By Claire

November 21, 2019

Manufacturers of detox foot pads claim that these products draw toxins out of the body while a person is sleeping while providing other health benefits. However, due to the amount of misinformation about detox foot pads available to the public, many are left to believe that they are actually a hoax, rather than a legitimate detox method.

So, is detox foot pads effective? Detox foot pads are considered to be ineffective and unproven in the scientific and medical communities and there has been no evidence to support that they work as manufacturers often claim. However, there are reports of positive effects by consumers, which is mainly described as placebo effects.

Detox foot pads are products that often resemble large, white bandages with adhesive strips.

They are thought to work in ridding the body of circulating toxins that are ever-present and ever-growing due to modern lifestyles and exposure to environmental pollutants.

These products are intended and claim to absorb these impurities from the soles of the feet in order to help the body eliminate such toxins; however, some people are not convinced that the detox pads actually work.

YouTube video

The remainder of this article will discuss the history of detoxing foot pads, how they work, and the theories behind whether or not they are as effective as their manufacturers and distributors claim.

Detox Foot Pads: From Traditional Remedy to Modern Trend

When detox foot pads first came on the health and wellness market, they were heavily associated with Eastern medicine practices.

Some manufacturers emphasized foot health as a representation of total body health, even claiming that feet are thought to be the “second heart” in Eastern philosophy and medicine.

The idea of detoxification through foot pads took hold among many consumers who believed in the marketing campaign and the beneficial impact on the body.

foot health press

Detox Foot Pads & Reflexology

In addition to Eastern medicine, detox foot pads were also associated with reflexology, a form of massage designed to relieve tension and treat illness based on the theory of reflex points on the feet, hands, and head that link to each part of the body.

Marketers of detox foot pads used reflexology to support the benefits of using these products, including boosting immune systems, improving energy, and offering pain relief.

Detox Foot Pads & Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy benefits were tied to detox foot pads as well. Many manufacturers of these products infused the pads with rose, lavender, peppermint, and more in order to claim aromatherapy rewards as well as detoxification benefits, including enhanced relaxation and reduced stress.

Due to a sizable backlash against “pill” culture promoted by Western medicine and an increased interest in and awareness of Eastern practices, it’s no wonder that detox foot pads were heavily marketed in these ways; the marketing techniques have worked for many consumers who believed the detoxification claims.

But in reality, how do detox foot pads function and are the effects just a hoax?


How Do Different Types of Detox Foot Pads Work?

Despites of types, ingredients, and brands, all the detox food pads work the following way:

  1. Using the adhesive strips, users apply the detox pads to their clean feet at night, leaving them attached as they sleep.
  2. The detox pads should be removed the following morning after waking up.
  3. The visible “proof” that these pads are working to draw out toxins while you sleep is the darkening and change in color of the pads when they are removed.

Detox Foot Pad Ingredients & Its Effects

The assertion is that the ingredients the detox foot pads contain will draw out and absorb toxins–such as heavy metals and poisons–from the body through the soles of the feet during this period.

Most manufacturers claim that their detox foot pads contain “organic” or “all-natural” ingredients such as wood vinegar, plants, herbs, and the mineral tourmaline. 

These ingredients are suggested to leach toxins, such as lead and other heavy metals, and even poisons, such as arsenic, from the body. Other substances found in foot pads that are claimed to be detoxification ingredients with added benefits include the following:

●      Bamboo Vinegar: Thought to enhance intestinal health and skincare as well as containing deodorizing and “bacteriostatic” (inhibiting bacterial growth) properties.

●      Tourmaline: Reported to boost the immune system, delay aging, regenerate cells, and improve cardiovascular function.

●      Peppermint: Claimed as an herbal medicine with antimicrobial properties, and enhancer of digestion, relaxation, and energy.

●      Platycodon: Believed to boost digestion, immune system, and respiratory function.

●      Vitamin E: Added for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in addition to reducing wrinkles, generating cell growth, and blocking free radicals.

detox foot pad inside

(This is how it looks like after I open the footpad)

The visible “proof” that these pads are working to draw out toxins while you sleep is the darkening and change in color of the pads when they are removed.

These products often advise that the color of the pad indicates the level of toxins present in the body and how much more detoxification is necessary.

Therefore, if the pad is dark in color, manufacturers recommend that consumers should continue using the footpads.

If there is no change in color, consumers are encouraged to try the footpads again in the near future in case more toxins have settled in the body and require removal.

Do Detox Foot Pads Really Work?

It’s fair to be skeptical about whether or not detox foot pads actually enhance wellness, as many manufacturers claim.

The fact of the matter is, most people in the scientific and medical communities consider detox foot pads ineffective and unproven in their claims. For that reason, it is safe for consumers to conclude that these products are nothing more than money schemes.

detox foot pads before after

But what about some of the users of detox foot pads that admit that they have experienced a few of the benefits they provide?

Do only some detox foot pads do as they claim? In this case, the answer is still no. Those who claim that they’ve seen results from using detox foot pads are more likely to experience a placebo effect.

Manufacturers’ Claims: Benefits of Detox Foot Pads

Some manufacturers of detox foot pads have claimed that their products help treat or aid the following health conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • Circulation
  • Arthritis pain
  • Mental focus
  • Enhanced energy
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Reduced stress
  • Headaches
  • Cellulite
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
weight loss

However, it’s essential for consumers to know that there is no scientific evidence to back up any of these manufacturers’ claims.

For example, detox foot pads don’t actually help weight loss; they’re more for promoting things that have to do with whole-body health, such as circulation, energy, and strengthening your immune system.

In fact, several detox foot pad manufacturers and distributors have been legally charged with deceptive advertising by federal organizations.

These charges don’t necessarily mean that all detox foot pads are a hoax; however, they do indicate that there are some manufacturing and marketing organizations that are irresponsible because they are not fully transparent about the effectiveness of their products with their audiences.

detox foot pads effect

Consumer’s Claims: Kinda Effective, But Maybe Just “Placebo Effects”?

It appears that the only benefit of detox foot pads is the placebo effect that consumers experience when they believe that the product works.

Essentially, a placebo is something that mimics an actual medical treatment but, in fact, contains no active substance intended to affect someone’s health.

The placebo effect occurs when someone has a response, positive or negative, to a placebo. This phenomenon is often associated with the relationship of the mind to the body.

In other words, a person may experience a placebo effect based on their expected outcomes from using the placebo—even if there is no intended outcome. 

Theoretically, if a person expects a certain result from a product, the body itself may produce that result on its own. Some studies reveal that actual physical changes can take place due to this placebo effect.

In the case of detox foot pads, there is no medical proof that they are anything other than placebos. However, consumers who strongly believe that they draw out toxins from the body may feel that their bodies are, in fact, less toxic.

This placebo effect can cause product users to feel a heightened sense of wellness, even though there is no substantial rationale for such an outcome.

This increased sense of health and wellness due to the use of detox foot pads can be beneficial for consumers as it pertains to how they feel.

health man workout

However, consumers should be aware that this benefit is only a matter of perception and expectation due to the placebo effect. Detox foot pads provide no actual medical benefits when it comes to health and well-being.

What Do Blacken or Discolored Foot Pads Actually Mean?

Upon removal, users are supposed to find that the pads have changed color–and in some cases have turned black.

According to manufacturers, this discoloration is meant to represent the toxins that were supposedly drawn out from the body.

They suggest that the color of the pads indicates the level of toxins present in the body and how much more detoxification is necessary.

foot pads test

As a result, if the footpad is dark in color, manufacturers recommend that consumers should continue using the footpads.

If there is no change in color, consumers are encouraged to try the footpads again in the near future in case more toxins have settled in the body that requires removal.

But does a change in footpad color really mean you have all of these toxins in your body as these manufacturers claim?

Unfortunately, the reason why detox foot pads turn black or change color is the same reason that some consider them a “hoax.” 

The pads react to warmth and water by changing color. Here are some results from scientific studies that indicate why detox foot pads become discolored without evidence of absorbing body toxins:

  1. Detox foot pads have been proven to turn black when exposed to clean steam from a kettle.
  2. Detox foot pads have been proven to change color when exposed to clean water.
  3. Detox foot pads that have been used by laboratory volunteers and analyzed by scientists have revealed no presence of secreted heavy metals, poisons, or other toxic substances.
foot pad lavender

some foot pads include flowers & herbs

Although manufacturers of detox foot pads often claim that the different colors and/or residue remaining on the pad in the morning represent various toxins being pulled from the body, scientific evidence shows that the discoloration is more likely a result of the reaction between the combination of body sweat and a footpad ingredient, vinegar.

In other words, if you have sweaty feet, you are more likely to see your foot pads turn black or change color.

However, despite not having scientific backups, one thing I want to share is that it’s believed that Detox foot pads can be related to Chinese medication. 

Instead of these claimed magic effects, the Chinese tend to believe that the sweats people excreted during the night is a sign of excess dampness (In Chinese “shi qi”) in the body. 

An excessive amount of body dampness will make cause all sorts of unhealthy conditions such as inflammation, muscle aches, headache, and insomnia.

Therefore, the excess dampness absorbed in the food pads somewhat reduced body dampness and as a result, these footpads help to cure some minor health issues.


Are There Any Side Effects From Using Detox Foot Pads?

There are no directly reported side effects of detox foot pads by consumers or scientists who have studied their use. This implies that there is no prevailing risk for those who use these products.

However, just as the placebo effect of detox foot pads may provide beneficial results, it can also produce side effects. These side effects may include:

  • False and/or inflated sense of health and wellness
  • Inattention to actual medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
  • Refusal or rejection of non-placebo medical treatments in favor of placebo effect
  • Continued and prolonged use of placebo product

These placebo side effects can incur risk on the part of detox foot pad users, especially if they opt-out of addressing and/or treating medical conditions in favor of using the placebo product.

This can create or exacerbate long-term health issues and present serious consequences.

Scientists also bring attention to the economic side effects of using detox foot pads. Each pad is priced at an average of $1.50, which means that the cost of using them can add up quickly.

This is especially true in that manufacturers recommend continued use of detox foot pads for up to 30 days.

Are Detox Foot Pads a Hoax?

The word “hoax” implies intent to deceive or defraud. Most people consider a hoax to be a deliberate falsehood and/or fabrication masked as truth, separate from a joke or prank.

However, in the case of detox foot pads, most people would more likely label them as a “scheme” or “scam,” simply because most manufacturers of these foot pads claim they offer more benefits than they actually provide.


There may be less empirical and obvious effects resulting from these products, even if it’s due to the placebo effect; therefore, detox foot pads should not be considered a hoax.

So, there’s no harm to try detox foot pads if you have some minor health concerns, however, if you are seriously looking for scientifically proven methods, it’s also possible.

How to Scientifically Detox Through the Feet?

There is no research to support that there are any benefits from detoxing through your feet with footpads. However, there is scientific and medical evidence to support the importance of foot health and its relationship to the overall health of the body. 

Experts point out that our feet experience the most wear and tear when it comes to our bodies and that taking care of them is like taking care of a building’s foundation.

People often overlook the health condition of their feet, which can lead to long-term mobility and health concerns.

Those who have issues with their feet are often compromised when it comes to being active and performing daily tasks. This reduction in activity can result in heart disease, obesity, and other serious medical problems.

heart food

Medical professionals recommend that people keep their feet clean, adhere to excellent hygiene, and wear proper footwear to ensure foot health.

In addition, it’s advisable to schedule an appointment with your podiatrist as soon as possible if you are experiencing any foot pain or problems.

Other Alternative Feet Detoxing Methods

Experts recommend taking care of your feet as an important part of a self-care routine. Soaking, stretching, and massaging your feet are examples of proven methods of relaxation and provide some relief for those whose feet are tired and aching.

  • Soaking or Bath – Soaking your feet in a bath of warm water and white vinegar can help reduce night sweating.
  • Massaging – By massaging the many nerve points on the feet, you can not only achieve relaxation, but you can also assist the detoxing process. Pressing the Taichong point, specifically, with either your fingers or a massage stick tool, can unlock this benefit.
  • Scrape Therapy – Use a scrape board for scrape therapy on the feet, which helps relax the muscles and reduce pain.
Foot massage

Conclusion: Relying on Commercial Health & Wellness Products

Many modern consumers are concerned about environmental toxins and their effect on the body, and most experts agree that this concern is legitimate.

Health and self-care are changing to incorporate different philosophies that support a more holistic approach to promoting and maintaining physical, emotional, and mental health.

The danger for consumers is a lack of awareness and confusion as to the reliability and validity of commercial claims relating to health and wellness products on the market.

This lack of awareness can lead to both short and long-term effects, whether from using quick-fix placebo products such as detox foot pads or improperly treating serious medical conditions in favor of recent “health” trends.

Confusion regarding commercial product claims also puts buyers at risk. With the internet, we have more resources than ever to consult and gather information.

foot pad detox

However, much of that information is contradictory and misleading—especially when it comes to new or trendy health products that have not been studied and tested by professional organizations.

This can result in consumer vulnerability to marketing claims and improper, unverified information.

Overall, consumers should carefully consider all products before buying when it comes to health and wellness claims. The most logical and safest strategy in deciding whether to use a new or trendy health product is to get advice and clarity from those who legitimately work in the medical profession.

If there is any doubt as to the beneficial or harmful effects of a marketed product such as detox foot pads, it’s important to consult your personal physician before use.


About the author

I created this site to share my knowledge of natural remedies and ingredients because I am a big believer in an organic lifestyle.
Our body is strong enough to rid toxins and maintain a balanced ecosystem by itself as long as we treat it smartly.
Note that I’m not just talking about food and exercises, I also aim to help you gain a healthy mindset – a mindset that will lead you to a positive and resilient life.

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