No relief with magnetic bracelets: study

Magnetic bracelets do not relieve muscle or joint pain, according to a new study.

Magnetic bracelets do not relieve muscle or joint pain, according to a new study.

The bracelets have been popular with many athletes such as Elvis Stojko and professional golfers such as Chi Chi Rodriguez. They're in anything from knee braces to wrist wraps to stylish bracelets and even shoes with magnetic soles built in.

Magnetic therapy can be traced back to Paracelsus (1493-1543), a physician and alchemist who reasoned that since magnets have the power to attract iron, perhaps they can also attract diseases and leach them from the body.

Modern-day manufacturers claim the jewellery provides relief for conditions such as arthritis and migraines. The electric current produced by the bracelet is supposed to improve blood circulation.

Some people believe the magnets could attract blood to the site of an injury because there's iron in blood. Physicists say that is impossible because iron in blood is in the chemical form of hemoglobin. It's not like the metal.

A study at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida could put those claims to rest.

Dr. Robert Bratton and his team tested 305 people who wore bracelets for 28 days. A second group was given a dummy version.

Those involved in the study were asked about any muscular or joint pain they experienced.

In the end, people in both groups said they suffered less pain and there was no difference between those who wore the real bracelets and those who wore the placebo.

The report says most of the therapeutic magnetic products don't generate a magnetic field strong enough to penetrate the various things they come wrapped in.

Bratton has called for further research.

"We need to...undertake objective, controlled studies to prove whether or not these treatments are beneficial," says Bratton.

Whether it's a $150 magnetic bracelet or a $3 fridge magnet, wearing one will not cause you any harm, Bratton adds.

The results are published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.