Detox Foot Pads: Healthy Or Hoax? | Detox Foot Pads – Are They Safe?

Detox Foot Pads: Healthy Or Hoax? | Detox Foot Pads – Are They Safe?

Detox foot pads are a popular way to cleanse while you sleep, but health claims as to their safety and effectiveness are suspect at best. In fact, these products can be a source of potent toxins themselves.detox foot pad attached to a woman's footdetox foot pad attached to a woman's foot

Every few years, a new silver bullet grips the health community. Atkins. Bone broth. Detoxing. Fermented foods. Paleo. Green smoothies. Keto. BPC. With each new movement, dozens of products flood the market, duking it out for consumer attention and dollars. Some are legit and beneficial, others are not. Enter detox foot pads.

If you could improve your health while you sleep, what would it be like? Is it possible to do it for a few dollars a week?

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The health claims are attractive to consumers who tend to fall for silver bullet-style marketing.

Applying Kinoki Foot Pads to the soles of the feet at night removes heavy metals, metabolic wastes, toxins, parasites, chemicals, and cellulite from their bodies. Use of the foot pads could treat depression, fatigue, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. (1)

While these claims from an FTC lawsuit almost a decade old seem awe-inspiring enough, online manufacturers don’t appear to have dialed back the supposed benefits one bit. In fact, these claims are about as over the top as that gizmo called the fascia blaster.

There are a lot of claims for food pads that help with insomnia, reduce joint stiffness, and even help with weight gain.

Do any of the brands that are out there actually work and should you spend your money on them?

Similar to tea bags, the food pads are made of toxins. A mixture of herbs, minerals, and other ingredients are placed into a thin, permeable bag.

The sole of each foot is secured in place with a bag that is placed on it. This is done before the sun goes down. In the morning, the patch and pads are thrown away. After a lot of “oohing” and “aahing” at the disgusting color of each pad, this is what it will be.

They must be doing something.

A number of ingredients are common across all types of foot pads.

Common Detox Pad Ingredients

  • The wood and bamboo common are made from wood and wood products.
  • There is a stone called Tourmaline.
  • Houttuynia Cordata
  • Eucalyptus
  • Chitosan
  • Agicarus Mushroom

Others have additional herbs, vitamins, minerals, sea salt, and other substances. Some examples include:

  • Himalayan sea salt
  • Vitamin C
  • Negative ion powder
  • Loquat leaf
  • The Asian lizard’s tail is called Saurus Chinesis.
  • Dextrin
  • Vegetable fiber

The pads remove toxins from the body via the feet, according to manufacturers.

Is there any independent research or testing that shows these claims are valid?

While there is no hard and fast evidence that detox foot pads are dangerous (see caveat below!), there is also no independent research that shows them to be effective either. In fact, the only tests that have been done on detox foot pads indicate that they provide no benefit whatsoever. (2)

Manufacturers claim that the color change of the pads is from the removal of toxins and other problematic compounds from our bodies. But if you add purified, distilled water to the pads (which contains no toxins), they change color just the same as they do when pressed against the feet (where, from sweat, the pads will also change color from water exposure). Mmm, sounds a bit like ear candling so far, doesn’t it?

This isn’t proof that the pads aren’t drawing out something with the sweat

One investigative journalist had a number of different people use pads and then had a lab test them for toxins. The result? The lab found no evidence of any toxins whatsoever in the used pads. In subsequent tests, they did find lead in a few of the samples, but that could have come from ingredients in the pads themselves. (2)

Another investigator conducted a similar experiment with the footpads. These test results showed no difference in the composition of the pads before and after use. It did find arsenic and other heavy metals present in the pads before use. And that is where is the (foot) rub comes! (3)

There is no evidence that the foot pads offer any health benefits, but there is a concern that they may contain dangerous heavy metals or other chemical contaminants.

Dangerous Contaminants

Adulteration of herbs and other health products is well known, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that foot pads could be contaminated. Large numbers of companies selling adulterated supplements, herbs, spices, and other health products were found after a study and random sampling.

The investigation, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, focused on a variety of herbal supplements from four major retailers: GNC, Target, Walmart and Walgreen Co. Lab tests determined that only 21 percent of the products actually had DNA from the the plants advertised on the labels. (4)

This is a real danger with a lot of other health products and supplements. A large number of them are possibly dangerous because of their poor quality, and many are suspect in terms of their effectiveness. Consumers should not just be concerned about natural contaminants. Studies have shown that adulteration with pharmaceutical compounds is possible.

Pharmaceutical adulterants include appetite suppressors, stimulants, antidepressants, anxiolytics, diuretics, and laxatives in weight-loss PFS, phosphodiesterase type-5 enzyme (PDE-5) inhibitors in sexual performance enhancement, and anabolic steroids and prohormones in supplements used for muscle building/sports performance enhancement. An additional problem concerns the use of analogs of those substances, for which no pharmacological studies are available, and also the use of counterfeit drugs of doubtful quality. (5)

detox pad on a foot soledetox pad on a foot sole

Toxic Material in the Pads

In some instances, the material used to enclose the “active ingredients” in foot pads can also be toxic. This is a similar problem to how tea bags are made.

There is a risk of organic foot pads as well. Even if the primary ingredient is cotton, plastic and other petroleum-based chemicals can be added to give the pad moreDurability even if the primary ingredient is cotton, plastic and other petroleum-based chemicals These substances can cause skin irritation or rash for sensitive individuals.

Thus, while these products are touted as detoxifying, allowing unsafe additives to contact the skin for many hours at a time is unwise. The skin easily absorbs a significant amount of toxins via contact alone. (6)

The pads attached to the feet might be a source of toxicity themselves.

Independent Testing of Detox Food Pad Manufacturers

Some companies claim their protects are different than the rest. The ones that they offer are the only ones that are legit. Their products are of the highest quality.

If the claims are true, I would like to see independent, properly structured, and conducted tests provided to the public to back up the claims.

For a few years now, I’ve been thinking about how the health community needs its own version of Underwriters Laboratory to test products, supplements, and other such things so that consumers can have greater confidence in how to spend their money.

No Scientific Studies to Back Up Claims

Consumers should not spend their money on foot pads that have deceptive health claims. There isn’t any scientific evidence to back up the marketing spin. It is possible that something seems too good to be true.

The assessment of these alleged health devices by the Mayo Clinic is very strong.

No scientific studies have been published that show that detox foot pads work or that they’re safe. The Federal Trade Commission has even charged some distributors of detox foot pads with deceptive advertising. (7)

What Podiatrists Have to Say

Foot doctors don’t think that the pads on the feet are of any benefit.

Podiatrist Constance Corry has this to say about the footpad gimmick:

Your feet are not very permeable. The skin on the sole of your foot is among the thickest on the body… and yet that is where you are supposed to put the patches. Why? Wouldn’t that stop you detoxing as effectively? If that was the manufacturers’ aim, wouldn’t they want you to put them on thinner skin, on skin with very high circulation that will allow for higher removal of ‘toxins’ from the bloodstream? (8)

Dr. Corry debunks the color changing of the pads, which fools a lot of people into thinking they are working.

These pads react to warmth and water to change colour. Foot detox patches turn black when held in clean steam from a kettle. You may be told to keep using these patches until they are pale or white when you take them off in the morning, when you will be ‘detoxed’. If your feet sweat at night you could continue using these things indefinitely, watching them turn black from the water, still convinced that you have more ‘toxins’ to expel. (8)

Better Alternatives

There isn’t a single reason to spend your money on foot pads that are free of toxins. Studies show that the best way to protect ourselves from toxins is to stop eating or exposing ourselves to them in the first place.

Better quality food and green home products can be found at cheaper prices. You don’t need to detoxify anymore!

If you really must do something with your feet, try a cleansing foot soak or, better yet, a full-body detoxification bath instead. The best ingredients to try are Epsom salts or apple cider vinegar.


(1) FTC Charges Marketers of Kinoki Foot Pads with Deceptive Advertising; Seeks Funds for Consumer Redress
(2) Kinoki Foot Pads Don’t Stand Up to Science
(3) Japanese Foot Pads is Latest Health Fad
(4) Herbal Supplements Filled with Fake Ingredients
(5) Adulteration of Dietary Supplements by the Illegal Addition of Synthetic Drugs: A Review
(6) Chemical Exposures: The Ugly Side of Beauty Products
(7) Mayo Clinic: Do Detox Foot Pads Really Work?
(8) Beware the Dangers of “Detoxing”

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