Fact checks on health products and scams

FACT CHECK: Unregistered detox foot soak does not treat arthritis, varicose veins


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FACT CHECK: Unregistered detox foot soak does not treat arthritis, varicose veins
Experts say there is no reliable scientific evidence that foot detoxes work

Claim: Japan Foot Soak claims to detoxify the body and treat arthritis, varicose veins, and other ailments. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: Several posts advertising the product were made on the Facebook page “Japan Herbal Detox,” which has 2,500 followers. One video advertisement bearing the claim has gained 3.4 million views, 34,000 reactions, and 32,000 comments as of writing. It was posted on April 12, 2023, but continues to get comments and engagement from social media users, with interested buyers inquiring about the price and the page responding privately.

The facts: There is no credible evidence that a foot detox using foot pads or foot soaks works to clear the body of toxins, and no scientific studies support the claim, according to various medical experts cited in the Mayo Clinic, USA Today, and Business Insider.

In an article by Cleveland Clinic, Dr Irina Todorov, an integrative medicine specialist, explained that the discoloration of the water in foot soaks could be due to chemical reactions between impurities in the water and corroded metal rather than toxins leaving the body. Furthermore, the article highlighted the significance of lifestyle changes, such as food and exercise, for overall health and detoxification. It added that while foot baths are relaxing, they lack scientific basis for the claim that the products detoxify the body.

In a 2022 Rappler fact check, Francisco V. Navarro, a medical doctor and lecturer on traditional Chinese medicine, added that although traditional medicine uses “herbal poultices, plasters, and pads…these are meant to add or apply, rather than remove [toxins].”

No scientific basis: A 2008 report by National Public Radio testing whether foot pads work found no significant differences between used and unused pads, indicating that they did not perform as advertised. According to Dr. Jim Seward, an environmental health physician, pulling out toxins through the skin is not plausible because the body naturally eliminates these through various mechanisms, primarily through the kidneys and intestinal tracts. 

Similarly, a 2018 study from the Journal of Heavy Metal Toxicity and Diseases found that detox foot pads “did not induce the elimination of studied metals through the feet.” 

Not FDA registered: As of writing, Japan Foot Soak is not on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list of medical devices. Moreover, the page “Japan Herbal Detox,” which sells the product, is not registered with the FDA as a medical device manufacturer, trader, distributor, or retailer. 

The FDA has previously issued an advisory against the purchase and use of a similar foot detox product that had not gone through the agency’s evaluation process to assess its quality and safety. 

Under Republic Act No. 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009, the sale and use of unauthorized health products is strictly prohibited.

Previous false claims: Rappler has fact-checked similar supposed health treatments and cures that are not registered with the FDA:

Chinie Ann Jocel R. Mendoza/Rappler.com
Chinie Ann Jocel R. Mendoza is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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