An NPR experiment on Kinoki foot pads tested to see if they'd drawn anything out of a reporter's body.

Reporter Sarah Varney and her husband bought some "detoxifying" Kinoki foot pads and wore them to bed. In the morning, they both awoke find the pads covered in the brown mess that the advertisement had promised. But when they took the foot pads to a lab and had them analyzed and compared with unused pads, the used pads were almost identical to the blank.

Further experimentation showed that the "gunk" in the pads shows up if you hold the pad over a pot of boiling water. Who knew steam had "metabolic waste"?

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

I have received quite a number of emails from readers lately asking questions about these types of detoxifying foot pads; seems a lot of people desperately want to believe they work as advertised.

The Kinoki foot pads -- as well as other brands -- promise to draw out everything from heavy metals to metabolic wastes, toxins, parasites, cellulite and more, to restore your vitality and health.

I always questioned the value of this tool for detoxification, and, despite the lack of scientific research, the independent investigative reports above seem to agree: The likelihood that detoxifying foot pads work is slim to none.

However, certain foot pads may still offer some value - just not necessarily what they're advertising. And, you're not likely to get it from most brands.

Dr. Klinghardt Sheds Light on "Detoxifying" Foot Pads

In my recent two-hour Inner Circle interview with my good friend, Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt -- who is a pioneer and one of my primary mentors in natural medicine, and founder and president of the American Academy of Neural Therapy - I had the opportunity to ask him for his perspective and experience with detoxifying foot pads.
I came in contact with the foot pads about ten years ago through a Swiss-based company that was marketing the first footpad in Europe. The company is called Seguin, and they're marketing the traditional Japanese foot pad.

It's been out for over 100 years; the Japanese are using fermented bamboo vinegar. Now, what struck me at the time is that this bamboo juice had to be fermented for nine years before it was used.

We tried other foot pads, and there was clearly an effect similar to acupuncture, where people's energetic systems improved.

I did not see any significant triggering of detoxification - we just saw improvements in the autonomic nervous system, depending on where you put the foot pad.

Typically, by putting it on the soles of the feet, there is, in acupuncture, a relationship to the kidney meridian. And we did find that an improvement in urine, and in the organic acids. The kidneys bind toxins to organic acids, and the more organic acids come out, the more effective the kidneys are working.

And we clearly saw an improvement with that.

So, the benefit is not really relating to heavy metals, but more to the carbon-based toxins.

Then several other companies came out with different concoctions of things that they put in a footpad -- that were not fermented for 9 years -- other sorts of more exotic things, and they made all sorts of claims...

I simply use my muscle testing in my autonomic response testing system, and none of the [commercial] pads have held up. Some of them looked promising, but none of them held up and have become part of my approach. I don't want to say that all of them are bad or worthless, but the ones I tested certainly didn't hold their promise.

There's always an initial placebo effect when you do something like this.

Certainly I can say that bamboo vinegar in the original pads had clear benefits that we could also biochemically demonstrate, but I think there is a lot of questionable science out there with that, so I have stopped using them.
So there you have it.

There may be some biochemical benefits from the original Japanese foot pads that contain more expensive ingredients, such as 9-year old fermented bamboo vinegar.

But, as far as detoxing heavy metals and toxins, not even the original foot pads could accomplish that.

As the investigations by the NPR, ABC and MSNBC, Dr. Klinghardt couldn't find any proof that the pads drew out toxins or metabolic wastes either.

Toxicology Lab Found No Toxins in Used Foot Pads

Like reporter Sarah Varney, 20/20's correspondent John Stossel also took used pads in for toxicology testing. And, like hers, Stossel's results came back negative.

20/20 asked NMS Labs, a national laboratory in Willow Grove, Pa., to analyze used Kinoki and Avon pads from eight volunteers. They tested for heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury, and 23 solvents such as benzene, tolulene and styrene.

None of these common toxins were found in the used pads.

So what's that brown, foul-smelling gunk?

It's just a natural reaction between the ingredients and the moisture from the bottom of your foot.

Exposing the pads to moisture, either by placing them over a steaming pot of water, or putting a few drops of water on them will make the ingredients turn a darker color and emit an unpleasant odor.

Dr. Devra Davis, director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh and an expert on toxins, also conducted a similar experiment on her own, leaving the pads out overnight without their protective packaging. In an article for MSNBC she stated the pads contain "little more than green tea and vinegar," and that the color and odor are likely the result of these ingredients "interacting with oxygen, heat or moisture."

20/20 asked Avon and Kinoki for scientific test results showing the pads do what they claim to do, but neither company fulfilled the request.

Detoxing... For Real

Your environment does indeed have a profound impact on your health. Everything from the quality of the air you breathe to what you put into, and onto, your body makes a difference. Mercury alone can mimic or cause any illness currently known, or at least contribute to it. Detoxing and cleansing your body of toxins periodically can definitely help.

But what is the best way to rid your system of toxins?

As I write this I just returned from a three day think-tank outside of Los Angeles with some of the top experts in autism detoxification ( We explored some of the major modalities that are available.

The group came up with the following consensus and priority

1. Healthy Living
2. Avoiding Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)
3. Clean Water
4. Healthy Food
5. Healthy Movement
6. Emotions & Relationships
7. Tests
8. Organ Support
9. Supplements
10. Detox Tools

As you can see detoxification is a very important tool but it is clearly not high on the priority list of what to do if you are sick. It is one of the last steps in the process. I will be providing more information about these in the future as our group comes to a consensus but the key is that detoxification is a late step done after you have started the basics.

If you fail to follow an orderly process and begin detoxification processes prematurely before you are ready you can become very sick.

When Should You NOT Detox?

So please remember do not start a detox regimen when you are sick.

You need to start your healthy lifestyle FIRST, before you start detoxing, so you have a reserve that your body can draw on to allow your liver to do its job properly.

If you fail to do this you can easily overwhelm your liver's ability to process these toxic substances that are being eliminated and you will become VERY sick, wishing you had never done the detox in the first place. I have seen this many times, so please use some caution.


* The Consumerist August 19, 2008
* ABC News April 11, 2008
* MSNBC June 19, 2008

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