Holographic Pharmacies

Richard Saunders discovers that in 21st Century Australia, one does not need to seek out witches in some dark coven in order to find magic potions and lucky charms with mystical powers. It seems all you need to do is “Ask your Pharmacist.”

For many years Australian Skeptics have lamented the decline of the Australian Pharmacy or Chemist Shop. Not to say that there are any fewer of these shops in quantity, but the quality of what you find on their shelves has been heading south on a bullet train with what seems to be a one-way ticket.

In 2006, Australian Skeptics awarded the Bent Spoon to

The pharmacists of Australia, who manage to forget their scientific training long enough to sell quackery and snake oil in places where consumers should expect to get real medical supplies and advice.


In 2010 our poor spoon is bending even more under the weight of absurdities found in your once trusted local chemist.

The tired old standard stock lines of Homeopathy (or as the British Medical Association calls it, ‘Witchcraft’) and Ear Candles (or as Australian Skeptics call them, “Bloody ridiculous”), despite our best efforts, are still to be found in many pharmacies.

I have even seen, being sold at a pharmacy in Cronulla, an acupuncture finger ring that claims to cure snoring! Many pharmacies also boast a computerised interactive display that dispenses dubious advice, including which Homeopathic remedy is good for treating burns! (I am not making this up.) Kylie Sturgess happened upon one of these displays, as you can see in this video.

But now, in what I can only think is a total abandonment of the last 200 years of science and common sense, the Chemist Warehouse chain are selling one of the range of ‘Hologram Bands’ that claim no end of beneficial effects.

Some of the range of Hologram Bands. Guess which one is the fake.
Some of the range of Hologram Bands. Guess which one is the fake.

On a recent visit to the Chemist Warehouse outlet in Ashfield, Sydney, I was able to buy a HOTBAND® HOLOGRAPHIC TECHNOLOGY SILICONE WRIST BAND for $40.

A look at the web site of HOTBAND® tells us that the product may help to :

  • Improve balance
  • Increase strength
  • Provide greater flexibility
  • Deliver better endurance & stamina
  • Improve focus & well being
  • Restore ionic balance
  • Improve concentration
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce jet lag
  • Curb motion sickness
  • Recover more quickly from sports fatigue

All this from a couple of Holograms, about the size of a 5-cent piece, embedded into a silicone band and it’s all made in China. Imagine how empowered the Chinese factory workers must be! Stranger still, the advice from the assistant at the desk was that these bands actually work as claimed. You have to wonder about her basis for saying that.

And how might these impressive achievements be accomplished? The web site goes on to tell us that HOTBAND® holograms are….”programmed with naturally occurring frequencies, known to react positively with the body’s energy field to help improve cell to cell communication.”

I  wonder whether anyone from the management of Chemist Warehouse has actually read this gibberish. I also cannot help but wonder if HOTBAND® might also wash the car and take out the rubbish.

If these Holograms with their “programmed frequencies” really did work as claimed, I would expect to see the following headlines in the world’s press:

Inventor of Hologram Bands awarded Nobel Prize in both Physics and Medicine

Police on alert as Hologram Bands help drunk drivers to cheat road side sobriety tests by improving balance

Hologram Bands proven to work. Hundreds of athletes stripped of medals and charged with cheating

Holograms proven to affect human physiology. Credit card companies using holograms sued for millions for not disclosing this fact to their customers

Holograms emit strange energy. Thousands of people with Pacemakers at risk!

Saunders and the HOTBAND
Saunders and the HOTBAND®

Australian Skeptics challenge Chemist Warehouse to justify their decision to sell the HOTBAND® and we offer them and the

manufacturer our $100,000 prize for a demonstration that the device actually has any real effect on human balance and strength. This offer is also extended to all resellers and manufacturers of any similar wrist bands or pendants such as the ‘Power Balance’ or EKEN.

Thanks to correspondent Chris Higgins for the inspiration for this investigation. You can read the letter Chris wrote to Chemist Warehouse here.

UPDATE Chemist Warehouse bizarre reply to Chris Higgins is here.

UPDATE 02/01/10 Chris writes on his blog today that the bracelets have been “recalled” and are no longer sold by Chemist Warehouse.

Related to this story is the awarding of a CHOICE Magazine 2010  ‘Shonky’ prize to the ‘Power Balance’ Hologram Band.