It’s a familiar sight in many malls and beauty salons. A lady (who may be dressed in white) offers to remove impurities from your body by means of an “ionic foot bath.” The foot bath also goes by the name of aqua chi machine, bio electrical biofeedback machine, foot spa, energy spa and super deter foot bath.
Regardless of how it is called, the process is the same. Your feet are immersed in a basin of salt water that is electrically charged with two electrodes for about 30 minutes. After the “treatment”, the clear water takes on a black or dark brown color. This is offered as proof that the product works.
“The system supposedly draws toxins out through the soles of the feet and the water changes color due to the release of toxic substances through the 2,000 pores of the soles of the feet. The water will change color and consistency – from orange, brown to black. Yellow is said to come from the kidneys and bladder; orange/brown from the joints; green/dark brown to black from the liver, gallbladder and/or bowel; and white from the lymphatic system,” according to Dr. Stephen Barrett of the California-based National Council Against Health Fraud Inc.
A similar method employs a special type of adhesive foot pads that are worn on the bottom of the feet overnight. During sleep, the pads allegedly remove toxins from the body that are expelled in the form of sweat. This is seen in the color change in the pads from white to gray-black.
Like the foot bath, the pads are advertised as effective against all kinds of contaminants including heavy metals, metabolic waste, microscopic parasites, mucous and even cellulite. They are also said to rid users of migraine, gout and a host of other diseases.
While “treatments” need to be done regularly and cost a lot, they may appear reasonable to unwary consumers who may think they are getting a bargain considering the number of diseases these devices can supposedly cure.
Unfortunately, the people behind these products are only after your money since the latter don’t work. Barrett said the skin is not a permeable membrane, meaning that substances placed on the outside of the feet won’t absorb substances circulating within the body.
“Even if they could, this would not remove ‘toxins’ from the body. Real detoxification takes place in the liver, which modifies the chemical structure of undesirable substances. The modified substances then circulate through the bloodstream to the kidneys, which filter them into the urine. The skin has no involvement in this process and is not an organ of detoxification. Sweat, which contains water and salt, helps maintain body temperature but does not play a significant role in toxin removal,” Barrett explained.
The change in the color of the water is due to electrolysis or a simple chemical reaction. The brown “toxins” are actually rust or oxidized iron generated by the corrosion of the iron electrodes that are placed in the basin.
In short, the change in the water color is due to increased iron content. This can be made regardless of whether or not feet are placed in it. Different colors can likewise be made by adding salt to the water and variations in the composition of the electrodes.
How do you explain the color change in the foot pads that aren’t immersed in water? Nancy Ferrari, managing editor of HEALTH beat, a newsletter published by Harvard University, said the pads, which are impregnated with wood vinegar, change color when they absorb foot perspiration or are sprayed with tap water. Nothing miraculous there folks.
So the next time someone offers you to try a foot detox system, save your sole and “de-FEET” them with these scientific arguments.
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