Monday, October 27, 2008

Is There A Foot Detox Conspiracy?

By Frank Rodriguez

Ever since I heard about foot detox a couple years ago, I've been curious about the claims that it can remove toxins from your body. I live in Chicago, so I'm well aware that I'm not breathing clean air or drinking pure water. I'm also honest with myself about the fact that the processed food I regularly eat isn't doing me any favors.

I think I'm above average when it comes to eating healthy, but I think going vegetarian or raw is out of the question (I love Chicago pizza too much), and moving to the mountains near a freshwater spring isn't in the cards anytime soon, so if there's reasonably-priced technology that can help keep me optimally healthy, I'm interested in learning more. Fortunately, it's easy to research "detox cleaning" online since there are 1000s of websites that talk about it. Unfortunately, there are two popular but opposing viewpoints that make it a challenge to get a balanced opinion about the subject.

On one end you have the companies who sell ionic foot bath equipment or provide it as a service. The longstanding claim of these folks is that the color change that happens during a detox foot bath indicates the part of the body that is being detoxified. On the other end, you have the people who understand some of the science behind this technology, but they unscientifically dismiss all of the many health benefit claims from people who use it. These two opposing sides aren't paying any attention to each other, which results in confusion for the people who just want to know the truth about this subject.

I want to highlight a basic fact here in an effort to bring some balance to this issue of foot detox. The fact is that the water in a detox bath will change color whether a person's feet are in the water or not. The cynics have taken this fact as case-closed proof that foot detox offers no health benefits whatsoever, while ignoring the many health benefit claims from the people who use it. The people who sell foot detox units have been saying for years that the color change of the water indicates of the part of the body that's being detoxified. Both viewpoints are wrong (mostly).

The cynics who've never tried foot detox, but understand that the water in a foot detox changes color due to electrolysis and oxidation of the metal array think that anyone who claims to have health benefits is only imagining it. I think this is a lazy approach to scientific research because these people assume that just because they understand some of the science behind the technology, they don't have to study the matter any further to come to a conclusion.

I'm not an expert on how a detox foot bath works, but I've done enough research to know that many people are experiencing health benefits that go beyond what the placebo effect is capable of. Just this week I spoke with a woman who found a hookworm in her detox foot bath water after a treatment! I've spoken with several smokers whose water smells strongly of smoke odor. I'm willing to admit that some of the many claims of pain relief can be attributed to the placebo effect, but I think you'll agree that the placebo effect can't produce parasites or strong smoke odors.

I recently spoke with woman who has been providing ionic foot baths to hundreds of people and she talked to me for 45 minutes about the many health benefits her clients have received, and the many doctors who have been mystified by the recoveries their patients have experienced after receiving foot detox treatments.

I'm convinced that most people doing a foot detox are getting something more than just the placebo effect, but I still have an issue with the whole color-of-the-water=the-part-of-the-body-being-detoxed claim. If you've done a foot detox then you know that the water starts to turn brown almost immediately. This is due to oxidation of the metal array in the water. I've talked with dozens of people and most of them have the same color water as me - brown, the color of rust. Water analysis done by a laboratory has confirmed a significant increase in iron. But there's more to the story. The water starts out as brown, but for many people, the water eventually turns other colors, such as white, green or black. If it's not rust causing those color changes, then what is it?

The popular color chart used by most ionic foot bath providers says that brown water indicates "liver detoxification, cellular debris and tobacco detoxification", but there's no way I'm going to believe that my liver starts shooting toxic debris out of my feet a few seconds after starting an ionic foot bath. I've never smoked so that's not a factor. Several labs have done water analysis and found high levels of iron in the water, so I'm confident in my conclusion about what's causing the water to turn brown - oxidation of the metallic array.

I've talked with dozens of people who regularly use aionic foot bath and most of them have the same color water as me - brown, the color of rust. Now to be fair, not everyone has the same color water, which is why I'm open to there being some truth to the idea that the color indicates the part of the body being detoxed, but the fact remains that many of the proponents of foot detox are ignoring basic chemistry and undermining their credibility in the process.

In 2002, Doctor's Data, Inc. did a before-and-after water analysis of an ionic foot bath and found significant increases in antimony, arsenic, copper, lead, uranium, barium, cadmium, chromium, nickel, aluminum, iron, manganese and zinc in the detox foot bath that had feet in it compared to the water that had no feet. The increase in heavy metals had to come out of the feet, proof positive that there's more to this story than simple oxidation of metal.

Another matter that debunks the cynic is that the woman I spoke with, the one who had the hookworm come out during her ionic foot bath, told me her water usually turns black, even though her husband who uses the same unit always has brown water. Is this issue cut and dry? Hardly. Both sides of this controversy would benefit from paying closer attention to each other and learning what the other side knows.

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