Gee Whiz, It Turns Out That Kinoki Foot Pads Are Not A Good Deal

The nice folks at NPR have done us all a favor and taken some used Kinoki foot pads to be tested to see if they’d drawn anything out of a guinea pig reporter’s body. Guess what? They didn’t.

Reporter Sarah Varney bought some Kinoki foot pads and wore them to bed. She also subjected her husband to the (alleged) detox treatment. In the morning, they both awoke to the stinky brown mess that the advertisement had promised. Not convinced that the brown stuff had actually come from their bodies, our hero took the foot pads to a lab and had them analyzed and compared with unused pads.

“Compared to the blank that’s almost identical,” said the scientists. “It looks like three of the same sample, basically.”

A doctor from UC Berkeley confirms the scam diagnoses. Your body already eliminates “metabolic waste” and “toxins” through, um, other means…

“For many hundreds of thousands of years we’ve been successfully eliminating them through the usual means, which is urine and feces, and there has been no demonstrated need to accelerate that.”

So what is all that gunk in the pad? We’re not really sure, but it shows up if you hold the pad over a pot of boiling water. Who knew steam had “metabolic waste”?

Japanese Foot Pad Is Latest Health Fad [NPR]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Sudonum says:

    I am shocked, SHOCKED, to hear this.

  2. Jabberkaty says:

    Now, what am I going to do with all of these debunked footpads?! I KNEW I should’ve waited for the study to come out…

    I guess I’ll put them with my timeshare after I get done with my Pyramid Meeting Group…

  3. backbroken says:

    I think the brown stuff on the pad is your soul.

  4. EyeHeartPie says:

    @Jabberkaty: Which pyramid scheme did you get sucked into? Cashscam? :p

  5. snazz says:

    i got a free ipod for ordering these…

  6. chartrule says:

    sounds like the company producing the product proscribes to P.T. Barnums point of view

  7. MPHinPgh says:

    …but they were advertised on TV! How could they possibly claim all those things on TV if they weren’t true?!?

    The lab must have screwed up, and the doctor is a quack!

    /sarcasm mode OFF/

  8. my first clue was the catchy clogan of “Experince the Natural Power of Nature.”


  9. @valarmorghulis: slogan even…stupid morning.

  10. floraposte says:

    Oh, no! Next you’ll tell me there’s no Michael’s Claus.

  11. Nettwerk says:

    I saw an ad for these besides a farting teddy bear ad in the newspaper Sunday lol

  12. waffles says:

    My first clue was “Free pads for life.”

  13. bdgbill says:

    In the old mill town where I grew up there were old faded signs on some of the buildings for things like “Carters Liver Pills”. I remember asking my parents why they didn’t sell these old health remedies anymore. They told me that a law had been passed a long time ago to prevent companies from selling medical products that did not work.

    What happened to these laws? It seems like we have entered a new golden age for snake oil salesmen.

    By the way, these foot pads are for sale in the latest version of the “SkyMall” catalog on the airlines.

  14. DeleteThisAccount says:

    @Nettwerk: The farting teddy bear probably does a better job at eliminating toxins…

  15. Robobot says:

    I have a coworker who swears by these. She claims they help her wake up in the morning, but she has a permanent IV of coffee so I think that’s a contributing factor.

    It’s weird because she dismisses things like acupuncture, meditation, homeopathic medicine, and yoga as “liberal propaganda” and “witchcraft”. (Her exact words, not mine)! It’s not as if she is the type to buy into anything and everything “Eastern”, so I’ve always been a bit curious about these weird little pads. It must be one hell of a placebo effect because she is addicted to them.

  16. Milo.Stone says:

    I’m a sucker for just about everything I see on TV (I still want one of those pasta cooking tubes where you fill it with boiling water), and even I wouldn’t try that junk.

  17. tedyc03 says:

    Shocked! Shocked I say!

    Are you going to tell me Santa Claus isn’t real either? Then who eats those milk and cookies?

  18. morganlh85 says:

    The brown stuff on the pad is your common sense and/or dignity.

  19. Hongfiately says:

    It’s sin.

  20. DaisyGatsby says:

    Its the floof that L Ron was saying we need to goof.

  21. Underpants Gnome says:

    But they promised to remove toxins from my body just like roots take toxins from trees and deposit them into soil! With ‘science’ like that behind them, how could they possibly be a scam??!!

  22. fearuncertaintydoubt says:

    Your liver eliminates toxins from your body, not your foot.

  23. My liver works overtime eliminating toxins from my body

  24. Canino says:

    I saw a report on these somewhere. It’s just dried/powdered wood alcohol, which turns brown when it reacts with the moisture in your skin.

  25. Kevino says:

    It’s like I just found out about the Easter Bunny all over again. I’m crushed :)

  26. meneye says:

    I hope this company is taking this very seriously. They need to rethink their business plan into somehow twisting this into more sales

  27. Jabberkaty says:

    @EyeHeartPie: Look, I just have to pay in a little more to reach the next tier….

    Oh neat, my pen pal from Nigeria just wrote back.

  28. Nick1693 says:

    @Milo.Stone: “I still want one of those pasta cooking tubes where you fill it with boiling water

    I had one of those once. The pasta came out a little hard, but i’m 99.9 % sure I didnt follow the directions.

  29. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    I was listening to this in the car yesterday, laughter abound.

  30. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    There was some chemical in the pad that turns black/brown when it gets moist, pretty smart actually.

  31. johnva says:

    @bdgbill: You can sell any health scam, for the most part, if you just label it “alternative medicine” or a “supplement”. Basically, all the quacks went to Congress and got a gaping loophole opened in the law.

  32. Jesse says:

    They should tackle those HD Sunglasses and their amazing “glare ray” blocking ability next.

  33. Underpants Gnome says:

    @Jesse: Sunglasses that block the rays when people glare at me?? Sold!

  34. mzhartz says:

    @Milo.Stone: I got the pasta cooking thing. It cracked as soon as the boiling water touched it, and it only seems to work well for spaghetti. I now use it to store my spaghetti in the cupboard.

  35. cinlouwho says:

    There is a new thing out on tv for trimming dog and cat nails. It is basically a cheap Dremel tool. A number of my “dog owning friends” use their Dremel tools to trim the nails down. I don’t because my dogs are wimps either way! They hate the noise and feel of the Dremel tool as much as using a regular nail trimmer!!!

  36. My wife bought some of these once. I just forwarded this to her so she won’t buy any more. :P

  37. bishophicks says:

    Somewhere along the line, I think the rules for advertising changed from “it has to work” to “it’s not allowed to make people sick/dead.” This has greatly increased the amount of junk products for sale.

    I love the tree analogy in the foot pads ad. A second grader can tell you that their version of how a tree works is the exact opposite of reality.

    Why is everyone selling special pasta cookers? Get a pot, add 1 gallon of water, boil, cook pasta, drain and enjoy.

    Alcohol comes in powdered form now? I suddenly have all sorts of ideas for new snack chip flavors!

  38. bohemian says:

    When I first saw those things on TV I assumed it was some low level electrolytic reaction. There is a way to etch metal with a couple of basic substances because the combination causes a low level electric current, enough to slightly etch metal overnight. It also turns the rag or pad used that icky brown color.

    There is a similar scam to the foot pads called “aqua chi spa”. It is a foot bath that supposedly does the same type of toxin removal as the foot pads. The foot bath has a low level current in it and some “additives”. The bath water turns an icky green and brown, just like electro salt etching. Some reporter went to a spa or chiropractor that was selling this service, had them set up the spa but never put their feet in after the employee left the room. The water turned the same color sans feet.

  39. Phexerian says:

    I tried these pads a few months ago and got the green look on the bottom. My father swore by them and bought me some to try. Didn’t notice any effect.

    Some of the pads are FDA approved but not all of them. I dont know if Kinoki is or not. The funny thing is, to get FDA approved you not only have to show safety but also show efficacy; meaning that your product works as intended.

    The main ingredient in these pads is distilled bamboo vinegar. This is the substance that is supposed to absorb toxins through the bottom of your foot. Well, I have never heard of your body pushing toxins such as mercury and lead through ones skin. Other substances such as urea and other nitrogenous compounds go through your skin all day long, especially when one sweats. I guess it could be possible for something like mercury to go through, but there are some problems that it must overcome.
    1) Urea is not charged and passes through the skin very easily. Mercury has different isotopes that are more common and if I remember correctly, have a charge, which makes it very difficult for it to pass through the skin.
    2) There is no known mechanism as to how distilled bamboo vinegar extracts heavy metals from the body. I guess this isn’t much of a problem considering many of the Rx drugs we take have no known mechanism of action.
    3) No real good studies showing that they work. This means, no evidence based studies with a population over 30 that is double blinded with a placebo with a solid design.

    The theory is that your body takes all heavy metals in your body, and moves them to your feet to get the heavy metals away from your brain which is the most sensitive to them.

    I’d like to see if these things work for people in liver and/or kidney failure. IF they work in them, then they MAY work in normal healthy people. But most likely they would probably only work, if at all, for people who have tons of toxins in them and not the average house mouse.

    -3rd Year PharmD / MBA Candidate

    P.S. An interesting note, is that the FDA gave a warning on Jan 3 of 2008 to be careful of pharmaceuticals that are imported and even named a few brands of foot pads. I wonder if any of the ones they named, are ones that they approved in the US??? However, Kinoki has been under fire from the FDA since April.

  40. Phexerian says:

    P.S.S. I would also like to see if all the FDA approved pads have distilled bamboo vinegar in them, and if all the non approved ones don’t.

  41. drjayphd says:

    My old boss actually asked about these. Didn’t need to see anything beyond “continuity program” to know it was a scam, although at least Canino answered the “but is there any sort of legitimate science behind this” question. The pads don’t do anything? Quelle surprise…

  42. Farquar says:

    @cinlouwho: I dremel my dog’s nails.. She hates it worse then the clippers. If I even pick up the dremel she runs for cover. If I leave the dremel out on the table she walks a wide path, glaring at the table to make sure the dremel doesn’t hop off the table and attack her.

  43. DanGross says:

    Gotta read the fine print people:

    “*Results only guaranteed for Sasquatches.”

    Quick, get Tom Biscardi on the phone!

  44. springboks says:

    @Sudonum: I hope your “shock” is sarcastic.

  45. TideGuy says:

    Then why did they turn black after I attached them to my junk after that crazy night in Tijuana?

  46. @Quietly: Just FYI, the address they list on the infomercial, in Howell NJ, is a few miles away from my house. It’s a UPS store. I swear. How can you trust a company that uses a UPS store as their business address?

  47. @TideGuy: Did you happen to hook up with either Tila Tequila or New York?

  48. NotATool says:

    Ancient Chinese Secret: The “As Seen On TV” logo is really code for “scam.”

  49. madfrog says:

    No! Say it isn’t so! Somehow the whole idea of waking up in the morning with brown gunk coming from you feet and onto these pads did not give me the warm fuzzies. The body processes toxins from the body in other ways, yes, more in some than others, lol!

  50. Gopher bond says:

    @Farquar: I dremel my foot callouses, best callous remover ever.

  51. LauraElizabeth says:

    60 Minutes did a segment on this a few months ago, proving them to be fraudulent. Apparently, the brown gunky stuff is just moisture (from your foot) reacting with whatever’s in the pad itself – they dabbed water on a clean pad and it had the same result. Old newz.

  52. ObtuseGoose says:

    I guess this means my 6 month supply of Kinoki Crotch Padsâ„¢ is a scam too. Damn.

  53. VeeKaChu says:

    We have friends that breed akitas, and they too use the Dremel for nail maintenance.

  54. TVarmy says:

    @johnva: Seems unfair it also applies to the real supplements. This crap makes to good stuff look bad. Melatonin is a great sleep aid for me, and I get sick less often with a multivitamin. I suspect it’s not the placebo effect, because they work better than other remedies I’ve tried.

  55. shufflemoomin says:

    I would guess the brown gunk that appears is a side-effect of all the bullshit surrounding this product.

  56. Aisley says:

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, OK, I’ll stop. Hah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, haaaa that was good for my mood.

  57. MercuryPDX says:

    WOW… then it must be something else causing my Enzyte pills not to work?!?!?!?


  58. mariospants says:

    @bdgbill: “In the old mill town where I grew up there were old faded signs on some of the buildings for things like “Carters Liver Pills”. I remember asking my parents why they didn’t sell these old health remedies anymore. They told me that a law had been passed a long time ago to prevent companies from selling medical products that did not work.”

    Actually, I think the law at that time (and still today) dictates that you can’t: a) claim health benefits unless they are proven and b) sell anything that can harm people (which those olden-time products often did).

  59. ibored says:

    They just repalce the toxins with more stupid.

    Had a friend onetime…he talks me into helping his GF move. Well turns out she didn’t have to buy any boxes because she more QVC boxes then she new what to do with. And before you go thinking she put the QVC stuff in them…OOOOOH no…all the QVC stuff broke within days of her getting it, but she still swore by it. Selective memory is an amazing thing, as they say ‘a fool and his money will soon be parted’

  60. sir_eccles says:

    @Git Em SteveDave displays attention-grabbing vanity: But but but the UPS advert says I can have an address like a real business and they’ll be there to pick up all the checks from the scammed customers for me!

  61. cmdrsass says:

    Hi NPR, welcome to last year when every other news station in America revealed this as a scam (as if it wasn’t obvious).

  62. Haltingpoint says:

    Despite this being an obvious scam, the Walgreens near me (Belmont and Sheffield in Chicago) still features these very prominently near their checkout counters.

    While the root of the issue is the scammers themselves, it pisses me off to no end that the retailers will continue to carry it regardless until it stops being profitable enough to justify its shelf space.

  63. chiieddy says:

    @Wormfather is Wormfather: The reaction of the journalists when she holds the pad over the steam was classic. I heard it on NPR last night too.

  64. BearTack says:

    Given the analysis shown in the ad, I don’t understand how they managed to get by without a conviction for fraud. But then I don’t understand how anyone could fall for this type of come on anyway.

  65. dragonfire81 says:

    I credit this company for finding a great way to make money using some clever chemical manipulation.

    Of course it MUST be working if it’s changed colors!

  66. johnva says:

    @TVarmy: What we’re facing with “supplements” is a failure of government to properly regulate. There needs to be a science-based critera for supplements just like anything else, and much stronger FDA power to regulate supplements. Otherwise that just becomes a loophole for allowing any fraud at all to be sold as some sort of health remedy (which is the entire reason the FDA was created in the first place…to crack down on rampant health product fraud that was ripping people off and endangering them as well). Science, not marketing or popularity, needs to drive what is legal to sell and what isn’t.

  67. johnva says:

    @bishophicks: I’m not sure whether the rules actually are that it just has to be harmless. I think they technically can prosecute people for selling fraudulent products, but they almost never do. I do know that a bunch of scam artists selling fake cancer “cures” were recently busted, though. So it must not be TOTALLY legal to just sell anything that doesn’t work at all. Like I said, I think the government could shut down this entire industry (at least as a non-black market business) but chooses not to because a lot of it is popular and because the quacks bribe Congress not to.

  68. JoshMac says:

    I don’t care what this says these things work, I wear them in my shoes. By the time my work day is over it’s like walking in encased diarrhea.

  69. reznicek111 says:

    @cinlouwho: Maybe people that bought Kinoki foot pads can use them to detoxify their dogs? Then again, maybe Kinoki pads are great at stopping bleeding if you cut your dog’s nails past the quick.

    {I keed!}

  70. Benny Gesserit says:

    @Quietly: My coworkers are addicted to the offshoot of this one – the detoxing footbath (clear water goes black in five minutes, you get the idea.)

    What p*sses me off most is the tricks – one of the gals is 5mo pregnant. When they arrived, she was told “Oh, you’re pregnant. This detox may be too strong for you and the baby.”

    They then apparently examined her fingernails and said, “oh, wait, you baby’s doing very well!” and took her $30. B*stards.

  71. ddaq89 says:

    @edicius: Cos nothing says “I love you” like “I told you so” :D

  72. Katxyz says:

    According to Women’s Health, most of these are filled with bamboo vinegar, which changes color when wet. The makers claim that the bamboo charcoal/vinegar itself has detox properties, but in reality it just changes color from your foot sweat.

  73. theycallmetak says:

    These are akin to those “toxin-removing, all natural foot spas”. My aunty swears by them. You plug it in, dunk your feet and a couple minutes later there’s a ton of murk instead of clean clear water.

    30 seconds online and you find the answer.

    The current going through the electrodes in the water are sacrificial. They break down a layer of rust and oxidation leaving it in the water.

    Anything your body can get rid of it will. Through your butt.

    Anything that your body can’t filter out by itself i.e. heavy metals, etc. don’t come out of your foot just because you dunk them or 15 minutes in a “foot spa” of dubious quality.

  74. GreatMoose says:

    I think I read that these also have green tea in them. Mmmmm, a tasty beverage!

  75. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    Glad ya’ll posted this here. Tried to tell some of my friends that it was a scam and they tried to nay nay my warnings. I told them about the actors that were suing the kinoki people and how they said the company used make-up on their feet and they said all companies do that for commercials, the pads really do work. HAH! Some of my friends are dumb asses me thinks.

    — gc3160

  76. mewyn dyner says:

    To me, these days, the new snake oil trigger seems to be “toxins”. Anything that claims “toxins” are in everything, and that it can draw out said “toxins” is probably a load. I’m a natural skeptic, but anyone should be looking for specifics (“toxins” is too vague a term), clinical trials, and no “it’s too good to be true” claims.

    Now, those who do swear by things like this are affected by placebo affects. While these aren’t doing anything for that person’s body, a placebo can be quite effective. You can wake up better by just willing yourself to do so, and if you need an material assistant, do so.

    With that being said, I make fun of these kind of things, but they do have their place as a placebo for those who need it. I don’t care about it in that case as long as the person is not being totally swindled. ($5 a pack of these may be ok, $50 would not be.) Sure it’s not doing anything, and those people are throwing their money away in a sense, but if you need a placebo, it has its place.

  77. cockeyed says:

    so kinoki is claiming your feet poop. interesting.

  78. NotYou007 says:

    Dateline or 20/20 or the other news show did a story on this month ago. They proved they did nothing. They had test subjects try them, they did all test and showed they are nothing but a scam but even after they ran the story during primetime on a major network that stupid TV spot keeps showing up and it seems people keep buying them.

    They do not work, never have, never will. They are not FDA approved either. Just another way for someone to make money and nothing more. Most people complained about the horrible stink the pads caused the next morning.

    If something is that great and works that well that is a product I can drive to any local store and get. No product that works that well is only sold via the TV. If it is that great and works that well they will want it in every single store they can get it in. If it is only available by a special TV offer, it’s a scam.

  79. ngth says:


    You have a very dirty soul then!

    Kidding aside…. DUH, these are fake.

  80. mewyn dyner says:


    Heh, you can buy these at Wallgreen’s now. I’d say anything that makes outlandish claims is a scam, but that’s just me.

  81. Illiterati says:

    These remind me of those ear candles my homeopathic friends tried to convince me were great for pulling out deeply embedded earwax and “toxins.” I lit one and held it out in the air while it burned down. The results were exactly the same yellowish waxy gunk as what my friend swore was extricated from her head. Maybe because it’s a candle…made of wax? An earlier commenter was spot on when s/he said to watch out anytime someone starts yammering on about “toxins.” Bunk!

  82. bwcbwc says:

    I always figured the stuff on the after picture was just dead skin from the sole of the foot.

    And besides, the true homeopathic remedy for toxins in the body is more toxins. I’ll go grab another beer.

  83. SuperJdynamite says:

    My favorite part of the commercial for these pads is the “before” and “after” report that showed how level of asbestos that was migrating through the feet fell dramatically.

  84. SundayEl says:

    Interested in the FDA’s interpretation? Came across the following on Yahoo Answers.

    Pads containing certain ingredients are placed on feet during sleep to allegedly pull toxins from the body. The amount of ‘soil’ that appears on the pad in the morning is cited as proof that toxins have been removed. Since the same effect can be created by dampening the pad with water, skeptics consider these pads a form of pseudoscience.

    While there are significant claims of many Asian medical studies that prove the health benefits of detox foot patches, there are no known studies. On January 3, 2008, the FDA released an urgent warning [2] regarding the potential dangers of many imported pharmaceutical substances including several brands of detox foot patches. To date, no foot patch or pad product is approved for use in the United States by the FDA.

    So it is at best a pseudo-science and is NOT approved by the FDA. Still skeptic? Notice that Wikipedia uses FDA’s ALERT released on January 3rd 2008 as a reference, which talks about UNAPPROVED new drugs promoted in the US and their DETENTION WITHOUT EXAMINATION.

  85. QitarahAlope says:

    [updated] My understanding is the pads claim concerns toxic minerals and plain water contains minerals just like the body.

    “Was the water distilled? The body has water in it too. I don’t have an agenda, I just don’t think the water test means anything unless it was steam distilled water.”