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There's real science behind the idea that magnetically stimulating certain parts of the brain can improve emotions and physical well being.

In November of 2000 I attended an international congress on stress. Getting there was quite stressful.

The meeting was to be held for at a resort on the Kona coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, one of the most scenic, and remote, places on earth. I had to get up at 3 o'clock on a Sunday morning to get myself to the airport. Then I had to take a one-hour flight to get to the airport from which I would take an eight-hour flight to Honolulu, run through the airport, barely catch a flight to the Big Island, and then figure out transportation to the resort. It turned out that the resort had a car waiting for me without my having to ask for it, but no sooner after arriving at the hotel, despite sixteen hours of travel, did I have to change into dinner attire for the first meeting of the conference.

To my astonishment, the scientists at my table were calm, refreshed, and relaxed. While I had flown in from Texas, four time zones away, some of them had flown from Zurich and Paris, twelve time zones away. I thought, "They must have flown in first class," but it turned out they hadn't. What they had going for them that I did not was a transcutaneous magnetic "brain zapper." At the meeting I saw the device demonstrated several times.

Transcutaneous Pulsating Magnetic Therapy

The simple device the scientists brought with them was a headband fitted with pulsating magnets. These weren't like refrigerator magnets. They deliver magnetic pulses 120 times a minute. The magnets weren't especially strong. There was no danger of the flatware flying off the table and stabbing diners in the head. As I later found out for myself, there was essentially no sensation from the device other than the weight of the headband itself, although the effects were almost immediate.

The doctors and engineers at the conference had made a number of informal tests of the their magnets. One doctor based in Mexico City was using magnets to control cancer pain. A doctor in Switzerland had had considerable success in using the headband to treat insomnia that failed to respond to medication. The most dramatic application of the device was in treating Parkinson's disease. A man with uncontrollable tremors could move normally after just a few seconds of wearing the headband. Unfortunately, none of the devices was FDA approved and none of the doctors, even those who taught at medical schools in Chicago and New York, would even think of offering the treatment in the United States. However, the certification issues have been resolved.

THYNC and Muse

Currently, there are a number of transcutaneous pulsating magnet devices for pain relief. These devices may be covered by insurance, but they are readily available with a doctor's prescription for $500 to $2000. There is also a wearable magnetic device called THYNC to stimulate your brain when you are fatigued or depressed, and there is a wearable EEG called Muse that reads your mind when you are depressed. These devices are available without a doctor's prescription for $199 to $299.

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