SGU listener Steve Yerby has brought to our attention yet another brand of costume jewelry (comprised chiefly of wood) said to contain healing properties which benefit sufferers of acidic-related ailments.
Steve found a Pur Noisetier product being peddled in Montreal inside a pharmacy (which is not altogether surprising, for I have seen hospital gift shops selling magnetic and copper bracelets with claims of health benefits.) According to the packaging, this device grants the wearer all “The Benefits of Hazelwood” which include relief from: heartburn, gastric reflux, teething, skin problems, arthritis, osteoarthritis, constipation, migraines, cavities, and any ailment associated with surplus acid.
Just exactly what is hazelwood? Well, according to the folks at Pur Noisetier and several other similar companies that sell hazelwood products, it is wood from the beaked hazel tree (beaked hazel is also known as Corylus cornuta) which is purported to have the medicinal capabilities of neutralizing the “body’s acidity”, and helps the body create and maintain an alkaline balance. According to Pur Noisetier’s website, Corylus cornuta absorbs body acidity simply by wearing their hazelwood products around the neck or wrist. Fascinating!
Exactly how do they know this is true? Well, they offer arguments from antiquity (people have been using hazelwood to treat symptoms for hundreds or thousands of years). To back up those arguments, they throw anecdotes and testimonials around like snowballs in winter. That’s how.
I wonder what they mean by “body’s acidity” and “alkaline balance”. I am aware that human blood does have a pH level that can become elevated or decreased for many reasons, resulting in serious health issues. I am also aware of some of the effects of the acid levels found within the gastrointestinal tract. Are these the known acid/alkaline processes they are referring to? It would seem that is for the consumer to figure out (Caveat Emptor, baby!)
Has any of this this been scientifically tested? Are there any clinical studies referenced? Do they make any attempt to explain the science involved? No, no, and … no.
In fact, I can not find any science that either backs up or refutes these claims. Even the sometimes-crazy-idea-friendly National Institute of Health, the government agency that is supposed to be reviewing these kinds of claims, has no references for hazelwood use.
What I did find is that there are many companies selling hazelwood bracelets and necklaces. They are all so similar in appearance, claims, and information that one might be compelled to believe there is one “master hazelwood” company behind the entire industry. (‘Big Hazelwood’ conspiracy anyone?) Even the different FAQ’s from each website all seem to parrot the same questions and answers.
In a perfect world, the FAQ should look something more like this:
Q: Where are the properly controlled double-blinded placebo studies? A: There are none.
Q: Is this product approved by any public or private health agencies or organizations? A: No.
Q: Where are the botanists, chemists, or medical doctors offering their expert analysis? A: There are none.
How much to purchase this amazing product that does nothing? $40.00(US). Same as the Power Balance bracelets. Same as the Q-ray. Same as so many other pieces of junk just like hazelwood bracelets. $40 must be the market-tested/focus-group researched price that the gullible are willing to pay that comes close to, but does not cross the line of being considered a rip-off. It reminds me of a lecture Joe Nickell gave about a spirit-photo carnival scam, and the price of the scam he was discussing cost the victim $40. However, those scam artists figured out that the $40 charge was the difference between a misdemeanor crime and a higher-level crime, so they were very shrewd and deliberate about the $40 charge. One has to wonder if that sort of calculation about the crime involved goes into determining price of “magical” bracelets and necklaces.
In any case, I have decided to start classifying these products with the catchy phrase: ‘Wrist and Neck Magic’. I believe this description sums up not only the general properties of the products, but it clearly encompasses the sum of scientific evidence in support of their health claims using just those four simple words.