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Quackwear: Big Pseudoscience Wants to Sell You Wearable Metal to Improve Your Health

January 10, 2015 in Blogs

By Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

Therapeutic metal trinkets and infused clothing are a $1 billion-a-year business. They're also a scam.


Until only a few years ago, copper and magnetic wearables were products marketed mostly on cheesy late-night television commercials for their miraculous healing properties. But recently, these alternative therapy products have become fashionable, and even widely accepted as legitimate medicine, with sports leagues, professional athletes and celebrities endorsing their healing properties. It’s a $1 billion-a-year industry in the U.S., and it appears to be growing.

Copper bracelets, socks, compression sleeves and even athletic wear are said to have medicinal properties that alleviate joint pain and inflammation. Magnetic therapy is also said to relieve muscle and joint pain, and many of its proponents claim it can reverse degenerative diseases, improve circulation, manage depression and even cure cancer.

The belief in copper’s healing properties through dermal assimilation is based on centuries-old folklore, and was bolstered by a single research study from back in the '70s, which has since been regarded as dubious by others in the medical research community. No other remotely reliable study on copper wearables has been conducted until recently, and it directly contradicts the 1976 study’s findings.

Magnetic therapy, sometimes called magnotherapy, was first widely introduced in 18th-century Austria by physician and charlatan, Franz Mesmer, who believed there was a natural energetic transference that occurred among animated and inanimate objects, which he called “animal magnetism.” At one time, Mesmer believed magnets could create artificial tides in the body that could help cure “hysteria” and other psychological conditions. While Mesmer eventually dropped the idea of using magnets on his patients (believing that he, himself, contained high enough levels of animal magnetism to promote health) he’s widely accepted by history scholars as the father of magnotherapy.

The most common suggested mechanism is that wearing magnets helps improve blood flow and oxygenization in underlying tissues and organs, but the devices used in magnet therapy are far too weak to appreciably affect blood components, muscles, bones, blood vessels, or organs. A 1991 study showed that magnets …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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