Manufacturers of detox foot pads claim that if you stick one pad per day on the bottom of your foot for 30 consecutive nights, the ingredients the pads will draw toxins out of your body while you sleep. But it is questionable if detox foot pads really work, and there are warnings to heed.

Do Detox Foot Pads Really Work?

Detox foot pads typically contain natural ingredients such as vinegar, plants and herbs. Dr. Gibson explains the theory that these natural ingredients give off infrared energy to improve cell function and that the targeted toxins are ones found in our environment, such as lead and arsenic. The foot pad manufacturers claim that the discoloration found on the pad in the morning is evidence that it has done its job of removing such toxins.

While no scientific evidence exists that the pads are not safe, all of the leading manufacturers of the detox foot pad provide warnings related to use of their foot pads.

“No scientific studies have been published showing that detox foot pads do what they claim they'll do,” writes Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, on the Mayo Clinic website’s Consumer health section.

Sensitive Areas

In discussing detox foot pads made by Takara (a large manufacturer of the product) a distributing website,, warns against using the pad over other areas of the body, especially open wounds, mucous membranes, or the eye area. It's unclear whether doing so might cause infection or irritation.


Acupeds, a manufacturer of the detox foot pad, provides a FAQs section on its website. When one of their customers asked why she felt tired, Acupeds answered that users may require more sleep as their body begins to cleanse and release toxins.

Joint Pain

Another FAQ indicated that a consumer of the Acupeds detox foot pads experienced joint pain when using the product. Acupeds replied that he may be experiencing a form of “healing crisis” from a chronic situation, but that reflex points will help his body heal and that the discomfort would disappear within a day or two.

Allergies to Shellfish

You should be concerned about using the detox foot pads if you are allergic to shellfish, based on research by Jamie Fritch who wrote a Vanderbilt University research paper entitled, "Chitosan". Chitosan is a fibrous ingredient derived from shellfish and one of the ingredients in the detox foot pad. Fritch states,"due to its composition, anyone allergic to seafood and pregnant women should not take chitosan."


Pregnant women are advised by Takara not to use detox foot pads until their third trimester, but they do not explain why it is safe at that point in pregnancy. It may be advisable to err on the safe side due to the Chitosan, and avoid the detox pads altogether.


There is little scientific documentation available regarding the benefits of detox foot pads, or any possible side effects of their use. And even though the composition of these detox food pads are primarily natural and appear to be harmless overall, it is wise to become an informed consumer; review the ingredient list, discuss with your physician, and then proceed with caution.