Gary Moller: [DipPhEd PGDipRehab PGDipSportMed(Otago)FCE Certified, Kordel's and Nutra-Life Certified Natural Health Consultant]. ICL Laboratories registered Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and Medical Nutrition Consultant.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Does it work; or is it just another scam?

I competed in the Crazyman last weekend. It was one of the most gruelling events I have ever done (came 2nd in my age group, btw and cramp-free). Cramp was a huge problem for many, if not most of the competitors in the Crazyman. One of the sponsors gave away "Phiten" titanium anti-cramp patches to every competitor and I spent most of the race staring at these things that were plastered on hamstrings, calf muscles and shoulders. As, I said, there was no shortage of cramp during the race - this, despite the liberal presence of Phiten patches.

Phiten Titanium products are heavily promoted world-wide with slick marketing that makes liberal use of some of the World's most famous athletes. Being well-paid professionals, they must surely be right when they swear by the magical properties of these products.

I am sceptical. I keep thinking of "snake oil"

Apparently, a commonly used trick is to have the customer lift a concealed brick with an outstretched hand which they have initial difficulty with. After applying the titanium, the lift is executed with relative ease and this is attributed to the magical properties of the product. Of course, this is utter rubbish: The improvement is the result of the brain reprograming for the 2nd effort after being deceived by the first attempt. It had nothing to do with the titanium.

Phiten claims to have a secret method by which titanium is rendered soluble in water, as well as rendering it with special bioelectric qualities. Search as I did, I could find no published research about this method that they call "Phild". I have a reasonable academic background in chemistry and I understand that titanium is a very hard metal that is extremely corrosion resistant and insoluble in water. Until I am shown the science behind the secret Phild process, I think the claims are bunkum.

I seriously question the claim that wearing a titanium impregnated patch, bracelet or beanie will have any effect on deep underlying muscle. They would have us believe that the titanium ions, that have somehow been rendered water soluble, now magically penetrate the waxy skin layer, the thick subcutaneous fat layers and then the muscle sheaths to finally penetrate the muscle and then exert some strange bioelectric effect on them. This is a miraculous feat and one that few other products have ever mastered, including anti-inflammatory rubs that are heavily promoted to athletes, although they are also of little practical benefit to the user.

These products serve only to line the pockets of already wealthy executives - probably in New York.

Of course, I would welcome a representative from Phiten to post a response to this article - to put the record straight by presenting peer reviewed and published scientific evidence that validates the claims of their advertising and their sales representatives.

While we await this evidence, my advice for avoiding muscular aches and pains associated with exercise and competition is to stick with tried and proven methods, including preparing properly with a tailored fitness programme, a suitable diet and stocking up body stores of magnesium and other minerals. I have already written much about this and I can tell you that these strategies really do work for the majority of athletes.

Oh! - while I am at it - can somebody tell me this; can I improve circulation and reduce cramp if I rub titanium-containing sunblock all over the affected parts? Its much cheaper.
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