Detox Foot Bath Scam

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Well, there is no one way to fool you. Joining in the likes of Detox Foot Pads is the Detox Foot Bath, also called as the Ionic Foot Detox therapy. So, by dipping your feet in a sort of a machine, which is called the ionizing machine, it is said to extract toxins from your feet, and of course give you all the possible benefits which these fake companies proclaim.

Health spas, salons, and lot of self-proclaimed alternative health practitioners are the ones who use such useless products to fool people in the name of detox and its miracle benefits. From balancing body’s pH, to boosting of mood, to reduction in stress, aiding weight loss (of course), increasing immunity; to improvement in heart health… marketers also use jargon like energy balance, bio-energy, bio-stimulation, cellular energy etc. to mislead people.

Now, acc. to these companies the machine uses charged particles called ions to create an ionic field that cleanses and purifies the body. The system ionizes water molecules, separating water (H2O) into H+ and OH- ions. These ions then attract and neutralize toxins and heavy metals of the opposite charge, supposedly pulling them out through the bottom of the feet.

The manufacturers advice you to use these machines every week for 30-60min. Moreover, they claim that depending on the colour of the water, the toxins are identified and eliminated from the body.

And, the best way to make someone believe such lies is by showing a visible difference. The easiest way is to show a change in color. As someone is made to dip their feet in the ionizing foot detox machine filled with clean water, after sometime the water changes the color magically to dark brown or dark reddish maroon, as if a toxic sludge has been extracted from the body.

According to a website selling such detox machines, The average foot contains over 2000 pores, which are the largest and densest on the body. That’s more than any other part of the body of comparable size. The fascia is the thin membranous layer located on the bottom of the foot, were toxins are stored.

The website claims that, this therapy is based on research by Dr Royal Rife in the 30s. Rife was an American inventor is best known for a claimed ‘beam ray’ invention during the 1930s, which he thought could treat some diseases through vibration. Rife reported that a ‘beam ray’ device of his invention could destroy the pathogens. Rife claimed to have documented a “Mortal Oscillatory Rate” for various pathogenic organisms, and to be able to destroy the organisms by vibrating them at this particular rate. 

However, Rife never claimed to have cured cancer with his invention. Years after his death, it was manufactured and sold in several countries as a cure for cancer, AIDS, and other conditions. Many patients died, and multiple promoters were convicted of health fraud and sent to prison.

Now, the truth…

The change in color of the water has nothing to do with detox of any kind. The real truth is that the electricity in the foot bath, leads to corrosion of some of the metal in the foot bath machine, which leads to change in its color. Also, these scamsters add some salts claiming them to help you with detoxification. These salts also interact with water and leads to change in its color. There can also be a change in the color due to the dirt & sweat from the feet. However, the water will change its color even without soaking your feet in it.

Ben Goldacre, renown author & science writer and a British physician, in his 2008 book Bad Science, discussed how he investigated the truth behind these detox foot baths.  First, he experimented locally in his own house. He set up, on a kitchen table, a bowl containing salt and water, with two metal nails attached to a car battery. And as was expected, the water went brown, with a nice sludge on top.

Thereafter, he sent one of his friends to a local spa to get the detox foot bath treatment done, and get the before and after samples of water. The samples were sent to the Medical Toxicology Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, to be analysed. The results showed it all: the water taken out before the Aqua Detox machine was switched on contained only 0.54mg per litre of iron; but afterwards it contained 23.6mg/l. The water, from the kitchen table setup, contained 97mg/l.

Dr. Goldacre said that, “Toxin” is classic pseudoscience terminology. Essentially, the Aqua Detox people are offering dialysis, through your feet. Urea and creatinine are probably the smallest molecules – call them “toxins” if you like – that your body gets rid of, in places like urine and sweat: if “toxins” were going to come out, anywhere, you’d expect those to come out, too. There was no urea or creatinine in the water before the Aqua Detox, and there was none in the water afterwards.”

Canadian researcher and former faculty member of the Dept. of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University, Stephen Lower, exposed a lot of such quackery on his website For the Detox Foot Baths, he says that:

  • “There is no way an electric current passing through a part of your body can distinguish between “good” molecules and “bad” molecules (“toxins”), most of which are electrically neutral anyway;
  • The skin is impermeable to all but a few chemical substances; there is no evidence that any that are found inside the body can pass through the skin to the outside, with or without the help of an electric current.
  • All but a very few of the “toxins” produced as metabolic products are colourless— suggesting that what you see during these “treatments” is put there for show.”

A study, measured the release of potentially toxic elements from ionic footbaths into distilled and tap water with and without feet. Water samples were collected and analysed following 30-minute ionic footbath sessions without feet using both distilled and tap water and following four ionic footbaths using tap water (once/week for 4 weeks) in six healthy participants. Urine and hair samples were analysed during the study.

Researchers found no evidence to suggest that ionic footbaths help promote the elimination of toxic elements from the body through the feet, urine, or hair.

Researchers, stated that, “The manufacturers of the IonCleanse device claim that their product’s effectiveness lies in its ability to generate positively and negatively charged ions (H+, OH−) via electrolysis in water. Purportedly, these ions cause the neutralization and subsequent removal of charged particles from the body via osmosis and diffusion through the skin that is in contact with the ion gradient created in the water. However, the use of direct current and salt in the water accelerates the corrosion of the stainless steel used in the apparatus, which is what we see as the sludge over the water post detox.”

(Acc. to the pic, it seems someone has just stepped out of a jammed sewer. You think, this is the amount of toxins your body is carrying? And guess what, you are still alive.)