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What Is an Ionic Foot Detox?

By Mary Margaret Peralta
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An ionic foot detox is a type of foot bath that is charged with regulated electrical currents in an effort to quickly rid the body of toxins. The main goal is usually to draw out acidic elements through the feet, leaving the body with a core composition that is more alkaline. An alkaline pH is usually thought to help improve overall health and make the body more resistant to certain diseases and ailments, and may also improve overall energy and focus. The device as a whole is usually little more than a basin or tub for soaking the feet. It’s usually pretty easy to use, and in most cases requires only access to electricity and clean water. People can use the devices at home, and they’re also commonly found in many holistic and Eastern health centers and clinics. There is some skepticism when it comes to how effective they actually are, though it’s important to realize that there can be profound differences from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some devices are more reliable and consistent than others. In general they’re thought to be very safe, though they do come with certain risks. People who are interested in trying the detox are usually wise to first consult with a physician or other qualified health provider, and should always carefully read the included directions and precautions.

Understanding Body pH and Ionic Forces Generally

Human body chemistry is usually in flux, often as a result of the types of foods ingested but also in relation to various environmental and genetic factors. From a scientific perspective, there are usually two primary options: fluids and general environments can be acidic or basic, also known as “alkaline.” There are of course gradations, and most of the time people’s internal chemistry naturally changes throughout the course of a day. Experts usually agree that a mostly alkaline composition best fosters optimal health, and this sort of composition is also thought to ward off illnesses and improve the time needed to bounce back from infection.

The best way to regulate internal pH is through diet and fluid intake, though proponents of ionic detox regimens often promote their products as “short cuts” or “cure-alls” that can achieve results faster than the changes wrought thorough diet alone. The main idea is that electrical currents in the water can pull acidic elements out of the body through the feet, leaving the internal pH more alkaline after about 30 minutes of soaking.

How the Detox Works

Having an ionic foot detox bath involves placing the feet in a special tub with warm water into which a low voltage electrical current in transmitted. The idea is that the current will, through osmosis, break the water into positive and negative ions. Negative ions in the water are ideally absorbed into the skin, attracting the positively charged toxic ions to rise to the surface. The toxins are then neutralized and released through the pores of the feet and back into the water.

Most baths are designed for people to soak the feet for about half an hour, which is supposed to be enough time for all or at least most of the body’s positively charged ions to travel to the feet and be expelled into the water. Many advertisements and promotional literature claim that these toxins become visible in the water after a time, and in most cases the water will turn a tea-shade of brown; experts usually think that this color is a result of the electricity’s natural interaction with the salts in the water, though, and may not be related to toxins at all.

Main Uses

In addition to detoxifying the body and ridding it of chemicals, ionic foot detox baths are also said to increase physical and mental energy and stamina. Proponents frequently claim a host of other benefits, too, including a stronger immune system, improved memory, and significant pain relief. It has been suggested that people with low sex drive, obesity, and allergies can also benefit from regular foot detox sessions, and people who suffer from arthritis, chronic fatigue, poor concentration, eczema, and psoriasis can sometimes also find relief — but most of these benefits are more incidental, and tend to vary a lot from person to person.

Controversy and Variations

There is a lot of disagreement in the literature when it comes to any palpable or proven benefit of these sorts of treatments. According to some researchers, the electric current in the foot bath does nothing to release toxins in the body. A number of studies conducted on the water in a foot bath run with and without a person's feet in it have shown the content of the water at the conclusion of the session to be identical, which raises questions about what, if anything, is actually being drawn out of the body. Skeptics often suggest that reported benefits may be largely psychosomatic, and that healing or pH changes may simply come from relaxing and soaking the feet in warm water.

It’s also important to realize that there can be tremendous differences between products and manufacturers. Just because two products bear the name “ionic foot detox” doesn’t make them identical, and the results they’re capable of achieving can be profoundly different. Anyone interested in purchasing this sort of product for home use is usually wise to do a bit of research into the options available, and people paying for treatments at clinics should ask about the specifics of the model being used.

Risks and Safety Precautions

Even though ionic detox baths are usually considered very safe and low-impact, they are not without their risks. In most cases, these treatments should not be used by pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers. Similarly, people who use heartbeat regulating medication, people who have had organs removed, or those with pacemakers or other battery-operated electric implants are usually wise to avoid treatments, as well.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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