Vogelsong, Pagan among Giants who consistently wear titanium necklaces

  • San Francisco Giants leadoff hitter Angel Pagan avoids an inside pitch against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a baseball game in Denver on Sunday, May 19, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

You've seen them, the braided necklaces baseball players wear around their necks. People in the know also refer to them as "twisted" necklaces.

When you're watching a Giants game on TV and the camera swoops in for a closeup of Ryan Vogelsong on the mound (well, before he broke his hand), you see not one, but two necklaces around his neck. Many Giants wear those braided necklaces. Many big leaguers like Justin Verlander wear them. They are the rage.

Did you ever wonder what they are?

Turns out, they have titanium inside. Titanium is the key — call it the space-age ingredient. Players believe the titanium increases blood flow and helps them heal faster.

The Giants get their stash of necklaces from Phiten, a Japanese producer. According to what I read, Phiten originally came out with the titanium necklace, and now produces many models, among them Classic, Tornado and Fireball. But if you go on Amazon.com, you'll see lots of companies have entered the market. Go to TitaniumNecklaceShop.com where you can buy most models for $11.99.

In 1982, Yoshihiro Hirata, the founder of Phiten, invented the titanium necklace. Call him the Jonas Salk of neckwear. Phiten has branched out to arm sleeves, patches, bracelets, socks, even wedding rings, all with titanium. Their massage lotion, according to the package, "may help to promote relaxation, reduce stress, soothe tension."

"Titanium necklaces are known to ease pains and aches of the upper back, and also enhance the circulation of blood from the upper body to the brain and other major organs," TitaniumNecklaceBenefits.com explains. Titanium necklaces work "by using the body's energy system to align the body's bio-current events."

I don't understand parts of the preceding paragraph, but I'm not a baseball player.

I know that other metals with alleged health benefits preceded titanium. Some pharaohs, not to mention Alexander the Great, wore copper bracelets for arthritis. I believe Alexander the Great would have made a good fifth starter for the Giants, who sorely need one, although Big Al might have lacked chemistry in the clubhouse the way he always wanted to be boss, not to mention his regrettable tendency to murder people.

Gold and silver bracelets followed copper, and they were followed by magnets, which were supposed to decrease stiffness and increase blood circulation. I never found a study that said any of these worked. For that matter, I never found a study that said titanium works. But that's not the point. Ballplayers believe it does the job, and that's what matters. It may be the placebo effect, and the placebo effect can be highly effective.

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