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Skeptical Analysis of the Woolrest Biomag June 29, 2010

Posted by Ian in Pseudoscience, Skepticism.
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Just over a year ago I had an article published in the New Zealand Skeptic magazine about the Woolrest Biomag underlays.  I found the original that I submitted on my harddrive today, which is longer and more detailed than the published version.  It is an opinion piece based on my analysis and follow up of the claims made about the Woolrest Biomag on their website as of January 2009.  I have not updated it in any way other than to recheck the links from the original (and added a couple of notes in orange relating to these).  A quick look at their website suggests little has changed since January 2009.  I emailed this article to the Woolrest Biomag people twice and got no response. 


Skeptical Analysis of the Woolrest Biomag Underlay
Ian Luxmoore, February 2009

Introduction

I hear and see advertising for the Biomag Underlay on a regular basis in NZ media.  They advertise on TV (one ad is here) and radio extensively and have become a very well known brand in New Zealand.  They are a bed underlay with or without wool that includes magnets which are promoted as providing pain relief.  There are several other brands of magnetic underlay in the market in New Zealand but I would like to focus on the most popular one (and the one with the best website). 

Throughout this article I will use the generic term “Biomag” as a catch all for all of the Biomag products that use magnets. 

With that in mind I decided to do some research and see what I could find about the Biomag range and see where it led me.  I am personally skeptical of the efficacy of magnets in healing but I wanted to investigate what evidence the site provided and see if there was anything to their claims. 

There are two related goals for this research.  The first is to see if there is any reason to think that the Biomag products do what they claim they do, and the second question (within the first) is whether or not the magnets actually contribute to this effect.

An analysis of the claims

The first port of call is to see what the Biomag Company actually claims and in the age of the internet the best resource for this is usually the company’s website.  In this case the Biomag Company has a pretty good website which is easy to follow and has a lot of information on it. 

While their claims are restated in several different ways in different parts of the website, this premise really stood out:

For years, the mainstream medical establishment’s response to pain has been to throw a pill at it.
Source (bolding in original)

This statement fundamentally bothers me.  While there is some evidence that drug use by doctors is higher than necessary any doctor trivially throwing pills at a problem would soon lose his or her practicing license.  This is the exact kind of statement which in one sentence says “ignore the mainstream, buy our product”.  Mainstream pain relief does work.  It works effectively, time and time again, in clinical trials beyond count and in real life.    

The real motivation behind this statement is to imply they have a better way.  For example:

Fortunately, there is a very effective drug-free way to treat pain: the Woolrest Biomag magnetic underlay.  While a Biomag does not cure your pain, it has made a huge difference to literally tens on thousands of people, by reducing inflammation and relieving their pain. 
Source (bolding in original)

 

They also specifically mention the following ailments that the Biomag is good for reducing pain associated with:

  • Arthritis *
  • Back and other aches/pains*
  • various auto-immune disorders
  • high/low blood pressure
  • circulation problems
  • cramps (muscular)
  • low energy
  • fatigue
  • fibromyalgia*
  • gout
  • headaches*
  • osteoporosis
  • asthma
  • sciatica*
  • shingles*
  • skin conditions
  • sleepless nights*
  • stress

Those with stars next to them had further information on the site although it all boils down to pain relief so the source is probably irrelevant. 

This is an interesting list of ailments, many of which are more syndromes than diseases and many are potentially psychological problems (in that they are subject to placebo effects).  However if the pain relief is real then there is no doubt the product is a very good one so this isn’t a big deal.

It is important for me to note here that they say nowhere that the Biomag cures any of these ailments but it does claim to reduce the pain from them.  They could perhaps be more explicit about this but on the whole this is a good thing and means their claims are at least potentially realistic.  Some magnetic healing devices claim to cure cancer or other serious ailments and I think it is clear these are fraudulent.  The Biomag does not claim this as far as I can tell.

How Does It Work?

So having established what it claims it does, how do they claim it does it?  This part is a little muddled since there are several subtly different claims on the website.  There are two main aspects of the claim.  The first is that it interacts with the blood to increase circulation and the second is that it affects nerve impulses. 

The main claim on the site is that circulation is improved, and the connection between iron in the blood and magnets is pointed out:

It does this by drawing trace elements, for instance, iron, towards the magnets. The human body contains about 5 grams of iron, much of it in the form of haemoglobin which plays a vital role moving oxygen from your lungs around your body. 
Source

<2010 Note:   This statement seems to have been changed in their website>

And

It is believed that the static magnets in the underlay increase the flow of blood in your circulation, because blood contains iron. Your blood acts as a conductor and this assists the flow of your circulation.  
Source

Firstly if the magnets do attract the iron in your blood won’t that just draw the blood towards the bed and hold it there?  Logically one would expect it to do the exact opposite of increasing circulation.  However that proves to be irrelevant because the iron in the body is locked up in haemoglobin molecules and is so diffuse that it is incapable of forming any kind of magnetic attraction.  In fact it turns out that haemoglobin (and pretty much all other molecules) are actually slightly diamagnetic, which is to say they are slightly repelled by magnetic fields. 

Secondly it is very unclear just what is meant by “acts as a conductor” – a conductor of what?  And how does this increased conduction lead to increased circulation.  I could find no connection between any sort of magnetic conduction (a complex term it seems!) and blood flow. 

Finally, and because it is perhaps the best response I have seen to claims that magnets affect blood, check out this point:

The last time you got an MRI, did the enormous magnets tear all the blood out of your stupid body? 
Source

MRI’s are magnetic resonance imaging devices at hospitals that use very powerful magnets (0.5-3.0 Tesla, source) to create 3D images of the body.  To put the power of these magnets in context, the Biomag magnets are probably around the 0.01-0.05 Tesla mark.  Check out this cool MRI safety video for some cool demonstrations of how crazy these powerful magnets are!   

<2010 Note:  The MRI safety video has gone awol – but I found this amusing one one youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uzJPpC4Wuk>

The second point the site makes is that the magnets stimulate nerve endings:

The general consensus is that the magnetic force stimulates nerve-endings to improve blood flow to injured or swollen joints, causing the blood vessels to dilate. 
Source

Some investigation reveals there are numerous papers exploring the impact of magnetic fields on nerve actions, and the results are quite variable.  They do seem to almost exclusively point out that the mechanisms are largely unknown.  One paper I found that did find an effect (Mclean et al, 1995) made the point that the strength and nature of the magnet need to be quite specific in order to have an impact on isolated mouse nerve impulses. 

However this statement by Biomag has limited connection to this idea, as it suggests the stimulated nerve endings improve blood flow and I can find no reference that supports this.  There are plenty of studies about electrical stimulation of nerves influencing blood flow but these are localised and not general.  It seems very unlikely that a general magnetic field (such as that from a Biomag) would magically stimulate nerves only in places where there are injured or swollen joints since nerve activity there will already be enhanced – in fact one might expect it to dilute this effect given that, if it does stimulate nerve endings, it would stimulate them everywhere.  All told this explanation simply doesn’t add up without further information.

Some more claims from the Biomag site:

This increase in blood flow facilitates the delivery of trace elements, nutrients and oxygen throughout your body tissue.  This in turn helps to reduce the inflammation that causes pain, and aids the removal of toxins.  
Source

 The first part is only true if there is a deficiency to start with and this is as likely to be a dietary problem as a blood flow problem.  Secondly inflammation is caused by an immune system response to a problem in the body so increasing blood flow is unlikely to affect the problem.  Thirdly “toxins” is an incredibly vague term and not one that can really be used in this context.  With some toxins (such as snake venom) the last thing you want is increased blood flow.  It would be beneficial for Biomag to clarify what they mean by “toxins” in this sense so we can evaluate this claim meaningfully. 

In addition, an increased production of melatonin helps lead to a deeper, restorative sleep.

Firstly I can find no link between magnets and melatonin production.  Secondly, according to Wikipedia, melatonin production in the blood is regulated by the eye based on light signals as it is crucial to regulating our diurnal patterns.  It is not clear how a magnet could influence this or how it could improve sleep in this way.

Regarding excess acidity or alkalinity, you may well find that exposure to Biomag products will help to bring your body into a position of natural balance.

This one also seems rather strange as I can find no information that suggests magnetic fields can influence pH level unless somehow it regulates production (which isn’t mentioned anywhere either).  Secondly you are likely to be in a fair amount of trouble if you body’s “natural pH balance” varied by much!  This one makes no sense to me and reminds me of a lot of “natural balance” claims which are almost always pseudoscience, mostly because nothing finds natural balances better than complex adaptive systems like a living organism.  When complex adaptive systems get out of balance they tend to either collapse or return to equilibrium rather rapidly all by themselves.

Evidence

Firstly I can find absolutely nothing on the website or elsewhere that indicates the product itself has been tested for efficacy in pain relief and sleep improvement.  There are two lines of actual evidence that the Biomag site offers which are some Journal papers and anecdotal evidence.  I deal with the anecdotal information in the next section.

The main reference on the site (here) is to a paper entitled Response of pain to static magnetic fields in postpolio patients: A double-blinded pilot study (Valbona et al 1997). 

There are a few points to note about this paper.  Firstly it is a pilot study, so is far from conclusive.  Secondly they only applied the magnets for 45 minutes.  Thirdly there was no follow up on patients.  So while this paper is potentially interesting, it doesn’t tell us very much.  Also it is not a test of the Biomag magnets.

Good science is built up on as many studies as possible in order to give us the best possible picture, especially in such highly subjective areas like pain.  Twelve other papers are listed on the site but to save time I went hunting for any meta-analyses of static magnet therapy I could find.  A meta-analysis is where the author compiles the results from as many studies as he or she can find and determines if there is an overall statistically significant effect to be found over the breadth of studies conducted. 

I found one meta-analysis that looked pretty thorough entitled Static magnets for reducing pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials (Pittler et al, 2007).  This paper pulled together 29 studies, including the Valbona study discussed above and all of the other references they listed that actually dealt with pain relief, and analysed their results.  Their conclusion is telling:

Overall, the meta-analysis suggested no significant effects of static magnets for pain relief relative to placebo.

They did note that for one ailment (peripheral joint osteoarthritis) that the “evidence is insufficient to exclude a clinically important benefit” (mostly due to a small sample) but for all other ailments their conclusion was that there was no significant effect over placebo.

At the very best one can say that the literature is uncertain about the impact of magnets.  What we can say is that there appears to be no peer-reviewed research about the Biomag products specifically and therefore its clinical efficacy rests on the somewhat inconclusive (although tending negative) evidence for magnets in general. 

The anecdotal evidence

While the clinical evidence of the Biomag’s efficacy is sparse at best, the anecdotal evidence is all over their website and advertising campaigns.  Anecdotal evidence is much harder to take seriously than clinical evidence because it is uncontrolled and wide open to placebo, misinterpretation and even manipulation.  However it is not entirely without value so let us evaluate it.

The Biomag site particularly emphasises the celebrities that endorse the product.  While not an uncommon tactic amongst both legitimate and illegitimate products, ask yourself this:  is a rugby star any more qualified than anyone else to comment on the efficacy of a bed product?  Celebrities they may be.  Sleep experts or medical doctors they are not.  Their opinion is no more or less valid than any other lay opinion (except they may well get paid for theirs!).

Looking through the testimonials page we find videos of several prominent celebrities doing obviously scripted promos on Murray Deaker’s radio show plus quite a few written promos by celebrities and non-celebrities people as well.  There are also random testimonials floating around the other pages on the site.  I read through all the ones I could find and noted that while every single testimonial mentions improved sleep only about half specifically mention pain relief.  In fact most of the video testimonials didn’t even mention pain, but they did spend a fair bit of time on how nice the wool is!  Curiously not one of the testimonials made any specific mention of the magnets.

A possible explanation for the anecdotal evidence

Now let us consider what the Biomag actually is.  It is a presumably high quality woollen underlay for a bed.  This is just speculation but it seems to me that relatively few people that already had a high quality woollen underlay on their bed would actually purchase a Biomag.  This means logically that the majority of people purchasing one are actually significantly improving their bed’s comfort and luxury by installing a Biomag and this in itself would be enough to account for better nights sleep.

Secondly the main place that a lot of people suffer problematic pain is in bed.  Once you are comfortable and asleep you don’t feel pain.  Therefore anything that makes your bed more comfortable and makes it easier for you to sleep will in a sense alleviate pain.  Also it is fairly well known that good sleep gives your body a chance to recuperate and that well rested people are more likely to be motivated and to feel good.  This builds a powerful explanatory scenario for the observed pain relief due to the Biomag.

Thirdly a lot of people who buy this product expect to receive pain relief and better sleep.  Given the cost, celebrity endorsements, and supposed science behind it, there cannot be a better environment for the placebo effect to manifest itself.  Given how subjective pain is, if you curl up in a warm comfortable bed that never used to be that soft etc, it is no surprise that you’d think it was working and potentially increase the effect that the good sleep already has.

Therefore it seems that the anecdotal evidence could be easily explained by factors other than the magnets.  This doesn’t prove anything but it does give one a good basis for questioning the need for the magnets at all.

Conclusion

There were two real questions I set out to address with regards to the Biomag products.  Firstly do they work?  I think it is safe to say improving sleeping conditions is beneficial to people with all sorts of problems so it is almost certain there is a benefit to doing so.  How much so we do not know given there does not seem to be any Biomag specific research. 

The second question is whether or not the magnets contribute to their efficacy.  Given everything I have read, the nature of the benefits of using the Biomag, and the general nature of the magnetic healing industry, I am strongly inclined to believe that the magnets do not significantly contribute to any of the benefits of using a Biomag.

References:

Dr James Livingstone’s 1998 article for the Skeptical Inquirer:  http://www.csicop.org/si/show/magnetic_therapy_plausible_attraction/

McLean, M.J. Holcomb, R.R. Wamil, A.W. Pickett, J.D. & Cavopol, A.V. (1995) Blockade of sensory neuron action potentials by a static magnetic field in the 10 mT range.  Bioelectromagnetics, vol. 16, pp. 20–32.

Pittler, M.H.  Brown, E.M.  Ernst, E.  (2007) Static magnets for reducing pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials.  Canadian Medical Association Journal Vol 177(7) pp 736-742

Vallbona C, Hazlewood CF, Jurida G. (1997) Response of pain to static magnetic fields in postpolio patients: a double-blind pilot study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil vol 78, pp 1200-3.

All information from the Biomag website was retrieved at the end of January 2009.

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical doctor and I strongly suggest you seek professional medical advice for any medical problems you have rather than taking my word for it.  This article merely seeks to investigate the claims of the Biomag device from a lay perspective. 

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Comments»

1. Jo Gribben - November 16, 2010

Thanks for this very interesting article. I have an inflammation condition in my shoulders called bursitis and am starting to wonder if the Biomag magnets are actually making it worse not better, this being the reason I googled it.

2. Ian - November 30, 2010

Thanks for the comment, I hope you found the article useful 🙂 I suspect the magnets have no impact whatsoever on the bursitis, positive or negative.

3. Karen - February 5, 2011

Fabulous article. I suffer from some back pain particularly when in bed and have been researching ways to get a better night’s sleep! It was great to read something so comprehensive and well written which dealt with facts rather than all the hype associated with the product.

4. Ian - February 6, 2011

Thanks for the feedback Karen – and good luck with your quest for a better nights sleep 🙂

5. Jennifer Hughes - March 16, 2011

Have found no benifits in using the product more concerning is my experience with the company
2 seperate tax invoices from 2 different company’s one a used car company stating I have received 7 extra products at no charge value totalling approx $800. (which I did not) Interesting bookeeping and stocktaking records (how do they account for the other 7 products) they were rude and disorganised. Don’t buy this product or deal with the company, or is it companies?)

Ian - March 16, 2011

Thanks for the comment Jennifer. This is the first I have heard that their business practices are poor, although their lack of reply to my email asking for comments about what is a fairly critical article is arguably indicative of that.

6. Nigel - September 1, 2011

The

7. Nigel - September 1, 2011

The use of the thick wool increases the distance from the user(patient) to the magnet!. The inverse square rule applies to the flux and therefore the magnet effect is actually reduced defeating the intention.

8. Jasmine Wyatt - May 31, 2012

I used the Bio-mag pillow for nearly a month. I was absuletely healthy and then suddenly started gett spells of tremours in my whole body. My doctor sent me for a blood test. the test came back with the verdict that I was extremely anemic.
J.Wyatt

9. Sally and Jim Barber - July 2, 2012

My husband and I have slept on a biomag for years, he had a knee replacement and only slept for two hours without waking up in pain, I suddenly thought of the magnets and the titaniam knee so took the biomag off and now he sleeps pain free all night!!! I too wake up without the stiffness and soreness which has plagued me for years!!

10. Ian - July 2, 2012

Thanks for the comment, nice to see this post is still generating traffic. Interestingly titanium is non-magnetic so the magnets in the Biomag magnets should have no effect (positive or negative). However any change in sleeping arrangements can often make all the difference, regardless of what the change is. Anyway I’m glad you have found some relief, whatever the cause 🙂

11. Matt - July 5, 2012

I wrote to the morning television show that advertises this pseudo-science to vulnerable elderly viewers. I expressed many of the same concerns that you have identified above, but I can tell the way in which these quacks will try to dance their way around the issue.

Here is an MRI safety video that I found, might be slightly better than the one you’ve replaced the original with above, I don’t know:

I think we should write to the Advertising Standards Authority. Have you gone down this avenue? I think they are breaching at least two of the standards, what do you think?

Cheers.

Mark Hanna - January 15, 2013

I agree that the ASA should be notified of any breaches to their therapeutic products advertising code. It’s interesting to see that several complaints about Biomag advertisements have been made to the ASA previously, but I don’t think any have been upheld.

Mark Hanna - January 15, 2013

It’s interesting going back through the previously submitted complaints. It seems at least one complaint (Complaint 02/222 ) against Biomag _was_ upheld, but it has since been cited as apparently they apparently gave suitable substantiation for their claims.

Part of the problem here is that, as the ASA has said again and again in its decisions, it is not an arbiter of scientific fact. As far as I can tell, this basically creates the loophole that any cherry-picked studies can be given as substantiation for a claim instead of taking into account the best available evidence.

For the complaints that have not been upheld it seems their defence is essentially “we were very careful not to say in our advertisements that our product actually helps with anything at all, especially not via the magnets”.

Ian - February 27, 2013

I’m not sure the ASA is the right avenue to stop this – the Ministry of Health should be doing something really. I mean enforcing honest advertising is a good start but good advertising gets the reader/watcher/listener to make their own claims rather than outright stating anything – it sticks better- hence why celebrity anecdote is so popular.

12. G Adams. - August 12, 2012

Thanks for your informations & reasons for the querie’s of the so call “Biomag” i myself had doubts that this product was not as genuine as advertised and your message saved me & my partner hundreds of dollars, we eventually put it towards a well earned holiday package eg Massaging & Ngawha bathing..so lovely & we feel like a million bucks!!! Thanks again. =).

13. Di Lofthouse - September 6, 2012

Have just spent 2 months away from home without my biomag and didn’t suffer increased aches and pains without it.

14. Maude - October 22, 2012

Thanks for your informative article. I have been diagnosed with marked osteoarthritis and consequently suffer pain. I was aware of the bio mag (excellent marketing) however could not understand how the benefits they sold could work from a science perspective. Reading this article has guided me to work with diet and buying a decent bed.
Thanks Maude

15. Chan Chandran - October 29, 2012

With all the claims that are made on TV in the mornings, I am surprised that the Ministry of Health has not been promoting this aid. That will certainly slash the health budget and reduce hospitals waiting list and Dr’s visit!

Lorraine Vawdrey - November 28, 2012

Hi
well I recently bought a bio mag ( basic one not wool ) for my daughter who has had a sports shoulder injury, this was desperate measure as she has the North Island Champs this week and the Nationals in two weeks. Anyhow I bought it second hand from the markets. Since it was kingsize I put it on my bed and had my daughter sleep with me.
In the morning I asked her how she felt and she remarked no difference, the incredible thing was I felt a huge change in my body!!!!! and I hadnt even been remotely considering myself when I put it on the bed.My situation is 18 years ago i had a fall an injured under my shoulder blades , I am very heavy busted and have had so much physio,osteopathy,chiropractic and massage over the years to only on occasion receive a slight respite. I work long hours and spend hours on my feet. Basically I have been so stressed and sore and tight from my shoulder to the soles of my feet. I was amazed I had so much movement in my whole body all my muscles were relaxed and remained lose and relaxed all day. Day two same results. My daughter now says her shoulder,bicep and tricep has eased but her neck shoulder and back are still tight. Tonight is day 3 I cant wait to go to bed I am optimistic the tightness and chronic fatigue are a thing of the past.Sure I still have the injury, I feel it in a very specific spot under the shoulder blade but have a lose relaxed spine hips calves. I had gotten to the stage that I had accepted living with a stiff locked spine and shoulders I had slept on the Bio Mag with only my daughters health in mind and woke up feeling a weight of my shoulders and a optimism that I had lost many years ago. So I can say hand on my heart it has worked for me .

16. Laura - December 7, 2012

Hi Ian, I found you while I was searching for any proof that boimags work. Our poor dog has arthritis and I had heard it could help him. Anyway, how I wish Boimag had given you one to try! That would have been interesting 🙂
I am a total skeptic ( even more so after reading your article) but there’s a wee bit of me that would really like it to work!

Lorraine Vawdrey - December 7, 2012

Hi Laura

My mum is now buying a biomag and after your comment thought I should get a bio mag pillow for my dog. Maybe it doesnt work for every one but my 18 year old slept over last week and she loved sleeping on my Bio Mag so much so that she has opted to come home on her two days off work to sleep. My 14 year old hasnt really noticed a difference and neither did my sister but its worked amazing for two of us and I will up date you when I know how my Mother gets on with her gifted biomag.
Lorraine

17. Diana - December 7, 2012

Hi there, I found your article unhelpful and full of prejudice. You call it a research and structure it in a way that research papers would be. However, at the very beginning (even before you look at any evidence) you dismiss either the claims of the producer/distributor or dismiss claims of their customers as “potentially having psychological problems”. Just for the sake of it, you have to have some research done in order to claim that a group of people has psychological problems and is prone to placebo effect. Poorly done!

I found it quite annoying. Sorry!

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the writer is a doctor or a student of medical school. The claim that the main stream pain treatment works is just silly. It masks the symptoms (pain) without having any positive effect on treating the problem. If one’s body is strong, it will heal itself. If the pain is caused by some condition that does not go away, the answer of the main stream medicine is stronger painkillers.

Anyway. I don’t have Bio Mag and have never used it. One can’t call me somewhat interested in promoting the product. Still based on some positive feedback from other commentators, it think i want to try it.
Cheers,

18. Ian - January 29, 2013

@Lorraine: I am happy it worked for you – improved health via any means is a positive thing. However for the reasons cited in my article I stand by my comments. I am happy to discuss further if you want.

19. Ian - January 29, 2013

@Diana: Can’t please everyone I suppose 🙂 But to respond in detail:

However, at the very beginning (even before you look at any evidence) you dismiss either the claims of the producer/distributor or dismiss claims of their customers as “potentially having psychological problems”.

I don’t dismiss the claims of anyone at any point. The psychological problems comment here is taken out of context – the problems are described as “potentially psychological”, not the people described as having psychological problems! Most pain related issues are psychological in some form – that is normal and well understood.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the writer is a doctor or a student of medical school.

I have no affiliation with the medical profession whatsoever.

The claim that the main stream pain treatment works is just silly. It masks the symptoms (pain) without having any positive effect on treating the problem. If one’s body is strong, it will heal itself. If the pain is caused by some condition that does not go away, the answer of the main stream medicine is stronger painkillers.

This isn’t relevant to my article although I tend to agree that symptom treatment is problematic in many cases. What is relevant is that mainstream pain treatments treat pain very well. They don’t deal with the cause because they aren’t designed to do so and neither is the biomag. For that reason alone I suggest you take your own advice and seek a more meaningful solution to whatever pain you might have.

20. Ian - January 29, 2013

@Laura: I am not sure what I would do with a Biomag if they sent me one! Certainly I couldn’t just sleep on it and comment back as if that was definitive because that would just be another anecdote with no more value than anyone else’s. I would have to try and set it up in a clinical way and I don’t have the resources. Of course you’d think the people selling the device might have thought of that themselves and done the trials properly but if they have, they certainly aren’t telling anyone the results.

Also I think we’d all love for it to work perfectly – but sadly there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think it does 🙂

21. Gail Patterson - February 25, 2013

Wow Ian…really? you say ‘Any doctor trivially throwing pills at a problem would soon lose his or her practicing license’ Are you kidding? What wonderful world do you live in? it must be nice to live there!

Ian - February 27, 2013

I am pretty sure any doctor known to be trivially (and that really is the key word here) throwing pills at a problem would be in trouble – doctors have rules to follow. Of course like any profession there are good and bad practitioners, and also good and bad monitoring of practice. So I’m happy to concede that perhaps “would” might be better phrased as “could” in the passage you quote, but it really has no bearing on the point I was making or the efficacy of biomag products. Afterall there are no rules and no monitoring of biomag product at all.

22. Tina - May 2, 2013

I loved reading your article Ian (and all these comments too). I think the magnetic underlay is ludicrous. I’m actually more concerned that they could do harm and won’t be ‘magnetising’ myself on one any time soon! The woolen underlay on the other hand, I feel is a good, genuine product. Woolrest should have just stuck with that!

Ian - May 21, 2013

Thanks for the feedback – and a well written comment. I doubt the magnets have any impact whatsoever, positive or negative. If there was any concern about that then there would be regulations on magnet use at the strength of biomag magnets. That there isn’t I think is enough surety 🙂

23. Sean - May 20, 2013

Yes, this is quite enlightening reading, and considering the cost of these things, its nice to know potential pitfalls. I’m going to ask my GP what they know of them, and also, Woolrest give a 60day money back guarantee, so I guess I can give it a go risk free. I’m either going to feel better or not.

Ian - May 21, 2013

Thanks for the comment. In my experience (which is limited) GPs tend not to speak down on alternative methods for entirely professional reasons (lawsuits, not their place etc) unless they are actively dangerous. Unfortunately this is often taken as an endorsement (I have an experience with a back injury and chiropractors that mirrors this). I’d be interested to hear your GPs comment though.

24. June - July 9, 2013

I have been sleeping on a biomag top grade for over 12months now. I have not slept any better than I did before using this. The bed is more comfortable probably due to the wool rest. Lately I am experiencing pains in my hips, buttocks and shoulders. Anyone any idea if this could be related to the biomag

Mark Hanna - July 9, 2013

Sorry to hear you’ve been experiencing pain lately, June. As far as I know, there isn’t any evidence to show that static magnets like those used in Biomag products can have any effect on pain – good or bad.

Ian - July 9, 2013

Thanks for commenting June, it is interesting how anecdotes such as this never make it into their advertising campaign!

Hip, buttock and shoulder pain could come from many different causes, but, as Mark suggests, I expect it is as unlikely the magnets would cause it as it is that they would cure it. Also since you have been sleeping on it for over a year but the pain is only recent I would even more strongly suspect there is no connection. If the pain is of concern the standard recommendation is to see your GP – I hope you find a solution soon!

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26. sonia - October 9, 2014

Hmm interesting. My dad has slept on a bio mag for years now. He now has coordination problems where he is loosing his ability to walk, write & speak. He has had many tests & been to several specialists but no answer has been found. Im now wondering is sleeping on magnets for all these years could hane anything to do with it

Ian - October 9, 2014

Thanks for your comment sonia. I would be equally skeptical of the magnets doing anything detrimental as I would be of them doing something beneficial.

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Skeptical Analysis of the Woolrest Biomag | Author of Confusion

28. Tim Dare - May 21, 2015

Hi, This is a fair while after you article. I’m looking for a copy of the biomag radio add (to use in a lecture about confirmation bias); the one that goes:
How do you sleep at night with all that nagging pain?
How do you sleep at night with all those aches and pains?

The answer is Woolrest Biomag, because 400,000 kiwis can’t be wrong.

After 17 years, our customers are our best endorsement.
Call us now, ….to get today’s special offer.
Yes, 17 years of giving drug-free pain relief is well worth celebrating.
Call now….”

You wouldn’t happen to have a copy would you?

Mark Hanna - May 21, 2015

Hi Tim,

Last year I actually complained (successfully) to the Advertising Standards Authority about a radio ad from Biomag that contains that bit. When I did this, I also saved a recording of the 15 minute slot (the ad starts at 3:34) it was in to my computer. If you could email me at mark@honestuniverse.com I’d be happy to send you this recording.

29. Tim Dare - May 21, 2015

Thanks Mark, I have your e.mail and the recording.

30. Margo - July 9, 2015

Hi Ian, we had a biomag given to us about 3 weeks ago. I do think that it has helped my husband. It was normal for him to struggle to walk every morning when he got up due to the physical work he does, and now he is much more mobile. However, I’m finding that I’m waking during the night really really hot! – maybe the hot flushes, but this has only happened since the biomag. Has anyone else found this?


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