Detoxification foot pads are used to purify the body and remove toxins and impurities through the skin. Products commonly contain powdered wood or bamboo vinegars (pyroligneous acid), germanium, and tourmaline. After use, brown coloration on the pad indicates absorption of toxins. Complete detoxification is indicated when the pads no longer change color after use.
Aloe, blue-green algae, milk thistle, and green tea are ingredients in Puranol products that may be associated with specific adverse effects, as well as unproven claims of efficacy. As a leaf extract contained in an unknown quantity, aloe possibly is effective for constipation. It is a stimulant laxative that contains up to 30% anthraquinones. 9 Anthraquinones are transformed into anthrones, which irritate the mucous membranes of the colon. Anthrones also increase fluid and electrolyte secretion into the gut, thereby depleting electrolyte levels. The adverse effects of aloe when used as a cathartic agent include cramping, diarrhea, muscle weakness, and weight loss. The use of aloe leaf extract has been linked to acute hepatitis. 9 Aloe also is known to cause hypokalemia and hypoglycemia. 9 Patients should be advised not to use aloe if they have diabetes, gastrointestinal conditions, liver disease, or renal failure. Aloe should not be given to patients who take digoxin, as the drug's effectiveness may be increased and toxicity is likely. 10.
In 2002, the FDA requested that all oral products with aloe be reformulated (i.e., aloe removed), owing to safety concerns. 11 However, products containing aloe are still available.
Paranil (DrNatura) is a detoxification product widely used to purify the colon and liver. 23 This product is one component of a detoxification regimen known as the Colonix Internal Cleansing Program; two other products, a fiber powder and a senna tea, are also part of this program. Paranil is the main component purported to be responsible for colon and liver purification. The manufacturer's directions for use are complicated.
Milk thistle is known to have laxative effects. 12 It also is used to clear the liver of toxic chemicals. The mechanism of action of milk thistle involves its active component silymarin . 12 Silymarin alters the hepatocyte cell membrane to prevent toxins from entering the liver. It also has antioxidant effects on the liver and may aid in its regeneration. Although milk thistle has few interactions and is generally safe, there is not enough evidence to support its benefits. 12.
Traditionally, detoxification products have been used to remove the buildup of toxins thought to accumulate in the body through ingestion and exposure. While detoxification products serve the same purpose today, they are also used as an adjunct to rapid-weight-loss regimens. Because of possible laxative effects, some detoxification products have a potential for abuse.
Puranol products contain selected vitamins and minerals that are beyond the scope of this article. A blend of apple, barberry, grape, citrus bioflavonoid, lemon, lycium berry, xanthan gum, and papaya is another component. There is no conclusive evidence to link any of these ingredients to detoxifying effects. 8.
Other Considerations: Abuse.