:10.1016/s1389-1723(03)80075-0
5.Adamkiewicz V, Bassous C, Morency D, Lorrain P, Lepage J. Magnetic response in cultures of Streptococcus mutans ATCC-27607. Exp Biol. 1987;46(3):127-132. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3582582
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