These flexible, rubber, or solid metal bracelets advertise they'll improve strength, balance, flexibility, and energy or reduce pain by working with a person's natural energy field. They've become popular with athletes and non-athletes alike as a way to boost vitality and performance. Patients with arthritis and other chronic pain conditions use energy bracelets as a way to naturally relieve pain. But are these bracelets legitimate?

Energy bracelets, also known as power or balance bracelets, use holograms, magnets, or metals to alter a wearer's energy field and promote stamina, healing, health, and well-being. While they're new on the American market, manufacturers claim their technology dates back to ancient times.

Here are a few energy bracelets you might find on infomercials, online, or at sporting goods and health supply stores:

Power BalanceTM

Their website states that these silicone bands are embedded with holograms as a blend of the powers of Eastern Philosophy and western science with innovative technologies to deliver products that improve and enhance people's lives.

Does It Work?

A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine addresses Power Balance'sTM marketing claims that these bracelets "respond to the natural energy field of the body" to help one perform better. According to their research, Power BalanceTM bracelets made no difference in performance, balance, or athletic ability. In fact, after lawsuits were filed, the company had to retract their claims and change their advertising technique. Now they're marketed as an accessory though many athletes maintain that their bracelet gives them an edge.

Ionized Bracelets

Brands such as IRenew® and Q-Ray® make no claims on their websites about how they work, but they're thought to interact with a wearer's chi or energy field via their metal substances.

Does It Work?

A double-blind study conducted by the Mayo Clinic had hundreds of patients with joint pain wear an ionized bracelet and hundreds more wear a placebo bracelet. While both groups reported significant improvement in their pain levels, there was no difference noted between the ionized and placebo groups.

Magnetic Bracelets

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, magnet therapy has been around for thousands of years. Third century Greek physicians used magnetic rings to treat arthritis and doctors in the Middle Ages used magnets to treat gout and arthritis among other conditions. Magnetic bracelets are still popular for relieving pain and many patients swear by them.

Does It Work?

Scientists say they might work by improving blood flow, changing body temperature or nerve function in an area. Or, it might all be part of a placebo effect. Preliminary studies show mixed results about how effective they are. A small group of people demonstrated some relief from pain while using magnetic therapy though most subjects showed no significant effect.

While most of the studies don't support claims that these products will heal, improve stamina, performance, or energy, we can't discount the power of the placebo effect. Often times, when a person thinks a substance or product will work—it does. Perhaps that's why so many people continue wearing their bracelets—proof or no proof.




Pocari, J., Hazuga, R. and Foster, C. et al. 2011. Can the Power Balance® bracelet improve balance, flexibility, strength, and power? Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.  10, p. 230-231.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Magnets for Pain

Mayo Clinic Proceedings
Volume 77, Issue 11, Pages 1164-1168, November 2002
Effect of "Ionized" Wrist Bracelets on Musculoskeletal Pain: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial - article-footnote-1

Robert L. Bratton, MD, Daniel P. Montero, MD, Kevin S. Adams, MD, Mark A. Novas, Capt USAF, MC, Tracy C. McKay, DO, Linda J. Hall, CCRC, Joseph G. Foust, MD, Michael B. Mueller, DO, Peter C. O'Brien, PhD, Elizabeth J. Atkinson, MS, Megan S. Maurer, BS