Diarrhea Foot Baths

 In 2006, I was in Chicago attending an A4M conference.  A4M Is the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. 

Yes, this was an anti-aging conference.  Might as well call it a PAA conference....People Against Aging.  This is a conference of people who don't want to get old.  I was expecting to see an angry mob of old people carrying picket signs outside the conference center.




Like foreign countries burning posters of George Bush, they probably burn posters of themselves.  Just when you thought Beverly Hills was the only place where everyone and his mom has had plastic surgery, along comes one of these conferences.  Except in this case it's the grandmoms and the great grandmoms.

 Now, I have nothing against wanting to look and feel younger.  Hell, I'm 36 and people think I'm in my late 20's and I'd love it to stay that way.  But the priorities of these people didn't seem quite right.  I'm sitting there, looking at people who will get botox injections, or take the latest snake oil, all in the effort to look younger.  Yet, as I look at them, I can tell they don't exercise or eat healthy.  Those two things will go a lot further in making you look and feel younger than a couple shots in your cheek (which will make you look like a cross between the Joker and Joan Rivers....oh, wait, Joan Rivers does look like the Joker).  These people were like smokers who worry about pesticides on their apples.

 Speaking of snake oil, it was abundant.

 If you've ever been to any type of scientific conference, there's usually a big commercial section where companies set up booths to hawk their products.  Of course, I'm being overly kind by calling this conference scientific.  If snake oil is what you want, the commercial booths at an anti-aging conference are the premium places to get it.

 I walked by one booth where there were a couple old ladies from Covington, Washington.  This piqued my curiosity as I wanted to know what type of snake oil my home state was producing.

 At this booth, there was a lady that was soaking her feet in a bath about the size of a small duffel bag.  The water was bubbling as the bath made a slight buzzing sound.  However, this wasn't some cozy bubble bath for your feet; the water was brown.  It had a thin layer of gunk on top.  It looked like the woman was soaking her feet in bubbling diarrhea.  It looked like a shit bath for your feet.

Curious as to what this bath was supposed to do for you, I eavesdropped on the conversation.  The bath was a salt and mineral water bath with a light electrical current running through it.  This combination was supposed to draw “toxins” out of your body and into the water.  The proof, of course, that these toxins were being drawn out of your foot pores was in the shitty-looking water.  The brown stuff was supposed to be the toxins.

People were lining up to try this thing out.  I walked by another booth with a similar device called the “Aqua Detox.”  There were three lines of people waiting to use this thing.  One guy sat there reading the paper as he soaked his feet in diarrhea.

Where was Penn and Teller when you needed them?  This thing smelled of bullshit, and certainly looked like bullshit...watery, runny bullshit.

Of course, it WAS bullshit.  There are numerous reasons why.  First, your body does not eliminate toxins through your skin pores.  In fact, your skin is quite impermeable to most substances, and for good reason.  If toxins could easily pass through your skin, the human race wouldn't have survived to this day.  Well, maybe Joan Rivers would've survived because her plastic skin would be impermeable, but the rest of us would be dead.  Your body eliminates toxic substances primarily through your liver and urine; your liver modifies the chemical structure of toxins so that they can easily be filtered by your kidneys and passed out through your pee.  In other words, you piss out toxins...you don't sweat them.

In fact, whenever someone in the health and wellness industry uses the word “toxin”, it should raise red flags.  “Toxin” is usually a pseudoscientific buzzword for “I don't know what the hell I'm talking about but I want you to buy this and I'll just tell you it eliminates toxins from the body so it sounds remotely scientific.”  The next time someone tells you they have a product that gets rid of toxins from the body, ask them to identify specifically what toxins are being eliminated.  I doubt they'll be able to answer you.

What about the shitty-looking water?  Isn't this proof that toxins are being eliminated from the skin pores?  Hardly.  The brown water is nothing more than rust.  The metal electrodes in the device are sitting in salt water; when you run an electrical current through them, the iron in the electrodes starts to oxidize.  In other words, the electrodes start to corrode.  The rust finds its way into the water, turning it brown.  You can produce the same effect by taking a car battery and sending a current through two metal nails placed in salt water (don't try this at home...I don't want my ass sued because you were stupid and got electrocuted.  Don't try this at work, either.  Don't try it anywhere).

Want further proof that the brown water is not due to toxins coming out of your feet?  Run the foot bath without your feet in it, and the water will still turn brown.

Here I was, watching people soak their feet in rusty water and enjoying it.  I was so tempted to say something to these people, but since I was representing the company I worked for, I had to remain professional and I decided to hold my tongue.  And let me tell you, it looks pretty damn funny when you stand there holding your tongue.

How much do one of these units cost?  $1600.  Yes, folks, $1600 so that you can regularly soak your feet in rusty water.

I'm in the wrong business.

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Dr. Andrew Bryk, ND
Dr. Andrew Bryk, ND
11 years ago

I appreciate the work that you are doing and I do agree with the limitations of detox foot baths. However, it seems a little naive that you would overlook the role of SWEAT and SEBACEOUS GLANDS in removing potential harmful chemicals through the skin. There is also the potential for ion tranfer (you are aware the FREE RADICALS are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction. As a result there is some thought that… Read more »

13 years ago

Hey James … funny stuff! (But sad all the same). My husband used to manage a drug store in a very high end neighborhood. One day in the store I noticed they had an “as seen on TV” section that sold those Kinoki foot pads — the ones that you put on the soles of your feet and they drain the toxins out while you sleep! I asked the hubby if he ever sold any of them, figuring a higher-end clientele might not be so gullible for such a cheesy product. Au contraire apparently. He said they sold like hot… Read more »

Jean Paulo
Jean Paulo
13 years ago

This post was very funny! Great article 🙂

Skyler Tanner
13 years ago

I hope everyone out there in google search world can see my response when they search my name.

Jesus fucking christ, what the fuck is wrong with people?

As an aside, your new sites are fantastic. Keep up the good fight.


James Mayo
James Mayo
13 years ago
10 years ago
Reply to  James Mayo

Great article on the value of true snake oil rich in Omega 3. We must always investigate where truisms come from…and sometimes they have a pinch of truth.

13 years ago

LOL! I’m still laughing at the “runny, bunny shit” line … It never amazes me how gullible folks are, and believe me when I say that I was, unfortunately, one of them. I won’t even tell you about how I used to tape “magnets” on my knees to help relieve the pain when I played tennis as a 300+ pounder. And before the placebo effect wore off, I would swear by my magnets …

Good post James.

jamie hale
13 years ago

“Toxin” is usually a pseudoscientific buzzword for “I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about but I want you to buy this and I’ll just tell you it eliminates toxins from the body so it sounds remotely scientific.” The next time someone tells you they have a product that gets rid of toxins from the body, ask them to identify specifically what toxins are being eliminated. I doubt they’ll be able to answer you.” I use the “please define phrase” or “Specify” on a regular basis, when talking with product pimps, Bsers, Liars, or basically anyone whom decides they… Read more »

Dr. Andrew Bryk, ND
Dr. Andrew Bryk, ND
10 years ago
Reply to  jamie hale

Jamie – although many of those words are misused by the general public they all have real origins (1) Natural – I agree with your assessment (it is somehow meant to imply safe…. I often tell my patients that HEMLOCK is natural but certainly not safe) (2) Chemical free – this has some basis when evaluating products. I high quality product will have very few binders and fillers unlike cheap store brands. (3) By increasing lean muscle mass, increasing protein consumption and supporting the thyroid you can alter the BMR and thus increase metabolism. (4) Antioxidants – not sure where… Read more »

13 years ago

Next time you could set-up your own booth and charge a fraction of the price but have 10 times the crowd.

Too bad more people don’t realize they need good health habits from the start instead of later when the wrinkles set in.

13 years ago

Great stuff, James. Always wondered what the hell, or where the hell, that gross water came from on those dorky commercials. Fantastic blog, keep up the great work!

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