Free Your Mind Body and Soul Wellness is an Owensboro spa that offers several alternative health treatments, such as float therapy, myofascial release, dry body brushing, infrared sauna and ionic foot detox.

Across the nation, foot detoxing is a popular spa treatment. Salons promote it as a way to remove the body's toxins and heavy metals through the soles of feet.

Gary Lewis, co-owner of Free Your Mind, used to race motorcycles and play golf. As a result, his left knee was injured. At one time, he was taking three medications a day for knee inflammation and pain.

Lewis became his own customer. He started using the ionic foot detox.

"It helped my arthritis a bunch," he said. "Within a month, I was off all my pain medications."

In an ionic footbath, the customer wears a wristband (the positive charge) that is hooked up to a machine. An array -- a black device that rests in the footbath -- provides a negative charge. The bath is filled with tap water and about a teaspoon of salt is added.

Using positive and negative charges, the ionic process reportedly works something like a magnet, sucking toxins out of the body.

At Free Your Mind, a foot detox session takes 30 minutes and costs $20. Or customers can buy four treatments for $75.

The room offers three massage chairs for clients who want to detox with friends, which is popular.

"People come in for a foot detox party," said Melissa Logsdon, who owns the spa with Lewis. "For some people, that's their social time."

Andrea Jones of Owensboro started coming to Free Your Mind in March for ionic footbaths, and she brings her sister.

Jones came once a week for the first month. Now, she comes once in a while for maintenance.

"I could definitely tell a difference," she said. "It really makes you feel good. It is something I would recommend."

Jones also sits in the infrared sauna after her foot detox. Those treatments increased her energy level and improved her moods.

Logsdon said foot detox can help with several issues, such as food cravings, insomnia, inflammation, allergies and sinuses.

During the 30-minute sessions, the footbath's water changes color. According to information at Free Your Mind, black flecks in the water are heavy metals, dark green represents gallbladder cleansing and white foam comes from the lymphatic system. After a treatment, the water can contain up to eight different colors, depending on which toxins were removed.

Since the start of the industrial revolution, the level of toxins in the environment have increased dramatically, according to the science community. The accumulation of pollutants have been linked to various health conditions.

In addition, many commonly used products contain unhealthy levels of metals, Logsdon said. For example, underarm antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds that can clog pores and keep the body from releasing toxins naturally through sweat.

Ionic foot detox has its fans, but it also has critics.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information published a 2011 report titled "Objective assessment of an ionic footbath (IonCleanse): Testing its ability to remove potentially toxic elements from the body."

The study tested the ionic footbath -- with and without feet. The study was funded through a grant from the Holistic Health Research Foundation.

The trial measured pollutants in the water after a 30-minute treatment. It also tested participants' hair and urine samples to determine if potentially toxic elements had been pulled from their bodies.

"In this proof-of-principle study, we found no evidence to suggest that ionic footbaths help promote the elimination of toxic elements from the body through the feet, urine or hair," the study concluded.

However, the footbath process was not found to be harmful.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com.

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