While watching a program on the Science Channel I noticed an odd commercial for something called PowerPurify Foot Patches. The commercial claims the patches remove “toxins” from your body, improve sleep, and increase metabolism. It was obvious these claims were dubious and the product was basically a scam. I just couldn’t get over that the Science Channel would take money from these frauds to broadcast a commercial that was obviously completely non-scientific. I intend on contacting Science Channel to let them know my displeasure about this.

Here are some links about PowerPurify and similar products:

  • The Power Purify website – The main product where you can see the same commercial being shown on the Science Channel
  • The Wired Blog Network – Kinoki foot pads are mentioned as being a huge scam. These foot pads appear to be the same thing as the Power Purify foot patches. Their commercial contains even more bogus claims and they even cite research in a bogus scientific journal.
  • Detoxifying foot bath quackery – The foot pad scam isn’t that much different that the foot bath quackery.
  • ABC News 20/20: Can Foot Pads ‘Absorb Toxic Materials’ – 20/20 investigated these foot pads and reported what they found. (No surprise that they found they didn’t do what they claimed, but had an awful smell to them.)
    The broadcast version of the 20/20 segment can be seen here.

Stephen Barrett over at Device Watch (and affiliate of Quackwatch) sums up the detox foot pad scam nicely:

Various adhesive pads and patches are claimed to detoxify the body when applied to the feet. The best known is the Kinoki Detox Foot Pad, which is claimed to remove toxins, restore “balance” within the body, and boost energy. Various other products are claimed to strengthen the immune system, reduce stress, improve circulation, improve sleep, enhance mental focus, relieve headaches and arthritis pain. The alleged explanation for their working include reflexology, unblocking of lymphatic passages, and negative ions that release far infrared rays. All such products should be regarded as fakes, and the proposed mechanisms should be regarded as nonsensical.

Users are instructed to apply the products to the soles of the feet and leave them on overnight. In the morning, they claim, the pads will absorb toxins and turn muddy brown or black.

“Detox” product marketers have done no studies that identify what they claim to remove, measure its level in the body, and see whether such substances accumulate in the pads and have their level reduced in the body. It is unlikely they will ever try, because the basic idea that toxins will be excreted through the skin clashes with what is known about human anatomy and physiology. Real detoxification of foreign substances takes place in the liver, which modifies their chemical structure so they can be excreted by the kidneys which filter them from the blood into the urine. Sweat glands in the feet can excrete water and some dissolved substances. However, its minor role in ridding the body of unwanted substances is not changed by applying foot pads.

In April 2008. ABC’s “20/20” investigated Kinoki ad Avon pads and reported:

* When used overnight, the pads darkened, but dropping distilled water on the pads produced the same dark color.
* Laboratory analysis of pads used by eight volunteers showed no significant evidence of heavy metals or commonly used solvents.
* When asked for tests that would show that their products really work the companies offered no valid scientific studies.

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe talked about the detox foot pads on their show back on 1/2/2008:

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You can listen to their whole show along with numerous other wonderful shows here.

UPDATE: NPR on detox foot pads (8/18/08)