Is the clumpiness of your blood affecting your athletic performance? Do your blood cells suffer from poor communication? Might your blood be travelling through your capillaries at sub-optimal speed? These are questions few people have ever asked themselves, and with very good reason. They’re also questions posed to consumers by Shuzi Qi – the sports performance technology manufacturers whose Nano Vibrational Technology claims to relieve the detrimental effects of your sluggish, uncommunicative, clumpy blood.
I first became aware of Shuzi’s products when a friend saw their bracelets on sale in a jewellery shop in Liverpool and called me to ask my opinion. As Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society this happens to me fairly regularly, although rarely am I greeted with anything as bewildering as the promise to ‘un-clump’ my blood.
Shuzi explain that a special nano vibrational chip embedded in their bracelet resonates with the body’s natural frequencies – boosting the wearer’s blood flow, concentration, balance and strength. These effects, they claim, have been proven by a Nutrition Consultant and Massage Therapist using live blood cell analysis. What’s more, marketing material on sale with their bracelets outline simple exercises which prove the benefits of wearing Shuzi products.
For the low price of £59, it’s easy to see why athletes of all levels might be interested.
Shuzi’s effects aren’t limited to humans, either – collars and charms for cats and dogs offer peace of mind to “people who value their pet’s wellbeing as much as their own”. Shuzi helpfully recommend purchasing both a collar and charm for your pet, as “doubling up… has been found to possibly offer more protection from fleas & ticks“. Totalling £135, Shuzi’s products are an expensive way of keeping the fleas from getting to Fido’s freshly un-clumped blood.
More worryingly, online proponents of Shuzi’s range (including the Titanium sport cuff – a snip at £229) claim the products can do more than improve sports performance – they can ward off cancer.
“When cells lose the ability to communicate with other cells, they become isolated and confused. It has been theorized that cancer or tumor cells are isolated cells that have lost their ability to communicate. Shuzi helps the cells stay in communication,” claims more than one retailer. While such claims don’t appear on Shuzi’s website, their presence online is alarming if not backed by solid evidence.
Having researched Shuzi’s claims, I was sceptical – for one, the flexibility demonstrations Shuzi recommends are identical to easily-replicated applied kinesiology tests. What’s more, claims for the efficacy of live blood analysis have been heavily debunked. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Shuzi’s claims echoed exactly those of another sports performance product – Power Balance bracelets, who filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after tests showed their product to be ineffective.
The similarity to Power Balance wasn’t lost on Shuzi – when I contacted the UK distributor in June, they acknowledged the negative effect Power Balance had had on their market, but assured me their product was different. Shuzi even went so far as to invite me to test their bracelets in order to clear up any scepticism I still had. This seemed an excellent idea, and although subsequent efforts to contact Shuzi met with silence, a simple plan quickly formed.
The idea was simple: if Shuzi’s claims were true, a rugby player wearing one of Shuzi’s bands ought to benefit from increased concentration and balance – essential attributes when lining up a kick. Over a large number of kicks, it should be easy to tell those taken wearing the performance-enhancing Shuzi band from those with the control bracelet. To make things fair, we bought two Shuzi bands and removed the active chip from one, rendering it a usefully-inert control. Using tape to anonymise the two bracelets, we were ready to take our test to a local rugby club to see how their star kicker fared.
The results, it’s fair to say, were unsurprising – after two hours and 100 kicks, we found no statistically-significant difference between our real and control bands. Under double-blind test conditions, Shuzi’s product failed to have any effect on our rugby player’s performance. If Shuzi would still like to prove their bracelets really do work, the Merseyside Skeptics Society will be happy to help arrange another robust test. I for one would welcome proof that the Shuzi bracelets are anything other than another expensive, ineffective sports fad.