ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
CANCER
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
High Rate of Rehospitalizations Costing Billions
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Even in 'Last Supper,' Portion Sizes Have Grown
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
EYE CARE, VISION
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
FITNESS
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Household Insecticides May Be Linked to Autoimmune Diseases
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
B-Vitamins Help Protect Against Stroke, Heart Disease
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Add your Article

Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression

Using magnets to stimulate the brain may ease depression in people who have not found relief from antidepressants, new research has found.

"We have settled a fundamental question about [transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS] therapy, which is: 'Does it work?'" said the study's lead author, Dr. Mark George, a professor of psychiatry, radiology and neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina. "The answer is 'yes.'"

The researchers administered the magnet therapy to half of a group of 190 adults who had been depressed for at least three months, but not longer than five years, and who had taken medication for depression but were not helped. The others were given a sham treatment -- simulated magnet therapy that was mostly indistinguishable from the real thing, the researchers said.

After three weeks, about 14 percent of those receiving magnet therapy were no longer depressed, compared with 5 percent who were getting the fake treatment.

The researchers continued the magnet treatment for three more weeks for those who were still depressed and also offered the real treatment to participants who'd gotten the sham treatment.

After that period, about 30 percent were no longer depressed, the researchers said.

"In a rigorous, industry-free multisite trial with a convincing sham, we found unambiguously that TMS worked better than the sham. It's watershed," George stated.

The findings are published in the May issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Psychiatrists have been interested in the possibilities of treating depression with magnet therapy for more than a decade, the experts said. Magnets are believed to work by creating electrical currents in the nerve cells in the left prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain involved with regulating mood. The current may jump-start the area, which has been shown to be underactive in people who are depressed, George said.

But testing magnet therapy has been difficult. "Double-blind" studies, in which neither the researchers nor participants know who is getting the real treatment and who is getting the fake, have been difficult to carry out.

The current study overcame that by creating an elaborate sham. During magnet therapy, participants were painlessly zapped by a pulsing electromagnetic coil 3,000 times over 37 minutes. The current created a head-tapping sensation that some people said reminded them of a woodpecker, George said.

The coil, which is aimed at the brain area to be stimulated, creates a magnetic field that passes through the skin and skull, inducing an electrical current in the brain.

Participants receiving the sham treatment felt the same head-tapping, but a metal insert below the magnet blocked the magnetic field from entering the brain while electrodes on the scalp delivered the tapping sensation.

Using electrical current to treat brain disorders has been around in some form since the 1940s and 1950s, said Tony Tang, an adjunct professor in the psychology department at Northwestern University. However, electroconvulsive, or electroshock, therapy can induce seizures, and some studies showed it might cause memory loss and brain damage. Though effective in some people, electric shock was viewed with suspicion by the public, and today is used only as a last resort, Tang said.

Magnet therapy is essentially a much gentler, less invasive form of electric shock therapy, Tang said.

"Transcranial magnet therapy is one of the most exciting new developments in our field," Tang said. "There are new drugs coming out every year, but they are all fairly similar to each other, and we don't see much difference in efficacy. With TMS, the mechanism is completely different. It's a very, very safe and gentle, noninvasive way to do electric shock therapy."

In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of a device used for magnet therapy to treat depression that is considered mildly resistant to treatment, according to background information on the study provided by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, which funded the study.

The next step, the researchers said, is to fine-tune the treatment to determine if higher levels of magnetic stimulation or changing the location of the magnetic coil might be even more effective or if magnet therapy might work best in conjunction with medications.

In the study, the only significant side effects were headaches and mild discomfort at the stimulation site. Most participants remained depression-free for several months after treatment stopped, according to the study.

SOURCES: Mark George, M.D., professor, psychiatry, radiology and neuroscience, and director, Brain Stimulation Laboratory, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, S.C.; Tony Tang, Ph.D., adjunct professor, department of psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.; May 2010, Archives of General Psychiatry Published on: May 03, 2010