Friday, May 18, 2012

Bad Infomercials #1: Kinoki Foot Pads

Okay, so I felt it was time to tackle some of the worse infomercials, and how they manipulate and fabricate science to get you to believe their claims and buy their products.

First up is the Kinoki Foot Pads - a product that claims to detox your body by extracting toxins through your feet.

In case you are not familiar with this product you can view the commercial here - take a gander at some of the comments too.

First, the commercial asks if you "are poisoning yourself with unavoidable toxins in the food, water, and air we breathe" and if you suffer from ailments caused by them.
As it is true that some foods do contain things that are less than healthy for you, it is very rare that you actually ingest enough "poison" to actually make you sick. And if you did, your symptoms would be much more severe than the ones they suggest. Also, these symptoms are completely non-descript and very common among most people who are not actually ill.

Second, they claim this "ancient Japanese secret to perfect health" removes those toxins and other things from your body.
Now they are pandering to those who believe in and trust actual western health practices. While heavy metals can be dangerous, an individual is very unlikely to have an appreciable amount of heavy metals in their body, unless someone is intentionally poisoning them. You do however have metabolic waste and some toxins in your body, but again, not enough to make you ill, and your liver and kidneys are there to remove them for you - not your feet. Parasites simply are not a thing that can diffuse through skin, and if you have enough of them, the symptoms will let you know and modern medicine has plenty of ways to kill them. Chemicals are not out of place in our bodies, we are basically a bag of them, everything we eat and drink can be described as a chemical and we would die if there were no chemicals in our bodies. In terms of dangerous chemicals, again you would be painfully aware of the effects of consuming something like drain cleaner.  Cellulite is not really a thing, it is the appearance of subcutaneous (just under the skin) fat when it is less than evenly distributed.

Third, they claim you can reclaim your vitality with these amazing foot pads.  "Just like a tree that takes in energy from the sun and removes toxins through the roots, your body works the same way!"
As one of the commenters on the video stated: Not only is that not how your body works, that is not how a tree works!
Trees use their roots to absorb water and nutrients from the soil, not to expel toxins. Their one metabolic waste product formed by photosynthesis is oxygen which they release from their leaves into the air.

Next, they say this is based on "ancient Japanese reflexology." In case you are not familiar with reflexology, the only thing it has in common with a foot pad, is that it involves feet.  Reflexology is a tool used to relieve stress and improve relaxation. You can learn more here. While some scientists doubt the effectiveness of this method, it is still in no way related to extracting toxins through the skin on the bottom of your feet.
Additionally, your liver and kidneys are there for removing toxins and metabolic waste from your body, there is no need for your feet to be involved in this process.

They go on to show the "lab results" for 2 individuals who used this product. They say that the pad gets lighter every time you use it, until there are no toxins left in your body. Lets take a closer look at these results. First, these results are displayed as a 'Yes' or 'No' not as a number with associated healthy ranges. If you have ever had blood work done, you will see a range for the acceptable/expected values and then your number with a note on whether your values are too high or too low.
As if it was necessary to continue debunking the claims made by this products commercial, we can look at the specific items they test for.
Benzene is a colorless, odorless liquid that readily evaporates and is commonly found in a laboratory. While it is possible to be exposed to this compound environmentally, the levels would likely be low enough for your liver to handle. Isopropyl and methyl alcohol are simple solvents, both evaporate quickly and you are unlikely to ingest a dangerous amount unless you do so intentionally. Aluminum, cadmium, copper, and nickel are all metals that we need, in very trace amounts, in our bodies and can be found in some supplements. Mercury and lead are highly toxic and if you ingested even a small amount, you would not survive long enough to order, use, and receive the results from this product. Trace amounts of thallium are not dangerous, and thulium is something only specialized professionals would come in contact with. Arsenic is highly toxic, would be very unlikely to find, unless again it was intentionally being dosed to someone. Asbestos is something we can be exposed to environmentally, but it is a fiber not a toxin, that can be inhaled, not absorbed, so it would not likely be in your blood to be extracted by these pads. Azo dyes are used in many foods, and are therefore something we can be exposed to and ingest, however "Direct toxic levels of azo dyes will never be reached by consuming azo dye coloured food." PCB's, Polychlorinated Biphenyl, can be very dangerous, but their use has been long banned, and exposure probability is very low.

Then, the commercial says the foot pads "contain ions to refresh your body and enhance your overall well being." It may very well contain ions, perhaps that is part of how they manage to change color whilst doing nothing but fooling you into thinking this product actually does something. Ions are important in your body, all cells in your body - neurons, muscle tissue, skin, all organs - are full of, and surrounded by, ions of many varieties and require them to function. Calcium, chlorine, sodium, potassium, and many other important minerals exist as ions in your body.

Lastly, the product is 'FDA Registered' this is not to be mistaken by something that has been FDA Approved. As stated on the FDA's website "Assignment of an NDC number does not in any way denote FDA approval of the product. Any representation that creates an impression of official approval because of possession of an NDC number is misleading and constitutes misbranding."

Please, do not let people like these fool you into buying into their lies, do not jeopardize your health or your bank account hoping for a 'miracle.' If you have a legitimate health concern, call your doctor, or schedule an appointment. Do your research and know what you are dealing with, with every purchase, especially those dealing with your health.

The Mayo Clinic has some additional information that may be helpful.