Copper bracelets and magnetic bracelets: what you should know
Copper bracelets have been used since ancient times for their decorative attributes as well as for their healing properties, as well as magnetic bracelets based on the power of magnets. But are they really effective for health? In this article, we talk to you about the investigations that exist in this regard, as well as the benefits and contraindications.
Copper is one of the most used metals that nature offers us. Its metallic and reddish appearance was used since prehistoric times in the manufacture of wooden ship hulls, in the manufacture of tools, coins, kitchen utensils, jars and ornamental objects.
In ancient civilizations of countries such as Egypt, Asia Minor, China, southeastern Europe, Cyprus (where the word copper comes from), Crete and South America, traces of this precious metal have been found.
Currently used in several alternative treatments and in the development of bracelets.
What does copper have to do with our health?
Copper is an essential mineral found in several of the foods we eat and is important in the development and growth of almost all body tissues, including bones. And, since some enzymes also contain copper, having enough is important because these enzymes are involved in digestion, metabolism and the transmission of nerve messages. Copper is also used for the synthesis of hemoglobin, which has to do with the formation of red blood cells.
Interestingly, an adult needs less than 1 mg. daily (like 900 mcg), unless it is a pregnant woman or who is breastfeeding. In that period, the requirements increase a bit. On the other hand, drinking too much copper can be dangerous because too much copper can accumulate in the body and be toxic. It is not recommended to take copper supplements and this is not a treatment for arthritis. The use of the copper bracelet does not cause problems of copper poisoning.
As copper is required for blood formation and for the proper functioning of the nervous system, when there is a deficiency of this mineral, there may be anemia, white blood cells may be low and there may be problems in the nervous system, specifically a condition that It’s called myeloneuropathy. Myeloneuropathy may include, among other symptoms: difficulty with coordination, spasticity and muscle weakness. Copper deficiency is rare and tends to happen in people who have had extensive surgeries of the gastrointestinal tract (such as bypass surgery or gastric bypass to lose weight where part of the small intestine has been removed, for example). Among foods that contain copper are nuts, legumes (lentils and beans), sunflower seeds, various seafood such as crabs, liver, etc.
What do the science of copper bracelets and magnetic bracelets say?
Unlike ingested copper pills that only provide short-term effects to the body when taken, copper bracelets (according to those that promote them, since they have not been scientifically proven) release micronutrients through the skin. Those who sell the bracelets say that they help by slightly increasing the level of copper in the body and that it serves as a support in the treatment of arthritis or osteoarthritis. This theory has not been supported by the studies, as you will see below.
As for magnetic bracelets, it is not known how they work – if they do – although historically magnets of different intensities and sizes have been used for different conditions. We also know that we are exposed to electromagnetic fields in daily life. Some of these effects are innocuous, others are still studied. As for the intensity of the bracelets, it can vary.
The interesting thing is that the scientific studies carried out to date have not shown any benefit of using copper bracelets or magnetic bracelets for the treatment of joint pain. It is worth mentioning that if there are testimonies but … that someone who sells them, recommends them or uses them and says they serve, it does not establish its validity. A testimony that is scientifically proven is different.
In fact, these “miraculous” bracelets have been described as scams and those who market them have had to withdraw them from the market and have paid millions in fines for misleading advertising and fraud. Even so, every couple of years they come back to the market with names like La Bracelet Balance (by Don Francisco), Power Balance, EFX, Rayma Biomagnetic Bracelet, etc.
One of the most recognized studies in this regard, was conducted by Dr. Stewart Richmont, Department of Health, New York University, published in professional PLoS One, according to which, the use of copper bracelets did not improve the rigidity, pain and general physical condition of some patients with rheumatoid arthritis compared to the use of demagnetized wristbands that were used as controls. Because copper, magnetic and demagnetized wristbands were used for the study, and all patients mentioned feeling better regardless of which bracelet they used, which indicates that the improvement was only due to the placebo effect.
This is not the only study that has proven that they do not work. All the studies carried out scientifically have the same conclusions. Another study of 45 patients with osteoarthritis in Yorkshire, published in the York Research Database of the University of York, used 3 different wristbands (without them or the researchers knowing which ones they were using) during the 16 weeks of the study. They all looked the same. The bracelets were either copper or magnetic or demagnetized. While they were using them, they answered questionnaires. The results showed that the wristbands were equally ineffective in controlling the pain, stiffness, and functioning of the hands caused by osteoarthritis and that any benefit, which was similar with the three wristbands, was attributed to the placebo effect of using the wristband, since what happened the same with the demagnetized bracelet. The only advantage, according to the authors, is that they have no side effects and give them hope.
Contraindications for the use of copper or magnetic bracelets
Among the contraindications to the use of both are:
The development of a rash or rash due to allergy (especially to copper).
And with respect to magnetic bracelets:
Pregnancy, a pregnant woman should not use them because we still do not know the possible effects of magnets on the fetus.
The use of a patch that releases drugs through the skin, since in that case the magnets could cause dilatation of the blood vessels and alter the treatment. This warning also applies if you have an ulcer with bleeding or a very severe injury.
If your watch runs on batteries, the magnets may drain your battery and stop working.
Some people experience a sensation of heat or tingling that tends to disappear after a couple of days with the magnetic bracelet, this is not a contraindication to its use but, if it bothers you, you can stop using it. Cases of nausea and other symptoms that are considered psychosomatic have been described, that is, they are not caused by the bracelets themselves, but by the concern that the person has to wear the bracelet. If you experience these symptoms and do not disappear, the bracelet is not for you.
In fact, the studies carried out so far seem to indicate that both copper bracelets and magnetic bracelets do not provide significant therapeutic effects beyond those of a placebo in the treatment of different types of arthritis. On the other hand, unless the person has an allergy or a contraindication to its use, they generally do not seem to cause significant side effects. However, as always, it’s worth consulting with your doctor.
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