F*ckin’ Magnetic Bracelets – How Do They Work?


Magnet Health Bracelets

This grey fella sure has his health problems

This week I want to take you both to the seaside, to take a look at something listener submitted, Blackpool-based, and textbook-woo. So, with a tip of the hat to Hoopy1888 on Twitter, I present to you – Magnetic Zone, and their Magnetic Health Bracelet.

Now, confusing as the name might seem, this isn’t a bracelet you wrap around magnets to help them stay healthy – this isn’t about the health of your magnets at all. Instead, this is about trying to use magnets to make YOU healthy. Confusing, I know, but stick with me, and I’ll talk you through the leaflet that our listener sent to my via the magic of twitpic. The leaflet – which is available on the MSS site and linked from the show notes – starts promisingly, with the printed name ‘Magnetic Zone’ hastily surrounded by scrawled writing either side of it, to read ‘www.magneticzone.co.uk’. Which is always nicely professional – especially when you visit the site, and find nothing but a black holding page with garish yellow text giving you an email address to contact, and nothing else. I know that’s how I like to get MY health advice.

Still, as the leaflet declares, these products promise that they ‘Change your health for the better’ – which is an amazing claim, presumably in oppostion to all of those bracelets that seek to change your health for the worse. Handcuffs, I suppose you’d call them.

So, what can these mystery bracelets do for you? Well, despite not yet saying anything about them – again, another sure sign that we’re dealing with a genuine health product here – the leaflet gives us a charming grey silhouette of a man with little lines coming off to list the ailments he can be relieved of via the use of Magnetic Health Bracelets (promotional price from £10, the handwritten scrawl appears to inform us). Here’s that list:

  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Insomnia (erm, so tiredness again, sort of. Good)
  • Migraine headaches
  • Stress, nervousness & anxiety
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Neck pains
  • Respiration problems
  • Tachycardia
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Muscular pains
  • Obesity – in which the arrow fantastically points to the grey man’s stomach. Excellent.
  • Back Pains
  • High Cholesterol
  • Wrist pains
  • Digestive problems
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Poor circulation
  • Painful periods (bear in mind, the diagram is clearly of a man. Which suggests to me that any periods would indeed be particularly painful)
  • Knee pains
  • Rheumatism
  • Joint pains
  • Varicose veins
  • Phlebitis
  • Gout
  • Ankle pains

Quite a revolutionary device then, I’m sure you’ll agree. So, with your ears still ringing from all of these amazing benefits, you might be wondering – how the hell does this magic device work, and more to the point, where can I get one? Well hold your horses, I’m getting there. As the leaflet tells us:

  • It’s safe
  • It’s natural
  • It’s drug free
Magnet Health Bracelets

How does it work?! Erm, it doesn't.

These are the only 3 true things I think I’ve found on this whole leaflet. That said, I’ve not checked the phone number works, so there might be a 4th. Yes, it’s safe – it’s a magnet. It might well be natural – again, it’s a magnet. And drug free? Yep again – magnet. However, and vitally missing from the list there, it’s worth noting – it doesn’t work, is not effective, and is a waste of your time and money. Looking at the blurb about why it’s meant to work, you see why:

How Does It Work?

Magnetic therapy is based on the biological effect of magnetic fields on the living organism.

The biological effect of magnetic fields on the living organism, by which they mean – no effect at all. That said, extremely high levels of magnetic fields applied directly to the brain have exhibited effects, but we’re talking about high-powered electro-magnets there – not wrist-held natural magnets, which are often barely strong enough to stick to a fridge, let alone right your wrongs.

Many illness and ailments are caused by electrical imbalance within the body.

No, they’re not.

When magnets are worn close to the pulse they react to the 4% iron content within the blood, triggering tiny electrical impulses similar to the body’s own natural repair signals.

No they don’t, for the very simple reason that the 4% iron content within the blood is non ferromagnetic, which means they’re not attracted to the magnet. We know this, because when somebody undergoes an FMRI – a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan – the 4% iron of their blood is not torn from their veins and arteries and fired onto the incredibly high-powered magnet. What’s more, even if the iron in the blood were attracted to the magnet, it wouldn’t trigger electrical impulses – it would trigger mild magnetic conductivity, if the magnet was even strong enough to penetrate the skin, which the inverse square law almost certainly dictates it wouldn’t be. Further, even if the magnets were somehow weirdly triggering electrical impulses, there’s no way these could be similar to the body’s own natural repair signals, whatever that even means. Finally, I’m not even sure the blood is even 4% iron – so they might well have just pulled that out of their arses to sound knowledgeable. In summary – that sentence of around 30 words, is wrong in almost as many ways.

This magnetism also attracts blood directly to painful areas within the body, thus carrying away damaged and toxic materials which cause pain.

Again, no – blood isn’t magnetically attracted anywhere. And if it were, it would be dangerous – your blood is a circulatory system, thus it needs to circulate. Using weird magnetic forces (which we know blood isn’t attracted to) to draw it to one place would presumably result in it staying there – and that’s a bad thing. As for the ‘damaged and toxic materials’, this makes no sense, especially given that toxicity is a) bullshit and b) nothing to do with any of the aforementioned ailments, not least Tachycardia, Tennis Elbow and Frozen Shoulder. Finally – again, it’s a circulatory system, so stuff just moves around – so where’s the blood taking all of those supposedly baddifying toxins too? Presumably just somewhere else in the body, somewhere that doesn’t have a magic magnet to save it! So, wrong in so many areas, again.

The electrical impulses will also autonomously stimulate the production of the body’s natural painkiller, endorphine, which not only relieves pain but relaxes the body’s stimuli, thus negating the effects of stress, migraine and other pressure induced ailments.

Kudos for random use of autonomous there – completely meaningless, naturally. And while it’s true that endorphin is indeed the natural painkiller, it doesn’t relax the body’s stimuli, because this appears to be something again entirely made up by Magnetic Zone, and I can’t fathom what it means. Stimuli is something your sense are perceiving, something you’re reacting to. So internal chemicals can’t affect external stimuli. What’s more, last I checked, stress and migraines were not pressure induced ailments. Unless they mean emotional pressure, presumably the emotional pressure of figuring out how to use an internal chemical to relax external stimuli.

Even if you’re not in obvious pain, magnetisim is proven to multiply the white cells in our blood, which is a cruial part of the body’s defence system, hence helping to fight off viral illness and building immunity against colds, influenza and other air borne infections.

Again – nope. They use the word ‘proven’ to mean ‘we just made up that’, and of course magnets have absolutely no effect on white cells in the blood. Or red cells. Or in fact any other cells you have in your blood, unless those cells are inexplicably made of metal. The immunity against various and sunder illnesses is of course therefore meaningless handwavery too.
The magnet magicians then go on to claim

All our bracelets are made of the finest materials and are protected by a unique process called MICRON COATING

Which is indeed a unique claim, given that a micron is a unit of measurement also called the Micrometre, which is one millionth of a metre. With that in mind, to see just how barmy the claim of the unique ‘micron coating’ process is, replace micron with a different unit of measurement – maybe it’s a ‘unique process called centimetre coating’ or ‘hectare coating’. It’s drivel coated in – presumably a micron – of technical language to try and sound medical.

Still, good skepticism isn’t about just accepting what people give you, the rhetoric of skepticism, so don’t let me put you off – if you still want a Magnetic Health Bracelet, Magnetic Zone are available at www.magneticzone.co.uk or you can buy direct from the leaflet, whose handwritten scrawl informs us that you can mail order by calling 07859 069 631 Thats 07859 069 631. They do assure you that they do not charge any postage or packing fee, but given the level of accuracy from the rest of the leaflet I wouldn’t be totally confident that that was true. Or, indeed, that you’d ever see your magic bracelet or indeed your money again if you did decide to buy one.

PS: For anyone who thought the title was needlessly sweary, I refer you to this meme.

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  1. #1 by david on July 20, 2010 - 22:44

    Good post marsh. My dad has one of these which annoys me. Enough so that i want to find a replica bracelet that’s ‘ordinary’ to then see if he can tell the difference. I’m not sure whether it’s worth it though due to my recent discovery of his belief in Homeopathy and that my great-grandfather was a homeopathic doctor.

  2. #2 by Jon d on July 21, 2010 - 03:29

    Yeah it’s a fraud. However a conductive fluid (such as blood)moving through a magnetic field would generate an electric current iirc. It’d be the ions and not the iron doing it though. Also even though I dont think magnets attract blood either I dont reckon it’d be a problem for weak magnetic bracelets if it did, A force could attract blood without halting circulation ferinstance Gravity attracts blood to our feet when we’re standing up, just we’re evolved to cope pretty well with it so it’s not usually a problem.
    Magnetism is everywhere though, I can pick up the magnetic field pulsing from the motor in my cheap quartz watch on my walking compass and if magnetism had any gross effect on health it’d have been easily detected before now.

    To my dismay my mother bought some expensive self adhesive magnetic studs to stick on her back. I tried using the magnetism of one to pick up another but it was too weak- assuming they’re magnetic at call probably the makers don’t want them sticking inside iron pipes and causing a clog when the old people who buy them forget to take them off in the bath and wash them down the drain.

  3. #3 by Michael Gray on July 21, 2010 - 04:53

    But they DO work!
    As an income generator for scamsters.

  4. #4 by ade mcLeod on July 24, 2010 - 12:08

    hey marsh ive got a magnetic bracelet and er……………it works! i play guitar and i get a pain in my wrist (maybe a repetitive strain?)
    if i wear the bracelet pain dissapears if i take it off pain slowly comes back…..and guess what if i put it back on again …HOORAY the pain goes!………but i suppose your a bit skeptical about that. ade

  5. #5 by ade mcLeod on July 24, 2010 - 12:12

    oh dear, how very sad byee x

  6. #6 by bradly @ natural treatment for gout on November 24, 2010 - 04:40

    Thanks for the great post about magnetic bracelets. If anyone really believes these things work then you should be institutionalized.

  7. #7 by Adam on May 17, 2011 - 14:10

    *cough* A bit late, I know, but I have just got a note back from the ASA. Their compliance team is going to deal with them.

  8. #8 by P.J. T. on May 9, 2012 - 15:53

    There’s some folks who’s bracelets were in The Avengers movie who are charging $200.00 to $450.00 for magnetic ‘athletic’ bracelets who are “Chosen by athletes” and are a “certified medical device in Japan”.

  9. #9 by G Grijseels on October 13, 2012 - 05:20

    I bought a magnetic collar for my dog who could hardly keep up with me on our walks. He is 15 years old. After approx 1 week of him wearing the collar, he seemed to be more agile and started walking faster and keeping up with me. After another week or so, he came up the back stairs as if he didn’t have any pain at all. He seems like a new dog. I for one am extremely happy with the effects of the magnetic collar. I have now tried a magnet on my back pain and so far, I am going to say that the pain has gone approx. 90%. I am willing to keep using magnets. If they work…. who cares what the sceptics say. Just try them for yourself. I am VERY happy with them.

  10. #10 by G Grijseels on October 13, 2012 - 06:05

    On another note, from what I can gather, the strength and the polarity that the magnet is facing your body seems to be the key. It is reported that the Negative side of the magnet has an alkaline field and the positive side of the magnet has an acidic field. If the Negative side of the magnet is worn to the body this helps alkalize. The magnets need to be a high gauss rating. Bracelets are very weak. The magnets I purchased are Negative facing and are made from the Rare Earth magnets with a 3000 surface gauss. There is an article written by Dr. Philpott and if you google UNIPOLAR vs BIOPOLAR you will find it an interesting read and to me, explains how the magnetic field works.

  11. #11 by D. Ionson on March 15, 2013 - 18:47

    One word: placebo. It’s a complicated effect but to my knowledge mostly works by a greater rate of endorphin release. This would certainly aid in the pain management of many of the ailments listed in the leaflet.
    In the UK these bracelets were subject to a legitimate scientific experiment on people with hip arthritis. They were divided into three groups 1) placebo bracelet, 2) weak magnet bracelet, and 3) stronger magnet bracelet. If memory serves numbers 1 and 2 had an equal amount of pain reduction and number 3 had the greatest. My only issue with the experiment is the fact that it was 6 weeks long, giving most everyone a chance to test their bracelet to see if it was actually magnetic. Assuming they did this then group 3 would naturally be convinced that they were in the experimental group, and their placebo effect would be stronger. Even if they were instructed not to test their bracelets I find it unlikely that most of those in group 3 wouldn’t at some point discover it accidentally. However this is all just speculation as I have not read their actual article, just the story on it by the BBC.
    These days it seems like the placebo effect is regarded as worse than nothing, but things couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact it is beginning to become apparent that antidepressants like Prozac (that is to say SSRIs) are only slightly better at treating depression than the non-side-effect-inducing placebo. If you know anything about depression then that statement should amaze you.
    The fact is that placebos are an effective pain reliever, and can also help us better cope with the chronically stressed lifestyle we never evolved to face. To my knowledge these companies do not advise you to replace your bracelet every year or so (as the writer of this article humorously points out, these people are stupid, however I doubt anyone could be that stupid..), so I do not see a problem with people spending forty dollars once so they can enjoy a placebo for the rest of their lives. For this reason I would request that the writer consider taking this article off the website, and that those with friends who use the bracelets keep your objections to yourself (unless of course they do something rash, like choosing the bracelet over their medication without the approval or knowledge of their doctor). I know all of you hold skepticism dear, I do too, but it simply isn’t helpful in this instance.

  12. #12 by Jamthesun on October 10, 2013 - 20:18

    I am a huge skeptic. I am hugely skeptical not huge in size – just to clear that up. What that means to me is that I need hard evidence. So I was surprised to see this:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4101045.stm
    and this:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-331133/Magnetic-bracelets-DO-work-say-researchers.html
    Sometimes we have to accept that even though we can’t explain how something happens it does happen. Maybe with magnetic bracelets we just don’t have the science yet to explain.

  13. #13 by Abraham on September 15, 2014 - 16:09

    The magnetic collar, may be working for the dog,because the Dog does not know the meaning of Placebo…lol

  14. #14 by Pauline on June 3, 2015 - 21:17

    I can only speak from my own experience. I have had severe arthritis in the hands for over 20 years since the age of 30, and was having cortisone injections to reduce the bad swelling until the doctor told me that by masking the problem it was making the arthritis worse. The pain was keeping me awake all night, was travelling to my shoulders, it was awful. In desperation I ordered a magnetic copper ring from a company in the USA and have been wearing the ring for nearly 2 years now. I have no swelling or pain in that particular thumb any more. It is not the placebo effect, as I bought another for the other hand and although it eased the tingling and numbness at night, was also helping the arthritis in my spine, but after wearing for a couple of days it caused insomnia. I have experienced this before when I bought a copper magnet bracelet. I was thrilled with the pain relief but couldn’t stand the insomnia so I just wear one ring on my left thumb and put up with the pain elsewhere. I take relaxant medication from the Doctor to stop the muscle spasms and cramps and the magnet jewellery when I wore more than the one ring was overriding the medication, I was waking during the night with the most awful cramps in my legs. I can only assume that the magnets increase the blood flow and this in turn prevents sleeping. I am in no doubt whatsoever that the magnets do work, and woo-hoo people do not have any knowledge of the subject

  15. #15 by Pauline on June 3, 2015 - 21:19

    D. Ionson :
    One word: placebo. It’s a complicated effect but to my knowledge mostly works by a greater rate of endorphin release. This would certainly aid in the pain management of many of the ailments listed in the leaflet.
    In the UK these bracelets were subject to a legitimate scientific experiment on people with hip arthritis. They were divided into three groups 1) placebo bracelet, 2) weak magnet bracelet, and 3) stronger magnet bracelet. If memory serves numbers 1 and 2 had an equal amount of pain reduction and number 3 had the greatest. My only issue with the experiment is the fact that it was 6 weeks long, giving most everyone a chance to test their bracelet to see if it was actually magnetic. Assuming they did this then group 3 would naturally be convinced that they were in the experimental group, and their placebo effect would be stronger. Even if they were instructed not to test their bracelets I find it unlikely that most of those in group 3 wouldn’t at some point discover it accidentally. However this is all just speculation as I have not read their actual article, just the story on it by the BBC.
    These days it seems like the placebo effect is regarded as worse than nothing, but things couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact it is beginning to become apparent that antidepressants like Prozac (that is to say SSRIs) are only slightly better at treating depression than the non-side-effect-inducing placebo. If you know anything about depression then that statement should amaze you.
    The fact is that placebos are an effective pain reliever, and can also help us better cope with the chronically stressed lifestyle we never evolved to face. To my knowledge these companies do not advise you to replace your bracelet every year or so (as the writer of this article humorously points out, these people are stupid, however I doubt anyone could be that stupid..), so I do not see a problem with people spending forty dollars once so they can enjoy a placebo for the rest of their lives. For this reason I would request that the writer consider taking this article off the website, and that those with friends who use the bracelets keep your objections to yourself (unless of course they do something rash, like choosing the bracelet over their medication without the approval or knowledge of their doctor). I know all of you hold skepticism dear, I do too, but it simply isn’t helpful in this instance.

  16. #16 by Pauline on June 3, 2015 - 21:22

    This person does not have any personal knowledge of the subject. One man’s medicine is another man’s poison. Speaking from experience, I know that they do work. The pain of arthritis is either there or not, no amount of placebo can stop the pain unless the person concerned is a hypochondriac and makes things up. I only wish this was not true, as I would dearly like to block the pain that I suffer. Many things that cannot be explained are actual fact. Placebo is NOT an effective pain reliever, I only wish it were!!

  17. #17 by Robert on April 25, 2016 - 13:13

    I had tennis elbow. I got a bioflow wrist band. The sales girl told me it may take a month to work. Within 3 days I noticed the difference. After 1 week the pain was gone. You don’t have to understand all the science. But I cannot argue with the fact that pain which was there for months is now gone. Who cares why it works -I care that my pain is gone.

  18. #18 by Tami wilhlem on June 15, 2016 - 17:04

    I have been looking into using magnets to soften hard water. Plenty of hard science there. In fact there are many government publications on the subject. Magnets on your copper pipes cause mineral not to bind to itself an stops scaling etc. Why then is it such a stretch to consider that the human body, which is mostly water would not also be affected by the use of magnets? While many of the claims made do not adequately address how the science works using magnetic bracelets, there is plenty of evidence to suggest something is occurring as a result of their use. Precisely what? I do not know.
    Once upon a time man believed the gods sent the sun and the moon to the sky each day, they weren’t versed in the science of how the sun rose and set but they were clear that it did.
    Magnets do something to water…. we are water.

  19. #19 by edmond66 on August 1, 2016 - 20:36

  20. #20 by kapil on August 3, 2016 - 11:45

    hi…understood the concept. thanks

  21. #21 by Toni on August 16, 2016 - 11:59

    Actually, they work. You should not be spouting false information, being misinformed yourself. My shoulders were killing me. I bought one on a whim, at an airport in Japan. I figured Japanese people have some great products, why not. If it doesn’t work I’m out 2500 yen, if it does work, relief! My husband asked how long it works for, and we were told forever, just don’t get it wet. BEST 2500 yen I’ve ever spent! This thing worked instentaniously, I can’t stress this enough. I had known nothing of these, so your placebo effect is out the door. Next time you have some real pain go ahead and get yourself one and let’s see how fast you take down this silly article. Why so skeptical anyway?

    People fear what they don’t understand.

  22. #22 by Marsh on August 18, 2016 - 16:58

    Thanks for your comment, Toni. A few points:

    My husband asked how long it works for, and we were told forever, just don’t get it wet.

    Why would getting a magnet wet stop it working? What about water would stop the magnet being magnetic? Weren’t you at all interested in this question? You do know that magnets don’t stop working when they get wet, presumably?

    I can’t stress this enough. I had known nothing of these, so your placebo effect is out the door.

    I’m afraid, and I can’t stress this enough, you don’t understand the placebo effect. That you tried *something* is enough to activate the placebo effect, in that you’ll be looking to see if your pain goes away, and if it does you’ll be looking for what you can attribute that to. This is the placebo effect in action, whether you had heard of the treatment or not. In fact, in all likelihood, if you had heard of magnets like this before they would have had less of a placebo effect, especially if you’d have known they were not effective.

    Next time you have some real pain go ahead and get yourself one and let’s see how fast you take down this silly article.

    The experience of a single person isn’t a good measure of whether something works. It’s like saying “I had sex without a condom and we didn’t end up pregnant, therefore sex doesn’t cause pregnancy and condoms are a scam!” It might just be that you got lucky, and the next person might not.

    Why so skeptical anyway?

    Being skeptical just means asking questions. So you’re basically saying “Why bother asking questions about things? Why be curious? Stop wanting to know things, already!” You have to admit, surely, that not every single product someone is willing to sell actually works. For instance, there’s not really much evidence behind cough syrup, and a lot of big pharma drugs are probably not very effective. What is your method from telling what works from what doesn’t? Just buy it and see? Assume it works until you’re proven otherwise? Unfortunately, not everyone has the money to waste on buying things that don’t work. And even more unfortunately, some people are very ill and can’t afford to just hope the thing they buy can actually help them. That’s where skepticism comes in.

    People fear what they don’t understand.

    Indeed. Just as people leave disparaging comments on blogs when they don’t understand why people would be skeptical…

  23. #23 by Marina on February 10, 2017 - 11:15

    Can you give me, on private, via e-mail, a couple of sites from where i can buy magnets bracelets?
    I.ve heard about magnet therapy and it.s benefits, but i didnt buy anything with magnet for now.
    Thnaks

  24. #24 by joh on March 11, 2017 - 14:21

    It is interesting from your writing. It seems that you are against the magnetic bracelet. Having said that there is some truth to what you are saying. Nevertheless to the believer, this thing works and you may say it is a placebo effect but it does work to some.

  25. #25 by Pete on April 3, 2019 - 12:24

    G Grijseels :
    On another note, from what I can gather, the strength and the polarity that the magnet is facing your body seems to be the key. It is reported that the Negative side of the magnet has an alkaline field and the positive side of the magnet has an acidic field. If the Negative side of the magnet is worn to the body this helps alkalize. The magnets need to be a high gauss rating. Bracelets are very weak. The magnets I purchased are Negative facing and are made from the Rare Earth magnets with a 3000 surface gauss. There is an article written by Dr. Philpott and if you google UNIPOLAR vs BIOPOLAR you will find it an interesting read and to me, explains how the magnetic field works.

    Magnetic fields can be neither acidic nor alkaline, that is scientific nonsense!

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