Can the Teslar Watch Help with Anxiety?

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The Teslar Watch is just another scam in the long history of scams and snake oil products sold under misleading claims of proposed wellness. They typically remain on the market long enough for the manufacturer to make a good deal of money before they become targets of comsumer protection agencies.

Claims made by the manufacturer are without any scientific basis whatsoever. The notions have been debunked several times.

Responses to the Philip Stein Teslar Watch have run the gamut. Little surprise that Oprah.com would pick up on this worthless timepiece. At her webite the copy about the Philip Stein Teslar Watch is rather dispicable and totally ignorant of basic scientific principles. It reads:

The Philip Stein Teslar Watch may promote better sleep, a pervasive sense of calm, increased concentration, and increased energy levels. How? It produces an electromagnetic field that pulses against your wrist seven to nine times per second, mimicking the signals sent by the brain when you're in a state of calm or high athletic performance. A review published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reports that the watch boosted immune cell production during in vitro studies [studies done on rats or mice in the laboratory, not in human beings].

In another test, 30 members of the Miami Dolphins football team wore the watch for three months, and 97 percent of participants reported less intense aches and pains and improved sleep, while 93 percent saw an increase in daily energy levels. And, right here at O, The Oprah Magazine a colleague who tried it swore that after two weeks, her chronic knee pain disappeared. Whether or not we're sold on the science, just looking at this watch makes us feel good, no matter how late we are.

So her evidence cited to support the watch includes lab tests; it includes a trial of 30 football players with no mention of a control group who were fitted with a watch that looks exactly the same but lacks the 'qualities' that set it apart (no wonder such an unscientific study was accepted into the unscientific The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine) and it includes the obligatory anecdotal evidence of a colleague who just swears the thing is effective. Who is this colleague and why should we believe him or her? This is classic and unoriginal pseudoscience at its simultaneous best and worst.

The Placebo Effect

However, there may be some minor value in the Teslar Watch—that value would come from the placebo effect. The placebo effect is what happens when a person believes they are getting some clinical value from a treatment or therapy that is designed to be of no value at all, but the patient is led to believe otherwise. For example, patients in clinical trials who receive sugar pills instead of the drug under investigation sometimes experience the same relief from symptoms that patients in the group getting the real drug experience, because they believe they're getting the real drug. Doctors have very little means of explaining the efficacy of the placebo effect, but it is an undeniable phenomenon.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned it does not appear as though any tests were carried out with placebos—phony watches—to see if the responses—which are subjective in nature and impossible to be certain about—were the result of the watches themselves or the placebo effect.

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