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Detoxification footpads

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Related terms
Background
Theory/evidence
Safety
Author information
Bibliography
Technique

Related Terms
  • Bamboo vinegar, BodyRelief® Foot Pads, Takara Detox Foot PatchT, detox, detox foot pads, detox footpads, detoxification, detoxification foot pads, foot detox pads, Kinoki Foot Pads®, Kenrico Sap Sheets®, tourmaline, wood vinegar.

Background
  • Detox footpads are adhesive pads that are applied to the soles of the feet in an effort to rid the body of toxins. They are said to be based on the Japanese and Chinese philosophy of reflexology, where areas of the feet correspond to other areas of the body. It is thought that the toxins that may be afflicting an area of the body will also be present on the corresponding area of the foot. The pads are thought to work by drawing toxins out of the body through the feet while the individual is sleeping. The result is a marked discoloration of the pads, which is purported to be the toxins.
  • Manufacturers of detox footpads claim that the products remove heavy metal toxins such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, copper, nickel, and zinc. Small amounts of these elements normally circulate in the human body and are excreted through sweat and urine. Very small amounts of these metals are essential to health and proper functioning of many systems in the body. These elements are often key components in enzymes and chemical reactions.
  • However, environmental factors, such as water contamination, may cause excessive levels of heavy metals in the body, potentially leading to toxicity. Heavy metal toxicity may affect multiple organ systems, including the nervous system, gastrointestinal system, respiratory system, circulatory system, and reproductive system. Therefore, removing any excess heavy metal toxins may be beneficial.
  • According to the manufacturer of Kenrico Sap Sheets®, the practice of detoxification through the feet dates back to 15th-Century Japanese alternative medicine techniques. Most of the products commercially available originate from Japan-based companies.
  • The most common components of detox footpads are tourmaline (a gemstone commonly mined in the United States) and bamboo or wood vinegars (liquids formed from the process of burning wood).
  • There is currently a lack of available clinical trials regarding the safety and efficacy of detox footpads. The manufacturer of Kenrico Sap Sheets® cites multiple studies that suggest efficacy, but the reliability of these studies has not been confirmed.
  • Published studies suggest that the individual components may have the ability to remove toxins, as they have shown some efficacy in binding to or absorbing toxins in controlled laboratory environments; however, there is a lack of reliable data supporting this proposed mechanism. Large-scale clinical trials are needed to determine efficacy of detox footpads.
  • Some products, including Kinoki Foot Pads®, have recently come under scrutiny. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against the parent company Xacta 3000 Inc., for false advertising. The FTC claims that the company used deceptive advertising by claiming that the product would not only remove toxins from the body, but it would also lower blood pressure, treat depression, and even promote weight loss. The FTC also alleges that the company falsely claimed to have scientific proof that the detox footpads worked.
  • Multiple secondary sources have reported that detox footpads appear to be a hoax. Various anecdotal consumer testimonials state that adding a few drops of water to the pad produces the same discoloration effect as wearing the pad overnight.

Theory / Evidence
  • General: Manufacturers of detox footpads claim that the products remove heavy metal toxins such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, copper, nickel, and zinc. These elements normally circulate in the human body and are excreted through sweat and urine. Very small amounts of these metals are essential to health and proper functioning of many systems in the body. These elements are often key components in enzymes and chemical reactions.
  • However, environmental factors, such as water contamination, may cause excessive levels of heavy metals in the body, potentially leading to toxicity. Heavy metal toxicity may affect multiple organ systems, including the nervous system, gastrointestinal system, respiratory system, circulatory system, and reproductive system. Therefore, removing any excess heavy metal toxins may be beneficial.
  • Detox footpads are said to be based on the Japanese and Chinese philosophy of reflexology. Reflexology and methods similar to it have been in practice for thousands of years in China, Egypt, and other areas. Reflexology is based on the concept that areas of the feet correspond to other parts of the body, and stimulation of these areas on the feet may affect the associated body part. The footpads are said to work based on the theory that the toxins afflicting certain body parts will also be present on those areas of the feet.
  • However, there is currently a lack of reliable clinical trials available that have tested the safety and efficacy of detox footpads.
  • Kenrico Sap Sheets®: According to the manufacturer of Kenrico Sap Sheets®, the pads work to detoxify the body through osmosis. They absorb the water and toxins expelled through perspiration. The manufacturer claims that the heat generated from far-infrared rays of the pads helps to promote perspiration through thermal vasodilation of the blood vessels in the foot, allowing the toxins to flow freely out of the body.
  • The product is available in 34 different varieties and contains different ingredients and proportions of ingredients. The major components include: tourmaline, bamboo and wood vinegars, grapefruit, raspberry, cayenne, lavender, green tea, milk thistle, and other herbs. Each sheet contains either tourmaline or bamboo and wood vinegars as its base ingredient.
  • The manufacturer of Kenrico Sap Sheet® claims that numerous trials have evaluated the effectiveness of their product in independent third-party testing facilities. However, the validity of these studies cannot be confirmed. The manufacturer's Web site references a study of heavy metal detoxification in youth, young adult, middle-aged and elderly volunteers that was performed using hair analyses. It was purportedly found that after three months of continued use, levels of multiple heavy metals, primarily lead and arsenic, had dropped in all study participants. Additional information regarding trial design is unknown.
  • The manufacturer cites another independent study, in which Kenrico Sap Sheets® were analyzed for heavy metal content, uric acid crystals, and oxalic acid crystals before and after use. It was purportedly found that after one night of use, the pads contained traces of lead, cobalt, and chromium and exhibited an accumulation of both uric acid and oxalic acid crystals. The manufacturer proposes that with extended use of the Kenrico Sap Sheets®, accumulation of larger amounts of toxins may be observed.
  • BodyRelief®: According to the manufacturer of BodyRelief®, each foot pad contains five grams each of tourmaline, germanium, and wood-distilled vinegar.
  • Specific ingredients: Published studies suggest that the individual components of detox footpads may have the ability to remove toxins, as they have shown some efficacy in binding to or absorbing toxins in controlled laboratory environments. However, there is a lack of reliable data supporting this proposed mechanism.
  • Tourmaline: Tourmaline is a gemstone that exists in a variety of colors and has been traditionally mined in the United States. Tourmaline has been shown in clinical study to remove heavy metal ions, specifically lead, copper, cadmium, and zinc, efficiently from aqueous solutions. It was found that tourmaline removed heavy metal ions from the solution proportional to the concentration of ions in the solution. These ions are all commonly found in sweat.
  • Germanium: Germanium is a naturally occurring element that exists in either organic (carbon-containing) or inorganic (without carbons) forms. The manufacturer of BodyRelief® does not specify which type of germanium the products contain.
  • Wood vinegar: Wood vinegar is an impure acetic acid produced by the destructive distillation of pine tar and wood. Wood vinegar has been shown effective in reducing or eliminating odors. In a Japanese study, wood vinegar almost completely eliminated the odors produced by ammonia, trimethylamine, and n-butryic acid (gaseous compounds that produce odors commonly associated with cattle farming).

Safety




Author information
  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Consumer Reports.
  2. Federal Trade Commission. FTC Charges Marketers of Kinoki Foot Pads With Deceptive Advertising; Seeks Funds for Consumer Redress.
  3. Jiang K, Sun TH, Sun LN, et al. Adsorption characteristics of copper, lead, zinc and cadmium ions by tourmaline. J Environ Sci (China). 2006;18(6):1221-5.
  4. Kenrico®.
  5. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  6. Park A. Detox, shmeetox. The truth about pollutant-draining foot pads, colonics and other supposedly healthy cleansers. Time. 2009 Feb 16;173(6):46.
  7. Takahara Y, Katoh K, Inaba R, et al. [Study on odor control using wood vinegars] [Article in Japanese]. Nippon Koshu Eisei Zasshi. 1993 Jan;40(1):29-38.

Technique
  • Detox foot pads are typically applied to the soles of the feet and are worn overnight in an effort to absorb toxins from the body. They contain a special adhesive that allows them to remain in place throughout the night.
  • The pads can also be applied to other parts of the body, including the arms, back, hips, or neck. However, they should not be applied directly to broken skin or mucous membranes.
  • The manufacturer of Kenrico Sap Sheets® states that they can be used in anyone older than age three.
  • Secondary sources recommend using a damp washcloth to clean the bottom of the feet before applying the pads. Also, applying the pads just before bed may help ensure that the pads to not become damaged from walking on them. In the morning, the pads should be removed, and the feet should be washed. The pads should look discolored upon removal, which is purportedly a sign of toxin removal.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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