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All About Foot Detox: How Effective Is It?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Fred Layno · Updated Nov 21, 2022

    All About Foot Detox: How Effective Is It?

    In recent years, there have been a number of trendy detoxification therapies. There have been foot detox pads, juice cleanses, and body wraps. Manufacturers of these products advertise them as “natural” products or treatments that can help remove harmful “toxins” from the body. Proponents of these therapies claim to treat illnesses and diseases like dystonia or even cancer. They also claim to treat minor symptoms and conditions such as fatigue and headaches. What is the science behind these techniques? And are there any benefits to these therapies? Are they effective? Harmless? Or do they bring more harm than good? Learn more about a foot detox here. 

    How Do Foot Detox Pads Work?

    Detox foot pads are adhesive pads worn on the bottom of your feet and claim to draw toxins out of your body while you sleep. Once you peel off these pads in the morning, they are darkened or discolored. This supposedly means that the toxins have been removed from your body. 

    Another type of product, known as an “ionic foot bath,” works by immersing your feet for 30 minutes in a basin containing salt water. This solution receives a charge with low-voltage electricity coming from two electrodes. 

    Manufacturers claim that detox foot pads are effective in treating headaches, depression, diabetes, insomnia, and high blood pressure. They  also claim that these products can help with weight loss. The prices of these products can range from $1 for single-use pads to about $2,000 for ionic foot bath devices. 

    Are Detox Foot Pads Effective?  

    According to claims, detox foot pads work by emitting ions which purge toxins through the feet. These pads contain tourmaline crystals which supposedly emit these ions.

    The foot bath, on the other hand, generate ions by running an electric current through salt water.

    There is no scientific evidence that supports these claims. Toxins cannot be discharged from the body by ionic changes through the environment or through electric current. Furthermore, the color changes of the pads, which supposedly represent the impurities that were removed from the body, are actually due to wood vinegar that is contained in these pads. Wood vinegar changes color when it absorbs foot perspiration or even tap water. The corrosion of metal electrodes also cause the color changes in detox foot baths. 

    A study examined the water samples from the baths as well as the urine and hair samples of participants who went through 30-minute ionic foot bath sessions. Upon cross-examining these samples, they found no evidence of any toxic elements. 

    Do Toxins Accumulate in the Body?

    Products such as foot detox pads claim to remove harmful chemicals from the body that the body itself cannot remove on its own. These products work on two premises: 1) There are toxins that just accumulate in your body and need removal, and 2) the body cannot remove them without using these products. Unfortunately, there is little truth to either of these claims. 

    To date, researchers have found no “toxins” that randomly accumulate in your body at dangerous levels, nor can these be removed by special diets or the applications of foot pads.

    While there are indeed some chemicals that may accumulate inside your body, many of these are fat-soluble. This means that they can be stored inside fatty tissue until they reach a toxicity point. There are certain natural chemicals like vitamin E or harmful ones like PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls) that do accumulate in the body. But these almost never reach a point of toxicity or cause harm to the body unintentionally.

    Basically, manufacturers of these products are trying to capitalize on public ignorance by creating a problem with very little scientific basis. Our bodies are not holding stores of harmful chemicals that need removal. The Federal Trade Commission of the United States has also charged some companies that manufacture detox foot pads with deceptive advertising. 

    Are Toxins the Cause of All Disease?

    We all know that many diseases are caused by bacteria and viruses. Toxins are not the sole cause of diseases, as what some manufacturers of detox products would have us believe. While there are certain chemical substances that may be linked to disease, such as chemicals from cigarettes that cause lung cancer, other naturally-occurring factors such as genetic disorders are more likely to cause illness. 

    Learn more about Alternative Medicine here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Fred Layno · Updated Nov 21, 2022

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