Ionic Foot Baths: Fact or Flush ’em?

I received the following e-mail today:

Dear Dr.  Kinsler:

I saw your website’s page and felt that you have a wonderful resource which can be of interest to users on my website who are looking for Foot Bath Detox. I have a site that provides…Water Ionizers and Ion Foot Bath Detox Units for Professional & Home Use. Our systems are a safe and effective treatment.
I hope you will find my website another good resource to be added into your website. Kindly revert back with your preferred linking code, hoping for a positive response from you.
Link Manager

Detox ionic foot baths, you say?  Sounds high-tech and healthy!  Actually, it sounds a lot like the detox foot pads I wrote about back in May and decided they were crap.(

The device is a foot bath connected to an electrical source.  The person’s feet are bathed for 30 minutes in salt water that is subjected to a low-voltage current transmitted through an electrode assembly.  Companies claim the device produces a frequency of positive and negative ions, which resonate through the body and stimulates all the cells within it, rebalance the cellular energy, facilities better organ flow and release any toxins that may have built up.  How do you know it’s working, you ask?  During the process, the water typically turns reddish brown indicating the successful “ionic cleansing.”  Different colors in the water are said to indicate toxins from different organs (yellow for kidneys, etc.)

Does it really work?  Sorry.  It looks like, once again, the detoxification apple doesn’t fall too far from the scam tree.  Multiple experiments with ionic foot baths of many brands and laboratory analysis of the water post treatment show no difference in the amount of “toxins” (like heavy metals) between samples that had feet in them and samples that had no feet in them! It seems that a chemical reaction between the salt water and corrosion from the electrodes produces a change in the water color.

Neat parlor trick, yes.  Cure for autism, liver disease and skin conditions, hardly.

It is, however one more interesting way for unethical healthcare practitioners to magically separate patients from their hard-earned money.

 Dear Scummy Internet Seller of Worthless Quasi-Medical Products:

Thanks for pretending to read my blog.  It is clear you didn’t, otherwise it is extremely unlikely you would have asked me to place a link to your silly, dishonest quackbath.  I will not be providing a link to you nor will I recommend your crappy electronic water box of lies.

Have a great day!


Brett L. Kinsler, DC is a skeptical chiropractor in Rochester, NY.  If you have an alternative medicine product you’d like an opinion about, let us know at blog [at]


Are Backbelts Fact or Crap?

I am frequently asked by patients about the use of backbelts for spinal injury prevention. The short answer is that we’ve know for quite some time that these strappy supports rarely do anything to prevent low back injuries and a recently updated Cochrane review supports this practice.

To top things off (or wrap them up I suppose), the corset-like belts may actually allow back and abdominal muscles to weaken as they become dependent on the additional artificial external support.

We do occasionally recommend a support belt for patients in acute pain as a temporary pain relieving measure or for pregnant patients (a different kind of belt for them). We will also on occasion have patients wear a belt for short periods during tasks that may require additional support but long term, all day use should be avoided.

Cellphones Popping Popcorn? Could it be true?

It never ceases to amaze me that people will see something outrageous and their first instinct is to, well, actually believe it.  Skepticism is dead in this country and I am certain it is the Internet, and probably YouTube, that killed it.

“But I saw it!  I saw it!”

Yeah, you saw with your own two eyes the videos where people put a few cellphones together pointing at a few kernels of popcorn.  They call the phones simultaneously and, POOF (or POP), the popcorn begins popping.  Supposedly, it is the cell phone radiation causing the popcorn to cook.  And imagine what it does to your brain?

Well, not much.  Apparently, these videos of the cell phone popped corn were staged by Cardo Systems, the maker of bluetooth wireless headsets, as a publicity stunt.  Cardo admits to that on their website posting that the popping of popcorn with a cell phone occurs only in the movies.  The company also stated “The ‘cell phone and popcorn popping campaign’ is completely untrue and a joke. It has been seen by over 4.1 million users already and has become a sort of global urban legend as it continues to be tried throughout the world.”

Urban legend indeed.  When I get one of these e-mails, my first stop is to check the validity.  Sure enough, you can’t cook an egg between two cell phones on a 60 minute call and you can’t pop popcorn with cell phone RF.


Dr. Brett Kinsler is a skeptic and chiropractor who practices in Rochester, NY.  His website is

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