I am generally open to alternative healing remedies. Take my experiment with oil pulling, for instance. Though I may not have achieved a life-altering transformation, I did notice subtle internal changes. And so, when I heard about detox pads (or patches) designed to eliminate toxins from the body by being adhered to the bottom of the feet, I thought, why not? If doctors prescribe birth control and nicotine patches to deliver medication, shouldn't the reverse work as well? The more I researched these detox foot products, the more mesmerized I was at their pseudo-scientific descriptions and beguiling videos. In the end, I discovered that detox foot pads deserve to be stuck nowhere except in the Dept of Daft.

If you're a fan of late-night television, you've probably come across one of these foot pads in an infomercial with scaremongering like, "The closer you live to any medium-large city, the more you need to detox." There are many different brands, though the most widely known appears to be Kinoki, which claims that its pads improve blood circulation, remove heavy metals, increase metabolism, activate blood cells, enhance quality of sleep, relieve pain, boost the immunity system, reduce stress, and enhance mental focus. All you have to do is apply the white foot detox pads before bed, and by morning you'll notice a "miracle": the pads will have become discolored, indicating that they have leeched impurities out of the feet and absorbed unhealthy toxins. Now, doesn't that sound like a fun trick?

Regardless of what appears on the pad, the important thing is what is happening within your body in relation to the adhesives on your feet. You may know that the skin is the largest organ in the body, and among its most important functions is detoxification through perspiration. Additionally, the foot has an excellent blood supply close to the surface. So it might seem reasonable that as blood circulates into the arterioles in the feet, it transports toxins which may be discharged from the body through the skin. But why wouldn't your feet (which are equipped with 250,000 sweat glands each) be capable of excreting an adequate amount of toxins on their own without the help of what looks like a sanitary napkin stuck to their bottoms?

According to their websites, detox foot pads are formulated based on ancient Japanese cultural medicine. Traditional oriental knowledge holds that the body is circulated with acupunture points called meridians, which act as channels that link various parts and organs of the human body. These meridians are directly connected to the function of the body's circulatory and lymphatic systems. Through the combined action of wood vinegar (popular for its drawing properties), tourmaline (a mineral that emits negative ions), and bamboo vinegar (believed to aid in releasing waste through the skin), the meridians are stimulated.

In the case of the detox foot pads, this stimulation occurs based on the science of reflexology, which links zones in the feet to each organ system in the body. By accessing key reflexology points on the feet, the pads trigger the breakdown of water and waste molecules, thus freeing blockages in the circulatory and lymphatic systems and allowing waste to freely enter the bloodstream for elimination. It makes sense that the wastes from these organ systems could be drawn out from the skin of the feet. But then they must also be removed via alternate elimination channels besides the foot pads, where only trace amounts would collect.

I'm talking toilets, people. The liver and kidneys are happy inhabitants of the body for the purpose of removing its daily toxins. Though detox foot pads purport to eradicate heavy metals, modern medicine indicates that the only way to clear these residual toxins from your body is to take an internal chelator that will bind to the metal substances and facilitate the filtration process. So then how do you explain the phenomenon that occurs before your very eyes as the white foot pads turns brown and takes on a nauseating odor?

The color change is probably due to the wood vinegar, which is dried and ground before being mixed in with the other ingredients in the pad. When it comes into contact with the water in your sweaty feet, this vinegar returns to its dark-colored liquid state. Another theory is that iron-based particles embedded in the pads oxide (rust) when they come into contact with moisture in the feet. Whatever element triggers the brownish tranformation, the fact of the matter is that something in the pad undergoes a chemical reaction with water. A multitude of accounts have shown that dousing the detox pad with distilled or filtered water has the same effect. Conclusion: you are not witnessing a visible manifestation of toxic waste on your foot pads.

The unpleasant odor (likened to a barbecue pit) which emanates from the pad after being removed can probably be attributed to the mixing of foot sweat with the pad's natural herbs. As the heat generated by tourmaline makes your feet sweat, the pad gets moist and subsequently darkens. This effect might also be the reason that many people have trouble sleeping when they are first adjusting to the pads and notice a tingling sensation at the base of their feet. There is a possibility that some sort of healing benefit is absorbed from the vitamins and minerals embedded in the pad and that these substances might stimulate the lymphatic system. But my guess is that this reaction is negligible and could be just as easily achieved through a patch placed on the arm.

As is true for many other products backed by over-the-top marketing and scant formal research, detox foot pads have never been candidly and objectively proven effective, at least not in the extensive research I've done. Clinical tests that scanned used foot pads allegedly identified mercury, lead, nickel, arsenic, aluminum, benzene, isopropyl alcohol, and copper. But a study covered by 20/20 and conducted by NMS Labs, a toxicology testing center, examined eight used foot pads for heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury, as well as 23 solvents, including benzene, tolulene, and styrene. Not a trace of any of these elements were found.

Commercials for detox foot pads make you think dangerous elements are seeping into your body without your consent and that they can be extreted through the feet to return your body to a healthy equilibrium. If you want to purge internal toxins through your pores, sit in a sauna or take a steam bath. To immediately rid your body of solid waste, you'll have to try a cleanse diet or an enema. But detox foot pads won't be much help if you are in need of deep internal cleansing. It takes years of unhealthy lifestyle habits to lock your body in a state where it is too toxic to cleanse itself. Once the body has reached that point, an artificially medicated foot patch is not going to undo all that damage. All you have to do is read up on how the human body works to understand why these foot pads are modern versions of snake oil.

Based on their overblown claims and promises, detox foot pads are dubious at best and fraudulent at worst. In January of this year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission charged the marketers of Kinoki Foot Pads with deceptive advertising and is currently seeking monetary redress to consumers. According to my reading, in a series of carefully-controlled experiments, detox foot pads have proven highly effective at removing money from suckers' wallets.

Ingredients in Kinoki Detox Foot Pads:

Wood Vinegar, Bamboo Vinegar, Chitosan , Dokudami ,Loquat Leaf , Vitamin C, Vegetable fiber , Tourmaline , Dextrin