ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Multiple Screening Strategy Boosts Cervical Cancer Detection
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
CAREGIVING
Newborn Screenings Now Required Across U.S.
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Old-Growth Forests Dying Off in U.S. West
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
FITNESS
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
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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