Kailo Pain Relief Patches under the microscope – what’s inside?

So what exactly is Kailo? What is Kailo made of? Before we go into what I found out through my own investigation and testing of the product, what does Kailo’s designers claim it to be?

On their website FAQ page, Kailo is claimed to be…

  • made from “billions of tiny capacitors”
  • “formed on a waterproof polyester substrate and is covered with a dielectric coating”
  • “contain[s] 2 conductive metals”

While Kailo claims the product is patented, the patent that the company owns has nothing to do with pain relief, it is actually about printable flexible antenna technology. When we look at that patent, the product described has a lot of similarities with Kailo:

“The antenna system includes a substrate and an antenna. The antenna includes a conductive particle based material applied onto the substrate. The conductive particle based material includes conductive particles and a binder. When the conductive particle based material is applied to the substrate, the conductive particles are dispersed in the binder so that at least a majority of the conductive particles are adjacent to, but do not touch, one another.”

For many people, some of these terms may seem foreign, but actually, it is quite simple. A substrate is a surface that something else is placed onto. When you write with a pencil on paper, the paper is the substrate, and you are simply coating the surface of paper with graphite particles that are rubbed off from the pencil tip. In the case of Kailo, the substrate is just a flexible plastic sheet – in this case they tell us that Kailo is on a “Polyester Substrate”, most likely a common polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film, which is non-conductive. The plastic sheet is then coated with particles, before being coated again with a “dielectric coating”, which appears to be another thin plastic coating, perhaps a flexible poly-vinyl-chloride (PVC) coating like Plastisol.

So what about those particles? The patent mentions “conductive particles” – so, what are they? Conductive particles immediately suggests that the particles are likely to be metallic. However, from the quote above, it mentions a mixture with both conductive particles and (presumably non-conductive) binder particles, where the binder particles ensure that the conductive particles are spaced out sufficiently so that they don’t touch each other (this is certainly emphasized in their recent second patent).

From the main patent we learn more details about those conductive particles:

In one exemplary embodiment, a conductive particle based material is employed. The conductive particle based material includes at least two constituent components, namely conductive particles and a binder. However, the conductive particle based material may include additional components, such as at least one of graphite, carbon (e.g., carbon black), titanium dioxide, etc.

The conductive particles may be any conductive material, such as silver, copper, nickel, aluminum, steel, metal alloys, carbon nanotubes, any other conductive material, and any combination thereof. For example, in one exemplary embodiment, the conductive particles are silver coated copper. Alternatively, the conductive particles may be a combination of a conductive material and a non-conductive material. For example, the conductive particles may be ceramic magnetic microspheres coated with a conductive material such as any of the conductive materials described above. Furthermore, the composition of each of the conductive particles may vary from one another.

Interesting stuff! Judging by the colour of Kailo, it would be reasonable to guess that copper to be found in the conductive particles used in Kailo.

I placed the entire patch inside an scanning electron microscope (SEM) which allows me to examine Kailo under extremely high magnifications. Here’s a close up of the surface below…

…pretty boring! Now, I don’t care too much about looking at the surface, as I was more interested in finding out what Kailo is made of.

Fortunately, we don’t really need to guess – with the right equipment, we can find out for ourselves. I took the Kailo patch, and I lightly scratched one of the geometric pattern regions, to try to cut through some of the plastic top coating, to expose some of the internal conductive layer.

kailo in SEM chamber

 

 

 

 

By lightly scratching through the plastic top layer, I was hoping to expose at least some of the active inner material.

The SEM I used is also fitted with an energy dispersive x-ray (EDX) sensor, which allows the composition of the sample to be analysed semi-quantitatively. This technique is a good starting point for accurately identifying which elements are in a substance. It does not detect all elements, but it is generally good at identifying most metal atoms. Since Kailo supposedly interacts with the body’s electrical system, it’s a safe bet that it would need to contain some metal.

While the image above is perhaps a little hard to read, the take away is simple – Kailo contains primarily Carbon, Oxygen, Copper and Chlorine. Now, most of these elements are found in PVC plastic, which would make sense. The presence of Copper is also unsurprising, and matches what we expected previously. By zooming in under higher magnification, I was able to find regions within the scratched sheet that were mostly copper.

As for nano-scale? At least the particles that I found, many were far bigger than mere nanometers in size. Here’s one particle that’s quite a few microns across, that’s almost all copper.

Conclusion

The lightly scratched sample surface is far from ideal for closely examining the particles embedded in Kailo, and I did not want to permanently damage the product through more destructive tests. From the results I was able to find, I am satisfied that Kailo is essentially copper particles mixed with a binder, and then printed onto a polyester sheet, before a PVC protective top coating was applied. A significant amount of carbon was also detected, but it was hard to determine whether this was from the carbon in the plastic polymer films, or whether carbon-black particles were also added into the particle mixture. It is certainly safe to say that the copper colour of Kailo appears to simply come from … well, copper particles.

So, from what we learned, can we make our own DIY Kailo with some copper foil and a home laminator? Almost. The patent talks about dispersing the conductive particles so that they don’t touch each other, but that’s the only significant difference.

Yes, I’m being facetious, but it’s not far off…

Post-Script

This article was sponsored by … no-one! I’m a materials engineer in my real job, and I performed this work on my own time, for my own interest, and to satisfy my own curiosity. However, I do think this is more than a little ironic, as the Kailo founder, Stuart Fetzer, is apparently also a materials engineering graduate.

Update 6th March: I returned my Kailo to Amazon, and fortunately I have received a refund from the company.

Thank you for joining me, but this the end of the ride for me with Kailo. I will be moving on to new projects from here. Feel free to email me your comments and thoughts on this Kailo series – it has been encouraging to me that my efforts have made at least some difference. Between myself and the hundreds of comments and messages I have received about Kailo from you guys, we have discussed this topic to a level far beyond what I had hoped for!

For those of you still suffering with chronic pain – you have my deepest sympathy. As someone who has friends and family that suffer from persistent pain, lets hope that new and innovative treatments continue to be developed, and that they will be put to the test to prove that they are effective beyond placebo.

23 Comments

  1. Arah

    Having former experience with powder and single crystal XRD, I’m always a fan of these and other ways of skinning the cat, such as electron microscopy. So, awesome for trying!

    And less awesome: the actual Kailo.

    To be fair to a company selling a very likely bogus product through the use of pseudo-science, it seems entirely possible that the layer you scratched was actually meant to be a “solid” sheet, and that any particulate you scanned at that depth of the nCAP was created from scratching a solid surface.

    (Assuming the surface layer wasn’t itself large particulate connected by conductive material, quite possibly as an extreme example of “scratching” the anode of the capacitor to increase surface area .)

    Essentially a capacitor is just two pieces of electrical conductor separated by a dielectric (insulator) so that they never conduct to one another, allowing them to trap an electric field when a charge is applied.

    So maybe the capacitance occurs between that (semi?) solid layer that you scratched and nanoparticles suspended in a dielectric gel beneath that layer.

    Maybe.

    In which case you’d need to focus on scanning the gel to find the intentional nanoparticles to determine if they exist and are really in the nano scale.

    The part that bothers me however is that even IF that is what nCAP is, at the end of the day nCAP is meant to be a capacitor. It still needs an anode and a cathode, with contact points somewhere, for the design to make any sense whatsoever. I just don’t see where Kailo has these contact points or how it would receive any input charge to create the capacitance electrical field, etc.

    (And I’m still stumped about Kailo having an antenna in any conceivable way, and especially one alleged to be tuned to communicate wirelessly with nerve tissue in a way that so far even the best medical scientists have so far completely failed to do.)

    So regardless of whether or not your valiant electron microscopy of the Kailo was effective to proving or disproving the scale of the particulate, any way you look at it, the best that can be said of Kailo so far is that it is just a glorified copper bracelet that (probably) won’t turn your skin green.

    And plenty of people have been using copper bracelets (with or without magnets) to alleviate pain for a very long time, with questionable success and equally debatable scientific basis. But good luck walking through even a modern drug store without finding a rack of copper bracelets somewhere. Looks like that’s all that Kailo is, in this use case.

    Unless someone from Kailo or nCAP cares to weigh in with any actual engineering or scientific data to explain the function of a feature that so far defies scientific explanation?

    • admin

      Hey, thanks for the feedback 😉 yes, this really was a very crude analysis, mostly just for a bit of fun. I would really have liked to do a more thorough cross-sectional (properly mounted) sample but really didn’t want to destroy the Kailo as I was hoping to try the return policy — so far no refund.

      I think about antennas this, it really depends on what kind of frequency of trying to tune for. You don’t use the same kind of antenna for GHz as for kHz – and of course broadband antennas typically perform far worse than properly tuned antennas. The further you go into their claimed theory of operation, the more bogus it becomes.

    • Kevin Rochlin

      Apparently, I should have been a materials engineer instead of environmental. You get to use much cooler tools than I do. Seriously though, I do appreciate your effort to help people not be defrauded. This product is exactly the thing my aged mother would have purchased, believed it worked and then got her friends to buy. No one had a better placebo effect than she did. Keep up the good work. Also don’t let your employer know you were messing around at work with a million dollar em.

  2. Niko

    What a great study of a product. Almost bought it until I read your review. Thank you for taking the time and for your honesty, so god damn rare in today’s world. Looking forward to anything else you post.
    Not sure if you have a youtube channel, if you don’t you should, maybe more people will find your work.

  3. Bob Bohrer

    I teach FDA law. Alleviating pain without relying on a mechanism of action that requires chemical interaction or being metabolized would clearly meet the definition of a medical device under U.S. law. I believe they are in violation of the U.S. FDA law. However, magnets can do exactly what they claim the patch does, without a power source and even without direct contact with the body. I appreciate your blog entries on this.

  4. Alison

    Thanks for investigating this. I saw this piece of news through Microsoft edge’s MSN news section, and I knew it was bullshit.

  5. Donna

    For this company to scam people that are really in a lot of pain is just plain nasty, mean and inhumane. I have suffered from chronic pain beginning Jan. 1999. for the past 5 years I have been seeing a Dr. that specializes in pain relief and he admits there is a not a cure all or anything that can stop the pain entirely. Yet I still could fall for this nonsense as I am always looking for something. Thanks for the heads up on this scammer. I may have tried before asking Dr. or made myself an idiot by asking Dr. about it. You saved me money and humiliation (-: Best yet you gave the science lesson. Thanks

  6. Rob

    Wow! The Kailo add popped up on YouTube and I thought—I bet this is from Utah. I live in Utah. We hold the distinction of being a high place holder for health scams. Maybe #1. Sad—it’s such an amazing place with wonderful people in so many other ways.

    Thanks for your even cursory attempt to investigate and then defend your observations. The price being asked for a pvc and copper bandage is akin to the $65 (US) being asked for a half liter bottle of chocolate flavored mangosteen juice a few years ago. Or the price being asked for 5ml bottles of essential oils today.

    I hope people in chronic pain can find relief. I hope athletes in pain can find the goals and training schedules that are in line with their genetics. I hope people who have grown past youth can make good dietary and exercise choices to help them avoid unnecessary discomfort. I hope people who work in front of a computer will get up and stretch on a regular basis. I hope I can always appreciate a body with a feedback system that lets me know when something’s amiss. I hope people will one day stop taking advantage of the desperation, gullibility and ignorance of their fellow beings.

    • Josh

      Utah is a very religious area, and unfortunately, most of these people who fall for the scam are using the same faith they have in god for these products. Ridiculous claims such as putting two of every Animal on a bot are on the same level as this product.

      Just people taking advantage of faith.

  7. Adam

    Again, great job. I was thinking about getting one, not because I am in constant pain, but because I’m a nerd and I like useful gadgets, especially if there’s “nanotechnology” involved. Thanks for saving me $120!

    And I wonder why that AJ “Hi-I’m-mister-nCAP-distributor-guy” didn’t comment on this one yet! Especially since you just proved that Kailo is just a rebranded nCAP. He was very adamant about Kailo not having aaaaaanything to do with nCAP.

    • Adam

      I’m sorry I have to double post – I didn’t even realize that the nCAP logo is perfectly visible on the Kailo pad. Holy smokes and people dare say that one has nothing to do with the other! Ridiculous!

      • AJ

        (Adam) I have stopped posting replies as I think I have covered all my bases and said all that I need to say about the subject in the numerous threads on this site.

        I did not respond to this particular thread as I am not privy to the manufacturing process or the (we’ll call them ingredients) of the patch.

        No knowledge about something in particular = no comment from me

        Take care everyone and hold your loved ones close in this time of uncertainty. We will get through it.

        • Adam

          AJ, you did not cover anything; there were arguments and counter arguments. You said you don’t mind selling placebo if it works. That’s fine. The topic at hand is that the company doesn’t market it as a placebo. They straight out lie and put up some scientific bogus talk to convince people to buy them.

          Based on Sam’s articles, this product is nothing more than a copper bracelet in “band-aid” form. Now, since Kailo is “using the technology” from nCAP, this statement covers both products. This wouldn’t be a problem if the product was marketed that way. But it isn’t.

          You might say – well, placebo can’t be marketed, nobody would buy it. This wouldn’t be accurate however for multiple reasons:

          – Placebo can work even if the individual does not believe it will work
          – The placebo effect is not fully understood yet, there are so many ways this can be utilized in clever marketing, without actually having to lie or mislead people
          – If we all agree that a lot of people grow desperate due to pain and are willing to try anything, they will not care if the product is advertised as placebo or alien technology

          As for the connection between the two companies, sure, there’s no direct evidence other than the presence of the nCAP logo on the Kailo pads. But some common sense and reading paints a very likely scenario:

          – nCAP tried to come up with some sort of antenna in 2013, but accidentally or not, they “discovered” that it works for pain (sometimes)
          – an indiegogo project started to fund it, which failed
          – nCAP still managed to create and sell the product, but most likely not anywhere near expectations
          – in 2018, Kailo was formed, most likely through connections in the UT LDS congregation (based on geographical addresses and the owners religious backgrounds)
          – Kailo managed a better marketing campaign and the Kickstarter project was a success, so the nCAP pads could be sold much more efficiently
          – We are here in 2020

          Starting with the fact that Kailo’s ad opens up with a lie (“Oh hey, I’m a coach and I know what pain is!” – says the paid actor), things can only go downhill from there.

          As for COVID-19, I wish you much health and strength. I do not have bad wishes towards you, quite the opposite: I hope one day soon you won’t need to get side income from dubious companies/products.

          • AJ

            (Adam) You could be right as far as your scenario goes but I am not privy to that information just as you are not privy to that information so we are left to deciding for ourselves what we think is the real truth.

            I am also not involved with the nCAP owners so I have no control over what they do or say and rely on the information I am given from them. That goes for Kailo as well as I do not promote their product and have no affiliation with their company.

            The last comment is in response to you mentioning a “side income”. The monthly income that I generate from the sales of the nCAP patches would not even take a family of four out to dinner at a decent restaurant. I sell the patches at a 10% profit after working in the freight cost to bring them up to me. I sell these patches because they work for me. Nothing has ever worked for me like these do. I am sold hook, line and sinker and if it works for me it must work for other people and I back it up with a 37 day money back guarantee. If someone returns it I have to throw it in the garbage as I can’t resell it so when that happens obviously I take a huge hit. It is what it is. I do not need the money from this to survive.

            I should also mention that all my sales are in person and not e-commerce. I am not a big flashy salesperson who can persuade you to buy a vacuum cleaner. I am just an ordinary run of the mill guy who found something that worked for me and I want to share it. Nothing more and nothing less.

  8. Janet

    Thanks, I just saw that and was really interested since I have so many bone spurs on my clavicle that are not repairable. I was thinking maybe something like the earthing blankets that people sell. I guess I will save my money it sounds like I could just buy some copper tape and put that on my shoulder I don’t need the lamination pouch.I have always been curious about copper because I’m over 60 And always remember the older people wearing copper bracelets copper rings or copper necklaces on their bodies because they believed it was healthy. So I do wonder what is the effect of copper on peoples bodies.

  9. M Clark

    There are many other “nearly miraculous” real medical solutions for chronic pain. One, which I had never heard of, was successfully done on my neighbor who had severe knee pain. Radiofrequency neurotomy uses heat generated by radio waves to target specific nerves and temporarily turn off their ability to send pain signals. The procedure is also known as radiofrequency ablation.

    Needles inserted through your skin near the painful area deliver the radio waves to the targeted nerves. Your doctor will use imaging scans during radiofrequency neurotomy to make sure the needles are positioned properly.

    Radiofrequency neurotomy is most commonly used for pain in the back, neck and buttocks (sacroiliac joint). It may also be helpful for long-term knee or hip joint pain.

    I am sharing this in hopes that others will find relief as my good friend did.

  10. Joseph Pearson

    If you take the Kailo patch and attach it to a cube steak and run an electric current through it, it will revivify the meat and grow a nano cow that will not defecate because the nano cow is already made up of bullshit. This is proved in Latin as follows:

    O sibili si ergo, fortibuses in ero.
    Nobili dem ist trux si insidem caus an dux.

    P.S It’s a joke in Dog Latin. Read out loud.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *