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Do Metallic Bracelets Have Health Benefits?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 27, 2021

Americans spend millions of dollars on metallic bracelets for their supposed health benefits. Many manufacturers market their products as alternatives to traditional medical care. But is there any truth to these claims?

What Is a Metallic Bracelet?

A metallic bracelet is an accessory, worn on the wrist or ankle, that is part or all metal. Examples include:

  • Full metal bracelets (copper, gold, titanium, silver, etc.)
  • Magnetic bracelets and wrist straps
  • ‌Partial metal bracelets (including the metals to those in the full metal bracelets)
  • Metal lookalikes
  • Metal-coated and metal-infused bracelets

What Are Metallic Bracelets Used For?

Companies that sell copper or magnetic metallic bracelets claim that their products can ease rheumatoid arthritis pain. Other health claims include:‌

  • Better blood circulation
  • ‌Toxin removal
  • Pain relief
  • ‌Less inflammation through dilation of blood vessels
  • Less stiffness
  • More energy
  • Faster recovery and healing

Metallic bracelets made of different materials have different uses. For example, gold bracelets are said to improve brain function, while silver bracelets may ward off infections and boost the immune system.

The common thing among all these claims is that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove or disprove them. There haven’t been enough studies carried out to show that metallic bracelets don’t work. But most of the research that’s been done has found claims about their effectiveness to be partly or completely false. 

A British study tested the pain relief effects of four copper bracelets and magnetic bracelets in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

After 5 months, the subjects said they felt no extra relief from their arthritis pain when using metallic bracelets than when using a non-metallic wrist strap.

The Truth About Metallic Bracelets

Here’s what to know before you buy a metallic bracelet: 

  • There may be no physical health benefits to wearing metallic bracelets. They serve as placebos that help adjust your mental state when dealing with pain or illness. They do not reduce your pain's intensity.
  • ‌Some people with arthritis firmly believe that they work, despite the lack of scientific proof. 
  • ‌Buy only from trustworthy suppliers. There have been several cases of poisoning or injury because of metallic bracelets. In most cases, this is because the bracelets were made with counterfeit or harmful materials.
  • Very few studies have shown that being in contact with certain metals has mental and physical benefits.

Can You Use Metallic Bracelets?

Metallic bracelets are harmless for most people. But they aren’t for everyone. Avoid them if you:‌

  • Have an electronic implant like a pacemaker or defibrillator  
  • Wear electronic devices like a Holter monitor
  • ‌Use an insulin pump
  • ‌Are pregnant
  • ‌Are allergic to metals like nickel

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Audiology: "Magnets, Copper Bracelets, Arthritis, and Placebo."

American Heart Association: “Devices that May Interfere with ICDs and Pacemakers.”

Arthritis Foundation: "Magnets, Copper Don't Ease Arthritis Pain."

Journal of Health & Pollution: "Preliminary Study of Heavy Metals in Low-Cost Jewelry Items Available in Nigerian Markets."

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: "Notes from the Field: Lead Poisoning in an Infant Associated with a Metal Bracelet — Connecticut, 2016."

Physiology & Behavior: "Titanium-treated surroundings attenuate psychological stress associated with autonomic nerve regulation in office workers with daily emotional stress."

PLOS ONE: "Copper Bracelets and Magnetic Wrist Straps for Rheumatoid Arthritis – Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory Effects: A  Randomised Double-Blind Placebo Controlled Crossover Trial."

Trials: "Magnet therapy for the relief of pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (CAMBRA): A randomised placebo-controlled crossover trial."

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