The answer to that question depends greatly on who you ask.
Despite living in the Information Age, we are far from knowing everything. And with every day that passes, it seems that we discover that a sizeable chunk of what we thought we knew, is actually wrong.
So it is with that in mind that we approach this question, and others like it, knowing what we know is limited, and what we think we know may be proven incorrect someday.
It is also important that, before proceeding, we include the following statement:
All products & claims regarding properties & effects have not been evaluated by the FDA or Health Canada. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information supplied is for general reference & educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice.
What Does Baltic Amber Actually Do?
Western Medicine does not currently recognize any medical benefits to having Baltic amber touch your skin for any length of time.
Eastern Medicine ascribes a seemingly endless list of magical powers to Baltic amber, sometimes even when not in direct skin contact.
We believe that there is value in both Eastern & Western Medicine for what each brings to the table and we recognize that each comes with its own potential baggage. We certainly wouldn't want to be without antibiotics or surgery for when we really need it, but whenever possible we initially opt for the lighter touch of Eastern medicine.
The true value of Baltic amber, we suspect, lies somewhere in the middle. We don't personally hold to the 'this fixes everything' view of Baltic amber, we have seen it be significantly effective in some very specific ways.
It is important to highlight that *no* western studies have been performed on the subject of Baltic amber (at the time of this writing) and so while there are many theories, everyone is operating from a similar lack of data on this subject.
However after studying accounts of its use both in history and modern times, as well as the thousands of reports we've received from our own customers over the last decade, we believe that there is value to wearing Baltic amber directly on the skin, specifically in treating pain & inflammation, and that this is related to the high levels of naturally occurring succinic acid that are found in Baltic amber.
What makes Baltic amber special is that this concentration of succinic acid is much higher than in amber found in other parts of the world.
Succinic acid already naturally exists in the body in small amounts. It's an alkalinizing acid (like lemon juice) so it doesn't add to your body's acidity and may actually slightly lower it. As a food additive and dietary supplement, succinic acid is generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Here is a more technical description from Wikipedia:
In living organisms, succinic acid takes the form of an anion, succinate, which has multiple biological roles as a metabolic intermediate being converted into fumarate by the enzyme succinate dehydrogenase in complex 2 of the electron transport chain which is involved in making ATP, and as a signaling molecule reflecting the cellular metabolic state. Succinate is generated in mitochondria via the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA), an energy-yielding process shared by all organisms.
Historically it is believed that when worn on the skin, body heat causes Baltic amber to release an oil containing trace amounts of succinic acid.
Theoretically, if a small amount of succinic acid is absorbed into the skin, it would trigger the body to react like you've taken a natural Ibuprofen, reducing pain and inflammation.
And while there are legitimate questions about how succinic acid would successfully cross from the Baltic amber to the skin of the wearer in quantities significant enough to have a measurable effect, those questions are also often rooted in a bias against the concept of micro-dosing. Many western practitioners seem to undervalue (or at least underestimate) the value of micro-dosing, but this is slowly starting to change as we learn more about the sensitivity of the body.