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

  • #1
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I'm wearing one right now. For about two weeks, in fact, and I haven't really felt anything different. Although, I suppose it takes a little longer.

There's plenty of stories out there praising such devices, and I don't think all of them are false. My own mother, for instance, and her mother, both have stories of how it took away pain, and when they took the bracelet off, the pain came back again. They have absolutely no reason to lie, and I know for certain they wouldn't lie about it.

But how would such devices make you feel better? I'm confused.
 

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  • #2
Ivan Seeking
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Beyond the placebo effect, I don't know of any evidence that these actually work. I too have met people who swear by them, but I also note that after a time they no longer wear the stuff.

Assuming that there might be something to this, which I seriously doubt, the only thing that I can think of is that one absorbs enough copper through the skin to help somehow. I know that if worn long enough, some people have a green band on their skin where the bracelet goes.
 
  • #3
Ivan Seeking
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Heh, just out of curiosity...

Copper Helps Maintain Bone Health & Skin

Copper is required to make connective tissue, which binds one part of the body to another; holds organs in place; shores up heart and blood vessels; gives skin its firmness, and bolsters bone strength. Copper’s important role in collagen formation, a connective tissue in bones and skin, underscores that calcium and copper are vital to build and maintain strong bones. In fact, animal studies show that bone fractures, skeletal abnormalities, and osteoporosis are prevalent with copper deficiency.[continued]
http://www.cda.org.uk/Megab2/general/health.htm [Broken]

I don't know of any evidence that absorption through the skin would matter in this regard.
 
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  • #4
StuMyers
Unless it's some kind of exotic metal, I don't think a magent would even penetrate more than a millimeter, in any real sense.

Most of the time, these magnetic bracelets are of the refrigerator magnet variety. Take your refrigerator magnet and see how many pieces of paper it can hold up before the thickness of the paper is too great. Not too many. :)
 
  • #5
SGT
One claim of the promoters of magnetic bracelets is that, since there is iron in our hemoglobin, a magnet can in some way affect the blood circulation.
"Iron atoms in a magnet are crammed together in a solid state about one atom apart from one another. In your blood only four iron atoms are allocated to each hemoglobin molecule, and they are separated by distances too great to form a magnet. This is easily tested by pricking your finger and placing a drop of your blood next to a magnet. " --Michael Shermer*
See a more extensive analysis and several links at
http://www.skepdic.com/magnetic.html
 
  • #6
Alkatran
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If people had enough money, you could probably convince them to stay in an MRI two hours out of the day in the name of "magnetic alignment" or something.
 
  • #7
russ_watters
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From what I've heard, magnetic bracelets are so weak the field doesn't even penetrate your skin.
 
  • #8
chemisttree
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I hear that they all work fine... as bracelets.
 
  • #9
Ivan Seeking
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Huh, turns out that my wife swears by her copper bracelets. I didn't even realize that they weren't jewelry, anymore... She says that she has tested it time and time again, and when she wears them, she has significantly greater range of motion in her shoulders which have caused her problems for decades now.

I can only say that she has been wearing them for years and she is clearly convinced that it helps.
 
  • #10
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I'm waiting for researchers to discover that their predominent effect is to impair objective cognition. :biggrin:
 
  • #11
SGT
Huh, turns out that my wife swears by her copper bracelets. I didn't even realize that they weren't jewelry, anymore... She says that she has tested it time and time again, and when she wears them, she has significantly greater range of motion in her shoulders which have caused her problems for decades now.

I can only say that she has been wearing them for years and she is clearly convinced that it helps.
I am not a physician and even if I were I could not diagnose your wife at distance, but one thing that I know about chronical ailments is that they are cyclic, alterning moments when the patient feels very bad with others when the pain disapears.
The patient only seeks treatment when he/she feels bad. If after treatment the person feels better, it may be because the therapy has worked or because the disease followed its path and the health improved without intervention of the treatment.
 
  • #12
Ivan Seeking
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All true. Considering that she has battled this for years and seen many doctors, combined with the fact that she has worked in diagnostic medicine for over thirty years [X-Ray, CT, MRI], I don't take her claim lightly. Obviously this is not a qualified test, but she is no dummy either.

Funny thing is, I thought she dumped this bit years ago. Our gardner mentioned that his bracelets helped him a great deal, and out of desperation she tried it, but this was at least three or four years ago. When I mentoned this thread and the bit about copper, and then chuckled about how these are still selling, I was corrected somewhat sternly on the issue of whether or not they work. :uhh:

Needless to say, no one but me is expected to be impressed, but I believe my wife. And I'm sure that she has paid close attention to the effects, so at the least there must be a good reason to believe that it has helped; at the least a statistical fluke.
 
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  • #13
Ivan Seeking
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...and, I should add, medical science had nothing more to offer except more anti-inflammatory drugs that, according to medical science, she was taking too much already.
 
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  • #14
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Needless to say, no one but me is expected to be impressed, but I believe my wife. And I'm sure that she has paid close attention to the effects, so at the least there must be a good reason to believe that it has helped; at the least a statistical fluke.
However, there is also a reason why anecdotal evidence is regarded as not quite the highest.
 
  • #15
Ivan Seeking
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What is your point? I didn't claim this as proof of anything?

What is anecdotal to you may not be anecdotal to the observer. Tsu claims to have tested this for a couple of years with clear results every time - reduced pain and greater range of motion. Also, there is no way for anyone to gauge pain except by anecdotal evidence provided by the "observer".
 
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  • #16
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While I agree there is no evidence as of yet, I also know enough not to claim that if medical science hasn't proved it yet, then it must not be so (THAT notion is utterly absurd).
 
  • #17
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I am afraid to tell you that such devices are useless. Just believe in science and don't be cheated by those advertisements. Like other bracelets and bangles, they are just made from ordinary metals. Besides, they won't take your physical pain away, either.
 
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  • #18
Ivan Seeking
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Due to my wife's conviction that the copper bracelets help with her pain, I had done some checking and found that copper could play a role in relieving pain. So if it was absorbed through the skin, at a glance it seems plausible that it may help with pain. Not saying it is, but just that it does provide one potential explanation for the claims. This is not to be confused with the claims about magnetism, ionization, or voodoo magic. Those are different claims altogether. This is about copper.

She had mentioned it again recently so I did another bit of googling and found this.

...Studies have shown that some people with arthritis seem to have difficulty metabolizing copper from the food they eat, leading to increased pain. That observation led Helmar Dollwet, Ph.D., of the University of Akron to theorize that arthritis sufferers may need to get their copper from another source. "The dissolved copper from [a copper] bracelet bypasses the oral route by entering the body through the the skin," he wrote in his book, The Copper Bracelet and Arthritis. Dr. Dollwet thought this might be the only way arthritics ever receive the copper their bodies need-copper that studies have shown can indeed relieve pain.

Physicians remain somewhat skeptical about bracelets but don't entirely dismiss them, either. "I see people wearing copper bracelets, and they're wearing them because it helps them," says Elson Haas, M.D. "I think copper may have a role. It's possible that a copper deficiency does increase joint inflammation, and it doesn't seem that supplementing copper in the diet has the same effect as wearing it...
http://www.sabona.com/copper

It would be interesting to see if we can find any related information in published journals, one way or the other. I wondered about this myself and then found that others are making this claim. Honestly, I thought this was all akin to the "magic pyramid power" claims popular in the 1970s and 80s. I never knew that there was even a claim of a scientific explanation.
 
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  • #19
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Not to say that Tsu isn't feeling what she's feeling or experiencing, Ivan, because evidently she is. Which, great! You mentioned in an earlier post that Tsu is "no dummy", which again, is true. But what's also true is that the placebo effect doesn't require "a dummy" for it to take effect.

I read recently about testing people who were being helped by sugar pills and whatnot and how by looking at their brain with an MRI, the exact same area of the brain that's stimulated by the medication that helps or affects a certain problem or issue is the same area of the brain that lights up when people are experiencing a placebo effect. Meaning that the trigger necessary to get the brain's co-operation in releasing chemicals to, say, relieve pain, can be stimulated by agents other than medications.

And there's not a thing wrong with that. I'm a huge fan of the placebo effect. If you can get your body to do its thing spontaneously, why not?
 
  • #20
Ivan Seeking
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That's all fine, but there is a potentially active role for absorbed copper.
 
  • #21
Ivan Seeking
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Just doing a little legwork for now

Published in: Clinical Toxicology, Volume 26, Issue 5 & 6 October 1988 , pages 371 - 380

An Unusual Skin Exposure to Copper; Clinical and Pharmacokinetic Evaluation
...It is suggested that copper may be absorbed from the skin even if it is in the metal form.
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a911725031&db=all


Helmar Dollwet - potential mechanism of action for copper as an anti-inflammatory
http://www.springerlink.com/content/h3662n4445130t3g/

Dr. Elson Haas - no published papers found. Appears to be fringe
http://www.elsonhaas.com/

Copper biochemistry and molecular biology
In general, copper does not enter vertebrates through the skin, unless, for example, it is applied in high concentrations in the form of specific ointments or if copper bracelets are worn ( 1 , 8, 9). Only microgram amounts of copper per day are thought to be absorbed by this route under optimal conditions, but this absorption can become significant. Walker (9) reported that up to 13 mg can be delivered per month, and that this happens through the formation of glycine-copper complexes dissolved in sweat...
http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/63/5/797S
http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/reprint/63/5/797S.pdf
 
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  • #22
Ivan Seeking
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An investigation of the therapeutic value of the 'copper bracelet'-dermal assimilation of copper in arthritic/rheumatoid conditions.

Abstract
From over 300 arthritis sufferers, half of whom previously wore 'copper bracelets', three treatment-group-subjects were randomly allocated for a psychological study. This involved wearing 'copper bracelets' and placebo bracelets (amodised aluminum resembling copper) alternately. These groups, as also a control group, answered questionnaires. The copper bracelets were weighed before and after use. Preliminary results show that, to a significant number of subjects, the wearing of the 'copper bracelet' appeared to have some therapeutic value. A study of the components of sweat and the solubility of copper in sweat was carried out. In five sweat samples, the copper concentration was of the order 2 x 10(-5) M and after equilibrating with copper turnings at room temperature for 24 hours the samples turned blue in colour and contained approximately 2 x 10(-3) M copper. The permeability of skin to copper containing solutions has also been discussed. It has also been shown that the wearing of a 'copper bracelet' results in a weight loss in excess of the body's total burden of copper (100-150 mg). A pair of copper bracelets lost 80 mg in 50 days when worn around the ankles and a copper bracelet worn around the wrist also lost about 90 mg in that time.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/961545

TRACE ELEMENTS IN THE TREATMENT OF RHEUMATIC CONDITIONS

Elliot D. Rosenstein, MDab, Jacques R. Caldwell, MDcd

The oft-quoted Ebers papyrus, a therapeutic compendium from the eighteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt (about 1500 bc), is one of the first known citations of the use of trace elements, particularly various metallic compounds, for relief of musculoskeletal disorders. Verdigris (basic copper acetate), blue vitriol (copper(II) sulfate), and pulverized metallic copper were recommended as topical therapies for rheumatic pains.30 The role of these trace elements in chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is of great interest because many of them are co-factors in metabolic processes involving collagen and bone or immune system function. Studies of the nutritional status of patients with active RA frequently demonstrate deficiencies in these “micronutrients, ” in particular various metallic elements, including copper, zinc, selenium, and magnesium. The increase in levels of proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1 (IL-1), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and IL-6 seen in the setting of active RA may affect the availability of these elements by inducing the production of metal-binding proteins, metallothioneins, in the liver or intestine.32 The increased metallothionein production may result in sequestration of these metal ions so that they are unavailable to peripheral tissues. In peripheral tissues, including within inflammatory cells, many of these trace metallic elements are incorporated into antioxidant enzymes. Antioxidant metalloenzymes interfere with the production of free radicals by inactivating reactive oxygen molecules in tissues and immune cells. Although the physiologic role for these trace elements may be reasonably well substantiated, their therapeutic usefulness is less compelling...
http://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...serid=10&md5=a5f98270b8c41c76023925ea4c360955


Skin Penetration by Metal Compounds with Special Reference to Copper

Abstract
The process of diffusion into and across the different structures of the skin by chemicals is reviewed, with particular attention given to copper compounds. The scarce data available from the literature indicate that, in contact with the skin, metallic copper will oxidize, and the compounds resulting will penetrate it. Results from our lab confirm that copper compounds formed with skin exudates penetrate the human stratum corneum in a time-dependent fashion. The only quantitative diffusion rates for copper compounds given in the literature so far refer to experiments performed on the cat in vitro and in vivo. Transformation of data from that study, based on certain assumptions, lead to estimated Kp values of 10-6 to 10-5 cm/h for the copper salts tested, values that lie at the lower end of skin diffusivity rates measured for transition metal salts.

Permeability coefficients for aqueous copper sulfate and acetate through human epidermis in vitro measured in our laboratory are of the order of 10-6 cm/h. For copper compounds formulated in combination with zinc compounds for therapeutic purposes, applied on dermatomed human skin in vitro in various vehicles, the apparent penetration coefficients Kp were in the range of 3.2 10-6 and 1.6 10-5 cm/h.
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a748946091&db=all
 
  • #23
Tsu
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I just want to be clear here. We are talking about a 1" wide for maximun skin contact,100% pure, copper bracelet. No magnets, no 'ionization'... there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support *those* claims. My tendonitis starts to flare up and I wear my bracelet for a few days and the pain is significantly diminished. There is no possibility of 'letting it rest' to heal. My job is very physical and I can't NOT use my right arm. I can usually maintain the low level of pain by wearing the bracelet to bed at night only. If I stop wearing the bracelet, the tendonitis returns.

Call me a whacko if you wish. I've been called much worse by people a lot more cool than you science geeks!!! :rofl: :rofl:
 
  • #24
Gokul43201
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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.
 
  • #25
ZapperZ
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I just want to be clear here. We are talking about a 1" wide for maximun skin contact,100% pure, copper bracelet. No magnets, no 'ionization'... there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support *those* claims. My tendonitis starts to flare up and I wear my bracelet for a few days and the pain is significantly diminished. There is no possibility of 'letting it rest' to heal. My job is very physical and I can't NOT use my right arm. I can usually maintain the low level of pain by wearing the bracelet to bed at night only. If I stop wearing the bracelet, the tendonitis returns.

Call me a whacko if you wish. I've been called much worse by people a lot more cool than you science geeks!!! :rofl: :rofl:
It would be nice if we could subject you to a double-blind test, Tsu. Make several identical bracelets, one with solid Cu, one with Cu but with impurities, one with only Cu coating, one that LOOKS like Cu but really of a different metal, etc... Each day, Ivan will receive a bracelet from someone, and he will not know which is which. He will then give it to you to wear. You will keep a record on the level of your pain. We will do this for a period of many days (2 months?).

If your record correlates to what you got beyond just statistical noise, then I'd say we have something.

BTW, people should know that copper OXIDE layer on pure copper develops in nanoseconds upon exposure and continues to grow over time. So what the skin comes in contact with is not pure copper, but various levels and forms of copper oxide. The salt and moisture from your skin enhanced the formation of such oxide layer.

Zz.
 

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