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I was just wathing the Twins/Yankess game and two pitchers had these thick rope-looking necklaces on. I had to know what they were as it was too coincidental. Apparently they are some kind of titanium coated (or pure titanium?) necklaces made by Phiten. Wiki says this:

Phiten products use a proprietary technology to change various metals into ionic states. Through what the company calls the "Phild process", titanium is supposedly turned into "aqua-titanium". The company claims to be able to integrate small amounts[1] of this metal directly into the fabric.[2] The medical and performance-enhancing claims relating to Phiten's products are considered pseudoscience.

Others apparently have not caught on to the fact that this is psuedoscience. Some answers from this Yahoo answers question:

Q: Why do baseball pitchers wear a rope necklace?

A: Typically they are titanium necklaces made by Phiten they are supposed to increase blood flow and reduce joint pain. I never had one of the necklaces but I did have one of their sleeves sets made out of the same aqua Titanium and it seemed to help a little.

A: The "rope" is a necklace made by Phiten. These necklaces are coated with liquid titanium and are supposed to relieve pain and improve your overall performance as an athlete.

Has there been any conclusive debunking or support of these claims about Phiten necklaces?

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    What's with the downvotes? – mmr Aug 21 '11 at 15:57
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    I think it's because the claim is so bogus that it isn't very interesting... Just a guess... – Sklivvz Aug 22 '11 at 19:59
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    Wow, if "aqua titanium" was really liquid titanium, as the Yahoo! answer quote seems to imply, the baseball players would probably be on fire, as titanium liquefies at 1668 °C... – nico Oct 26 '11 at 18:30
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    @Brightblades, yes, but isn't this the bread-and-butter of Skeptics.SE? We are going to get inevitable repeats of variations of preposterous claims, and we are going to knock down each one, so when people search for answers, we can help them. – Oddthinking Oct 27 '11 at 2:32
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    @Oddthinking you are correct, and I think Larian did his job. :) – JasonR Oct 28 '11 at 12:44
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Related questions: Do those hologram bracelets do anything at all?, Do ion bracelets work? and also Has electromagnetic therapy been proven effective?

Since the claim is regarding "ions", let's see if that has any basis in the product or reality. (Keep in mind, this answer was initially about the ion/holographic bracelets, but it's the same claim, just different scam.) The only FDA approved study that has any claims for the benefits of ions is for the use of air filters. Any other claims are beyond the scope of any studies, and rely on the gullibility of customers. The fact that "Lithium Ion" batteries exist may add confusion for the consumers, but is a totally different thing. There are no credible studies on these bracelets or necklases, so you will not find any links backing up their claims. And see the bolded quote below. The WebMD article that the company used as a "reference" again refers to machines that actually expend electricity to generate negative ions in the air. And as the article itself sates, in relation to relieving depression, or having added benefits against allergies:

It's too early to tell for sure

But again, keep in mind that machines are required for this process, not a plastic bracelet with a hologram on it.

This is an excellent opportunity to practice grass roots skepticism. Ask yourself: By what mechanism is this supposed to work? How does the proposed mechanism align with what we know about science, biology, physics, etc.? Also, you may be interested to know that in some countries, Power Balance must state that they have no actual scientific backing for their claims. The Placebo band is just as effective, and much cheaper.

What sort of demo was done at the expo? Was it Applied Kinesiology by any chance? That is a well known bit of deliberate deception.

A quote from the first link:

Power Balance bracelets promise to improve balance, strength and flexibility and feature some lofty endorsers: Shaquille O’Neal, Drew Brees and Nicole Branagh, an Olympian from the University of Minnesota. Yet the maker of the $30 bracelets admitted this week that there’s no scientific evidence that the things actually work.

The producers of Power Balance bracelets have sold them by the millions around the globe. They adorn the celebrity wrists of Robert de Niro and Kate Middleton, among others. The hologram-embedded rubbery bracelets “work with your body’s natural energy field” in ways similar to “concepts behind many Eastern philosophies,” the Power Balance website explains.

These claims got the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which compelled Power Balance to issue a letter that was published in various media outlets Down Under.

“We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims,” the company wrote. “Therefore we engaged in misleading conduct.”

Also, while not a strict debunking of the exact device you link to, I found this interesting write up at JREF. I think the quackwatch link may provide you with additional information.

How to Debunk Biomagnet Therapy in Less Than a Minute

Written by Brandon Peterson
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 10:32

I recently had the opportunity to attend The Amaz!ng Adventure 5. While at Grand Turks, our final port, I was wandering through the duty-free shop looking for deals on liquor (Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel for $39!) when I happened upon a tableful of woo. Seeing as I was a medical student on a skeptical cruise, I had to stop and have my wife help make this video.

In my off-the-cuff video, I didn’t have the opportunity to mention the lack of scientific evidence for their claims. Even if the magnetic field did penetrate the skin, it still would not stimulate blood flow because the amount of iron in blood is far too small. If blood did have a strong magnetic attraction, your body would explode in an MRI (which would be cool, I admit).

I also didn’t have time to discuss the clinical trials that have been performed to evaluate efficacy. As usual with CAM research, earlier poor quality studies were weakly positive (1,2), while more recent high quality studies and meta-analyses are definitively negative (3,4,5).

I also forgot to mention the numerous court rulings in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s against companies making false claims about these products. This issue is discussed extensively on Quackwatch for those interested (6). In a nutshell, companies that fraudulently claimed to treat specific illnesses (arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, migraines, etc.) were sued. Now, they use nebulous phrases such as “support the healing process” or “restore natural energy.” You know, phrases that have not been evaluated by the Federal Drug Administration and are not designed to diagnose, treat or blah blah blah.

In short, magnet therapy is a great case study of CAM. The lack of scientific plausibility, the progression of the medical literature, and the FDA Miranda Rights statement are all characteristic of CAM. And if a lowly medical student can debunk it is less than a minute, how good can it really be?

  1. Harlow T, Greaves C, White A, et al. Randomised controlled trial of magnetic bracelets for relieving pain in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. BMJ 2004; 329:1450-1454

  2. Vallbona C, Hazelwood CF, Jurida G. Response of pain to static magnetic fields in postpolio patients: A double-blind pilot study. Archives of Physical and Rehabilitative Medicine 1997; 78:1200-1203.

  3. Winemiller MH and others. Effect of magnetic vs sham-magnetic insoles on plantar heel pain: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA2003; 290:1474-1478.

  4. Pittler MH. Static magnets for reducing pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. CMAJ 2007; 177(7): 736-42.

  5. Cepeda MS, Carr DB, Sarquis T, et al. Static magnetic therapy does not decrease pain or opioid requirements: a randomized double blind trial. Anesth Analg 2007; 104. 290-294.

  6. Barrett S. Magnet therapy: a skeptical view. Accessed March 15, 2010. Available at http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/QA/magnet.html

I will note that there are things that electromagnetic fields can do to the human body. In particular the neural effects if placed about the head (see God Helmet). However, the main thing to do when dealing with claims like this is to ask yourself: By what mechanism is this device claiming to work? How does this align with what we know about biology, chemistry, physics, etc.? Does the claimant use language that would be high on the crankpot index?

If you are starting to see a trend here, that is because there is one. There is no known mechanism for these things to work, and their claims are well beyond what the science would indicate.

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    Awesome, well-cited answer. Thanks! – Hendy Oct 28 '11 at 18:18

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