Novak Djokovic Credits the TaoPatch for Its Success: What Does the Science Say?

Novak DjokovicNovak Djokovic’s winning streak at Wimbleton ended last weekend when he was defeated by a young Carlos Alcaraz. One of the greatest men’s tennis players in the world, Djokovic is also an anti-vaxxer whose gullibility is almost as impressive as his Grand Slam victories. This year, he was seen wearing a chest patch that he called “the biggest secret of his career.” The product is called TaoPatch which is said (by the manufacturer) to “apply the principles of acupuncture to low-level laser therapy using nanotechnology”. Let’s take a closer look to see if his undeniable success in tennis could really be supported by this product.

What is a TaoPatch?

Its manufacturer calls it a “human refresher device” that “improves posture, movement, and performance without chemistry by affecting body balance.” When you dig into what it really is, there is little on the website that actually says what it is. On the page called “Research and Experimentation” there are links to some articles (many in Italian) with one that was published in English. The document is titled, ‚ÄúChanges in performance, balance and posture with the Occlusal Splint and Taopatch devices: a retrospective [sic] cross study”. In that study, the Taopatch is described as a “nanotech device based on carbon nanotubules and quantum dots.” This was an uncontrolled study which concluded that wearing the patch improved grip strength and squat jumping. This is not surprising and reminds me of the old fashioned “Power Balance” hologram/energy bracelet from over a decade ago, where athletes, both elite and everyday, were convinced that a piece of plastic improved their “energy fields”.

I also found a published article titled, Taopatch combined with a home training protocol to prevent sedentary lifestyle and biochemical changes in MS patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is apparently a study with a control group, however the research is so poorly described that I was unable to determine if there was any randomization or blinding.

Although it looks like a sticker, the manufacturer calls it a “nanotech medical device” that features carbon nanotubules and “quantum dots.” It “applies the principles of acupuncture” to “low-level laser therapy”. It works by emitting “biophotons”. “It allows your body’s innate intelligence to restore its natural alignment.” “Your body heat is converted into light of specific therapeutic frequencies, which are similar to the photon frequencies your nervous system uses to communicate with the rest of your body.” It’s as if they’ve picked as many scientific buzzwords as possible and put them all into the marketing discourse.

This isn’t just marketed to gullible jocks. The website has specific pages dedicated to multiple sclerosis (“The Drug-Free Way to Reclaim Your Mobility, Freedom, and Independence” and Parkinson’s disease (“Say Goodbye to Tremors, Rigidity and Slowness of Movement!”).

TaoPatch prices start in the hundreds of dollars and go up into the thousands.

Conclusion: the hologram bracelet of its generation

The TaoPatch is just the latest iteration in the seemingly endless stream of products that exploit consumers’ gullibility, belief in superstition and lack of skepticism. If this product could really improve Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis, it would be approved in medical guidelines and recommended by experts. If it really improves sports performance, it will be banned in competitions. Unfortunately, the results claimed by the manufacturer are highly implausible, and in the absence of convincing evidence, the TaoPatch remains unproven.

  • Scott Gavura, BScPhm, MBA, RPh is committed to improving the way medicines are used and examining the pharmacy profession through the lens of science-based medicine. He has a professional interest in improving the convenient use of medicines at the population level. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Toronto and completed an accredited Canadian hospital pharmacy residency program. His professional background includes work in both community and hospital pharmacy settings. He is a registered pharmacist in Ontario, Canada. Scott has no conflicts of interest to disclose. Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by Scott are his personal opinions only and do not represent the views of any current or former employer or any organization with which he may be affiliated. All information is provided for discussion purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a licensed and accredited healthcare professional.

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