False: Ionic foot baths detox the body, which is evident by a change in the color of the water.

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
December 8 2022

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False: Ionic foot baths detox the body, which is evident by a change in the color of the water.


The Verdict False

There's no evidence that ionic foot detox helps eliminate toxins. The common cause of changes in the water's hue is sweat and dirt on the feet.

Claim ID 8d7c5954


The ionic foot detox is a treatment offered at alternative health clinics and spas. The alleged detox technique involves submerging the feet in an ionic foot bath that contains water and electrodes that emit a low-voltage electric charge. Many advocates of this practice claim it is effective because the color of water in the foot bath changes, indicating that toxins are being eliminated from the body. 

A Facebook post claims that an ionic foot detox leads to more energy, a strengthened immune system, the removal of heavy metals, and other benefits. 

The post shows a person's feet in an ionic foot bath with the text, "What do the colors in your water mean?" The table below states the different colors of water the feet will produce during treatment, the area of the body the toxins come from, and the corresponding symptoms. For example, yellow-green water relates to "Detoxifying from the Kidney, Bladder, Urinary Tract, Female Prostate Area" and indicates symptoms of "Gynecological Disorder, Prostate." Orange water shows "Detoxifying from Joints, Arteries," the symptoms being "Arthritis, Rheumatism, Gout, Neuropathy, Pleurisy." The table lists eight colors of water, the affected body area, and the connected symptoms.

In Fact

There is limited scientific research into the efficacy of foot detoxes. Harvard Medical School contends that there is no documentation that ionic changes in the environment can cause the release of toxins through pores in the feet or any other area of the body.

Medical News Today explains that numerous factors, such as the presence of impurities in the water, can cause the color of the water to alter. Sweat and dirt from the feet are typically the leading causes of variations in the color of the water. Most foot detoxes also use specific salts, which can interact with and affect the color of the water.

The Cleveland Clinic says the product's electricity may cause some metal from the foot bath to corrode, which could explain the water discoloration. Different online videos show the water in the tubs changing color, even when feet weren't immersed. Even the American Council on Science and Health claims that the brown water, as opposed to the impurities drawn from the foot, results from the electrooxidation of iron. An iron coil and two terminals inside the black object are positioned in the bathtub, where an electrical current can be applied. Rust is the byproduct of iron oxidation, which is brought on by electricity and collects in the foot bowl.

In a 2012 study, researchers examined the ionic foot bath in depth and discovered that the foot detox did little to reduce toxic levels in the body. The study, titled ''Objective Assessment of an Ionic Footbath (IonCleanse): Testing Its Ability to Remove Potentially Toxic Elements from the Body,'' included six volunteers and assessed the IonCleanse's ability to eliminate harmful substances from the body. Water samples were collected before and after thirty-minute sessions, with and without feet in the bath. Participants' urine and hair samples were also collected for analysis. The study concluded that the foot bath did not boost the body's natural detoxification mechanisms, such as the kidneys or liver. The researchers wrote, ''We found no evidence to suggest that ionic footbaths help promote the elimination of toxic elements from the body.''

Speaking to the Cleveland Clinic, Integrative Medicine Specialist Irina Todorov, MD, said, "There's no denying that a foot bath can bring calm and leave you feeling more relaxed." Todorov added, "It's the same thing with taking a hot shower. There's just something soothing about it." Though there is no harm in trying a foot detox, children, and certain people, such as pregnant women and people with diabetes, should avoid using foot detoxes or consult a doctor beforehand, forewarns the Medical News Today.

The Verdict

Popular alternative health practices like foot detoxes could help people relax. However, science has not substantiated that the release of toxins from pores in the feet or any other body part is caused by external ionic factors. The ionization process often reacts with impurities in the water and rusted metal in the unit to add color to the foot bath. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.

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