‘Detox’ is the latest buzzword in the world of health and fitness, and the media-driven and celebrity-endorsed detox craze are attracting people by the millions. ‘I need to detox’ is the new style statement, and scamsters and snake-oil selling companies have always been ready to cash on this deceptive market. Like the scams of detox tea, hot yoga, detox belts, apple cider vinegar, coffee enemas, colon & liver detox, foot bathing detox machines, etc., the scam of Detox Foot Pads is the latest one to enter the market.
The first look of it will convince you to use it, simply because of the ease of its application. Imagine, all the junk you have been eating, all the smoking, alcoholism, drugs, breathing polluted air, etc. all the toxins will disappear in just one night, by sticking a pair of ‘detox foot pads’ to the sole of your feet. Sounds too good to be true? Let’s see the hidden truth behind this quackery.
The history of detox foot pads is traced back to Japanese and Chinese medicine. These detox foot pads claim to use to the ancient field of reflexology, the detoxification power of the sweat glands of the foot, and the ionizing ability of the mineral Tourmaline (an ingredient in the pads).
According to the various claims of these detox foot pads companies, the best place to remove toxins from the body through sweat is the soles of the feet, as they contain the maximum acupuncture points. In reflexology and acupuncture, the foot is said to be connected to the entire body. So, by the use of these detox foot pads, toxins can be removed from all parts of the body. But, if you study reflexology, there is no mention of toxin elimination using such methods or any other type of similar technique.
When you see the ads of these detox foot pads, you would be mesmerized by the use of phrases like ‘flush out toxins’, ‘ridding the body of accumulated toxins’ etc. along with almost every possible benefit you can imagine, from arthritis to weight loss, from better skin to wellness, from anti-ageing to better digestive system, from boosting the immune system to enhanced sleep, from pain relief to higher energy levels, improved heart functioning to cell regeneration and improved respiratory system to liver & kidney cleanse, and whatever you can possibly imagine. Nothing surprising here, it’s common in all such detox scams and bogus weight-loss supplements.
The cherry on the cake is that most companies name their product on the name of a doctor, which gives credibility to the product. So it won’t be just ‘detox foot pads’, but ‘Dr. X’s Detox Foot Pads’. But, in most cases, there is no person like Dr. X behind anything, and even if there is one, then the degree may be a one from a fake institute, not relating to a medical field.
In a 2006 study in the Journal of Environmental Sciences, a Chinese research team, led by Kan Jiang, found that, Tourmaline removes heavy metal like lead, zinc, copper & cadmium, efficiently from aqueous solution. Now, the detox foot pads selling companies use the same logic, that the mineral is said to generate negative ions to which harmful heavy metals in the body such as cadmium, Chromium, Copper and Lead attach and are drawn out of the body. These negative ions are said to create “magnetic channels” & “unblock the lymphatic passages’ that pull out sweat and the toxins that come with it.
There is another explanation which is floating around justifying the use of such detox foot pads. Here is a bogus self-made science on a detox foot pads selling website:
“As the Detoxifying Foot Pads are placed on our skin, the natural herbs interact and begin their work by emitting far infrared energy. The infrared rays not only enhances the functions of the cells directly but also stimulate the Kidney 1 Meridians on the soles of the feet, creating a second front for detoxification. The Kidney 1 Meridian is used extensively by Acupuncturists and Acupressurists to also promote healing and relieve tension. In essence, the Detox Foot Pads gently stimulate this point for an 8 to 10 hour period. In addition, the wood vinegar extract in the foot patches allows for a phenomenon known in Asia as the “minus ion effect”. By creating an osmotic shift in the herb/skin interface it permits the transfer of toxins. This “minus ion effect” induced by the pads, accelerates the natural excretion process (through the pores), and allows the body to purge toxins at a faster rate.”
But that’s not how this mineral functions in the body, as there is no such system of simply sucking out toxins from the body. Imagine some reporting to the hospital with some serious viral or bacterial infection, and the doctors suck out the infection from the foot, and the person walks away disease-free. Years of medical studies gone down in a drain in one go. There are no tubes inside the body which throw out heavy metals like this.
Remember, the real detox organ in your body is the liver, especially when it comes to the chemical load. These chemicals are then excreted by the kidney, and out of the body through urine or faeces. Nothing goes out of the feet.
But, how could you not believe the detox power of these foot pads, as once applied at night before sleep, when removed in the morning, it had turned dark brown to black, giving it an appearance as if there are all sorts of toxins in it, which have been pulled out from the body, overnight.
But, remember that this type of quackery combined with anecdotal evidence and false testimonials are used to deceive people, by almost all such fake companies.
Steve Gilbert, director of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders and associate professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, US, says in a 2008 report in Los Angeles Times, that, “In a Healthy Sceptic trial, I wore the foot pads for several nights in a row. As advertised, the pads turned muddy-coloured by morning. I didn’t feel especially energized or alert, although the whiff of vinegar did give me a quick jolt.
In a not-quite scientific experiment, I put a few drops of sterile saline solution on a fresh pad. The result: a dark-grey, unsightly mess that looked exactly like the pads I’d been pulling off my feet.
Either moisture alone can discolour the pads or the saline industry has some explaining to do. The pads also turned dark after a few minutes near a warm fireplace.”
In fact, if you try the same thing with such detox foot pads, like soaking them in hot water, or exposing them to direct hot steam, or heating them in a microwave maybe, you would find the same effect, which you find in the morning after removing those stupid detox foot pads, and you think, something has come out of your body, which will give you the benefits you want. The change in colour is due to a chemical present in the pads, which turns dark on exposure to high heat.
I sometimes wonder, medicine or supplement in the market, which will give you anything you desire, any benefit which you want. So, it works on the basis of your dreams and desires, not on the basis of ingredients inside it.
There are testosterone patches, nicotine patches, estrogen creams, and many other such external application products, which deliver the needed compound into the body via the skin. But there is none which pulls out stuff like this.
On the other hand, there are people who got the pads tested, immediately after use, as against a fresh unused detox pad, and they found the same amount of heavy metals in both the pads, i.e. the used and unused pads had the same amount of heavy metals. So, there is simply nothing happening.
In Jan 2009, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) of US, charged the marketers of Kinoki Foot Pads with deceptive advertising, including claims that use of the detox foot pads would remove toxins from the body; treat high blood pressure, depression, and a host of other medical conditions; and lead to weight loss. In its complaint, the FTC charged that all the advertising claims either are false or did not have evidence to support them when they were made.
The Commission filed the complaint against the company marketing the footpads and two of its principals. According to the complaint, the defendants marketed Kinoki Foot Pads with deceptive advertisements on television and the Internet, offering a two-week supply for $19.95, plus $9.95 for shipping and handling. In advertisements, the defendants claimed that if consumers applied the Kinoki Foot Pads to the soles of their feet at night, they could remove heavy metals, metabolic wastes, toxins, parasites, chemicals, and cellulite from their bodies. In addition, the advertisements claimed that the use of the detox foot pads could treat depression, fatigue, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. The complaint also states that the defendants falsely claimed to have scientific proof that the detox foot pads removed toxic materials from the body.”
In 2010, on the request of the FTC, “a federal judge has banned marketers of Kinoki “Detox” Foot Pads. The FTC charged that the marketers falsely claimed the pads could treat numerous illnesses and medical conditions. In a settlement announced today, the judge banned the marketers from promoting or selling any dietary supplement, food, drug, or medical device, and from assisting others in doing the same.”