Health & Fitness

By Pamela L. Berman

On my many wanderings around Chinatown (a personal favorite for shopping and “scenic relief”), I have always been – almost magnetically – drawn to a little table on Canal Street, presided over by a charming Chinese gentleman gently hawking magnets for various ailments. Every now and then, I stop and browse. Fascinated that magnets could help with health issues, including one’s weight, I finally decided it was time to attack those same five or ten pounds I have found myself attacking on a yearly basis (sometimes winning spectacularly, only to start all over again the next year, of course). Sigh. I am sure our BeautyNewsNYC readers know exactly what I mean: A woman can never be too rich or too magnetic.

So why not try something new? I reasoned. Therefore, on a dark cold pre-Christmas Saturday afternoon (anticipating the onslaught of calorie-laden holiday fare), I finally sat on the tiny stool next to the tiny table, and had eight teeny tiny magnets placed inside and just outside my left ear.

I was actually quite excited. After all, having always been told I have a magnetic personality, how much more fabulous might I possibly become?

Yet I was also apprehensive, fearing that I would next find the left side of my head plastered to a passing SUV (dragging the rest of my head – and body – with it), or that I would become the new “scenic souvenir” on my refrigerator door.

Alas…my fears were unfounded. The magnets didn’t buzz, they didn’t hurt, they didn’t itch, they didn’t make me stick to anything (even to magnet therapy, unfortunately, but more about that later). They weren’t even particularly visible, as the tiny metal “beads” were remarkably camouflaged with tiny flesh-colored adhesives.

The trickiest part, though, was leaving them on 3 – 5 days. I lasted 4 (as I could not WAIT one moment longer to wash my hair, and could not figure out how to keep any jury-rigged plastic covering on my ear to prevent the water from loosening them). Nonetheless, it was an adequate compromise, I thought.

And were those 4 days the jump-start to the “effortless” weight loss success of which I had dreamed? Well, maybe I lost a pound or two (but as I was on my usual weight loss program anyway – semi-starvation – I was already on a downward spiral). Though, unfortunately, I saw no magnet-driven, appreciable difference. And while I would have undertaken a second course of magnets, the hair-washing limitations had – well – its limits.

Still … Magnet therapy is an ancient tenet of Eastern cultures and medicines, which believe that magnets increase blood flow and oxygen, encourage natural healing processes, and stimulate cellular respiration – all leading to burning calories, among other benefits – ultimately restoring natural balance and harmony to the body.

While it is not FDA-approved, as with many “alternative” approaches, I do not doubt its efficacy for some. I think for weight loss, it is best meant to curb overeating, which is not one of my issues. And I also believe, as with any weight loss program, the more weight you have to lose, the more effective most “treatments” are, at least in the beginning. However, finding a “magic magnet,” as it were, for those proverbial “few” pounds may take other efforts (like walking briskly or jogging down to Chinatown to the magnet table).

Nevertheless, despite its initial lack of fabulousness for me, magnets are still a weight loss option others might like to try. Though the clinical data does not seem to support the claims, I am always a proponent of an “educated” open mind, trying new things, shaking things up a bit, and once in awhile taking a leap of faith. Especially with more Eastern approaches, the mind is an important partner in the process. Not to mention that a course of magnet therapy is very inexpensive, and one reads that it is considered safe and non-invasive.

So maybe the next time you are in Chinatown, seek out that little table and give magnet therapy a try. I might even give it another try, myself (if I can find some good dry shampoos; in fact, I will search BeautyNewsNYC for just that – or write about a few myself!). It certainly didn’t seem to hurt – and it might even help.

And, in any case, look at the side benefits: You’ll be just around the corner from all those outdoor stands of fresh, healthy Asian greens and exotic Asian fruits! That, alone – for me, anyway – is magnetic enough.

You will find the lovely Mr. Wu most days at his table on Canal Street, near the Southwest corner of Mulberry Street. You may also call ahead for an appointment: 917.836.2814.

Originally published February 2011
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