Science Questions

Do copper cures and magnetic medicine work?

Sun, 5th Jul 2009

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Hazel Smith and William asked:

Can copper bracelets relieve the pain of arthritis, and do magnets have healing properties?


Kat -   The answer to the magnet question is, no.  Thereís absolutely no evidence that magnets have healing properties.  Itís all a scam.  In terms of copper bracelets, thereís a lot of old wivesí tales about copper bracelets and when theyíve been investigated for arthritis, again, the scientific studies donít actually show any significant benefit.  There may be psychological benefit.  The placebo effect as we know is extremely powerful, but no.  Thereís no real scientific evidence.


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hazel smith asked the Naked Scientists: Would you kindly advise if there is any proof that copper bracelets help with the arthritic pain following a wrist fracture. Hoping to hear from you. Thank you for your help. Regards, Hazel Smith What do you think? hazel smith , Tue, 28th Apr 2009

None as far as I know - and I have had arthritis for 43 years. JimBob, Tue, 28th Apr 2009

But do you wear a copper bracelet?

I rather suspect that claims supporting the relief of arthritis, rheumatism and whatever by copper or magnetic or some such other bracelets are made by people who are in some way connected to the trade in ............ copper and magnetic bracelets. I should think the only effect they have is the unsightly marks they can leave on your wrist.

If you want to give it a try, how about the cheap & easy option. Strip the insulating plastic off an old piece of electric wire and wrap it around your wrist. If you conceive some benefit, buy yourself a pretty bracelet, if not you haven't wasted your money by lining some charlatan's pocket with it.

NB. When wearing the copper wire, don't plug it into the mains electricity supply! Don_1, Wed, 29th Apr 2009

Here is a podcast that discusses the evidence within the realm of "Magic Jewelry"  - Skeptoid #84, by Brian Dunning dentstudent, Wed, 29th Apr 2009

ref: copper bracelet for arthritis, you have had arthritis for 43 years, what type of arthritis do you have? the copper bracelet works for osteoarthritis and not rheumatoid, i am an arthritis sufferer but do not use the copper bracelet as the drugs are enough but have tried them. so don't knock it till u tried it. tangoblue, Thu, 30th Apr 2009

"so don't knock it till u tried it."

Unfortunately anecdote is not sufficient evidence for anything. _Stefan_, Thu, 30th Apr 2009

My mother had severe arthritis. She found comfort in all sorts of things from bracelets to herbs to necklaces and all sorts of things. She felt better every time she made a switch to a new thing. She made it through life with lots of pain and the placebo effect. stereologist, Mon, 11th May 2009

There was a piece of research reported a while back (sorry, I've forgotten all the details, google might help if you're interested) that showed that women who'd worn a (gold) wedding band for many years had less arthritis in the joint nearest to the band.. but only in that joint. So short of wearing gold bands on every joint for decades not much preventative/theraputic help. Interesting, though... rosy, Wed, 8th Jul 2009

Hi dear friends,

I rather suspect that claims supporting the relief of arthritis, rheumatism and whatever by copper or magnetic or some such other bracelets are made by people.

I should think the only effect they have is the unsightly marks they can leave on your wrist. morkelkey, Thu, 30th Jul 2009

Is there an echo around here? With added spam! Don_1, Thu, 30th Jul 2009

I told you we should be worried! Chemistry4me, Fri, 31st Jul 2009

The addition of magnets to the bracelet is supposed to help the body's circulation. Again these magnets must touch your skin and the bracelets must be changed every 2-3 years to be effective, as the copper in the bracelet is absorbed by your body.Thereís no evidence that wearing copper arthritis bracelets are harmful unless you have an allergy to copper. the verdict is still out as to whether copper arthritis bracelets have any real effect on arthritis symptoms, wearing one is unlikely to be harmful. Just donít use it as a substitute for convention medical treatment.

vickywatts, Tue, 14th Sep 2010

"Supposed to"? I thought this was a science forum. The word supposed is meaningless in this context.

Why? What evidence do you have for this? What research has been carried out, what papers have been published and checked by a peer review process?

All of it? So after 2-3 years the bracelet disappears!

No it's not. They don't work. Period.

Fozzie, Fri, 17th Sep 2010

It is a science forum, but this topic is in the "That CAN'T be true!" section. Geezer, Fri, 17th Sep 2010

Maybe a more expensive metal is required ...

NB: this could be a mechanical effect rather than a chemical one: the ring reducing the forces experienced by the finger joint and consequently reducing the erosion it suffers ...

Or the ring could be reducing the circulation somewhat when fingers are inflamed and swollen, thus reducing the delivery of additional destructive inflammatory agents "downstream", (tourniquet-ish). RD, Sat, 18th Sep 2010

That is interesting and  something new to my reading.. I had never heard about the gold..LOL Copper bracelets have been around for years.. my Aunt Swore by them I find no relief whatsoever wearing them in my arthritic hands. Although I must say my hand with my ring is good particularly my wedding ring finger.. so I find this interesting. Karen W., Mon, 20th Sep 2010

Anecdotal "evidence" is not really of much scientific value, but nor is dogma.

In my mid-40s I developed quite severe osteoarthritis, various prescribed medications had no effect.  My wife bought me a copper bracelet; I agreed to try it for 3 months, not expecting any benefit.  By the end of the 3 months I was pain free.  A doctor with whom I was working at the time told me that I was almost certainly "in remission".  I am now 70, and still "in remission".  Of course, this proves nothing, but my advice to anyone in the position I was in would be: never mind the prophets of gloom, "give it a go", make up your own mind if it works for you. Bill S, Thu, 9th Dec 2010

Your body would likely absorb small amounts of copper from the bracelet...  does your arm turn green?  Some people have nickel allergies to nickel alloys so metals in jewelery will affect your body.

But, for many things, some people will go into spontaneous remission....  and then one has to try to figure out if it was a therapy or not that caused it.  There are many causes of joint pain.  Was it a single joint?  All Joints?  Gout?

Here is an article review that discusses a randomized trial disproving magnetic therapy and copper therapy.  It doesn't support any efficacy claims.  I believe trial periods were for 4 weeks in each case or trial condition.

However, if the copper bracelet has been helping the arthritis for 30 years, by all means keep it up. CliffordK, Fri, 10th Dec 2010

I bought a copper bracelet from an older genteleman at a craft sale. I am 57, have arthritis in my shoulders, hands, hip, both knees and ankles. I was skepticle but the pain was so bad in the mornings I would try anything. I wire the bracelet for 3 weeks and was pain free to the point that I just took it off because I figured I didn't need it (duh).  Within 1 week the pain came back little by little and have been right where I started out. I just put it back on. It takes a couple of weeks to start working and I will never take it off again, only to shower. JMorales07, Fri, 23rd Mar 2012

I have made myself a copper chain maile bracelet that I have been wearing for 9-12 months. I can't say that I notice any difference in my joint pain since I have been wearing it but it doesn't seem to have a negative impact on my health either and I do like the look of this particular weave. And the only time it discolors my skin is when it is really hot and I sweat a lot. Charlie, Mon, 15th Oct 2012

As per my knowledge copper can not help joint pain or arthritis. leojoshrun, Thu, 3rd Jan 2013

my husband uses a copper plate inside a silk pillow slip and he sits on it at night and has had a lot of relief. he doesnt use any other pain relief and swears by it.. he gave my son a small plate for his knee and now he no longer uses a knee brace and had been wearing one for 5 years now. one little bracelet probably isnt enough....but long term use of copper is not so crazy Elizabeth Walker, Thu, 15th Sep 2016

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