Don’t Waste Your $$$ on a “Foot Detox,” Says This Podiatrist

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If you’ve been to a spa or alternative health center lately, you may have seen something called a “foot detox” on the list of services. As intriguing/mysterious/totally bizarre as it sounds, you should def take a sec to learn more about the trend before forking over your cash.

Foot detoxing claims to remove toxins from your body via the soles of the feet, usually by soaking the feet in an ionic foot bath, or by sticking special adhesive pads to the bottom of your feet before you go to sleep. Both methods are said to draw out the “toxins” and “heavy metals” that allegedly accumulate in the body while you’re busy living your life. Proponents of the practice (and manufacturers of foot detox products) say that the treatment supposedly helps with:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Disease prevention

If that sounds too good to be true…that’s because it is, says Alan Bass, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association.

“I don’t use this term loosely, but [foot detoxes] are nothing more than a scam,” Dr. Bass says. “If these things worked, everybody would be doing them.”

Ahead of our interview, Dr. Bass attempted to look into the medical literature around foot detoxes and found that there isn’t really any. “I tried to find [research] on the medical side—any types of studies, any real, double-blind studies that would prove something like this works. I’ve seen nothing,” he says. “There was one study done back in 2011 that showed this is not anything that works. This type of procedure isn’t something that works to remove toxins from your body.”

"Foot detoxes are nothing more than a scam." —Alan Bass, DPM

The reason: “There’s no way to put something topically on your body to detox,” Dr. Bass explains. And thanks to the liver, your body is already a pro at getting rid of harmful substances on its own. "Your liver is like silt," Dr. Bass says. "It filters everything." It absorbs potentially harmful compounds that you eat or drink and either converts them into something the body can use or makes sure they're eliminated. As Dr. Bass puts it, “there’s no way to detox this big organ by putting your feet in a bath.”

However, Dr. Bass acknowledges that foot detoxes are probably not going to harm you, either. If things like foot baths make you happy or help you relax, go forth and soak. Just be careful to do your research if you decide to let a spa, alternative medicine center, or beauty salon handle your foot bath or other treatment.

“Spas that provide [foot treatments] that physically do something to a person’s foot, whether it’s a pedicure or bath...there’s always a risk of developing some type of infection that would require treatment by a podiatrist, dermatologist, or internist,” says Dr. Bass. Comb through reviews before your visit, and be on the lookout for signs that the facility might not be totally sanitary.

Or, go ahead and draw your own foot bath at home, with some essential oils for a super-soothing experience. You won’t end up ridding your body of any toxins, but it’ll sure feel—and smell—nice.

Check out these other spa treatments you shouldn't waste your money on. And if you want a more legit detox, try these spa options instead.

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