Copper bracelet manufacturers often claim that their products can help with the pain associated with arthritis.
Some say that the copper dissolves in sweat and is absorbed into the skin, providing relief; others say that electrical charges generated on the skin from the copper bracelet travel along the acupuncture meridians at the wrist, relieving the pain; while still others say that they reduce pain by increasing the blood flow and bringing more oxygen to the areas of inflammation.
While there may be numerous testimonials in support of their claims, there is no conclusive experimental evidence to support the wearing of copper bracelets.
Similarly, claims that magnotherapy can increase circulation and reduce inflammation are largely unsubstantiated. There are many magnetic devices for sale, such as bracelets, mattresses and pads. There are ongoing investigations into magnetic therapy, but many of the results obtained to date have been conflicting. A recent trial from the UK found that both copper and magnetic bracelets were generally ineffective for managing pain, stiffness and physical function in people with osteoarthritis.
There are varying suggestions as to how magnets are supposed to work. One theory is that the iron in the magnet stimulates haem production of the blood, controlling the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. Another proposes that magnets can change abnormal energy fields back to normal, whereas others refer to stimulation of acupuncture points, nerve signals and chemical processes.
The claims made by companies manufacturing the devices, that the electric currents they produce improve blood circulation and boost general health, are not supported by current scientific evidence.
Last Reviewed: 25 November 2009