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23 Oct 2016 

Can Magnetic Therapy Relieve Pain?

Almost every sporting goods store, pro-shop or web page has an advertisement for therapeutic magnets with claims of pain relief and a better golf game. There are magnetic bracelets, necklaces, shoes inserts, mattress covers, head bands and, yes, dog collars. It certainly isn't new. But, is there any scientific evidence to support all of these claims?

We can go back to 16th century Switzerland and find Greta who is beyond worried about her teenage son. She works the fields every day, keeping a watchful eye on her son as he digs at the stubborn ground just two rows to her right. Will he have another one of his "fits" today: falling to the ground, muscles tightened and mouth clenched shut? She had heard a rumor that the alchemist, Paracelsus, was taking the "magical" lodestone, a type of ore that could attract iron, and grinding it into a powder, placing it into a salve and applying it to the bodies of sick people with miraculous results. Would the lodestone pull out the poisons that possess her son? She was willing to try anything.

Paracelsus' salves worked on a wide variety of maladies. It didn't matter to Greta that William Gilbert, physician to Queen Elizabeth I, had pointed out that grinding the lodestone destroyed its magnetic properties and therefore the "magical" properties.

Fast forward to 1799 and Hans, a well-to-do German lawyer, is seeking help for his blinding headaches. The powders and potions serve only to make him vomit, sometimes giving relief, but still there are those times when he cannot work. He seeks the help of Dr. Franz Mesmer, an Austrian physician who is well-known for his use of hypnotism and psychoanalysis, from which the term "mesmerize" was coined. Mesmer opened a fashionable Magnetic Healing Salon in Paris where patients sit around in a circle and clutch magnetic rods protruding from a vat. Mesmer realizes that he can merely wave a magnetic rod over the afflicted person's head with the same result, and calls the effect "animal magnetism." After two treatments, Hans is free of headaches and sends his wealthy, influential friends and clients to Paris on a regular basis.

King Louis XVI forms a commission to explore the validity of animal magnetism, reaching across the ocean to appoint Benjamin Franklin, the world's leading authority on electricity. Utilizing a double-blinded study, one in which some patients were exposed to the magnetic rod and others to just a plain metal rod, the commission proves that animal magnetism is no more than a placebo. But, it never mattered to Hans and his friends, for their headaches and assorted maladies were long gone.

Magnets remained in the background until they appeared in an 1890s Sears catalog proclaiming foot inserts that cured sore feet. Are things starting to sound familiar? At the same time, Dr. Daniel Palmer opened his School of Magnetic Cure, but soon found that his patients improved without magnets by just utilizing a "laying on of the hands." He created the Palmer School of Chiropractic Therapy. Dr. Albert Adams claimed that each organ was tuned to a particular electromagnetic wavelength, but this was one step too far and at the turn of the 20th century, the American Medical Association named him the "Dean of the 20th Century Charlatans!" That quieted things down for almost another 100 years. We are now back in a resurgence of using magnets and titanium accessories and devices to treat painful conditions.

Who is right? Are all the new magnetic devices just a resurgence of the presumed quackery of the past or have we overlooked a valuable medical device that might give millions of people pain relief? Either way, it is a billion-dollar-a-year business and no one is waiting for science before they issue their claims, or before desperate people strap onto their bodies what might be glorified refrigerator magnets.


Magnetic Therapy

If magnets work, they must have some physiological effect on the human body. They must, in some way, influence the tissue, cells, fluid or blood over which they are applied. Advocates for magnetic therapy have proposed a number of ways in which the magnets work on our bodies.

Blood Flow: Many ads and brochures claim that blood contains iron and that magnets increase blood flow under the area where they are applied and promote healing. Although blood does contain electrically charged ions, it is diamagnetic and strong magnets actually repel blood. Another problem is that the effect of surface magnets is too small to affect blood flow and overcome the pressure-driven turbulent flow of normal blood. As a simple experiment, place one of these therapeutic magnets in the palm of your hand. If blood flow actually increased, you would expect the skin around the magnet to pink up and become warm. It doesn't.

Fluid and Swelling: Others claim that the magnets line up the water molecules in our bodies and, in this way, decrease swelling and promote healing. However, even large magnets like those used in an MRI scanner do not line up water molecules. A typical surface magnet is 800 Gauss; a Gauss unit representing one unit of magnetic field density. An MRI scan magnet generates 30,000-40,000 Gauss and yet has not been shown to have any biological effect on humans. If they did, they would have serious restrictions on their use.

Nerve Conduction: Some manufacturers claim alterations in the way that our nerves and nerve cells conduct electricity. But, it takes a large 24 tesla magnet to decrease nerve conduction velocities by only 10 percent. The typical MRI scanner uses a 1-1.5 tesla magnet, where one tesla equals 10,000 Gauss.

Why All The Excitement?

Is it all about money and a placebo effect or is the cynical, skeptical scientific community missing something? I have spoken to numerous patients and people I have met who stand by the benefits of magnetic therapy.

The problem is that we have many clinical and anecdotal claims of a therapeutic benefit with little science to back them up. To date, everyone points to a few studies demonstrating a positive effect. One study was in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in November 1997 by Dr. Carlos Vallbona of the Baylor University School of Medicine. Dr. Vallbona was skeptical of the effectiveness of magnets until he strapped one on his own painful knee with dramatic relief.

Vallbona studied 50 post-polio patients with painful arthritic joints. He randomly gave active or inactive magnets to the patients to strap onto their painful trigger points for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, 76 percent of the "active" magnet patients reported pain relief while only 19 percent of the "inactive" group reported less pain. He has no explanation for this phenomenon, but appropriately encourages further double-blinded research.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health published an excellent current review on "Magnets for Pain." After reviewing all of the scientific literature, including double-blinded studies, they conclude that the "majority of rigorous trials, however, have found no effect on pain." They do point out that there are many variables still to be studied such as the strength of the magnet, frequency of use, type of magnet and length of time it is used.

So What Should We Do?

It is so easy to be cynical when people are making millions of dollars with an unproven device. On the other hand, it is hard to ignore all the examples in history where sanctimonious experts were wrong. Who would have really believed that aspirin would be one of the mainline therapies to prevent heart disease and stroke? The poor physician from New Zealand was laughed out of many-a-meeting before it was commonly accepted that bacteria play an important role in peptic ulcer disease. Many-a-scientist has literally lost his head for being ahead of his time.

We are faced with an entrepreneurial army loaded with vague and unsupported claims, pseudoscience and a mischaracterization of what we really do know as fact. On the other hand, there is always the chance that they may be right for all the wrong reasons. This is certainly nothing new for the field of medicine.

For now, proceed with a healthy dose of skepticism and a few common sense points:

First see a physician and find out why you have pain. You wouldn't want to treat a serious illness with a magnet. Don't use them if you are pregnant. We just don't know what they do.Don't use them if you are wearing a pacemaker or electrical implant like an insulin pump or brain stimulator. Don't wear them all the time. Everything in moderation.

I must admit that is tempting to run out and buy one of the new titanium (non-magnetic) necklaces that all the baseball players are wearing. They seem to be the latest fad. My back and golf game could both use a little magic, but I think I will wait for a little science on the subject before I buy what may be little more than modern day snake oil.


1. Carter R, Aspy CB, Mold J. The effectiveness of magnet therapy for treatment of wrist pain attributed to carpal tunnel syndrome. Journal of Family Practice. 2002;51(1):38-40.

2. Collacott EA, Zimmerman JT, White DW, et al. Bipolar permanent magnets for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a pilot study. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2000;283(10):1322-1325.

3. Magnets For Pain:. Accessed at

4. Harlow T, Greaves C, White A, et al. Randomized controlled trial of magnetic bracelets for relieving pain in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. British Medical Journal. 2004;329(7480):1450-1454.

5. Vallbona C, Hazelwood CF, Jurida G. Response of pain to static magnetic fields in post polio patients: a double-blind pilot study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998; 79:469-70.

6. Wolsko PM, Eisenberg DM, Simon LS, et al. Double-blind placebo-controlled trial of static magnets for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: results of a pilot study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2004;10(2):36-43.

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23 Oct 2016 

Fair DUI Flyers help pass through drunk driving checkpoints

A Florida lawyer is offering what he considers a foolproof way to get through DUI checkpoints: don't say a word to police. He's distributing what he calls the Fair DUI Flyer, and his video tutorial on YouTube has been viewed more than 2 million times.

Advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), however, fear it could allow impaired drivers to bypass the law, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford.

Last New Year's Eve, police waved one driver through a DUI checkpoint in Florida without even asking him to roll down his window. Warren Redlich, the man behind the wheel, believes he has found a legal loophole to dodge sobriety checks.

"What the checkpoints require is that you stop, and typically that you show the police your driver's license. You're doing that," Redlich said. "What you're not doing is going beyond what is required in a checkpoint."

Redlich said he was tired of defending people who were wrongfully arrested after going through checkpoints.

"There are genuinely drunk drivers that need to be taken off the road, but unfortunately the way the system works, a lot of innocent people get caught up in it and the idea of this is to help people protect themselves by not rolling down their window and asserting their rights," he said.

Redlich tailored his DUI flyers to the laws of 12 states so far, and now others around the country are using them and posting their videos online.

"I think you always have people trying to beat the system and push the envelope," former federal prosecutor David Weinstein said.

He said even though the flyers might hold up in court, he doesn't recommend people challenge the police at checkpoint.

"When you sign your driver's license, you're consenting to law enforcement the ability to give you both roadside tests and require you to blow in a breathalyzer, at least in the state of Florida," Weinstein said.

In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled DUI checkpoints were legal. Today, police in 38 states use them to deter drunk drivers. Studies have found that they consistently reduce alcohol related crashes by about 9 percent.

"Sobriety checkpoints and law enforcement are the key thing in stopping drunk driving," MADD president Colleen Sheehey-Church said.

Her son Dustin was killed in a drunk driving accident 10 years ago.

"Sobriety checkpoints are advertised so people know where they are," Sheehey-Church said. "They are not there necessarily there to make arrests. They're there to deter people from driving drunk."

MADD and law enforcement agencies worry that an intoxicated driver could use the flyers to avoid getting caught, but Redlich thinks that's not likely.

"Drunk people are not good at following instructions, they're not good at remaining silent, and they're not good at being patient," he said. "And all those things are required to make this work. So if you're drunk, you're probably not going to pull it off."

Redlich told us he hopes that someone challenges the use of flyers and that it goes to court, paving the way for the Supreme Court to one day re-examine its ruling on sobriety checkpoints.

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
22 Oct 2016 

Private Investment Protects Environment Where Government Fails

The Institute for Humane Studies, an essential educational foundation in Arlington, Va., just launched a new Web site entitled A Better Earth. The site aims to educate college students, graduate students and others on alternative methods of environmental preservation -- methods less hostile to free markets and free enterprise.

The new Web site is important, because the environment seems to be the one area where even avowed free marketeers can't quite bring themselves to trust private enterprise over government intervention.

Profit-seekers and corporations are too greedy and self-interested, the thinking goes, to give much thought to preserving wildlife, forests and wilderness.

But is that really so? Are governments really better at preserving the environment than private enterprise?

The biggest polluters on the planet are governments, not corporations. The U.S. government immunizes itself from most all of the environmental laws it demands of private corporations. And it is by far the bigger polluter.

Overseas, the countries most hostile to market forces tend to be the countries with the worst pollution habit. We found after the fall of communism, for example, that the dirtiest governments of the 20th century weren't the capitalist corporate giants of the West, but the Soviet Union and the countries of the Eastern Block -- governments where the notion of private property and free enterprise were nonexistent.

A little reflection should reveal why that would be the case. Think for a moment about things that are "private" versus things that are "public."

Given the choice, would you rather use a private bathroom or a public one? If forced to bed down on a given night, would you rather sleep in a private home or in public housing? If a loved one were ill, would you rather he be taken to a private hospital or a public one?

Economists call this phenomenon "the tragedy of the commons." We take better care of things we own, things that are ours. We're far less careful and cautious with things someone else owns. And we're least respectful of those things owned by the "public."

Consider forests. Every summer we watch the news as thousands of acres of publicly owned lands go up in flames. Ever wonder why privately owned forests don't burn as often? Why do these fires always seem to start in national or state parks?

The answer is that land owned by the government is generally unkempt. Regulations and pressure from environmental groups keep much of our parks system untouched.

Private forests, on the other hand, are owned by people and businesses with a vested interest in keeping them intact. So private forests are thinned and pruned of underbrush, and proprietors set control fires to keep detritus from feeding larger fires later. Likewise, timber and paper companies know that if they don't plant a tree for every tree they fell, they won't be in business for long.

The best example of the tragedy of commons occurs in the oceans. Why is it that we regularly hear about how we're running out of various species of fish, but we're always well stocked with beef, pork and poultry?

The difference is that the latter are raised on dry land, where there are clear, discernible property rights. A rancher would be foolish to send all of his cattle to slaughter. Sure, he'd make more money in the short run, but with no cattle left to breed, he'd be out of business in a year.

It's a little different with the oceans. No one owns them, nor the fish that live in them.

Consequently, if I'm a fisherman, I have no incentive to leave any fish behind to ensure that fish stocks stay healthy. If I do, the fisherman who goes out just after me will snatch them up. And he's wise to, because if he doesn't, the fisherman after him will.

Laws and treaties won't change any of this. Until the oceans are divided up and claimed (yes, it would be difficult -- but it could be done), we'll continue to overfish. And we'll soon deplete our fish supply.

The African ivory trade provides another example. Well-meaning Western countries like the United States have banned the trade of ivory out of concern for African elephant populations. But devaluing ivory on the open market also devalues elephants. This has two effects, and neither of them is good for elephants.

First, with no legitimate international ivory trade, landowners in Africa have no reason to preserve elephant habitats. That land could be far better used to make way for farms or factories.

Second, devaluing ivory on the open market increases the demand for ivory on the black market. That makes elephants lucrative targets for poachers who, after all, don't have much reverence for the law.

Countries that have allowed the ivory trade, and have given local landowners more autonomy, have replenished their elephant populations. Landowners see value in the animals, and so take precautions to protect them.

Back in America, private organizations have had lots of success in preserving species through positive incentives. Several kinds of duck, the American bison, breeds of hawks and raptors, the oryx and many other species have been saved from extinction by private individuals and organizations who have either bought up land for preservation or offered existing landowners incentives to allow fledgling species room to nest or migrate.

Contrast that to the federal Endangered Species Act, which in 30 years has saved only eight of the 1,400-plus species it has attempted to protect.

Organizations like Ducks Unlimited request or even pay landowners to allow certain species of duck to nest, rest or fly on or over their property. Most of us wouldn't have much problem there.

But if an ESA-protected animal is found on your property? Not only aren't you paid or kindly asked to protect the animal, you're prohibited from using your land in any way that might harm it. In some cases, you assume responsibility for the animal's survival, including spending your own money to ward off threats and predators.

One approach offers incentives to landowners to allow some animals access to their property. The other devalues their land and renders it useless. It isn't hard to see why one method is successful and the other isn't.

So counterintuitive as it may seem, markets are perfectly compatible with respect for the environment. Treat land well, and it increases in value. Treat it poorly, and watch your investment slip away.

The mere fact that so many of us desire campgrounds, hunting grounds, and wildlife preserves means there's a market for them. Better to entrust them to the stewardship of those with a vested interest in their preservation than to a government subject to the political whims of whoever happens to be running it.

Radley Balko is a freelance writer and publishes a Weblog at

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22 Oct 2016 

What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI?

Did You Know?

In all states across the U.S., a first-offense DUI or DWI is classified as a misdemeanor, and punishable by up to six months in jail, which may be increased under certain circumstances. In addition, courts can and do impose simple assault high fines ranging from USD 500 to USD 2,000.

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) are driving violations, both basically refer to drinking and driving. They can also be called operating under the influence or impaired driving. These are legal offenses of driving a vehicle while having consumed alcohol or other drugs. You may have noticed 'drunk driving' check posts/signs on streets in some areas. Traffic cops periodically check vehicles for people who drive when they are drunk. In fact, such checks are frequently carried out at places that are prone to accidents. Read this Buzzle article further to know some more points of difference in this DUI vs. DWI comparison.

Definitions of Related Terms

? Blood Alcohol Level / Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

It refers to the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream and is usually measured in percentages.

It is measured either by testing an individual's breath, blood, or urine. This test is used to determine whether the driver is 'legally drunk' or not.

If the person is found to have a BAC percentage above the legally acceptable value, he/she is considered to be 'legally drunk'.

This law has been accepted by all the 50 states. As of 2013, the legally acceptable BAC value is 0.08%. This means that if the driver's BAC is 0.08% or higher, he/she is punishable under the law.

? Administrative License Suspension

It is a law that allows the cops to confiscate and suspend a driver's license immediately when a driver is charged with the 'driving while intoxicated' offense. It may also be applicable before adjudicating the charge, i.e., if the offender's BAC is above the set limit or if he refuses to take the test.

? Penalties

They vary from paying a fine, serving jail time, license suspension, to hours of community service and education programs.

In different states, the time period for suspension of administrative license ranges from 3 months to a year. This depends on several factors; if you are a minor and this is your first offense, the suspension period could be shorter. If you've committed the offense before, or if you refuse to take the test, your license will be suspended nevertheless, on the grounds of non-compliance regarding the law.

Community service is mostly handed down to minors (not necessarily, of course) as a part of the sentence. This includes jobs, like janitorial services, working at old-age homes, etc. The number of hours depends on the courts and other related factors.

Serving jail time and paying fines are mostly compulsory. For offenses that have been classified as felony, the offender could be sentenced to several years of jail time.

A point to note here is that the penalties vary from state to state. New York could have a different way to deal with this problem than Texas or Wyoming. It also depends on the officer in charge at that moment. The fines, jail times, and laws are all handled differently in all states.

Testing Methods and Devices

The testing methods mostly include breath analysis, blood, and urine tests. There are also field sobriety tests, which include reciting alphabets, standing on one leg, walk-and-turn, etc. These are carried out to determine the impaired state of the offender due to alcohol. Some of the testing devices used are as follows:

? Breathalyzer

It is a breath analysis device that provides an estimate of blood alcohol based upon the chemical analysis of a breath sample.

? Intoximeter

It involves the chemical analysis of a breath sample to measure the BAC by means of an electrical reaction.

? BAC Datamaster

A breath analysis device that uses infrared spectroscopy to provide an estimate of alcohol in the blood. This device is not portable and is generally kept at the police station.

? Portable Breath Test (PBT)

It is a portable device used by the cops, generally at a check post, to determine whether the person is drunk or not. It may not be completely reliable.

Notable Points of Difference




It is applied when that the person is under the influence of alcoholic drinks or drugs like weed (he may have consumed it in less amount). What this essentially means is that the offense does not involve only alcohol. You will be in trouble even if you consume any physician-prescribed medication that might have side-effects which might cause you to drive erratically.

It clearly indicates that the person is very high on alcohol. He is completely intoxicated, and according to the law, he should not be driving at all.

Interpretation of Laws

The terms are interpreted differently in different states. In Texas, it refers to a minor who is caught drinking and driving, while in New York, it is used when your BAC is below the legal limit of 0.08%.

In Texas, it refers to an adult caught drinking and driving, while in New York, it is applied when the BAC is above the legal limit. Some states (like New Jersey) have a zero-tolerance policy and do not recognize any differences between the two.


They vary state-wise as well. In Arizona, the license is suspended for 1 year on the first offense, while in Maryland, the suspension is for 4 months. You will have to pay fines as well, which vary according to the severity of the offense and the court orders.

In New York, a person charged with this offense may have to pay a fine ranging from USD 500 to USD 10,000, depending on the 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-time offense, and other factors. Also, he will have to serve a jail term. While in Texas, a first-time offender (mostly a minor) pays a fine of USD 500, and gets his license suspended for three months or more, depending on the hours of community service handed to you by the judge.

Remember that laws are always subject to change. In technical terms, the only difference between DUI and DWI is the inclusion of having drugs and narcotics, under the former. But in legal terms, these offenses are handled differently throughout the U.S. (as already mentioned), and depends on the severity of the crime, the circumstances, your attorney's defense, etc. The key point to keep in mind is-please do not drink and drive. It not only expungement dc harms you, but also an innocent life that is not at fault.
21 Oct 2016 

Home Improvement :: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Push-fit Fittings

Different Types of Plumbing Fittings

- In the UK there are two ways in which most plumbing is done, the first and most common is done with copper pipe and fittings, the other is the newer visit the site plastic push fit system. The copper pipe and fittings has come under scrutiny recently as the joining of the copper pipes is increasingly

difficult as it is often time consuming and awkward due to the fact that copper pipe is often supplied in straight lengths meaning that it needs

to be joined or bent when ever a change of direction occurs. Plastics on the other hand, like that of the push fit system helps to eradicate this awkwardness. Push fit gives you a simple and easy way to make a joint without losing reliability and can be straightforwardly broken down and reassembled.

Advantages of Push-fit

- Plastic pipe is flexible; it is able to bend in a non-linear fashion. Copper piping has limited flexibility.

Plastic piping will not burst. Copper piping has a tendency to freeze and burst leaving huge amounts of damage making it harder to introduce this into

cold areas like cellars. Very much in contrast to plastic pipe.

Due to its flexibility plastic pipe can be pushed thought holes in joists rather than being laid in notches. This is not realistic with copper piping

as it is hard to get the holes in line.

Push fit systems can also be used with copper pipe when so desired as it is very adaptable.

Disadvantages of Push-Fit

- Due to its flexibility the plastic pipe will not support its own weight. This is will not jeopardize its ability to work however, but it would be difficult to poke a bent pipe through a hole in floor boards.

Plastic pipe cannot come into contact with anything that is very hot, for example a boiler. If in contact with a boiler there is a possibility that it could melt therefore it is advised that metal pipe work is used for the first few feet.

Aesthetically the plastic pipes are bigger and less attractive than its copper counter parts.

Plastic pipes and fittings are pricier than their competitor copper.


- Like that of the copper piping, plastic piping is available in both 15mm and 22mm diameter. They are available in a wide range of accessories

including: straight, right angled and Tee couplings. Washing machine taps, tap connectors, in-line stopcocks, one-way valves, stop ends and tank connectors.

Useful Suggestions

- If you don't normally use plastic fittings it is certainly worth keeping some around, especially in the winter. If a pipe bursts you will be able to fix the problem in a matter of minutes and the effects will be long lasting.

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