Health Benefits of Magnetic Bracelets
Magnetic therapy is a popular alternative treatment which goes back thousands of years, dating all the way back to the Egyptian pharaohs. Many believe that just because a therapy is ancient, that means it has to be good, with far-reaching health benefits. But is that really the case? The answer is: probably not.
For example, the idea behind wearing magnetic bracelets is that the magnets work by realigning the magnetic fields in our body. This realignment is supposed to not only improve the way we feel – especially if we have specific chronic or muscle pain - but the way we perform overall as well.
Sceptics, however, have pointed out that there is little scientific evidence to back up any of these claims. They point out that while the blood protein called haemoglobin which carries oxygen is repulsed by magnetic fields, the magnets in magnetic bracelets are so weak they would have no effect on our blood flow whatsoever.
Furthermore, they say that while some scientific studies have shown a minor improvement in pain levels amongst those who wore these magnetic bracelets as compared to those who did not, that is probably due only to a placebo effect.
How Magnet Therapy (Theoretically) WorksTheoretically, the idea behind magnet therapy is simple. Proponents believe that a magnet placed on the body draws blood to that area, producing a calming effect on the muscles and tissues in that region and putting the body in the best environment possible for it to heal itself.
Whether the magnet is placed inside a shoe, worn as an ankle strap or – most commonly – attached to a bracelet – the effect is purportedly a positive one. The increased blood flow not only helps deliver more nutrients to the body, but also improves the removal of toxins and contaminants from tissues throughout the body.
Proponents of magnet therapy also claim that magnetic bracelets can:
- Reduce inflammation, lactic acid, calcium deposits and other toxins in the body due to the increased blood flow
- Help heal nervous tissue and bones due to the magnets’ ability to accelerate the migration of calcium ions
- Help promote peaceful sleep as the magnets can influence the production of the hormone melatonin in the body, which helps us know when to sleep and when to wake up
- Help the body to produce more endorphins, which are known as natural painkillers
Lack of Scientific EvidenceThere has been scant medical evidence attesting to the efficacy of magnetic bracelets, with most positive reports being purely anecdotal.
There have been, however, occasional positive medical studies. Most have noted a small improvement in pain relief among patients with specific ailments who wore magnetic bracelets, as compared to those in dummy groups who did not.
The British Medical Journal, for example, published an article in 2004 which studied 194 patients with osteoarthritis in the hip and knee over a two-week period.
Those who wore bracelets noted a “slightly higher” decrease in pain than those who did not wear them. The authors noted, however, that it was unclear whether this was due purely to “specific or non-specific placebo effects” on the patients.
A more recent study published in 2009, however, found that leather wrist-straps containing magnets were ineffective when it come to managing or pain or improving stiffness and function in patients with osteoarthritis.
A Word of CautionMagnet therapy is a booming business, with magnetic bracelets not the only magnet-based commodity on the market. Other products include magnetic pillows, mattress pads, hairbrushes and even magnetic pet products, designed to help your mog or mutt make the most of magnets.
Magnetic therapy cannot harm you as long as you use it as a complementary method to improve your health, meaning you do not forsake conventional medicine in favour of a wearing a bracelet.
In recent years, some practitioners have gone so far as to use magnets to diagnose diseases such as cancer and HIV, and say they can be used to treat chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Most practitioners of this therapy would not condone such behaviour, and if you meet someone who does, it’s advisable to go somewhere else.
People with cardiac pacemakers, those having any type of radiology treatments, or those going in for an MRI scan should avoid using magnets. Consult with your GP beforehand before trying any type of alternative treatment to make sure it is the right treatment for you.