Detox Foot Bath
There has been some controversy around whether certain types of detox foot bath methods – specifically ionic foot baths and detox foot pads – actually work.
Most proponents of foot baths believe that the water changes color as a result of toxins leaving the body and accumulating in the water. In reality, placing metal electrodes in the bath’s saltwater produce rust in a rapid manner through electrolysis. The color the water changes to has nothing to do with the toxins. In fact, the electrolysis will change color even without feet being placed in the foot bath.
A 2012 study in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health looked at urine and hair samples from people who had used a foot detox bath and were unable to find evidence that the bath eliminated toxins from the body.
However, another study found that regular use of detox foot bath decreased the amount of aluminum and arsenic present in the body. One practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine reported that ionic foot baths made the body less acidic and more alkaline after just one use. Additionally, this alkaline state lasted 48 hours after use.
What Is a Detox?
Detoxing, short for detoxification, is intended to eliminate or neutralize toxins throughout the body. Toxins are virtually everywhere, including in the foods we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and common home products. There are approximately 85,000 chemicals regulated under the United States Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) but the Environmental Protection Agency has only banned or restricted use of a handful of chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons, asbestos, radon, lead, and hexavalent chromium. Unfortunately, many of these are persistent organic pollutants that stay in the environment long after their use is discontinued.
Toxins accumulate in the liver and colon, and there are many detox techniques that can neutralize and help move them out of the body. Toxins are also removed through the body’s natural elimination routes such as sweating, breathing, urinating, defecating, and during menses.
What Is a Detox foot bath?
Detox Foot baths are intended to remove toxins and metals from the body by drawing them out through the feet. There are a variety of techniques for detoxing through the feet, including foot masks and scrubs, detox foot pads, acupressure, and ionic foot soaks. Proponents believe that a foot detox helps make the body’s pH level more alkaline. It’s also thought to deactivate a variety of harmful organisms. Some health care providers, including chiropractors and holistic health centers, offer foot detox baths and charge high prices for the service.Detox foot baths are also sold in stores for at-home use.
Benefits of Doing a Detox foot bath
May remove toxins
Calms the body
Boosts your immune system
Encourages normal blood sugar
Boosts cardiovascular health
ince the feet are rich with nerve endings and sweat glands, it seems like the ideal place in the body to detox and de-stress. There’s no denying that soaking your body or just your feet in hot or warm water is calming. But hot detox foot baths may also help reduce swelling, boost your immune system, and improve your overall health and mood. A recent study even found that, like exercise, hot baths can help burn calories, boost cardiovascular health, and encourage normal blood sugar. People who advocate for detoxing through the feet say that it can ease mental distress while improving sleep and overall well-being.[5, 6]
Further, the manufacturers of the ionic foot baths claim their product eliminates alcohol, acids, alkali, bleach and chlorine, detergents, emulsifiers, synthetic dyes and fragrances, toxic metals, pesticides, petrochemicals, preservatives, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).[5, 6]
Detoxing with the right kind of foot pads can also have unique benefits. The best detox pads stimulate the kidney acupressure point to release tension and support overall health.
6 Different Ways To Do a Foot Detox
Ionic foot baths aren’t the only way to do a foot detox. In fact, there are a variety of ways to detox the body through the feet, including Korean and Chinese acupressure-based foot soaks, detox foot pads, foot scrubs, masks, and soak recipes that use naturally detoxifying Epsom salts, Bentonite clay, and other ingredients.
Ionic Foot Bath
Ionic foot baths operate by sending an electrical current through a tub of water, which causes the water molecules to divide and create negative oxygen ions. Once enough are present in the water, the body absorbs them through osmosis, which is the movement of compounds from higher to lower concentration. Some newer devices also produce positive ions.
The foot bath process is quick and simple. You soak both feet in the bath which is filled with warm salt water. An electronic array is also placed in the foot bath, which sends a direct current into the water. The combination of the water, salt, and the array are meant to generate negative ions by separating oxygen and hydrogen from the water, neutralizing charged particles in the body and drawing toxins with the opposite charges out.[5, 6]
Don’t be fooled by infomercials claiming that the dark water that comes out of the ionic foot bath water is toxins from your body, or that different toxins create different colors. The color of the water is caused by a reaction of the salt water and the electrolysis array, which creates rust. The ability of these ionic foot baths to detox the body through the feet has come under scrutiny, and there are conflicting reports on whether they work.
Acupressure-Based Foot Soaks, Foot Massage, and Foot Spas
Korean and Chinese foot spas have been around for thousands of years, and these unique therapy experiences are expanding in popularity across the U.S. The feet are like roots of a tree, and the sole or bottom of the foot contains hundreds of nerve endings and acupressure points that can be massaged to help certain parts of the body.
During a session at a foot spa, feet are soaked in a hot bath solution, followed by a foot and leg massage. The foot massage is the focus and stimulates acupressure points in the feet that correspond to different organs in the body to release tension, improve circulation, and support overall health and vitality. Acupressure and reflexology help balance the chi or energy in the body, encouraging better circulation, restful sleep, and normalization of health ailments ranging from head pain to digestion. And of course, soaking one’s feet in a warm bath and massaging the pressure points on the feet promotes relaxation.
Do-It-Yourself Foot Soak
You can also create a do-it-yourself detox foot bath at home using warm or hot water, Epsom salt, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Have a partner massage your feet at the reflexology points in the diagram that corresponds to any issues you deal with, or do the foot massage yourself.
Reflexology points diagram.
When selecting essential oils, lavender is a great choice. Not only is it calming, but animal studies have shown it to normalize liver and kidney disruptions caused by exposure to certain pesticides. Another option is tea tree oil, which is powerful against germs. If the aroma of tea tree is too potent for your tastes, mix it with lavender for a mild, pleasant scent.
One simple way to do a foot detox is to use a clay foot mask to clean and detoxify the feet. It relieves stress at the end of a long day, too. Foot masks can soften skin and tackle toenail fungus, surface fungus, odor, and athlete’s foot. I recommend do-it-yourself recipes because they are completely free of any chemical additives, which defeat the purpose of a detox.
Bentonite clay offers benefits as a detox agent and is safe for both internal and external use. Bentonite clay has naturally occurring positively charged ions that draw out negatively charged toxins, including those in pesticides and toxic metals. Other studies have found that Bentonite clay has properties that fight against mycotoxins and aflatoxins from mold.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Therapists who offer foot detox bath – particularly the ionic foot spa and foot soaks – caution that some people should exercise caution and seek advice from their healthcare provider before using these therapies, including:
Children under age 5
Pregnant and lactating women
People who have pacemakers, electrical implants, and organ transplants
People who have diabetes, congestive heart failure, or who are on dialysis
People with open sores on their feet
You can experience a “healing crisis” from any detox, including a foot detox. When the body releases accumulated toxins, you may experience fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and flu symptoms. A healing crisis doesn’t usually last longer than three days. If you have symptoms for longer or the symptoms are especially disruptive, consult a healthcare provider immediately.
In contrast, our detox foot pads contain organic, natural ingredients, and can safely be used by people of all ages. The only side effect might be a slight chance of allergic reaction by certain individuals, as with any product.
A Detox foot bath are a popular tool for detoxing the body. The media has been quick to label them pseudoscience based on some poorly done research. Properly done research has shown that detox foot bath do increase detoxification of heavy metals.1 There is still some uncertainty as to the mechanism of action, but the anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of detox foot bath is overwhelming.
The way that detox foot bath work is through electrolysis.
A direct current goes through one end of the array, through the water (which has salt added for conductivity), and back through the other end of the array. Depending on if the machine is set to positive or negative, the current will break water into positively charged hydrogen ions (H+) and oxygen gas (O2), or negatively charged hydroxyl ions (OH-) and hydrogen gas (H2). You can usually see or smell the O2 or H2 gas near the array. The main theory of how detox foot bath work is that the ions in the water pull out oppositely charged toxins through the pores in the feet and into the tub of water. While there is some variation in watercolor from person to person, most of the color comes from the oxidation of the metal plates in the array, and the ions reacting with solutes in the water. I have used my machine in different cities, and I can tell you that color of the water in Seattle, Eugene, Sacramento, and Los Angeles all looked completely different, ranging from orange to brown, to dark green. The studies were done to disprove the effectiveness of detox foot bath all were looking at what toxins were in the water, and nothing was found.
The water in the tub is only a small portion of the water in the whole system.
Those who use a detox foot bath will notice that when the machine is turned on or switches polarity, you can often feel a small “shock.” Just like the salted water in the tub, your body is largely made out of water and electrolytes, and the current will travel through your body as well. Most of the detoxification happens internally, and this is why when urine is tested for days after a footbath session, large increases in heavy metals are found. It is the current itself that is responsible for the detoxification, not the ions in the tub. Research has also shown that detoxification from using an ionic footbath is greatly increased when combined with a cilantro tincture taken orally (cilantro has its own metal detoxification properties). Clinical experience has shown that cleansing the hands instead of the feet can help the brain detox better.
Nobody knows exactly what the current does inside the body to cause heavy metal detoxification, but I believe it likely has to do with the formation of exclusion zone (EZ) water.2 EZ water is a kind of structured water that is inside your cells. It is basically made out of a lattice of OH- groups, while the rest of the bulk water has a higher concentration of H+ ions. These happen to be the same ions that are produced in the tub by the array. It is possible that in some way, the current is helping to create more EZ water in the body. The reason that it is called exclusion zone water, is because it excludes all solutes, including toxins inside the cell. If the current from the machine is creating more EZ water, then it is pushing out toxins. The toxins have to go somewhere, and they end up being excreted in the urine.