The distributor of the Power Balance, a wristband supposed to interact with the “body’s natural energy flow” to improve strength, balance and flexibility, has been referred to the Therapeutics Good Administration (TGA).
The complaint to the TGA was made by Dr Ken Harvey, a public health researcher at La Trobe University. It cites the fact that the $60 – $65 bracelet, which has a hologram embedded in it, has not been registered it with the Therapeutic Good Administration while at the same time medical claims have been made for its claimed effectiveness.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Harvey says the US manufacturer has also breached the TGA’s advertising code by making unsubstantiated claims: to date, not a single peer-reviewed clinical study had been published; instead, numerous celebrity testimonials are displayed on the website.
That website says that the Power Balance works because “Most everything has a frequency inherent to it. Some frequencies react positively with your body and others negatively. When the hologram comes in contact with your body’s energy field, it allows your body to interact with the natural, beneficial frequency stored within the hologram. This results in improved energy flow throughout your body.”
The wristbands have been openly worn by some AFL and NRL players, and rumoured to
have been purchased for (if not worn by) the highly unsuccessful NSW State of Origin rugby league team.
Australian Skeptics Vice President, Richard Saunders, had tested the bracelet late last year on Channel 7’s Today Tonight program, using the product’s distributor, Tom O’Dowd, to test which one of six volunteers had the wristband hidden about their body. O’Dowd failed to pick the correct volunteer in all five tests undertaken.
Saunders said he “found Tom O’Dowd to be friendly and very keen to show me how well Power Balance worked. I have no doubt that he really does believe the product works even though it failed a very simple test.” O’Dowd told the Herald that “customers would be requesting a refund if the technology didn’t work”.
The TGA had earlier rejected concerns about the product, saying the bands were not registered with the administration because they did not meet the definition of a medical device or therapeutic good. Whether this latest submission changes that assessment will be evident later.
Australian Skeptics note that so-called “holographic technology” with such claims as “interacting positively with the body’s energy flow” are appearing more frequently as other companies jump on the marketing bandwagon.