Monday, December 31, 2007

Kinoki Pseudoscience

I was seeing ads for this product on TV during the holidays. Supposedly, these pads detoxify your body through the soles of your feet while you sleep. These days, a claim like that immediately sets off my skeptical alarm bells, especially if it includes the word “detoxify”.

Kinoki has a website, of course, so let’s see the actual claims and the support for them.

How Kinoki Detox Foot Pads® Work
Working quicker than other detox methods and using the natural cleansing power of double distilled bamboo vinegar, Kinoki draws harmful substances out your body. You’ll feel the results right away!

Remove Toxins While You Sleep
Simply place ONE PAD on the SOLE of your FOOT (or a targeted body part such as the shoulder or knee) before going to bed. By morning, the pad will have absorbed toxins accumulated in your body, turning the white pad to a shade from gray to black. Use a fresh pad each night until the color on the pad becomes lighter and lighter when removed in the morning.
Well, the home page doesn’t have much to offer. There’s no obvious reason why putting “double distilled bamboo vinegar” on your foot would “draw harmful substances out of your body”. Your body has a liver and kidneys for that purpose, and they use energy to basically pump waste out of your system. Convincing me that a pad soaked with vinegar will cause those wastes to spontaneously diffuse through my skin is going to take some serious evidence.

But low and behold, there’s a “Clinicals” link at the top of the page. Is it possible that this product has actually been through a clinical trial that proves its effectiveness?

Clinicals
Coming Soon.
I guess that was too much to hope for. They have eight testimonials, of course, but testimonials are easy to obtain whether a product works or not. Maybe the FAQ page will have something useful…

What specific benefits can I expect?
Kinoki Detox Foot Pads may help:
  • Absorb toxins released by the body.
  • Relieve the burden on the immune system.
  • Assist in the natural cleansing of the lymphatic system.
  • Assist in the extraction of toxins from the body.
  • Support normal blood circulation.
  • Assist in the extraction of heavy metals from the body.
  • Improve quality of sleep.
  • Promote vibrant health and wellness
No surprises, really. The list of benefits is vague, at best, and they only say that Kinoki “may” help. If they can find eight people who, by random chance, felt that they received any of these “benefits” after using Kinoki, they’ve got their testimonials, and with such vaguely defined “benefits”, getting those eight people should be a snap, especially when they invoke the all-powerful “ancient Chinese medicine” trope.

This is what we call a “placebo”, folks. If you need to trick your brain to make yourself feel better and you think $20 is a bargain to do that, this is probably a good product for you.

EDIT: There's now a follow-up article.

10 comments:

Stew said...

They say that the darkenening of the pads overnight will diminish, indicating that the body is becoming "detoxified"
It may also be that the vinegar in the pad is cleaning the same patch of skin over a period of days.
I'd love to see some controls tested - like using a patch on a different spot each day, to see if they become uniformly dark or if they still lighten.
I'd love to see it tried it on a refigerated sholder of ham.
I'd love to see it tried on an inanimate semi porous material, like a coat, or a shoe.
I'd love to see the used pads analysed to see what has caused the dicoloring.

Lord Runolfr said...

I'd be interested to know if the pads discolor naturally once out of their packaging, whether you put them on your skin or not.

A poster on an internet forum claims to have tested plain gauze pads on his feet and found that they discolor just as the sellers claim Kinoki will.

cubman said...

I have been using these pads for 6 days. I used them on my feet without socks and they do turn a dark color, but have yet to experience any burst of energy. I also wanted to test other areas of my body to see if I couls achieve the same discoloration as the feet. So I applied them to my back where the kidneys are, to my side where the liver is and on my front neck. Guess what there was no discoloration at any of these other spots. So can someone explain why its only the feet that make the pads turn dark.

Roy Sencio said...

I actually have not tried them myself and I tried to so some digging up about the product, and the results you can read about here, Kinoki Foot Pads, but you know it is even more confusing because some people say, they work and some say they don't...

Anonymous said...

In order to verify that this actually works, which I doubt, a chemical analysis is needed. A chemical analysis of the residue that is left on the pad for mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, etc. will tell if elevated amounts of these metals were actually drawn from the body. I believe that the dark residue on the bottom of the pad is simply natural oils from your skin and dirt that causes discoloration and a mystifying belief that somehow your body has been detoxified. For twenty dollars, I'm afraid that the only thing drawn from your body is funds from your pocket.

bjbear717 said...

Just started using them - they turn dark and darker insome spots thatn others - sent in fo ranalysis (whats a $20 analysis) mine came back with some levels of aluminum, thallium, nickel small stuff - my friend's (in poorer health) came back with Mercury,Lead, Arsenic and PCB levels - will be akding for a blood level to verify. if nothin else it can be an awareness tool and cause you to raise some other questions.

Anonymous said...

So, a self proclaimed "lord" who hasn't spent any of HIS money to test the pads has a mouthful of opinion. Sounds like he is at least as much a ruse as kinoki.

Lord Runolfr said...

Actually, I come by the title honestly. "Lord" is an honorific bestowed in the SCA for service. It's the lowest level of award, but it's legitimate.

And no, I haven't spent money to test a Kinoki pad. The evidence they have presented is not sufficient to warrant my expenditure. If it were a legitimate medical product, they would be required to provide clinical evidence of its effectiveness. That they have provided nothing is telling.

And since you lack the courage to attach even a pseudonym to your comment, Anonymous, I see no reason to value your opinion.

Lord Runolfr said...

bjbear717,

I find it interesting that you had a chemical analysis that turned up anything, and especially interesting that heavy metals showed up in one and not another.

If you feel it worth your time and money to continue on this experiment, might I recommend getting some before-and-after tests of the pads? Cut a small swatch from one before you use it so you can make sure that it doesn't come contaminated with anything.

It might also be useful to know where you friend works. If the ground he walks on is contaminated, the pad might just be wiping chemicals off the bottom of his feet, rather than pulling them through his skin.

Anonymous said...

The proof that this is a scam is that they continue to charge your credit card for renewals, and you can not contact them to turn the repeat orders off. That is the common denominator of all the scam ads you see on TV for male enhancement products, unproven medical products, etc. It is a scam to get your credit card number. Then they continue to send order after order of a worthless product, and charge your credit card. Google for many of these products, and you will find this story repeated over and over. Many people report they will in desperation have to cancel their credit cards in order to stop the charges.