One of the origins stories of the word "magnet" states that it came about as a result of an ancient shepherd, named Magnes, who it is claimed, was the very first person to discover that certain stones had the ability to attract objects made of iron. Another origin story indicates that this event took place somewhere in what is currently the country of Turkey. Although, it used to be referred to as Magnesia.
We now refer to magnetic stones as "magnetite." However, at one time, they were known to the ancient Greeks as Herculean Stones (name after the mythological hero Hercules). The ancient Romans called them living stones. In later times the substance came to be known as lodestone.
The ancient Greeks speculated that the invisible energy fields created by magnetic rocks were a form of "mineral soul," and found it very fascinating. The famous philosopher and scientist Aristotle came to thought that such magnetic minerals could potentially be used to help physicians in curing conditions such as headaches and other bodily pain.
A famous, ancient Greek physician, known as Galan, had left accounts of having achieved success at treating patients suffering from a whole host of various ailments using magnets. The Egyptian queen, Cleopatra was famously known to have become convinced of the healing and restorative properties of these mysterious stones. It is often claimed that, in fact, she regularly wore a magnetic stone over her forehead to help preserve her vitality and beauty.
In both the ancient Indian and Chinese civilizations, there were a number of proponents and practitioners of early forms of magnetic therapy, and it is possible that they discovered its health benefits and applications before even the ancient Greeks and Egyptians.
In China, the traditional knowledge indicates that health and wellness are directly, and significantly, influenced by an energy called the Qi, that continuously surrounds us and flows throughout our bodies. Sicknesses and disorders of both the body and mind are said to be caused by imbalances in this energy. From early times, they utilized both acupuncture needles and magnetic stones to aid in unblocking and balancing this energy.
Ancient medical tomes and writings from early Chinese dynasties make numerous references to magnetic stones that had amazing healing properties, and were able to both improve health and help to provide relief for those suffering from pain.
In fact, magnetic therapy has continued to be a popular therapy widely used throughout the eastern world and, even in contemporary times, they are often confused about western doubts regarding magnetic therapy, as well as other therapies defined as "alternative," in the west.
You can read more about the interesting history of magnetic therapy, including ancient history, the renaissance, and more contemporary history.