Girls Gone Wireless 

We met about a year ago when you gave a presentation on the health benefits of meditation at your clinic. I've been meditating twice a day for nearly 20 years and have often reached plateaus, like now, when I feel I'm not progressing. I recently came across a supplement called Magneruol that is supposed to help you meditate, increase your extra sensory perception and even make you psychic. Even without taking the pills, I believe I know your thoughts, but please, indulge me.

—Howard

It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before a merger took place. In this era of corporations gobbling up one another, we should have expected the union of late night television diet pills and the Psychic Friends Network. I see a fight coming for psychic pill spokesperson between Anna Nicole Smith and Dionne Warwick. If these night-owl advertising mergers keep up, the college boys will be extremely interested to see what mischief awaits Fannie Mae and Ginnie Mae when Ditech Home Loans swallows up Girls Gone Wild.

I must admit that I had not heard of Magneruol until your question. Though I've been a proponent of meditation for many years, as far as I know, this is first dietary supplement that claims to help you bypass the difficult process and make you an instant telepath. Meditation, in it's many forms, is well accepted by conventional medicine and has been proven to assist in lowering blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels; it also enhances a feeling of well-being. Even done haphazardly, it shows benefits—though meditation often takes a lifetime to master. At least it used to.

During my research on Magneruol, I was dismayed to find the marketer was Eric Pepin, a well-respected Oregon meditation teacher. Pepin has produced a series of excellent CDs explaining his particular method of meditation on the body's Chakras (the Eastern spiritual tradition's seven energy nodes). Although these recordings are, perhaps, the most lucid explanation of this type of practice that I have heard, his claims regarding the dietary supplement are so far over-the-top they could be easily mistaken for a sham commercial on Saturday Night Live.

According to the Web site, the purpose of Magneruol is to "amplify the mind's ability to consciously experience the sixth sense and magnetic fields." The gimmick—and you knew there had to be one—is the ingredient called Magnetitum, the traditional Chinese medicine name for magnetized iron oxide, or what geologists call magnetite or lodestone. His proprietary blend of magnetite and ingredients involved in nerve impulse transmission (DMAE, Inositol and Choline) is blended in a high dose B-vitamin complex. Among other things, he claims the pill gives you the advantage in boxing and martial arts by helping you read the thoughts of your opponent (example: "Wait, I think I have my cup on upside down.").

These assertions are based on a theory that goes something like this: Since homing pigeons, some bacteria, whales and other animals navigate and orient themselves using small amounts of this magnetized iron in their brains, and magnetite has been found in the human brain, then increasing the magnetite in your diet will markedly improve your meditative skills and make you psychic. You don't have to be the captain of the debate team to spot the flaw in this argument.

Most of the published research regarding magnetite and the human brain deals with a growing concern that deposits of iron, some of which is the magnetic form magnetite, has been associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's. Certainly, this is not to say that taking this supplement will increase your risk; magnetite is found in nearly all volcanically formed rock and sand on every continent. It is likely that you are constantly exposed to it. Additionally, Chinese herbalists have safely used magnetic iron for centuries to calm the Yang force, or male energy.

Many of the other ingredients in Magneruol have been reportedly useful in lucid dreaming, a fascinating pastime in which one attempts to awaken within and direct one's own dreams. Perhaps this explains some user's beliefs in psychic awakenings—or possibly the high price they paid for the pills convinced them. In my opinion, it's quite unlikely to be effective for its stated purpose, but it's probably safe. Regardless, the only real caution noted by the manufacturer is that extended wireless phone use can cause discomfort since you may begin to feel the radiation. Consequently, they suggest limiting the use of cell phones.

There. Finally. A reason to recommend it.

Dr. Ed Rabin is a chiropractor practicing at Life Chiropractic Center in Boise. Send aluminum foil hats and health-related questions to theantidote@edrabin.com (on the Web at www.edrabin.com).

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