By Ryan Dean
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - For the past few years, some of the biggest names in baseball wear a certain necklace around their necks. It's a titanium necklace made by Japanese company Phiten.
"The belief is the necklaces are made of titanium and nylon, and that titanium changes blood flow, and neurotransmitters or nerves in your body," said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rich Lehman. "So if you're excited or a have a problem with jitteriness somehow it smoothes out the transfer of information along the neuro pathway."
The USA website for Phiten says very little about what--if any--benefits a person can receive by wearing a necklace. Instead, it refers people to the Society of Aqua Metal Research.
On the company's Hong Kong website, it says the following about the technology used in Phiten products:
"Phiten's exclusive Phiten Process enhances your body's energy management system by increasing the capacity of every cell. When this current is stabilized, the muscles relax and blood circulation increases, allowing for easier movement and body relief. As the muscles are more relaxed, it reduces physical strain, allowing your body to perform at its highest potential. By using our products, professional athletes have experienced better fluidity of movement, quicker reflex times, and an overall improvement in performance."
Dr. Lehman, who treats professional and amateur athletes from his office in Webster Groves, says he's studied the necklaces and doesn't feel there is any scientific evidence that it helps an athlete.
"True science; measuring blood pressure, measuring different responses, neuro responses, measuring heart rate--we find that when you put the necklace on, a bracelet on, a copper bracelet, a Phiten Necklace, a Phiten Bracelet, it doesn't do anything, doesn't make a bit of difference," Lehman said.
But Dr. Lehman says he has seen players perform better when wearing the necklace. He believes when that happens, it's mental, not physical.
"The athlete believes they are getting a boost or pop from the necklace. The necklace is increasing their energy level and it kind of chills them out and puts them on an even keel. The athlete goes out thinking 'I'm invincible' and going to play much better and respond accordingly it tells you that your brain has a whole lot to do with performance and you know that because athletes that have very strong constitutions, don't get nervous and perform well under pressure," Lehman said.
On the back of the package for the Phiten Classic Titanium Necklace, it reads, "Individual results may vary significantly. Not all users will experience the intended benefits of Phiten products, and individuals must try it for themselves to see whether it works for them."
KSDK sent an email to Phiten asking to respond to notion that the benefits athletes see from its products are psychological. Joseph Valdez, a spokesman for Phiten USA, issued this statement Tuesday afternoon:
"The benefits of Aqua Metals technology is purported by the Society of Aqua Metal Research. They have published studies and researchers from Massey University (New Zealand), TU Braunschweig University (Germany) and UCLA (USA) that study the effects of Aqua Metals. Attached is more on the researchers and results of their studies. Phiten uses Aqua Metals in the manufacture of its line of sports accessories and apparel, however, the company doesn't make health claims since its products are not classified as medical devices in the U.S. They are classified as sports accessories."