Register to reply

Copper/magnetic/ionized bracelets: do they really work, and how?

by delta001
Tags: bracelets, work
Share this thread:
GeorginaS
#37
May15-10, 10:17 PM
GeorginaS's Avatar
P: 380
I'd argue that everyone is open to the placebo effect. Further, I'm curious to know why there seems to be a negative association with it. Ivan made one and now Evo with "she wasn't a flake or open to placebo effects". One does not have to be stupid or gullible or a flake or anything at all like that for the placebo effect to work. In fact, I'd argue that one would need to be possessed of a very strong mental capacity to be so effectively neurologically convinced.
Evo
#38
May15-10, 10:53 PM
Mentor
Evo's Avatar
P: 26,485
Quote Quote by GeorginaS View Post
I'd argue that everyone is open to the placebo effect. Further, I'm curious to know why there seems to be a negative association with it. Ivan made one and now Evo with "she wasn't a flake or open to placebo effects". One does not have to be stupid or gullible or a flake or anything at all like that for the placebo effect to work. In fact, I'd argue that one would need to be possessed of a very strong mental capacity to be so effectively neurologically convinced.
Actually, you're quite correct Georgina.
DaveC426913
#39
May15-10, 11:33 PM
DaveC426913's Avatar
P: 15,319
Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
Uh, you don't seem to understand, she uses them because she is otherwise in pain.
But I understand perfectly. You give her one of two bracelets, disguised to look alike. She has a 50:50 chance of getting the real one, and thus is in no pain.

But if she doesn't get the real one, she should be able to tell you. The moment she is sure of her judgement call, the experiment is over and you can give her the real one.
GeorginaS
#40
May16-10, 02:15 AM
GeorginaS's Avatar
P: 380
But here's a thought: why would Tsu and/or Ivan want to mess with something that works? It works. That's all they need to know.
DaveC426913
#41
May16-10, 09:14 AM
DaveC426913's Avatar
P: 15,319
Quote Quote by GeorginaS View Post
But here's a thought: why would Tsu and/or Ivan want to mess with something that works? It works. That's all they need to know.
The issue is: yes, it works, but what if it still works sans bracelet?
Tsu
#42
May16-10, 03:57 PM
PF Gold
Tsu's Avatar
P: 638
But I'm telling you that whenever I take it off for any length of time, my shoulder aches to the point of immobility. That's not an option in my job. Hospital patients don't usually just jump right up off of their stretchers and run right over to my CT or xray table. When I put the dang thing on again, the pain recedes within days and I can move again. Does this mean nothing? If meds can be delivered transdermally, why not copper? It's a trace mineral much needed by our bodies. Some disease processes can cause loss of trace minerals. And besides, I like my bilateral green wrist strips.

Now, I'm perfectly willing to accept the possibility of a placebo effect. WHATEVER!! :-) It works for me. So either give it a rest or send me (and my sisters Evo and Georgina ) some Nirvana Chocolates and I'll do your silly test. In fact! - hmmmm..... How 'bout this test: PF pays for an all expenses paid, two week trip for me, Evo, Georgina and Zapper Z to Disneyland!!! Yeah!! Zapper does the bracelet test however he wants, and my sisters are the witnesses. But we want the Zapper Z all cajones grand tour of Disneyland. The Full Mickey!

Deal?
Ivan Seeking
#43
May16-10, 04:27 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Ivan Seeking's Avatar
P: 12,498
Quote Quote by DaveC426913 View Post
The issue is: yes, it works, but what if it still works sans bracelet?
I think the most important point is that a PF test would literally be pseudoscience. Frankly, I am a bit surprised at the suggestion all around.

Tsu telling of her convictions is completely within the guidelines, but her testimony is anecdotal evidence. That has never been disputed.

Copper
The best experimental evidence posted to date is the case study linked, that tested the efficacy of copper bracelets directly. Significant results in the affirmative were indicated. Papers have also been cited suggesting that copper could not only be absorbed through the skin, but also that copper is known to act as an anti-inflammatory. It has also been stated that there are known processes in the liver and intestines, that could explain copper deficiencies measured in the extremities of arthritis sufferers. Note that I posted any qualified information that I could find in the time available, without bias.

Beyond that, it seems that no one here is capable of even providing a map to a complete scientific argument, one way or the other, in terms of the biology, physiology, biochemistry, etc., involved. That being the case, it is clear no one here is knowledgable enough to argue that this can or can't work.

We are done with opinions. Speculation never trumps evidence, so any additional speculation regarding efficacy will be deleted. If you have experimental evidence either way, please post it. So far, the only qualified experimental evidence suggests that copper bracelets can be effective in providing relief to arthritis sufferers. It is further suggested that if bracelets are indeed effective in treating RA, it may be a result of dermal absorption of copper, as the Egyptians posited in 1500 B.C.!

Magnets and "ionized" bracelets
We have seen no experimental evidence that magnetic or ionized bracelets are effective as advertised. Additionally, there is no known scientific basis for suggesting that they could be helpful beyond any peceived value due to the placebo effect, or possibly due to the presence of copper.

If you have used any of these products and care to comment on your experience, be it bad or good, as always, please feel free to share your story.
purepoultry
#44
Jun25-10, 06:15 AM
P: 3
Quote Quote by Gokul43201 View Post
It appears that the 1976 study by Walker et al (300 subjects) is the only such study of the therapeutic effects cited in literature. Or does anyone have a reference showing this has been replicated? It would definitely help if there were more studies that independently investigated this effect.

Georgina, the cited paper claims a significant effect beyond placebo.
Hi,

New to the forum. Only joined because I couldn't believe you guys had missed (either intentionally or unintentionally) a trial by my colleagues and I that came out last October. 1st RCT to provide clear evidence that copper bracelets do not work. Featured on TV and in most of the newspapers. Here's the reference:

Richmond, S. J.; Brown, S. R.; Campion, P. D.; Porter, A. J. L.; Moffett, J. A. K.; Jackson, D. A.; Featherstone, V. A.; Taylor, A. J. (2009). "Therapeutic effects of magnetic and copper bracelets in osteoarthritis: A randomised placebo-controlled crossover trial". Complementary Therapies in Medicine 17: 249-256.

Here's a few articles, which report the findings:

Daily Mail

The Wall Street Journal

BBC News

The Herald

NHS Choices

The Telegraph

The Express

Next?
Ivan Seeking
#45
Jun25-10, 12:49 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Ivan Seeking's Avatar
P: 12,498
So we have one study that used 45 people, suggesting that copper bracelets don't work, and one using 300 people that suggests that they do work.

Thanks, purepoultry. A link to the original paper would be appreciated. Apparently it didn't appear in a Google Scholar search.
purepoultry
#46
Jun25-10, 04:31 PM
P: 3
Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
So we have one study that used 45 people, suggesting that copper bracelets don't work, and one using 300 people that suggests that they do work.

Thanks, purepoultry. A link to the original paper would be appreciated. Apparently it didn't appear in a Google Scholar search.
Google scholar does list 5 versions but no worries, here's the link:

Therapeutic effects of magnetic and copper bracelets for osteoarthritis: a randomised placebo controlled crossover trial

The trial by Walker and Keats compared copper bracelets vs aluminium bracelets vs no bracelet. Patients could easily tell the difference between copper and aluminium, due to corrosion and materials (the placebo problem) They also excluded the majority of participants from their analysis. Some because their bracelets were observed to have gained weight (analytical bias). They then concluded that on the remaining bracelets in the trial lost weight on average, in order to support the theory that copper was being leached into the skin.

All 45 patients in the trial we published last year each wore 4 devices in a random order, including a non-magnetic and non-copper bracelet. It was a crossover trial. Although its somewhat of an oversimplification you can consider the statistical power to be roughly equivalent to that of a parallel arm trial with 180 participants. Taking into account the fact that Walker and Keats excluded the majority of trial participants from their analysis, our trial actually had greater statistical power. Note that the average sample size for crossover trials is just 15. A crossover trial with 45 participants is big!

If you don't find the results convincing how about this trial:

Shackel NA, Day RO, Kellett B, Brooks PM. Copper-salicylate gel for pain relief in osteoarthritis: a randomised controlled trial. Med J Aust. 1997 Aug 4;167(3):134-6.

They compared copper gel versus placebo gel - copper should be absorbed much easier than from a bracelet but there was no difference in analgesic effect. Nada, nil. Although some people who used the copper gel did get sick!

I find it interesting, which explains the trial.
Ivan Seeking
#47
Jun25-10, 07:04 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Ivan Seeking's Avatar
P: 12,498
Quote Quote by purepoultry View Post
Google scholar does list 5 versions but no worries, here's the link:
Sure, if you know the authors.

Therapeutic effects of magnetic and copper bracelets for osteoarthritis: a randomised placebo controlled crossover trial

The trial by Walker and Keats compared copper bracelets vs aluminium bracelets vs no bracelet. Patients could easily tell the difference between copper and aluminium, due to corrosion and materials (the placebo problem) They also excluded the majority of participants from their analysis. Some because their bracelets were observed to have gained weight (analytical bias). They then concluded that on the remaining bracelets in the trial lost weight on average, in order to support the theory that copper was being leached into the skin.

All 45 patients in the trial we published last year each wore 4 devices in a random order, including a non-magnetic and non-copper bracelet. It was a crossover trial. Although its somewhat of an oversimplification you can consider the statistical power to be roughly equivalent to that of a parallel arm trial with 180 participants. Taking into account the fact that Walker and Keats excluded the majority of trial participants from their analysis, our trial actually had greater statistical power. Note that the average sample size for crossover trials is just 15. A crossover trial with 45 participants is big!

If you don't find the results convincing how about this trial:

Shackel NA, Day RO, Kellett B, Brooks PM. Copper-salicylate gel for pain relief in osteoarthritis: a randomised controlled trial. Med J Aust. 1997 Aug 4;167(3):134-6.

They compared copper gel versus placebo gel - copper should be absorbed much easier than from a bracelet but there was no difference in analgesic effect. Nada, nil. Although some people who used the copper gel did get sick!

I find it interesting, which explains the trial.
Thanks, while I don't assume that the gel study constitutes a definitive comparison, there does seem to be significant evidence that copper bracelets are not effective. This is taking your statements at face value, however. I don't have time to review the information right now.

Are you aware of any other studies?
purepoultry
#48
Jun25-10, 07:20 PM
P: 3
Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
Are you aware of any other studies?
There is another one on magnetic and copper bracelets for rheumatoid arthritis that we presented last month in Norway, but I do not want to discuss the results prior to publication. Sorry.
OrionVTOL
#49
Oct15-10, 09:13 AM
P: 33
I don't mean to resurrect a relatively dead thread, but just yesterday I came across a place that sells magnetic bracelets and speaks to their effectiveness. The stories told were impressive. . . . but I couldn't help think about how it sounded like the "snake oil" type thing. But if the testimonials were true, I would have to wonder if they were as a result of the magnets, OR the placebo effect. . . . . . more than that, how many of those who purchased a necklace or bracelet [what percentage] actually had an effect worth telling them [the owners of the shop].

They say they use stones called Magnetite, . . . stones made naturally magnetic by their interactions within volcanos. They claim that they are more powerful than man made magnets and last much longer. I'm guessing they were talking about those refrigerator magnets, not neodynium magnets.

Anyway, I am not here to "pro" or "con" the subject, just add to it.
MagnetDave
#50
Oct21-10, 07:22 AM
P: 62
Rule 1: "Anecdote" is not the singular of "data." A testimonial and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee (without cream, sugar, or the cup to hold it in). I can think of no other way to say it - testimonials are WORTHLESS. All a testimonial "means" is that someone is willing to say something. There is no need to prove anything. These people have every reason to compel lies and exaggerations. Even if you don't want to assume pure cynicism on the part of the people promoting it, these are not controlled experiments and you have no way to connect cause and effect.

Rule 2: Virtually nothing "natural" is more "powerful" than "man-made." That's why it's man-made. We invented Alnico, ferrite, SmCo, and NdFeB magnets because Magnetite was too wimpy to be useful. Whenever possible, we always try to use things in the most natural state because it's the cheapest. Processing costs money, so we better create some value.

In short, everything you've cited here can be dismissed out of hand without serious examination, just as we would a flat-earther.
OrionVTOL
#51
Oct21-10, 07:42 AM
P: 33
Yeah, that's how I was reading it, myself. The stories of "how it took away her pain in her shoulder when she started wearing it" seemed a lot like [as I said] the "snake oil saleman".

The merchandise LOOKS nice, for someone who is interested in dark grey/black shiney beads, but if such things really DID work, . . . nearly everyone would be wear them.

Thanks for the input.
Objective
#52
Nov26-10, 07:34 AM
P: 1
Isn't it safest to say we don't know whether they work. As far as I can see the evidence we have to date is: 1) a study which reports a positive effect for copper bracelets - not sure whether this was on patients with RA or OA 2) a study which reports no effect for patients with OA. Lots of anecdotal evidence that the bracelets have an effect (and to declare an interest here I gave my husband one of these bracelets for his arthritic knee and he too reports a positive effect despite being sceptical).
I think someone should do a large scale study with a variety of people with different stages of OA and RA then we may have some real evidence.
I can see people are sceptical because they cannot see any mechanism for how the bracelets would work but this is bad science - the first thing to do is to see whether there is any evidence whether the bracelets work under any conditions.
One other question: my husband's pain from RA is worse in damp cold weather is there a scientific explanation for this? (And I believe this is not uncommon).
MagnetDave
#53
Nov29-10, 03:40 AM
P: 62
Quote Quote by Objective View Post
Isn't it safest to say we don't know whether they work. As far as I can see the evidence we have to date is: 1) a study which reports a positive effect for copper bracelets - not sure whether this was on patients with RA or OA 2) a study which reports no effect for patients with OA. Lots of anecdotal evidence that the bracelets have an effect (and to declare an interest here I gave my husband one of these bracelets for his arthritic knee and he too reports a positive effect despite being sceptical).
I think someone should do a large scale study with a variety of people with different stages of OA and RA then we may have some real evidence.
I can see people are sceptical because they cannot see any mechanism for how the bracelets would work but this is bad science - the first thing to do is to see whether there is any evidence whether the bracelets work under any conditions.
One other question: my husband's pain from RA is worse in damp cold weather is there a scientific explanation for this? (And I believe this is not uncommon).
The reason that this is not the safe assumption is because of the placebo effect. It is extremely well-documented that humans will respond positively to no treatment at all if they think they are receiving one. Therefore, in the case of things are purported to have medical effect, well-controlled studies are required. This is also why anecdotal evidence is ignored with extreme prejudice. Also, the human body does maintain itself, and quite a few diseases will simply go away on their own.

Just as a simple example: I have a headache. I drink a bottle of Coke and take a nap and suddenly I have no headache. I attribute the loss of headache to the Coke. Perhaps I was dehydrated, and the fluids were what I needed. Perhaps I was stressed, and the relaxation of the nap cured my headache. Perhaps I took an aspirin twenty minutes before drinking the Coke, but didn't think about it. However, I inferred that the Coke was cured my headache. I tell my friend to try it. It works for him, possibly for no reason whatsoever other than he thought it would. Or that he didn't have a headache at all - perhaps he just had a nasty pimple that was hurting that he managed to pop in his sleep. He goes to another friend, who finds out it works for him. Of course, that friend's headache would have gone away Coke or not, but there's no way to know now, is there? Still, I am assembling a massive body of anecdotal evidence that Coke cures headaches!

This is why medicine is SO demanding of claims. You have to prove:

- That the test subjects are afflicted by the problem you propose to cure.
- That the cure relieves the actual problem.
- That a comparable placebo relieves the actual problem at a significantly lower rate.
- That the cure is significantly more effective than no treatment at all.
- That your treatment is safe.

However, it is ALSO possible, with a slightly reduced set of scruples, or some blinkered idealism, to simply ignore these requirements, see some successes, and declare you have a cure that somehow the whole of medicine ignores, and the greedy drug companies don't want you to know about, because there is no way they would EVER want to sell a "medical grade" arthritis bracelet for comically high margins.

Quack medicine is a large and thriving field, and it, unfortunately, preys on people's good nature and takes advantage of some very real and legitimate frustrations with the pharmaceutical industry (who, let's admit, are hardly angels) to take their money on an indefensibly narrow basis.

So, the short answer: No, it's not safer to assume it works without a mechanism, because "it works" is much, much tougher claim than most people realize.
ZapperZ
#54
Jan5-11, 05:25 AM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
ZapperZ's Avatar
P: 29,239
Here's another example of a bracelet that has no scientific backing, and certainly can't be distinguished from the placebo effect:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_balance_bracelets

Zz.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Copper wire magnetic force help Introductory Physics Homework 1
Copper wire magnetic field Introductory Physics Homework 3
Copper wire in magnetic field Introductory Physics Homework 4
Do copper bracelets do anything? Biology 33