Have you heard of ionic or detoxifying foot baths? An acquaintance was telling me about visiting a spa and having one of these foot baths done. I had never heard of it, so I decided to do some research.

These baths are considered to be a naturopathic, or holistic, approach to improving your health without the need to take medications or have surgeries done. The manufacturers of ionic or detoxifying foot baths claim these baths can improve your health and increase your energy levels by drawing heavy metal toxins from your body through the soles of your feet. Proponents for these baths believe toxin build-up worsens any underlying health problems you may have.

Two Types of Foot Baths  

There are two different types of detoxifying foot baths:

  1. During a detoxifying foot bath, a person relaxes in a chair with their feet immersed in a tub of warm water that contains a mixture of herbs, tourmaline (a mineral that contains small amounts of iron, sodium, potassium and magnesium) and wood vinegar. This mixture pulls the toxins from the body through pores in the bottom of their feet.
  2. During an ionic detoxifying foot bath, a person sits in a chair with their feet immersed in a tub of warm water that contains sea salt. A low-voltage current is transmitted through the water via electrodes placed in the tub. During the 30-minute bath, positive and negative ions supposedly pull toxins from the body through the pores in the bottom of their feet.

Alleged Health Benefits of Foot Baths  

Some benefits that manufacturers, spas and wellness clinics claim you’ll receive through the use of these foot baths include:

  • Increased energy at the cellular level
  • Improved oxygen levels
  • Better digestion
  • Increased metabolism
  • Enhanced memory
  • Improved circulation
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced arthritis pain
  • Decreased swelling of the feet and legs
  • Improved stamina
  • Less fatigue
  • Overall improved health

Additionally, manufacturers say these foot baths can strengthen your immune system; cure allergies and infections; remove parasites from the liver; reduce dark circles under the eyes; and decrease symptoms of hypertension, osteoarthritis, gout, acne and mental health disorders like depression.

While these baths may relax your body and help relieve stress, there is no scientific research that shows they actually work. In fact, medical experts say positive and negative ions aren’t able to enter the body to remove toxins; and toxins can’t be excreted through the skin. All detoxification within the body occurs naturally in the liver. Any toxins in the body are broken down in the liver and filtered by the kidneys into the urine where they are eliminated during urination. Plus, most of the conditions that manufacturers claim are improved by ionic or detoxifying foot baths don’t involve toxins in the body.

The manufacturers claim you can tell that toxins are being drawn from the body because the water changes color during the process. However, medical experts say the color change is actually due to corrosion and rust when the water reacts with the tourmaline or the water and sea salt reacts with the electrodes.

Additionally, these foot baths can produce hydrogen and chlorine gases which may be dangerous in small, enclosed spaces.

If you do decide you still want to try an ionic or detoxifying foot bath, talk to your doctor first.  

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