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Magnetic bracelets do they work?

The answer appears to be YES – at least for osteoarthritis

In December 2004, scientists at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth gave magnetic therapy for arthritis the seal of approval when they concluded that magnetic bracelets decreased pain in osteoarthritis patients. What is interesting is that the sufferers were afflicted in their hips or knees, yet the results were achieved not with magnetic knee-wraps or back braces but a simple magnetic bracelet. The research tested a group of 194 patients between the ages of 45 and 80.

One of the problems with such studies is that it is hard to make them truly double-blind (where neither the researchers nor the subjects know who has the real thing being tested and who has the placebo). The reason for this is that it is relatively easy to check an object to determine if it is a magnet or not.

To get around this problem, the researchers split the subjects into three groups instead of two. The first group were given a magnetic bracelet with standard type magnets, the second a bracelet with weak magnets and the control group with fake magnets. Thus if any of those with a weak magnet checked their bracelet it would still register as a magnet. Unless they compared it with other subjects and knew that this extra control was being applied (which is highly unlikely) they’d be none the wiser.

The experiment ran for 12 weeks and the results were quite startling. The collated response showed that those who were wearing the bracelet with the standard magnets got substantially better results (i.e. significantly less pain)  than those in the control group with the fake magnets. In contrast, those with the weak magnets were virtually indistinguishable from those in the primary control group. This lead to the conclusion that the standard magnetic bracelet does have a palliative effect on osteoarthritis sufferers whilst weak magnets do not.

The extra safeguard of the secondary control group with the weak magnets, tends to rule out the placebo effect. This is good news for the three quarters of a million osteoarthritis sufferers in Britain because it means that instead of spending £30 per year on pain killer drugs, which may have long-term harmful side effects, they can spend £20 to £50 one-off on a good quality magnetic bracelet from any good magnetic products store – for the same effect.