We are all unique electromagnetic beings swimming in an electromagnetic environment and this straightforward question really deserves a whole book. I will do my best here to supplement what I have already said in the electromagnetics chapter of Energy Medicine (Chapter 11). Please keep in mind that all of this is based on my personal and clinical experiences; very little research has been published in peer-reviewed journals to back any definitive statements on these matters.
I also have apprehension regarding magnetic mattresses. I know full well that we are all very different in our electromagnetic make-up and our polarities. And I know that some magnet pads have genuinely helped people. But other people appear to have been harmed by the identical product. Here is an absolute about magnets:
Magnets and magnetic energy will affect everyone's energies.
But because all of our energies are so unique, there is no absolute guarantee of how magnets will impact any particular person. One thing is consistent, which is that there are differing effects between the north and south sides of a magnet:
THE NORTH SIDE draws energy toward it. This is why it takes away pain.
THE SOUTH SIDE disperses energy away from it. This is why it helps circulation.
You would think that it would be okay to have both the north and south sides facing you in a magnetic mattress—that this would help with both pain reduction and circulation. But it is not so simple.
The south side, by amplifying and dispersing energy, acts as a magnifier. This can be valuable if a particular meridian is weak, or circulation sluggish, or certain energies need a boost. But you don’t want to energize and magnify a cancer or other growth or a meridian that is already overcharged. Magnets are powerful and can be dangerous when used imprecisely. For instance, the south side of a magnet held against the stomach or back for a short time can really help with a lethargic digestive system. But held there too long, I’ve seen nausea, back spasms, and terrible stomach discomfort result. The same kind of careful calibration is necessary for the north side of a magnet. Because stagnant energies are a natural residue of living and always need to be cleared, if they become stuck, it is great to have a tool that will draw these energies to the surface of the body where they are readily dispersed. This can be a tremendous resource for working with many kinds of pain, for instance. But leave the magnet on too long, and you begin to draw too much energy into the area, and it can clog your system and actually create more pain from the imbalance.
My experience with magnet pads that either indiscriminately or intentionally place both the north and south sides of the magnets against the body is that even if they have positive initial effects, these may be reversed if you use the magnet pad too long.
With my extreme sensitivity to energies, I am the "canary in the mine." I know from my own experience an extreme version of what affects other people in more subtle ways. I can sometimes lay on a mixed-polarity magnetic mattress for a period of time and detect benefits. But other times, particularly if I am more vulnerable, I can be on one of these pads for just a few minutes before it begins to "fry my circuits," creating pain, throwing me out of balance for the rest of the day and sometimes into the next, and affecting my nervous system so I am unable to think clearly.
My own preference regarding a magnet pad is to find one that is designed so that the north polarity is against the body. Pulling out excess and stagnant energies is wonderful. But again, staying on even this kind of pad too long, can reverse the benefits and create new problems. For the situations where the south side of a magnet is called for, I much prefer to hold or tape a single small low power magnet onto the spot and to energy check whether it is having a beneficial effect, and periodically to see if it still is. You can also energy check whether lying on a magnet pad is beneficial and whether it is continuing to be so. There is no formula, so energy checking is a vital tool.
I personally prefer magnetic pads rather than magnetic mattresses because you can so easily turn the pad over if you feel you are starting to overdose on one pole or the other.
Regarding magnetic insoles, my experience is that I cannot stand on an insole that has mixed the north and south polarities without it draining my energies and leaving me feeling exhausted. Other people find them helpful, but again, I would be cautious about using them too long and I would energy test. I do periodically wear magnetic insoles. For instance, I recently bought the ones sold by the Discovery Channel store. I cannot wear them on the side that is recommended (north side up). I have to turn them over or else they hurt my feet. With, the north side down, I am better protected from the earth's electromagnetic charge (I've heard estimates that in the past century or so, half of the earth's protective layer against that charge has eroded). The Chinese have always believed that you don't need an insole on the whole foot. The best place is around the instep. And that is the only place I would put the north side of a magnet—it will still help the rest of the foot. You can get this kind of insole very inexpensively from various catalogs and from Chinatowns. Everyone I've ever told to try them has reported that they were very helpful. But because everyone's energy is different, I'm sure that not even this is universal.
Once you understand the principles, however, the proper use of magnets can be a terrific adjunct within energy medicine. Here are the three main ways I tend to use magnets:
1. Reducing Pain (which also begins to energetically correct for the causes of that pain): I normally will only use the north polarity for pain, except for people whose energy is slow and sluggish. Then having both the south and north sides can, for a while at least, work better. This can also be true for autoimmune illnesses because it moves the energy that has been stuck, but again only for short periods of time. When the pain is gone, I remove the magnet immediately because now the body is balanced in that area. One thing I do that you may never find in any book is that if it seems the north side was worn too long, that is the pain left and then returns, my experience is, THEN turn the magnet over to the south side for just a few minutes because the new pain may have been caused by not enough circulation due to the effects of the north side. The south side gets the circulation flowing again.
2. Helping to Heal a Broken Bone: Create a "closed circuit" as described in Chapter 11.
3. Shielding Yourself from Electromagnetics: My teaching keeps me on the road a great deal, and sometimes I am in a bed--it can actually be in a very nice setting—where I am being assaulted electromagnetically. When that happens, I can help protect myself by putting a small magnet pad above my blankets (so it isn’t touching me) to protect me from electromagnetic radiation within the room, and another at the end of the mattress near my feet, to protect me from electromagnetic radiation coming up from the earth. I often use a small magnet pad that comes as a circle of about 6 inches in diameter and has several magnets sewed into it, north polarity of each magnet in one direction, south in the other. Because the earth’s magnetic polarity reaches north, in both cases I have the north-reaching side of the magnet facing away from me, so it will repel any energetic disturbances from the earth or atmosphere that may be coming my way.