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Herbs & Botanicals

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Magnetite (ci shi)

What is magnetite? What is it used for?

Magnetite is a mineral, a magnetic iron ore belonging to the spinelle family, which is comprised mainly of ferroferic oxide and tri-iton tetroxide. It ranges in color from black to brownish. It is magnetic and metallic, with a hard texture, and fractures unevenly. It is tasteless, but usually has an earthy odor.

In China, magnetite is mainly produced in the Jiangsu, Shandong, Liaoning, Guangdong, Anhui and Hebei provinces, where it is mined year-round. It can be used raw or after being "calcined" (dipped in vinegar and finely ground). The greater the magnetic property of magnetite, the more powerful it is supposed to be in herbal preparations.

In traditional Chinese medicine, magnetite is considered salty and cold, and is associated with the Heart, Liver and Kidney meridians. It is a tranquilizing substance, and is used to clear the mind and suppress hyperactivity, producing a calming sensation. It is also believed to improve the functions of the eyes and ears, and has been used to treat conditions such as tinnitus and poor vision. Depending on the condition being treated, magnetite may be used with herbs such as cinnabar, cornus or rehmannia.

How much magnetite should I take?

When used as a decoction, many practitioners recommend using 10 to 30 grams, finely ground and mixed with water. Smaller doses (1-3 grams) are used in pills and powders.

What forms of magnetite are available?

Magnetite is available most often as a powder (finely ground) or a pill. Magnetite powder is often used in infusions and decoctions.

What can happen if I take too much magnetite? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Magnetite is considered difficult to digest by some patients. As a result, excessive doses should not be taken, especially if magnetite is being ingested as a pill or powder. In addition, it should be used carefully by anyone with a deficiency of the spleen and/or stomach. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with magnetite. As always, however, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking magnetite or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Dobson JP, Grassi P. Magnetic properties of human hippocampal tissue - evaluation of artifact and contamination sources. Brain Res Bull 1996;39:255-59.
  • Dunn JR, Fuller M, Zoeger J, et al. Magnetic material in the human hippocampus. Brain Res Bull 1995;36:149-153.
  • Kirschvink JL, Kobayashi-Kirschivink A, Woodford BJ. Magnetite biomineralization in the human brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1992;89:7683-7687.
  • Wicke R. Traditional Chinese Herbal Science, Volume 1: The Language and Patterns of Life. Hot Springs, MT: Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute, 1994.
  • Wicke R. Traditional Chinese Herbal Science, Volume 2: Herbs, Strategies and Case Studies. Hot Springs, MT: Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute, 1994.

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