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Are There Benefits to an Ionic Foot Bath?

By Melissa King ; Updated July 18, 2017

Unless you live in a bubble, it's tough to escape exposure to pollutants, pesticides and other chemicals. Some spas and retail outlets offer a special treatment, called the ionic foot bath, to purportedly draw out these toxins through the soles of the feet. These foot baths may feel relaxing, but they're not necessarily as beneficial as companies claim.

The Process

At an ionic foot bath session, users immerse their feet in a basin filled with salt water. Electrodes in the water add a small electric charge. Proponents of these baths say that the electric charge helps draw out toxins and make the body's pH more alkaline. As this happens, the clear water in the bath starts to turn brown, black or even orange. Some companies claim that users experience reduced pain, higher energy levels and relief from allergies, insomnia and other conditions after a treatment.

No Scientific Evidence

Opponents of these foot baths say that they don't work as advertised. Companies tell customers that the bath water changes colors as it draws out toxins. However, the "Los Angeles Times" reported in 2010 that ionic water changes colors on its own, not because of the presence of toxins. Tim Crowe, Associate Professor in Nutrition at Deakin University, writing for ABC Health & Wellbeing, asserts that the human body has the ability to remove toxins by itself -- so a "detoxifying" foot bath isn't necessary. A study published in 2012 by the "Journal of Environmental and Public Health" analyzed hair and urine samples after participants had ionic foot baths; the study found no evidence that the baths had any benefit.

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