People often ask how do magnetic bracelets work, as if assuming that they do? Others ask more skeptically: do the magnetic bracelets really work at all?
There was an excellent discussion on this subject a number of years back by a writer called Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell that was reviewed in some detail in the blog of Magnetic Products Store. She did a quick run through of all the ailments that magnetic therapy has been claimed to cure or at least treat effectively, and at first it seemed that her article was quite sympathetic to alternative medicine in general and magnetic therapy in particular.
However, she then did a complete one-eighty (or bootleg turn as it is sometimes called) and trashed the whole idea. To bolster her case, she cited no less than an agency of the United States Government:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says magnets have no medicinal value.”
This is actually a case of the skeptic gilding the lily with a thick layer of negativity. In reality, the FDA has no power or authority to say whether or not magnetic therapy can cure diseases or does not and cannot state that magnets lack medicinal value.
What the FDA does do, however, is not allow any commercial operator from claiming in the course of commercial business that magnetic bracelets can heal illness or ameliorate physical discomfort. In other words, you can sell what you like and you can say what you like. But be careful when you try to do both at the same time.
In fact, tens of millions of people wear magnetic and copper bracelets. And to them, the question about magnetic bracelets – how do they work – is the starting point.
Answers tend to focus on the hemoglobin in the red blood cells of the body. This contains iron and of course we know that iron is affected by magnets. However, this line of reasoning has been challenged by physicists and doctors alike, on the not entirely unreasonable grounds that the magnets are not strong enough to affect the iron in the human body. In fact if the trace quantities of iron in the human body were that susceptible to external magnetism, then it would not be safe to use MRI scanners. Indeed, if magnets could attract our red blood corpuscles, then even going to the North or South Pole would be dangerous.
Now admittedly not many people have gone to the North or South Poles. But a few people have – Peary, Henson, Amundsen, Scott to name a few – and while Scott and his crew didn’t make it out alive, the others did. And not one of them suffered from any effects of the polar regions on their blood circulation.
But then again, neither is there any proof that they failed to benefit from their visits to those highly magnetic regions. So… watch this space.