The Truth about Negative Ion Bracelets — Do Ionic Wristbands Work?
Does a negative ion bracelet actually work to generate negative ions, how are they made and are there any studies or proof to back up their claimed health benefits?
This article has whether ionizing wristbands are a hoax, a possible explanation as to why they may be beneficial and a far better alternative if you are interested in improving your health with negative ions.
What Is a Negative Ion Bracelet?
Distinct from the more popular yet questionable ‘balance bracelets’, made by companies like Power Balance, a negative ion bracelet is a band worn around your wrist that is supposed to generate negative ions.
The health benefits of negative ions are well-established and and true negative ion generators like this can produce significant amounts of them.
The important question here is: do negative ion bands actually produced detectable negative ions, if so how and how much, and is this a good way to improve your health with negative ions?
What are Ionic Bracelets Made of?
Most negative ion wristbands, like this popular one, are made from silicon combined with special minerals like powdered tourmaline. Some claim to be infused with a combination of ion generating minerals, though rarely do they list exactly what these are.
The most likely minerals used in negative ion bracelets after tourmaline would be zeolite, germanium and titanium as these are also considered ionic minerals. Tourmaline, and specifically black tourmaline, is generally recognised as the more powerful of these though.
Do Ion Bracelets Actually Generate Negative Ions?
Tourmaline, as a gemstone and in powdered form, is known to generate a weak electrical charge and far infrared radiation. Its ability to produce significant negative ions that the human body can utilize is less well-established.
It’s theorized that any ions produced with tourmaline are due to either the piezoelectric effect (when a substance generates an electrical charge due to pressure) or the pyroelectric effect (when a material generates a temporary voltage when heated).
In a resting state for instance, without heat, negative ion clothing doesn’t register significantly on a negative ion counter. However when moved or pressed together, or with enough body heat they do produce negative ions. They clearly require pressure, heat or possibly movement to work.
While testing a negative ion bracelet with an ion counter does show a reasonable negative ion count in videos like this, could this be due to the tourmaline infused band being scrunched together? If so, would the mild pressure usually applied by wearing an ionic bracelet be enough to generate many negative ions?
If it is rather the pyroelectric effect generating negative ions in ionic wristbands, is there really enough heat being generated in the powdered tourmaline within the silicon bracelet just by wearing it around the wrist?
More concerning is this information from the powdered tourmaline manufacturer that it produces both negative ions and positive ions in roughly equal amounts. If this is the case, then the health benefits of any negative ions produced could be largely countered by the extra positive ions effects.
Ion Bracelet Studies and Proof
If negative ion wristband manufacturers want to be taken seriously, they would do well to produce much more proof of the claims they make.
Videos of readings from negative ion counters while the product is actually being worn on the wrist should be a bare minimum, yet these are difficult to find for most brands of ion bracelets.
Another ion counter reading of the negative ion concentration at face level while wearing an ionic wristband would be even more helpful as this is the real amount of ions a person would be receiving during daily use.
Proper studies on negative ion bracelets would be even better and, while obviously susceptible to the placebo effect, will go a long way to countering claims that ion bands are just a scam. The only studies I could find on the health benefits of ion bracelets were on a couple of the manufacturer’s websites with small sample sizes and not from a peer-reviewed journal.
Conversely, this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on Pubmed found no benefit in treating muscle or joint pain with ‘ionized’ wrist bracelets (unfortunately they don’t list the type used).
Are Negative Ion Bracelets a Hoax?
It’s important to differentiate between the ‘balance bands’ or ‘energy bracelets’ that purport to use holographic technology, biofield science, harmonizing bioelectric frequencies or all kinds of other pseudoscience sounding terms and those products claiming specifically to generate negative ions.
The makers of the Power Balance bracelet for instance were forced to admit in a court case bought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that: ‘In our advertising we stated that Power Balance wristbands improved your strength, balance and flexibility. We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims…’
Negative ions on the other hand do have definite health benefits. In deciding whether ion bracelets are a fake or a scam, the question is do they actually generate enough negative ions to be beneficial? Or are they simply linking their product to the benefits of negative ions without any proof that actually work?
Many commentators believe that latter and see all kind of ‘power bands’, ‘energy bracelets’ and ‘ionic wristbands’ as a hoax.
So Do Negative Ion Bracelets Work?
Testing of ion bracelets, pressed against a negative ion meter do show ionic activity. The highest I’ve seen is a reading of 4421 negative ions. This would be difficult to fake.
Claims that negative ions can enter directly into your bloodstream from wearing ionic jewelry on your skin have never been proven. Additionally, the ion generating minerals are within the silicon in itself, not a coating on the outside.
Personally, I think the health benefit claims of ion bracelets based on negative ions are very suspect at best. While I hesitate to say it’s an outright scam or fake, the ion generation is simply too low to have much effect, unless perhaps you walked around all day with it under your nose.
That said, far too many people report positive effects once they start wearing a negative ion bracelet on popular forums and health sites for them to all be fakes in my opinion.
Many also point out that those criticising negative ion bracelets have never actually tried wearing them and they may work in ways that are not yet fully understood.
Sceptical and scientifically minded people will counter that this is purely the power of the placebo effect (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but I’d suggest that if, and it’s a big if, these ‘energy bracelets’ or ‘power bands’ are actually working in some way, then far infrared radiation may be a more likely cause than negative ions.
While the old balance tests are easy to fake and wild reports of ionized bracelets curing every kind of ailment and disease are clearly overblown, far infrared radiation is reported to have many benefits and should at least be considered as a possible factor.
Despite this view, I don’t personally own an ion bracelet and there’s a good reason why. A real negative ion generator produces so much more negative ions that ionic bracelets, even if they do work in some way, don’t really stand up to comparison.
What Is Better Than an Negative Ion Bracelet?
Compare even the best ionizing bracelet demonstration of 4421 negative ions produced with this high density negative ion generator with a negative ion output of 450 trillion ions per cubic centimeter a second.
While you can’t wear a negative ionizer, most people spend a lot of time in the day in their home or office where the dramatically higher level of negative ions generated by a corona discharge ionizer would far outperform even the best performing ion bracelet.
Even 30 minutes a day of exposure to a high powered negative ionizer has been shown to have some dramatic effects, particularly on your mood and sense of well-being. You can read more about why negative ionizers are so good for you here and see the 3 best models I recommend reviewed here.
Negative ion bracelets are an interesting idea but at best they are quite weak ion producers and there really isn’t enough evidence to show they actually work at all.
Do you have an opinion as to whether a negative ion bracelet can have any health benefits or do you think they’re a scam? I’d be particularly interested to hear from people who have actually worn an IonLoop, Trion Z or one of the other popular types of ‘power bracelets’ that claim to generate negative ions.