Do detox foot pads really work?

Answers from Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.

No scientific studies have been published showing that detox foot pads do what they claim they'll do.

Manufacturers of detox foot pads say that the products draw toxins out of your body while you sleep. Some manufacturers have claimed that detox foot pads also reduce blood pressure, treat depression and aid weight loss. Typically, you're instructed to stick a detox foot pad on the bottom of one of your feet overnight for 30 days in a row for an initial cleansing period. When you peel off the detox foot pad in the morning, its darkened or discolored appearance supposedly reflects the toxins that have been removed from your body.

Detox foot pads are said to contain natural ingredients — such as a mix of wood vinegar, plants and herbs, and the mineral tourmaline. The ingredients in detox foot pads are said to react with your body and give off infrared energy, improving cell function and drawing out toxins, such as lead and arsenic. Similar products include detox foot baths and spas.

However, no scientific studies have been published that show that detox foot pads work or that they're safe. The Federal Trade Commission has charged some distributors of detox foot pads with deceptive advertising. The bottom line: As with anything that sounds too good to be true, wait for scientific evidence that proves the claim before investing your time and money.

May 19, 2012