Magnetic jewelry is one of those remedies that makes a lot of high promises and appeal to a lot of spurious science in order to try and support these claims and to justify the incredibly high price tags. But like ‘energy bracelets’ and ‘healing crystals’ there is unfortunately absolutely no scientific basis for them – they are, quite simply, a scam (though in some cases those selling them may not be in on the scam to be fair to them).
How They Claim to Work
Sometimes called ‘Bio Magnets’ the idea is that magnetic jewelry alters the electrical signals of your cells via the use of magnets. Someone basically remembered roughly from their high school science that electricity and magnetism are related and so decided that that meant that magnets could affect your cells.
The claim then is that the magnetic field can change the status of your cells and trigger ‘homeostasis’. Homeostasis actually simply means maintaining a single state, it is used in biology to describe how some organisms have evolved to adapt to their environment – it has nothing to do with cells or the way that it is used to sell bio magnets.
This is then supposed to encourage the body to heal itself, the details of exactly how this would occur are of course vague and hard to come by. The general idea is that bio magnets restore the ‘electromagnetic energy balance’ – but there is no such balance recognized by modern medicine.
Ironically there is one way in which magnetism can affect the human body which magnetic therapy enthusiasts could have used to explain their medication; magnets can slightly affect the hemoglobin in the blood as it is weakly diamagnetic. However even if they did claim that this was the means through which magnetism affected the body we would know it was incorrect – as the magnetic fields created by magnetic jewelry are far too weak to have any measurable effect.
As we have already mentioned, none of the explanations given for how magnetic jewelry might work concurs with any recognized theories in science or medicine. That of course does not disprove their effectiveness in itself – but the fact that the magnets are too weak to affect anything as deep in the body as the blood does shed a lot of doubt on how something like this might work.
Likewise what is also condemning is that in blind trials and other studies no effect greater than the placebo effect (where your belief that you are healed makes you feel somewhat better) has been demonstrated. A study in 2009 looked at magnetic wrist straps that were designed to help osteoarthritis and found that they were ineffective in pain management, stiffness or physical function.
As a result many states and jurisdictions prohibit the marketing of magnetic therapy and jewelry that makes unsubstantiated medical claims. Even those selling the magnetic jewelry then are forced to say that there is currently ‘not enough evidence to show support for the effectiveness of magnetic therapy’.
Despite this many people still purchase magnetic jewelry and spend a lot of money on the items – it’s not unusual to find necklaces and similar items in the range of $90-$100 and the magnetic therapy sales total over one billion dollars per year.
It is highly important that you avoid such scams yourself and that you apply a critical mind to any ‘alternative’ forms of medicine before parting with your money. The health system in America causes many people to be cautious of doctors who are ‘pushing’ expensive and ‘unnatural drugs’ onto them for the treatment of illnesses and injuries and this is why many people turn to alternative solutions such as magnetic therapy.
Realize though that while doctors may stand to benefit from the sale of some medications, they will at least be scientifically proven to work and any side effects will have been explained to you prior to your taking them. Think about it – if doctors only wanted to make money then they would surely recommend magnetic therapy too as it’s obviously a huge market. Furthermore note how even in countries like the UK where the health service is not privatized, they still recommend the use of medications and avoid the mention of magnetic therapy or homeopathy – this is because the systems are not proven in any capacity to work.
At the same time you have to ask yourself how these ‘natural’ alternatives sound any safer – in homeopathy it involves ingesting substances that are known to cause the same symptoms as your illness in tiny quantities, and that have not been regulated in the same way that real medicine has. In the case of magnetic therapy meanwhile they are claiming that you are altering your electromagnetic state and changing the behavior of your cells – now if that really was real science would it be something that you should do on a whim without really understanding the consequences?
And as you can purchase magnets in shops for a couple of dollars that are stronger than the ones used in magnetic jewelry wouldn’t it be cheaper to just use those anyway? And surely everyone would be doing it as word quickly spread about how well it worked?
Whenever you are faced with an alternative medicine such as magnetic jewelry that makes claims which sound pseudo-scientific in nature but aren’t recommended by doctors it is important to use this kind of critical thinking to ascertain their true nature. If they claim to work without side effects then ask yourself why your doctor doesn’t recommend them. Read carefully the marketing material and research yourself to find studies that support or disprove their effectiveness. Always research these items carefully yourself and remember that if something sounds like it’s too good to be true – it probably isn’t true.