The extraordinary claims of health giving jewellery and Australian’s best known airline.
Modern international jet travel is about the most technologically sophisticated thing that a person of modest means can experience. We might gripe about the meals, the timetable or being squashed in with disagreeable people; in fact, we’re totally reliant on an almost incomprehensible mix of Applied Sciences to keep us alive and safe and to get us there very fast.
Sue, a Melbourne suburban mum took an international Qantas flight. Whilst feeling satisfactorily smug about the technology that surrounded her, Sue decided to peruse the bargains on offer in the Qantas duty free catalogue.
The plane wasn’t falling but Sue began to get an awful sinking feeling in her stomach when she spotted the jewellery shown below.
Thus the Australian Skeptics have once again been asked to look into fashion accessories marketed with health benefits.
Introducing these cringe-worthy items:
The OREGON i.Balance Negative Ion Necklace in Black, A$70 (Duty Free)
The OREGON i.Balance Negative Ion Bangle in Silver, A$110
The ARTESIAN Germanium and Titanium Negative Ion Magnetic Bracelet, A$100
What are the claimed health benefits for these products?
Set with germanium and magnet to release negative ions. Designed to improve metabolism, encourage blood circulation, expel toxins, reduce stress and improve sleep.
A health improvement innovation designed to maintain the body’s natural balance
Offers benefits to the wearer by using negative ions to lift alkaline levels, neutralise acidic toxins and return the body to a natural state of balance.
Offers health benefits of neutralising harmful acidic toxins to facilitate blood circulation, enhance metabolism and soothe fatigued muscles.
Negative ions encourage blood circulation and metabolism
Neutralises acids caused by stress and environmental pollution by increasing the alkaline level of your body
Note: These quotes appear variously in the in-flight Duty-Free catalogue, the on-line catalogue and websites promoting these products.
Wow! If that’s all true, this stuff shouldn’t be reserved for people who happen to spot it in the Qantas duty free catalogue, it should be put into immediate service in our hospitals. Imagine all the patients with poor heart function who could be helped by a bangle that will “boost blood circulation”. But wait, I wonder if it’s true?
Dr Ken Harvey of Latrobe University’s School of Public Health did a little research on these devices. Unfortunately he found that they did not show up in the medical literature. Neither are they listed in the Australian Register of Therapeutic goods. How very disappointing.
Still, maybe it’s one of those all too frequent cases of “scientists not knowing everything”. Perhaps also in the rush to get the items out in the market place where they can help people the testing hasn’t been fully completed just yet. We Victorian Skeptics hear of this kind of thing happening all the time.
I’ll just make my position on these items clearer so there is no confusion. I’m not saying these devices don’t work as claimed; I just think the claims are extraordinary and I’d like to see the evidence. We are talking about claims of improving one’s health. I think it’s important the evidence be available for all to see before parting with hard earned monies, (even if those monies are duty free monies).
I tried to contact Qantas a number of times for comment on these products. I had a number of questions for them.
How does a bangle with no obvious power source create negative ions?
How does a necklace worn outside the body “boost blood circulation”?
Exactly which chemical toxins are you referring to?
Have any scientifically rigorous trials been done?
I managed to get through to Qantas Corporate Communications on several occasions. Each time I was politely informed that someone would call me back shortly. No one did. The last time I called I asked “can I safely assume that you’re not willing to make a comment about these products if no one calls me back?” I was politely told that the person I should speak to was on the phone right now and they would call me in just a few minutes. No one called.
Thanks to Ken Greatorex and Dr Ken Harvey for assistance with this post.
There is also a post about these items on the Australian Skeptics national website which can be found here.
UPDATE: these items are no longer shown in the Qantas on-line duty free catalogue, a small win perhaps :)
UPDATE, June 2011.
I recently took an international flight with Qantas. I can confirm that the above products no longer feature in the printed version of the Qantas “In Sky” duty free catalogue. Mal.