Manufacturers and health practitioners of the ionic detox foot bath claim that it works by pulling toxins out and neutralizing the toxins present in the body with negative hydrogen ions. However, skeptics claim that it is impossible to pull toxins through the skin using electrical current and the ions produced by the foot bath, if any, would be positive rather than negative, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Ionic foot baths are simple basins containing two electrodes that pass an electrical current through the water when turned on. In theory, the electrodes produce an electrical charge that breaks apart water molecules to create negative hydrogen ions, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some state that the amount of current passing through the water may not be strong enough to break apart water molecules and create these ions.
There are a variety of theories concerning how the ionic foot bath works. One theory states that the negative ions vibration helps to pull toxins out of the body via the pores in the feet. Another theory claims that the negative hydrogen ions enter the body and neutralize the free radicals within. According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, the foot baths work by lowering the pH balance of the body and making it more alkaline, which is a less inviting environment for bacteria and viruses.