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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Can Organic Detox Foot Pads Really Make You Feel Better?

Alternative "Cleansing" Pads Grow in Popularity

URTH Guy was sent a sample kit the other day from Global Healing Center, an informational website and online retailer of natural products based on non-GMO, organically certified, wildcrafted ingredients.

 dr. group's organic detox foot pads, to eliminate toxins

My favorite sample so far is the appropriately named Fresh Mouth, which is a delightful mouth refresher, packed with 38 ingredients to fight bad breath and promote good oral hygiene. It includes coenzyme Q-10, xylitol, colloidal silver, aloe, tea tree oil, green tea extract, propolis, eucalyptus oil, menthol, folic acid and more, and does seem to work well for me. Maybe I should get some for my sister…

I also got a DVD on colon health, which I admit I haven't had time to watch yet, a book on the same and some interesting looking colon cleansing powder, Oxy-Powder, which sells for $44.95. The vegetarian capsules are said to use the power of oxygen to safely aid the body in relieving irritation associated with constipation symptoms. Since I do tend to have that problem while traveling, I'll have to give it a try.

The item that most caught my attention, however, is Dr. Group's Organic Foot Pads, since I've been hearing about Kinoki foot pads from friends and in the media. According to Global Healing Center (GHC), Dr. Group's pads are designed to aid the body in removing harmful chemicals and heavy metal toxins. And they are the first such pads made with genuine organic ingredients. A pack of 10 patches, said to be enough for a 5-day cleanse, go for $34.95.

As TDG readers are no doubt aware, modern men and women are assaulted by a toxic burden from our polluted environment, from phthalates and other contaminants in breast milk, to mercury contamination from fish and other sources and heavy metals like lead. According to Dr. Group, such accumulated toxins lead to illness and loss of energy, and regular cleansing can help reverse the damage.

The foot pads are supposed to take advantage of 60 acupressure points found on the soles of your feet. They are said to "stimulate, energize and draw out chemicals, toxins and heavy metals from the body. These points mirror the specific body systems of the biorhythmic network that represents our total state of wellbeing."

What's in em? Organic wood vinegar, which is supposed to produce an osmotic effect that promotes the transport of toxins across cell membranes. There's also organic bamboo vinegar, organic Agaricus Blazei Murril (a fungus extract), powdered gemstones, natural starch and various herbs (such as organic Loquat). You're supposed to apply one pad to the sole of each foot before bed, every night or every other night.

So I tried this, as did my friends Bayard Russell and Liliana, who incidentally are both singer/songwriters. In the morning, we all discovered that the pads had transformed from hospital white to completely disgusting poo brown. They smelled a bit worse, like burnt bacon. I only had time to sleep for about five hours, and mine were less nasty looking. According to Dr. Group, if you use them for several days in a row they will begin to look less grody, which he says is proof that they really do pull toxins.

Bayard tried a second set of foot pads the next night, putting them further towards the middle of the foot. "They turned brown everywhere but the center this time, which was interesting," he reports. "I think the middle in reflexology is where the internal organs are. Also, in the area where my lungs are supposed to be on my foot, the feet are discolored slightly like bruising. Who knows maybe there is something going on. But I'm still sick [he was trying to fight off a cold]."

Critics Counter

According to John Stossel (who has had his own problems with credibility, including accusations of falsifying reports of "evidence" proving organic foods are more risky than products of conventional industrial agriculture) such detox foot pads don’t work, and are akin to a scam -- at least those made by Avon and Kinoki. Stossel interviewed Dr. George Friedman-Jimenez, director of the Bellevue/New York University Occupational and Environmental Medicine Clinic in New York City, who said, "I don't think that they act by removing toxins from the body."

Stossel's 20/20 asked NMS Labs of Willow Grove, Pa., to analyze Kinoki and Avon pads used by eight volunteers, some of whom sound like they at least wanted to believe the products work. Scientists didn't find toxins on the used pads. One test did find some lead, which Friedman-Jimenez believes most likely had been stuck to a tester's foot after they walked on it somewhere.

If you don't like John Stossel, NPR had simlar conclusions, based in part on testing in California.


Overall, Bayard thought he did feel a little better as a result of using Dr. Group's foot pads. LiliAna didn't think she noticed a difference in one night. Neither did I, although admittedly that's not a very long sample period. It's currently hard to say if the products have merit, given the lack of independent, long-term testing (Dr. Group says he has clinical evidence suggesting they do work).

In general, Western medicine has long been quite dismissive of the toxins argument in human health, though it has not done a good job at explaining why so many cultures have believed in this line of treatment for millennia, from Native Americans who treated a wide range of conditions in sweat lodges (which are supposed to help the body sweat out toxins, among other physical and spiritual benefits) and various mud baths around the world, to name a few. Most med school-educated doctors point to the body's primary elimination organs, kidneys, liver and so on, as the only methods of removing toxins. But it makes you wonder if so many people over the generations might not be on to something.

Of course, we also know surprisingly little about the power of the placebo, and new discussions even in mainstream medicine are beginning to ask questions about how we can better take advantage of the mind-body connection.

Have you tried detox foot pads? Do they work for you? Let us know below!

Photo Credit: GHC