Do Magnetic Necklaces Really Work?

Magnetic necklaces have become increasingly popular over the past few years as an alternative therapy and wellness product. Proponents claim that the magnets in these necklaces can help relieve pain, improve circulation, increase energy, and promote overall health and wellbeing. But do they really work as claimed? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

What Are Magnetic Necklaces?

Magnetic necklaces, also sometimes called magnetic jewelry or magnetic therapy necklaces, are necklaces embedded with permanent magnets. They are worn around the neck, with the magnets pressing against the skin. The magnetic field produced is believed to penetrate deep into the tissues.

There are a few different types of magnets used in these necklaces. The most common are ceramic or neodymium magnets. Ceramic magnets are made from a ferromagnetic ceramic compound, while neodymium magnets are made from an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron. Neodymium magnets are generally stronger than ceramic. The magnets are often promoted to be “gauss magnets” referring to the units of magnetic flux density.

Purported Benefits and Claims

So what are the purported benefits of wearing these magnet-embedded necklaces? Here are some of the most common claims made:

  • Reduces pain – the magnets are said to stimulate the body’s production of natural pain-relieving chemicals like endorphins
  • Increases circulation – the magnets supposedly dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow
  • Enhances oxygenation – improved circulation is said to increase oxygen delivered to cells
  • Improves energy – related to enhanced oxygenation and reduced pain/inflammation
  • Boosts immunity – the magnets may help stimulate white blood cell activity
  • Eases inflammation – magnetic fields are believed to reduce inflammation causing swelling and pain
  • Promotes healing – the improved circulation and oxygenation can accelerate healing
  • Helps sleep – the relaxing effects may make it easier to fall and stay asleep
  • Improves mood – endorphins and reduced pain leads to feeling happier

These are very broad claims about the therapeutic powers and health benefits of wearing magnetic necklaces. But are the claims supported by scientific evidence?

What Does the Research Say?

Despite the many claims made about their benefits, there has been surprisingly little high quality research done specifically on magnetic necklaces. However, there are a few relevant studies worth examining.

One double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2017 assessed magnetic necklaces in 71 adults with chronic neck pain. The real magnetic necklaces were found to be no more effective than the sham magnet necklaces in reducing pain or improving function after 4 weeks.

A 2011 double-blind study published in the Canadian Family Physician tested magnetic necklaces in 49 patients with osteoarthritis pain in the hip or knee. Again, patients showed no significant difference in pain levels whether they wore real magnet therapy necklaces or placebo necklaces after four weeks.

A few small studies on magnetic bracelets have also been inconclusive. A 2013 review study published in the journal Healthcare concluded that there is minimal evidence to support the effectiveness of static magnets in necklaces or other products for pain relief. More rigorous larger scale studies are needed.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Magnetic necklaces are generally considered safe when used as directed, but there are a few potential risks and concerns to be aware of:

  • The strong magnets are a choking hazard for young children if swallowed.
  • The magnets can interfere with pacemakers, defibrillators, insulin pumps or other medical devices.
  • There is a small risk of pinching skin or surfaces between the magnets.
  • Metals in the magnets could cause skin irritation in sensitive people.

For healthy adults, magnetic necklaces pose few risks when used properly. But they should always be kept away from infants, small children and anyone with implanted medical devices.

The Verdict?

So in summary, while magnetic therapy necklaces have become very popular and are generally safe, there is currently limited solid scientific evidence that they actually confer any significant health benefits. The few studies conducted have been small and found no difference compared to placebo magnetic necklaces.

More well-designed, large scale studies are needed to substantiate or disprove the many claims made about the therapeutic powers of magnetic necklaces. Right now the benefits are unproven, and consumers are best advised to take a skeptical approach when evaluating magnetic necklace claims. While they are not likely harmful for most people, they may just represent an expensive accessory with more placebo power than real effects for many wearers. Those with chronic pain and other conditions would be better off speaking to their doctor about proven treatments. More research is still needed to determine if magnetic necklaces truly live up to their many touted benefits.