Although these patches are making quite a splash in the wellness market, they are short on credible scientific support and very long on anecdotal “testimonials” from users. In addition, Catholics should be concerned about the association of the patches with a putative (New Age) rather than a veritable (scientifically proven) source of energy.
For those who never heard of them, LifeWave patches are a drug-free patch that uses phototherapy to activate the body’s stem cells in order to stimulate the body’s natural healing process. There are a variety of patches available such as the X39 which allegedly improves the way the body fosters the flow of energy to improve strength and stamina, and the X49 which is said to elevate performance, accelerate recovery and nurture relaxation.
As this site explains, the Lifewave X39 patch supposedly “contains a proprietary blend of amino acids and other natural compounds that work together to stimulate the production of stem cells in the body. When applied to the skin, the patch emits light energy that penetrates deep into the body's tissues and activates the stem cells.”
Some of the reported benefits of the patch include improved energy and vitality, reduced pain and inflammation, enhanced mental clarity and focus, and improved sleep quality.
They are placed on specific accupoints on the body and are sold in packs of 30 for $149.95. Each patch can be worn for 12 hours and are not re-useable.
In spite of the many claims on the website about being clinically proven, these patches have not been approved by the FDA for any specific medical condition, and their efficacy has not been scientifically proven.
For example, after testing the LifeWay patch on 22 male and female cross-country runners, the National Institutes of Health concluded that, “the inconsistency of the overall results did not provide a convincing argument that the energy patches were capable of enhancing performance.”
The Niche, which is a blog containing the writings of several highly credentialed scientists such as Paul Knoepfler, Ph.D., a Professor at UC Davis School of Medicine in Cell Biology and Human Anatomy whose lab conducts research on stem cells and cancer, took a look at these patches and was not impressed.
“These patches are claimed to work by activating your stem cells. How would that work exactly in terms of actual biology? It’s not at all clear,” Knoepfler writes.
He found six papers on a PubMed search and none of them provided concrete evidence to back up the claims about the patches.
Another red flag was the absence of any stem cell scientists on the company’s leadership team. When Dr. Knoepfler tried to contact one of the “experts”, a woman named Anna Margolina, who co-authored a paper on the alleged protective and regenerative action of a substance known as GHK-Cu, the website that was the source of her email address listed her as a hypnotist.
Even more concerning, he could find no clear data on potential side effects of the patch.
“Some folks on the web even claim that no side effects are possible, which is, of course, false. Anything that can activate one’s stem cells, assuming for one second that that claim is true, has the potential to do unhelpful things. So there’s at least some possible risk here.”
His overall review of the LifeWave X39 patch is that the product “does not appear to have strong, peer-review published clinical science listed on PubMed to support its claims based on a tiny patch. There could also be side effects…Overall, given the high cost and uncertainties, I would not recommend this product.”
As for those who swear by the patches for relieving their headaches, knee pain, and other ills, this is more than likely due to the placebo effect which should not be underestimated as to its ability to convince a person of being healed. In addition, this blog explains other reasons why people typically believe unproven methods work in spite of this being scientifically and medically impossible.
The consumer should also be aware that these patches are sold via multi-level marketing (MLM) which means the people who are distributing them need to sell the patches in order to make any money. This is the reason why there are so many inflated claims to be found on the Internet - many of which are being made by distributors who are not scientists.
The company has also experienced financial and legal issues in the past.
The bottom line is that LifeWave patches are founded upon principles associated with New Age beliefs and, in spite of the scientific sounding language on its website, the so-called "science" behind the patches remains unproven.
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