Why detox foot pads don’t work, and 3 tips to help your body naturally detox instead

Detox foot pad
Detox foot pads are applied to the sole of your feet and are thought to draw out toxins in the body. RUNSTUDIO/Getty Images
  • There is no scientific evidence that detox foot pads work to remove toxins from the body.
  • Detox foot pads are not dangerous or harmful, but they are a waste of your money.
  • Alternatives to detox foot pads include eating healthy, staying hydrated, and sleeping enough.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

In the medical field, detoxing is an important treatment conducted when someone has overdosed on drugs or other toxins. But, the practice of detoxing as a do-it-yourself, quick health fix has grown in popularity over the years.

Related Article Module: Why detoxes are terrible for you, according to dietitiansThere are several popular detox regimens or therapies advertised today, including juice cleanses, taking dietary supplements, and sweating in a sauna. Another product on the market is called a detox foot pad. But while manufacturers may claim otherwise, there is no evidence that detox foot pads, or detoxes in general, work.

Here’s what you need to know about detox foot pads, why they don’t do the job, and what you can do to help your body’s natural detoxification process instead.

What are detox foot pads?

A detox foot pad is a sticky patch that you place on the sole of your foot and leave on overnight while you sleep. You can buy various brands of foot pads at stores like CVS or Walmart, or online.

Proponents of detox foot pads claim the product draws out toxins, such as heavy metals, from the bottom of your feet.

There is no health risk in using a detox foot pad, and the purported benefits include:

When you remove the pad, it will be blackened, darkened, or discolored supposedly due to the toxins that were removed from your body. The color of the patch is supposed to determine the type of toxins collected, and in theory, the more you use the pads, the clearer the patch will become. However, there is no evidence this is true.

Do detox foot pads work?

There is no evidence that detox foot pads work as advertised, says Jeffrey H. Alexander, DPM, a podiatrist at Rush University Medical Center. And there are no published scientific studies available that prove that detox foot pads work. All supposed benefits are based on purely anecdotal evidence.

But what about the darkened pad when you pull it off in the morning? Sorry to say, those colors are primarily from the chemicals in the pads themselves.

Detox foot pads, which are infused with vinegar and other chemicals, can darken or change color after reacting to the perspiration and warmth from the soles of your feet, says Alexander. This discoloration has also been found when dropping distilled water on the product or steaming the pad over a boiling pot of water.

The most these pads would be absorbing is perspiration from the foot, says Michael Trepal, DPM, FACFAS, the Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Sweat glands on the feet can excrete moisture, but that’s a normal part of the body, says Trepal. You’d find all of that after wearing a sweat sock too, including some discoloration.

Why detoxes don’t work

A 2014 review of detox methods found no evidence that any advertised strategies eliminate toxins from the body or help you lose weight. In fact, in 2010, the Federal Trade Commission charged certain detox foot pad companies for misleading consumers to believe the pads could treat numerous medical conditions.

Not only do detoxes not work, but there’s no need to go on one. That’s because the body does a great job at detoxifying itself. Your gastrointestinal tract, liver, and kidneys all work to process, filter, and excrete toxins and waste from your body.

How to detox your body naturally

There are some more beneficial, scientifically-backed ways to help your body with its natural detoxification process, including:

  • Staying hydrated: Drinking an adequate amount of water helps your kidney properly filter waste from the bloodstream and out through your urine. Experts recommend drinking 15.5 cups of water for men and 11.5 cups for women daily.
  • Sleeping enough: Numerous studies have found getting enough sleep every night recharges the brain and can clear the body of toxins that build up throughout the day.
  • Eating a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet of whole grains, protein, and fruits and vegetables is a much better choice for any underlying health conditions, like diabetes, than quick-fix detoxing. In fact, a detoxing diet, such as a juice cleanse, can be dangerous for people with diabetes because many of these diets include high amounts of sugar without fiber.

Insider’s takeaway

There is no evidence to support the supposed benefits of detox foot pads. The discoloration of the patch, which is infused with vinegar and other chemicals, is due to the sweat and warmth from your foot, not toxins.

Your body already has a natural detoxifying process that involves the kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and liver. You can help this process along with eating a balanced diet, getting a good night’s rest, and drinking enough water.

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