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Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Know Your Asthma Triggers
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38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
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Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
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Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
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Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
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More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
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Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
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What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
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Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
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24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
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Coffee or Tea Consumption May Lower Stroke Risk
Imagine Food Aromas That Prevent Overeating
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
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Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
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Gas Stove Emissions Boost Asthma in Inner-City Kids
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
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Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FITNESS
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
Stressed and Exhausted: An Introduction to Adrenal Fatigue
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
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Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
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Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
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Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
MEN'S HEALTH
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More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
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'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
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PREGNANCY
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
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Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
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SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
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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