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Can you really pull toxins out of your feet?

Many people believe that so-called “foot detoxes” or “foot baths” can literally pull toxins and heavy metals out of your body through your feet. Proponents claim that these foot soaks help remove toxins, increase energy, improve sleep, assist in weight loss, and more. But is there any science behind these alleged benefits? Let’s take a closer look.

What are foot detoxes?

Foot detoxes, sometimes called ionic foot baths or foot spas, are devices that supposedly extract toxins through your feet while soaking them in warm water. While designs vary, most contain arrays of electrodes that generate a low-voltage electric current through the water. This is said to draw toxins out of the body through the feet.

According to manufacturers and proponents, the electric current causes metals and toxins in the body to take on a positive charge. These positively charged particles are then drawn toward the negatively charged electrodes in the foot bath, pulling the toxins out of the body. The water usually changes color during the process, which companies claim is evidence of the toxins being extracted.

What toxins are supposedly being removed?

Manufacturers and advocates claim foot detoxes can remove all kinds of toxins, including:

  • Heavy metals like mercury, lead, and arsenic
  • Chemicals from pesticides and pollution
  • Preservatives and additives from foods
  • Byproducts from cellular metabolism like lactic acid
  • Crystal deposits like uric acid or calcium oxalate

In general, the term “toxins” is loosely defined by supporters of foot detoxes. Any substance considered harmful to the body could potentially be labeled as a “toxin” that the foot baths allegedly remove.

Are there benefits to foot detoxes?

Despite the claims by manufacturers, there is no scientific evidence that foot detoxes actually remove toxins or provide the health benefits advertised. Here are some key points on the alleged benefits:

Removes toxins

No studies have shown that foot detoxes can physically extract toxins, pollutants, or heavy metals from the body. The change in water color is actually caused by reactions between the electrodes and minerals like iron and magnesium already present in the water, not toxins being removed from the body.

Increases energy

There is no evidence that foot detoxes increase energy. Any perceived boost is likely a placebo effect rather than an actual physiological benefit.

Improves sleep

Despite claims by some spas, there are currently no studies showing foot detoxes can improve sleep quality or duration.

Helps lose weight

Foot detoxes have not been shown to help remove fat or cause weight loss. The warm water may temporarily cause fluid loss, but this does not represent losing actual body fat.

Lowers blood pressure

Soaking your feet in warm water may be relaxing, but there is no evidence that foot detoxes lower blood pressure or provide any heart health benefits beyond basic relaxation.

Detoxifies the body

The concept of detoxification through foot baths is essentially nonsense. Your body is already designed to naturally eliminate toxins through the lungs, liver, kidneys, and digestive system. No medical organization recommends foot soaks as a method of detoxification.

Are foot detoxes safe?

When used occasionally and as recommended, foot detoxes are likely safe for most people. However, the following precautions should be kept in mind:

  • People with pacemakers or other implanted electronic devices should avoid electric foot baths, since the electric current could interfere with these devices.
  • Diabetics and those with poor circulation should use caution, although warm water foot baths may actually improve circulation.
  • Open wounds or sores on the feet should be avoided, as these could become infected from the water.
  • Pregnant women should consult their doctor before use.
  • Children should always be supervised in foot baths to avoid drowning.

In general, the low voltage electric current used is not dangerous. But improper use could lead to minor electrical burns in rare cases.

The bottom line

Based on the complete lack of evidence, foot detoxes cannot be recommended as an effective health treatment. At best, any benefits are likely related to simply relaxing in warm water, rather than actually pulling toxins from the body.

That being said, occasional use in healthy individuals without medical conditions is unlikely to be harmful. But keep in mind that these devices have not been rigorously tested for safety.

While placebos can sometimes provide a perceived boost to wellbeing, foot detoxes are unlikely to deliver on the wide range of health benefits claimed by manufacturers. And they should never replace proven medical therapies or lifestyle changes recommended by your doctor.

If you simply enjoy soaking your feet, go for it! But don’t expect the process to detoxify your body or cure any medical conditions. Just treat yourself to a warm foot bath without all the detox hype.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do foot detoxes claim to work?

Foot detox devices use electrodes to generate a low electrical current through salt water. This current is said to draw toxins out of the body through the feet. The water often changes color, which companies claim is proof of toxins being extracted.

What are the supposed benefits?

Manufacturers claim foot detoxes can:

  • Remove heavy metals and toxins
  • Boost energy
  • Improve sleep
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Detoxify organs
  • Increase circulation
  • Lower blood pressure

Is there any proof they work?

There have been no scientific studies demonstrating that foot detoxes can actually remove toxins from the body or provide any health benefits beyond soaking in warm water.

Are foot detoxes safe?

They are likely safe for most people when used occasionally. But precautions should be taken by those withpacemakers, diabetes, wounds, and certain other conditions. Misuse could potentially lead to electrical burns.

Should you try a foot detox?

Foot detoxes do not appear to have any proven health benefits, but occasional use is likely safe for most people. But they should never replace proven medical care. Talk to your doctor if you have any health concerns.

The science behind foot detoxes

Here is a more detailed look at the scientific evidence on foot detoxes:

Do toxins get pulled out of the feet?

There is no evidence that foot detoxes actually remove toxins or heavy metals from the body. Multiple studies have analyzed the water before and after foot baths and found no difference in toxin levels or measurable change besides minerals from the water itself:

Study Findings
Laumann et al., 2013 Found no differences in nickel, lead, mercury, cadmium, or arsenic levels in water before and after foot bath session.
Fitzgerald et al., 2012 Detected no toxins in water other than small increases in iron and magnesium from electrodes.
Khuda-Bukhsh, 2007 No increase in lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, or nickel in water after foot bath use.

In fact, many manufacturers of foot detox devices now state in their disclaimers that the water color change does not indicate toxins being removed from the body.

Can it increase energy or improve sleep?

There are no scientific studies investigating whether foot detoxes can increase energy, improve sleep quality, or provide any other health benefits.

Any perceived benefits are likely placebo effects rather than measurable physiological changes. Things like relaxation during the bath or the placebo effect of expecting benefits could potentially explain effects noted by some users.

Is it safe for diabetic or pregnant women?

Very little research has been done on the safety of foot detoxes. However, there are some theoretical concerns, particularly for those with diabetes or compromised circulation:

  • Diabetics have an impaired ability to feel sensations in their feet and may not detect burning or damage from electrical currents.
  • Those with circulatory issues like peripheral artery disease could potentially experience skin ulcers or infections from water exposure and electricity.
  • Pregnant women have not been well studied, but some doctors recommend exercising caution with electrical currents near the uterus.

More research is still needed to establish the safety of foot detoxes, especially among higher risk populations. Consult a doctor before use if pregnant or with diabetes or poor circulation.


Based on the evidence, foot detox practitioners cannot support the claim that these devices extract toxins from the body. At best, they provide a warm foot bath experience using the power of suggestion and placebo effects to make users feel healthier and more energetic.

While foot soaks are generally safe when used as recommended, you should not depend on them as a substitute for proven medical therapies. And you certainly should not expect a foot bath ritual to cure any illnesses or provide measurable detoxification or other health benefits beyond basic relaxation.

If you simply want to indulge in a soothing foot soak with some fun lights and bubbling water, go for it! Just keep your expectations realistic and enjoy it as a calming experience, rather than a curative detox. But consult your doctor if you have any medical conditions before dipping your feet in one.