Combining Heaven and Earth and Pseudoscience

Most of us have met someone who has worn a copper bracelet to alleviate or prevent arthritis pain. If not, you can easily see them on shelves in most pharmacies. (This points to a problem I have with pharmacists who want to be considered as health care professionals, while the stores they work in sell and advertise many types of unproven or disproven CAM treatments. )

Some manufacturers claim to have inserted magnetic materials into the copper to gain the supposed benefits of magnetism to the bracelets. The latest addition to magnetic copper bracelets is Jesus.


Do you believe? For centuries millions of people have believed in the healing properties of both copper and magnetic therapy to help ease aches and pains from arthritis and other ailments. If you believe, now you can combine these forces with your powerful faith in the miracles of Jesus to protect you from pain and soothe your soul in times of stress. Solid copper and fully adjustable to fit most wrists.

The writers on sites that make claims for how magnetism and copper work as aids in health are long on hyperbole, cherry picking, and outright lies and very short on facts.

The site Magnets 4 Health is an example.

Magnetism is a basic force in nature: The Earth itself has a natural magnetic field and all creatures are born and live out their lives under the influence of this natural force. It protects life on the planet by shielding us from harmful radiation, and it is said to have a nourishing and beneficial effect on us.

Yes, the earth’s magnetic field does protect us from solar radiation, but the information on the ‘nourishing and beneficial effect’ of magnets is only to be found on CAM websites, not in respected journals.

Many people believe that modern day mankind may be “magnetic deficient”. This condition may be arising from modern life, the insulating effect of living and working in concrete and high-rise buildings. Added to this we are surrounded by a surfeit of electronic and electrical gadgetry. Both of these effects actually block our natural exposure to the Earths magnetic field. There is also a relatively recent decline in the Earth’s magnetic field. If this ‘magnetic deficiency’ is true, it may be the cause behind many recent unexplained illnesses, and why the use of magnets can have a positive effect in so many conditions.

The concept of magnetic deficiency, especially any negative health effects are just not backed up in the scientific literature. They are fantasies in the minds of those who promote magnetic therapy. The earth is experiencing a decline in it’s magnetic field, but this is a completely normal phenomenon that has occurred many times throughout the history of the Earth.

Following the imaginary effects comes the imaginary rationale.

Is it all in the Blood? Many commentators believe magnets have a significant effect on the blood mechanisms within the tissues. While it may be too simplistic to say that blood flow is improved under the influence of magnets, there maybe improvement in certain aspects of the bloods quality and function.
Improved Oxygenation? Magnetic therapy is based on the biological effects of magnetic fields on the living organism. When magnetic fields are properly applied (polarity, intensity and frequency) there is a reaction that is utilized in the treatment of illness, the alleviation of pain, and the general promotion of well being. A magnetic field penetrates every single cell being exposed to the field. This in turn is believed to influence the ion exchange within the cell, which improves the oxygen utilization of the cell. This is important for the healing and regeneration process.

Vague concepts such as ‘improvement in certain aspects of the bloods quality and function’ are almost impossible to comment on, as they have absolutely no meaning. The chemical makeup of our bodies do not contain enough magnetic material for magnets to act upon them. If there were magnetic influences on the body, they would certainly be noticeable in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans which are considered to have no risks related to the magnetism unless you have certain implants or artificial joints. Even a very strong magnet is not attracted to our skin.

Safety is always a concern in any treatment.

The World Health Organization (WHO): published a study in 1987 stating that the magnetic strengths typically used in magnetic therapy do not have any detrimental effect on the human body.
General Precautions: It is advisable that pregnant women or people wearing electrical or electronic medical devices (e.g. a pacemaker, insulin pump etc) or metal implants should not use magnets. Small magnets should also be kept away from children in case they swallow them. Magnets should not be used near fresh cuts or wounds.

I was unable to find any 1987 study on magnetic therapy, but a 2008 report, found no definite effects, either positive or negative associated with magnetic fields.

Magnets themselves do not pose any risk during pregnancy, although MRIs are not recommended, not because of any known problems, but because the effects are not known, and any studies would be totally unethical.

Copper jewelry has been used for centuries as a treatment for pain, but as we know, the appeal to tradition is not an valid reason for accepting any treatment. For a more recent evaluation, researchers compared a numbers of CAM treatments including Copper Bracelets and published the results in Arthritis Care and Research.

Rheumatology patients’ use of complementary therapies: Results from a one-year longitudinal study
Jaya K. Rao1, Kurt Kroenke, Kimberly A. Mihaliak, Steven C. Grambow1, Morris Weinberger

To examine the natural history of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and its impact on outcomes within a cohort of rheumatology patients.
Consecutive patients were recruited from 3 university and 3 private rheumatology practices. Baseline chart reviews provided demographic information and rheumatic diagnoses. Patients answered questions on CAM use and health status during 1 year. We identified correlates of 4 CAM usage patterns (started, maintained, stopped, nonuse) and compared outcomes among these groups.
Of 232 baseline participants, 203 (87%) and 177 (76%) responded to the 6- and 12-month surveys. In each survey, approximately 34% reported currently using CAM. During the year, 44% of patients remained nonusers whereas 12% started, 22% maintained, and 22% stopped use. The most frequent reasons for stopping CAM were lack of effectiveness and expense. CAM users and nonusers had no difference in outcomes.
Arthritis patients’ usage behavior varied substantially, but CAM use was not associated with a difference in outcomes.

So, no effects  from either copper or magnets, and now we add Jesus. Writing the word Jesus on the bracelet supposedly makes it even more effective. The odd thing is that despite being more effective than plain copper-magnetic bracelets, the Jesus copper-magnetic bracelet is, at $9.97 is actually only ½ the price of bracelets without the benefit of Jesus.

So, by the math I’ve always depended upon, 0+0+0=0. The best advice is, if you like the look of copper, and want to declare your belief in Jesus, wear it. If you expect health benefits don’t bother.

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