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Power balance

Edzard Ernst finds a strange use for celebrity-endorsed plastic wrist bands

GP's working in affluent areas of the country will probably have noticed these strange plastic bands some of their richer patients wear.

They contain a hologram and are supposed to kick into the 'energy system' of the body to rebalance your yin and yang. Thus athletes are said to perform optimally and VIPs are in better shape. The bands cost just under £30 and sell like hot bread: 2.5 million so far [1].

The claims are, of course, unsubstantiated, and in Australia they had to come off the shelves for that reason. But the ‘A-list' brigade don't seem to care: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Kate Middleton, David Beckham and many, many others are all wearing the unsightly wristbands. And the ‘A-list'-crazy public follows suit.

The 28-year-old inventor, Californian entrepreneur Josh Rodarmel, proudly says 'My brother and I worked out a way of putting good frequencies into our hologram so they balance out the body, making it stronger and more flexible'.

If you are not interested in athletic performance, you are nevertheless a potential customer for his sales pitch: 'Non-athletes say it works for them, too, …in many areas of life including the office and in the bedroom'.

Hold on, there might be something useful there for busy GPs! Could the wearing of a power-band be a diagnostic sign for impotence?

Professor Edzard Ernst is professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter

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