I know this may come as a shock to many of you, but a second study has confirmed that magnetic copper bracelets – the ones you’ll see in infomercials that are supposed to treat things like rheumatoid arthritis – don’t actually do a damned thing.
In the first randomised controlled trial to study the effects of copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps on rheumatoid arthritis, 70 patients with active symptoms each wore four different devices over a five-month period, reporting on their pain, disability, and medication use throughout the study. Participants also provided blood samples, after wearing each device for five weeks, in order to monitor changes in inflammation.
The research published in PLOS ONE, show that both the standard magnetic wrist strap and the copper bracelet provided no meaningful therapeutic effects beyond those of a placebo, which was not magnetic and did not contain copper.
The text calls this the “first” study, but it’s actually a more detailed follow up from some work done back in 2009. Then, the focus was on osteoarthritis, but that’s when doubt was first case on the bracelets’ efficacy. After leading this new trial, Dr. Richmond was understandably disappointed in the results. Copper bracelets and refrigerator magnets are cheap as hell, and if such a simple device actually did manage to alleviate the symptoms of a disease like RA, that would be a wonderful discovery.
Still, you’d think that if magnetism has such a profound effect on our health, we’d see severe reactions when walking near a power transformer or going through an MRI machine. If neither one of those does anything, then we can all probably rest assured that a kitchen magnet on some string probably isn’t going to help you all that much.
About ten years ago I was dealing with a rather nasty persistent illness, and was a lot less skeptical of some of this stuff than I am now. Also, couple that with the desperate need to finally stop hurting and you can easily find yourself doing all sorts of crazy shit if it has even the slightest chance of success.
So there I was, doing acupuncture. This lady was cupping my back with these little shot-glass type contraptions that left hickeys all over me, she was sticking needles everywhere including the top of my head, and shining a set of red LEDs on my elbow for the better part of ten minutes. After the “treatment” was done, I was told the pain and swelling should subside within a few days.
… which is fortunate, since that’s about as long as it took on its own without all of this crap. So it goes with the copper and magnet bracelets as well. The pain and discomfort normally associated with RA can change over the course of a day, making it very difficult to tell on a subjective level whether they’re truly effective, or nothing more than a placebo.
Turns out you should save your money to pay for a prescription instead.