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What’s So Great About Detox Foot Patches

A Detox Patch is a lymph support sachet that has been developed from over 25 years of medical research in Japan and Korea. Containing a mixture of powdered herbal ingredients, the patch aids the body in releasing sweat (a lymph derivative) that has been stored in the foot tissues, thus supporting detoxification of a congested and often sluggish lymph system.

How do the patches work?

The patches work by a two-fold process: by stimulating the reflexology and acupuncture points on the bottom of the foot, and by drawing off stagnant sweat/lymph fluid that has settled in the foot. By drawing off this toxic fluid, the lymph system at large is gently stimulated, thus further promoting healthy release of impurities. The secondary release will normally take place through normal urine excretion.

The patches are placed on the bottom of the foot – either on the arch, heel or ball of foot. 1-3 patches may be placed on each foot at any time. It is often recommended to place the patches on both the left and right foot during any given session, as reflexology points for a particular organ or structure may appear on both feet. The wear time is from 6-9 hours. People who tend to hold fluids in their body may need a shorter wear time, as the patch may fill up in as little as 4-5 hours.

Wearing the patches at night makes detoxification sense, as this is the time the body goes into a natural detox cycle. However, patches may be worn during the day as well. Tip: you may want to reinforce the edges of the adhesives with extra medical tape, or wear a light sock to prevent kicking off patch during sleep.

The patch functions as a toxin vacuum cleaner suctioning out the waste in the form of sweat (dirty, toxin-filled lymph fluid) under osmotic pressure from the blood and lymph systems. Just as sitting in a sauna causes your body to sweat out impurities, so do the patches work in a similar way, they just use a different method to pull out the impurities.

Typical patch ingredients

Each ingredient in the patch is carefully chosen: some warm the foot, which increases circulation; other ingredients then draw the toxins out through the opened pores, while yet other ingredients act as disinfectants and antiseptics. Most patches use dried vinegar powders of trees such as oak, bamboo, and cypress; tourmaline (a far infra red emitter), and various herbs.

Some companies also include vitamins, fragrances, and fruit essences in their patch ingredients, but whether these extra ingredients really make a difference, is questionable. Finally, a patch needs to contain an absorption agent i.e. something to absorb and hold in the sweat being pulled into the patch. Some companies use chitosan, a shellfish product, while dextrin is also used.

(For more information on how to choose a patch with the right combination of ingredients, see my article Don’t Buy a Detox Foot Patch Until You Read This!)

What will I see when I remove the patches?

Upon removing the patch after 6-9 hours of wear, you will usually observe a brown, slushy residue on and in the patch. The residue represents a combination of sweat drawn out of your foot tissues and the patch ingredients interacting over the wear time. The residue color will vary from a light- to dark brown, sometimes even black, dark green or gray, and may feel slushy. In addition there may be a foul smell. Lest you are shrieking aghast in horror, know that the “brown goop” has not come out of your body; rather this represents the interaction of the extracted fluid and the patch ingredients over time.

How do I know the patches work?

A review of the literature shows that independent laboratory analyses have determined the toxin residue to include toxic metals such as lead, mercury, aluminum, arsenic, cadmium and thallium; benzene, plastic by-products and PCBs; asbestos; fast green dye and Sudan black dye; methyl and isopropyl alcohols, excess sodium and copper; bacteria, and old medication chemicals.

Keep in mind that at any given time, you may have dozens and dozens of toxins present in your system, but most labs will run limited panels of specific categories: heavy metals, volatiles, biologicals. So unless you want comprehensive, very expensive screenings, you may never know all the toxins present in your system.

Why detoxification is a good idea

When it comes to dealing with toxins, the best DEFENSE may be a strong OFFENSE. The food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the cleansers, cosmetics and personal products we use, and the industries we live near ALL contain thousands of toxins–hundreds of which may end up in our bodies, despite our best efforts to avoid them. As toxins accumulate, our body becomes overwhelmed trying to eliminate them. Over time, if the toxins are not removed, the symptoms may lead to various debilitating and chronic conditions.

Efforts we make to support our body’s detoxification may pay big dividends in the short- and long-term. As the cells, tissues, organs, blood and lymph that have been affected by the toxins are cleansed, the body makes adjustments and attempts to return to its initial state of balance.

The best test? Try them out for yourself.

If you feel that detox patches may be helpful for you, the best way is to simply try them out. See how you feel. Notice any changes. A little more energy? Less tired? Better sleep? Not so nervous or jumpy? Skin clearing? Granted, it takes time for systemic change to happen, but you may start to feel small differences after just a few days of wearing the patches.

Most patches contain no medications, chemicals, or harmful substances. So experiment with them: try one on each heel (site of reflex points of lower third of body) one night, then place patches on arches (site of reflex points of main trunk organs) of both feet, and then the balls (site of reflex points of top third of body – neck, throat, head) another night. Or, place multiple patches on each foot if in good health and for more accelerated detoxification support.

By the way, if you are undergoing a colon cleanse regime, or liver or kidney flush, wearing detox foot patches may help support your body to release the toxins being expelled.

Wear time

While the average detox patch cleanse may run 4-6 weeks, each person is unique, and has her/his own set of unique health factors, and levels of toxins in their body. Will a ny detox method or combination eliminate all toxins in the body? Of course not. Our bodies are filtering toxins 24/7 every day of our lives. A detox method helps the body do the work it does best. Patches, cleanses, chelation, diets are no panacea or magic bullet that rids one of toxins forever. But each can help. And with today’s onslaught of chemicals, heavy metals, plastics, preservatives, etc. present in our food, air, water, personal products and industrial chemicals – we need all the help we can get!

Some people incorporate patches as part of their daily health routine, like brushing teeth or taking a shower; others prefer to use the patches for a set amount of time, then go on a maintenance program.

Unique health factors affecting wear time include:  -general health condition  -history of serious illnesses  -toxin exposure  -history of smoking, alcohol or drug use  -long-term use of medications, chemotherapy  -exposure to industrial toxins  -work in paint-, refining-, or chemical industries  -exposure to fertilizers, pesticides due to living near golf courses or large farming operations  -condition of immune system  -lymph system disease or disorders

Check the guidelines that each company recommends for a standard detox period or discuss with your health professional.


In general, the patches contraindicate if one is pregnant or lactating; or allergic or sensitive to any patch ingredients. Do not place patches over open membranes, such as eyes; do not place patches over open cuts or wounds. Check with each manufacturer for specific contraindications or with your health practitioner if you have serious health issues or concerns.

Detox foot patches are a welcome new addition to the arsenal of detox products available in the U.S. I’ve tried to offer some basic descriptions and explanations that might help you decide if detox foot patches are right for you.

Statements regarding use of detox patches are for educational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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