Aqua Detox is a alternative medicine treatment promoted as a form of detoxification. Aqua Detox involves soaking an individual's feet in a salt water bath through which an electrical current is passed. The water turns brown as current is applied; the device is typically promoted with the claim that the brown discoloration represents "toxins" extracted from the body. The device is marketed under a wide variety of names.
Aqua Detox has been described as a scam by a number of reviewers. Ben Goldacre found that the brown discoloration resulting from Aqua Detox treatment was simply rust produced by the metal electrodes, rather than any sort of toxin removed from the body. As a result of Goldacre's report, some marketers have admitted that the discoloration is simply rust rather than toxins, and altered their sales pitches to emphasize Aqua Detox's effect on "energy balance". Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch described Aqua Detox devices as "medically worthless" and a scam lacking any scientific basis. Aqua Detox machines have been the subject of false advertising complaints based on testimonials suggesting it had cured brain tumors, hypertension, and hammer toes; such claims were withdrawn by the advertiser.
According to its manufacturer, the Aqua Detox system produces positive and negative ions, that "resonate through the body and stimulates the cells within it", claiming that this 'rebalances' cellular energy, allowing efficient performance and excretion of toxins that have accumulated within the tissues and that 20 – 35 minutes of usage every second or third day causes toxins from throughout the body to be excreted from the 2000 pores of the feet  The manufacturer currently lacks evidence to demonstrate any detoxifying effect, but claims it is conducting a clinical trial to establish proof.
Although the manufacturer does not make direct claims for Aqua Detox in the treatment or cure of disease, the Aqua Detox International was the subject of a British Advertising Standards Authority adjudication for April 6, 2005, specifically challenging the use of user testimonials which implied efficacy in serious disease, and challenges to the general efficacy of the device; both complaints were upheld, with the advertiser not addressing the efficacy of the device but promising to remove the misleading testimonials from their advertisements.
The marketer Miracle Beauty claims that the color of the bath indicates which areas have allegedly been cleansed of toxins: black for liver, orange for joints, green for gall bladder. Aqua detox machines have iron electrodes that corrode to generate rust and tint the water brown when used to electrolyze saline in the footbath. The different variations in color can be accounted by varying amount of salt added to the water and variations in the compositions of the electrodes. An experiment with salt water and a car battery showed that the water will change color regardless, whether there are feet in the water or not, and that the composition of the analysed water was the same in both cases. This suggests that the change in color is nothing more than electrolysis, or rusting of the electrodes in the case of iron, and this is being used by the manufacturers to mislead the consumers.
Aqua Detox has not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration, and marketing materials related to the product carry a disclaimer to the effect that "it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease."
- Goldacre, Ben (September 2, 2004). "Rusty Results". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2004/sep/02/badscience.science. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
- Barrett, Stephen (December 28, 2004). "The Aqua Detox Scam". Devicewatch, an affiliate of Quackwatch. http://www.devicewatch.org/reports/aquadetox.shtml. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: Aqua Detox International". Advertising Standards Authority. April 6, 2005. http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/non_broadcast/Adjudication+Details.htm?Adjudication_id=39570. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
- www.aquadetox-international.com (link no longer available)
- Aqua Detox International - Research retrieved on 2007-May-05.
es:Toxicomanía fr:Détoxication it:Tossicodipendenza lt:Narkomanija nl:Afkicken ja:デトックス ja:イオンデトックス pl:Detoks pt:Desintoxicação ru:Наркомания sl:Razstrupljanje sr:Детоксикација th:การล้างพิษ uk:Детоксикація