Hispanic woman soaking feet in water with flower petals
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Ionic foot baths are machines that purportedly pull out toxic heavy metals and negative ions through the soles of the feet, via the kidney meridian of the Chinese acupuncture system. The Ion Cleanse Detox Footbath, manufactured by the company A Major Difference, drains lymphatic toxins into a basin of water.

About Ionic Detox

Retailing for up to $3,000, ionic foot baths allow people to soak their feet in salt water through which low-voltage current is transmitted via an electrode assembly called an "array." Aqua Detox International claims that their foot baths produce an array of positive and negative ions, which "resonates through the body" and stimulates cells to heal themselves while releasing toxins such as heavy metals, according to DeviceWatch.com. The water in an ionic foot bath changes colors as the user soaks, which manufacturers claim is proof that the lymphatic system is being drained and toxins are being released.

Health Claims

An Ion Cleanse foot bath purify the lymph nodes by drawing heavy metals from the body, reports AMajorDifference.com. Proponents of ionic detox make a wide range of claims about health benefits resultant from drawing out antimony, arsenic, copper, lead and uranium, including enhanced nutrient absorption, increased body flexibility and weight loss. Some parents of autistic children swear that ionic foot baths relieve symptoms of the disorder, according to Blisstree.com, with foot bath manufacturers making no claims to the contrary.

How It Works

When the array is placed in a saline solution bath with the feet and allowed to deliver direct electrical current into the water, metals in the array interact with the saline and generate positively and negatively charged ions. These ions reportedly neutralize charged particles in the body, pulling them through the skin via diffusion and osmosis. In the case of ionic foot baths, the higher concentration is the ion field generated by the array in the saline.

Models and Pricing

AMajorDifference.com offers two models of IonCleanse baths, the Premier and the Solo. The Premier machine is the professional model and retailed for $2,895 in late 2013, with monthly payment plans available. The Solo, marketed for home use, sells for $1,995. The difference between the two models lies largely in customer support options, warranty and included accessories. The Premier has a two-year warranty, while the Solo has one year. Overnight repair is available on Premier models in the United States. The Premier has extra plates and an extra array cord, and features five session programs, as opposed to the Solo's single program.

Skepticism About Foot Baths

Seeking to debunk ionic foot bath manufacturers' claims, "Guardian Unlimited" reporter Ben Goldacre conducted an experiment in which he placed two metal nails in a bowl of salt water and used a car battery to send current through them. As he suspected, the water turned brown and formed sludge on top, just like an ionic bath after a foot detox. Goldacre then sent a colleague for a foot detox and asked him to collect water samples from his ionic bath. He said laboratory tests of both water samples proved that the change of water color was the result of increased iron content; the results indicate that the color change of the water is due primarily to rust precipitation from electrode corrosion rather than to toxins drawn from the feet.