The everyday grind can tire us out and make us feel sluggish. And, if you’ve ever headed to a spa to pamper yourself after a long week, you might have come across the words “foot detox.” With its roots in reflexology, a foot detox is believed to rid the body of toxins and make one feel rejuvenated. But, before moving on to the different kinds of foot therapy, it’s important to fully understand what it does.
What Is A Foot Detox?
The concept of a foot detox is said to stem from traditional Asian healing practices. These traditions included a special form of therapeutic massage that was done exclusively to the terminals of major meridians and nerve channels located in the feet.
Meridians are a network of energy channels covering our body. There are 12 meridians passing through one side of our body. Each of these has a mirror image on the other side. Of these meridians, 6 are located in the toes, penetrating the spleen, liver, kidneys, stomach, bladder, gallbladder, and the main branches of the autonomic nervous system.
Poor posture and diet, high levels of stress, and poor breathing are believed to cause toxins to accumulate in the blood and tissues. This is said to cause bodily fluids to become more acidic, setting the stage for disease and degeneration. A foot detox claims to help the organs, especially the kidneys and liver (responsible for purifying blood), flush the toxins out. If you’d like to try it, you could get it done professionally. However, do these different massages actually work? Find out.1
Types Of Foot Detox And Its Effectiveness
1. Using Stones
The easiest way to go about a foot detox is to walk barefoot on smooth round stones called “treading stones.” These stones are said to work quickly and are believed to be effective because they stimulate points deeply embedded in the tissues of the feet. Here is how you can make your own therapeutic walkway at home:
What You Need
- Smooth round stones of varying sizes
- Pour wet concrete over 1 or 2 square meters of area.
- Set the stones halfway into the wet concrete.
- Let it dry.
To use the stones for a foot detox, walk over the stones and move back and forth to massage the areas that are most stiff, sore, or sensitive. Do this twice a day for about 20 minutes for best results. This is believed to accelerate internal cleansing, eliminate waste, and stimulate healing in the body.2
Does It Work?
Although there isn’t specific evidence to validate the effects of walking on stones, reflexology does have a little research to its credit. One such study states that women who self-massaged their feet had lowered levels of depression and stress.3 However, reflexology cannot replace conventional treatment when it comes to health conditions, so it’s important to only use it as a complementary therapy.4
2. Using Clay
Clay is a popular detox ingredient that has been used for hundreds of years. The huge, charged surface area of clay is believed to attach to toxins and pull them out of the body. One way to use clay is to mix it with filtered water and apply a half-inch layer on your feet with a cheesecloth wrapped over it. Leave this on for 25 minutes and wash it off. Alternatively, you could try a detox clay bath. Here is how you can go about it:
- 1/2 cup bentonite clay
- 1/2 cup Epsom salts
- Essential oils (optional)
- Dissolve the Epsom salts in a tub of hot water.
- Add the essential oils, if desired.
- Mix the clay in a separate mug of water vigorously until all the clumps are dissolved.
- Add this mix to the tub.
Soak your feet in this mixture for 20 minutes and then wash your feet. Doing this regularly is said to eliminate your body of toxins.5
Does It Work?
There is no scientific evidence to back clay’s ability to “pull” toxins out of the body. At the very best, clay might be able to fight acne and cellulite, but there’s very little research on this front as well.6 What’s worse? The FDA has issued warnings against several companies selling bentonite clay since they were believed to have elevated levels of lead. Hence, a clay detox bath is best left as a cheap at-home spa session whenever you feel like it.7
3. Using Foot Pads
Detox foot pads are advertised as an easy way to flush out toxins from your body. All that’s needed is for you to place these pads on the bottom of your feet and leave them on overnight. The ingredients in these pads are said to work through the night to pull toxins and impurities from your body that causes them to turn dark. In the morning, you could just take them off and discard them.8
Does It Work?
Unfortunately, foot pads do not have any scientific backing to them. On the contrary, their claims have been debunked. Studies indicate that the residue on foot pads comes from a substance in the pads themselves that reacts to moisture and not toxins. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission charged one such company with deceptive advertising. Hence, it might not be the best idea to spend your money on foot pads.9
4. Using An Ionic Foot Bath
“Technology” now claims to make your detox process faster and more effective. In the ionic foot bath, you soak your feet in warm salt water for 30 minutes. The process is believed to give hydrogen in the water a positive charge and use it to remove negative charges in the body. This ionic activity in the bath is said to shoot through your body and pull out toxins through hundreds of pores in the body.10
Does It Work?
Just like other foot detox techniques, ionic foot baths have been proven to be ineffective. Some of these baths claim that the water turns a certain color when it successfully detoxes. However, this change could occur due to impurities already present in the water, the corrosion of metals in the bath with use, or the salts used in the bath itself.11
Furthermore, researchers have slammed tests done by the companies that make these baths due to them being uncontrolled. It was also said to be highly unlikely that substances found in one’s stool and liver can be removed through the feet. Hence, investing in a foot bath seems to be an unnecessary expense at the very best.12
The best way to “detox” continues to be a healthy diet and exercise that help your body flush impurities out naturally.13 But, although there isn’t any evidence to prove the effectiveness of foot detoxes, if you’d still like to give it a try, head to a spa that offers it or do it at home to save time and money. However, use it as a fun and relaxing activity.
|↑1, ↑2||Reid, Daniel. The Tao of Detox: The Secrets of Yang-Sheng Dao. Simon and Schuster, 2006.|
|↑3||Lee, Yun Mi. “Effect of self-foot reflexology massage on depression, stress responses and immune functions of middle aged women.” Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing 36, no. 1 (2006): 179-188.|
|↑4||Reflexology. Victoria State Government.|
|↑5||Wynters, Sharyn. The Pure Cure: A Complete Guide to Freeing Your Life From Dangerous Toxins. Soft Skull Press, 2012.|
|↑6||Carretero, M. Isabel. “Clay minerals and their beneficial effects upon human health. A review.” Applied Clay Science 21, no. 3 (2002): 155-163.|
|↑7||Laboratory tests indicate elevated levels of lead. US Department Of Health And Human Sciences.|
|↑8, ↑10||Smith, J. J. Lose Weight Without Dieting Or Working Out: Discover Secrets to a Slimmer, Sexier, and Healthier You. Simon and Schuster, 2014.|
|↑9||Barrett, Stephen. “The detox foot pad scam.” Device Watch, Feb 5 (2009).|
|↑11||Kennedy, Deborah A., Kieran Cooley, Thomas R. Einarson, and Dugald Seely. “Objective assessment of an ionic footbath (IonCleanse): testing its ability to remove potentially toxic elements from the body.” Journal of environmental and public health 2012 (2012).|
|↑12||Hall, Harriet. “Detox quackery: from footbaths to fetishism.” Skeptic (Altadena, CA) 14, no. 1 (2008): 8-10.|
|↑13||Clay, What Is Bentonite. “Ask The Dietician: Are There Health Benefits To Eating Clay? By Alicia Armeli Hot celebs are doing it. The media’s buzzing about it. Your neighbor says it makes her skin glow. So what’s all the fuss.”|