What are Magnetic Bracelets?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Magnet therapy is an alternative medicine practice in which people expose a particular part or parts of their bodies to magnetic fields in the hope of reaping beneficial effects. The practice has not been scientifically proven to have any benefits and for this reason, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States prohibits marketing magnetic products with any medical claim. Nevertheless, magnetic bracelets are often sold as health aids with therapeutic claims, as well as simply being offered as an attractive type of jewelry.

Amber, which is sometimes used to make magnetic bracelets.
Amber, which is sometimes used to make magnetic bracelets.

Magnetic bracelets are claimed to be helpful in treating arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, stiffness, and inflammation. Some are said to improve balance, provide the wearer with a general sense of well-being. Some sellers claim they have value in aiding circulation or depression.

Neodymium beads are often used in magnetic bracelets.
Neodymium beads are often used in magnetic bracelets.

Magnetic bracelets may be made of several types of metal. These include stainless steel, with or without silver or gold coating, copper, titanium, and tungsten carbide. Sometimes the metal is combined with other materials, such as semiprecious stones, hematite beads, millefiori glass. Hypoallergenic models also exist, and many feature magnetic clasps so that the joint blends in with the rest of the piece of jewelry

When magnetic bracelets are offered for sale, they are generally described in terms of their materials; whether they are for men, women, or both; and whether they were made to appeal to a particular audience such as golf enthusiasts. The magnetic type—for example, neodymium magnets—may be mentioned, and the power of each magnet in Gauss units or a range may be provided.

Gauss is the unit of measure of a magnet field B, also called “magnetic induction” or “magnetic flux density” in the centimeter-gram-second system, and is defined as equal to one maxwell per centimeter squared, or 10-4 tesla in the International System of Units. The gauss was named after German mathematician Karl Friedrich Gauss. The power of the magnets used in many magnetic bracelets is in the 2500-3000 gauss range, with 6000 gauss neodymium magnets typically being the highest offered. Questions about the reliability of manufacturer and seller gauss ratings have been raised by AAAMagnetic.

Because they may have small parts, magnetic bracelets are considered unsafe for children. One must also be careful about holding them near any item that is magnetically sensitive, such as computers, metallic artificial bones, hearing aids, and especially cardiac pacemakers. People who choose to try out magnets of any type in any sort of therapy are urged to inform their health care providers prior to beginning.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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