Toxic Feet

It was my 41st birthday recently, and my friend Adam (of Gillico and What I Had For Dinner Tonight fame) gave me a goodie bag from the Alameda branch of quirky Japanese dollar-store/pound-shop  chain Daiso Japan. Included were:

  • Koinobori (Carp windsock) – now flying from the corner of my deck
  • Thing you tap on your head to relieve stress (actually just kind of hurts)
  • Chicken timer!
  • Cool pencil
  • Kung Fu Koala t-shirt
  • Germanium bracelet (with dubious health benefits)
  • Couple of other bits and pieces
  • and…

Some “sap sheets”, which are these pads you stick on the soles of your feet overnight, and by the morning they have supposedly drawn out “toxins” from your body. Utter guff of course – there’s no evidence that any “detox” products or diets do anything, including “support the body’s natural detoxification”, but it was “fun” to try them out.

There were two in the package, so I stuck one on, and left the other as a control. The pads contained a powder of some kind, which smelt faintly of vinegar. The pad stuck on my foot nicely using the supplied adhesive pad, which provided a water- and airtight seal (which would provide important to how the pad “works”). I went to bed.

In the morning, after walking the dog and before showering, I peeled the pad off to see what had happened. The pad had turned a muddy, sticky brown, and the sweet vinegar smell was now more pronounced. But what of the other pad? I had left it on the table, uncovered, to see what would happen overnight. In the morning, it looked the same as when it came out of the packaging. Perhaps because it wasn’t in contact with my foot, no toxins had been drawn out, so it remained clean and white. Right.

I realised that sealing the first pad over my skin meant that regular moisture from the sole of my foot had caused the powder in the pad to turn brown and sticky. I tested this by sprinkling a few drops of water on the second pad and leaving it for five minutes, after which it turned brown just as predicted.

The FDA have banned companies from pretending that these things treat any kind of illness, or have any medical effect. The sap sheets I was given just said they were “soothing” or some other weasel words. They didn’t hurt me, so What’s The Harm?

Anyway, thank you Adam for my goodie bag!