This week, I experienced an ion foot spa treatment and I met a new friend, Tracy, from Australia. Our meeting was quite circumstantial, as I met her on the street, calling out for some help to find the Ayurveda treatment center I wanted to check out before actually doing any treatments. I'd been walking for nearly 1/2 hour in search of the place, with no luck.
Not only did it turn out that Tracy was a vegetarian and happy to accept my invitation to join me and two friends at a great vegetarian restaurant, Aum, near Tha Phae gate, but she was also game to join me in checking out this Ayurveda place.
The woman at the reception was this cute 70 year old Thai woman who spoke pretty decent English and was quite hilarious in her attempts to be funny with her comments. When she asked what treatments we were there for, I'm not sure why, but I asked her what was something we could get done in 1/2 hour or a little more, as Tracy and I were meeting my friends for lunch. Somehow, it seemed a shame to not try something after all the trouble it took to find the place.
The woman at reception suggested the ion foot spa treatment, and I asked Tracy if she'd be game, if I treated. She said sure, and so we were whisked off to another little cottage and asked to sit down.
We chatted and got to know each other a bit, before two women brought round tubs with water and placed them at our feet. We had bands with wires around our wrists and two, three inch wide or more belts velcro'd around our waists. We put our feet in the water, flat down, on either side of the two containers with wires coming out and a metal plate, attached to a box-like machine on a small table. We were asked to keep our feet as still as possible. Some minerals were added to the water and the machine turned on that sent what felt like currents through our bodies. We could feel a slight warmth initially at our waists and a bit of a tingling sensation - not at all unpleasant.
We chatted for nearly 45 minutes and watched for the water color changes to occur. We were given a chart that showed what organ was being detoxified, based on the color at the time. We both went through the same colors, except that near the end of the time, my water was much darker than Tracy's and I had substantially more bubbles and what I termed as 'gunk'. Both of our tubs of water looked gross, and from what we were assuming, the gross qualities were all toxins being released from our feet.
After lunch, I reached out to my guru for all things Ayurveda, KP Khalsa, who is an expert in Ayurveda and Herbalism. My subject line on the email was Lots of Gunk, and I said that I was surprised to have so many toxins in my body. He responded quite strongly that what I was seeing in the water were NOT toxins emitted from my feet. He added that the chemical reaction and colors were from the electric plate, water and salt(basically rust) and maybe some minimal interaction with natural skin chemicals. He cautioned that while the treatment may not be worthless, it is dubious and exaggerated. He noted that this treatment had been studied extensively. He added that while the skin is not a major detox organ, full body steam, sauna and wrap treatments would be more effective than the foot spa for detox. KP reminded me that most toxins come out in the body through the kidneys and liver.
I was a bit fascinated and wanted to learn more about this ion foot spa, because I can confirm that my joints felt better the next morning. I had many fewer of the 'snap, crackle, pops' in my ankles and even hip area. There was a noticeable improvement. So, while the photo and the claims about the water turning colors based on body organs being detoxified may be exaggerated as KP noted, there was still something going on. I didn't even think about the treatment initially in the morning, as related to my joints. So, I don't think it was a placebo effect. I had already discounted the treatment as being of minimal value after KP's input.
When I did the research and read dozens of comments from 5 or 6 different sites and discussion boards on these foot spas, it was quite interesting reading. There were chiropractors and other alternative medicine doctors that validated the treatment, with the right equipment. Some people had amazing results and stood by their experiences as having been positive and others angrily debunked the claims of detoxification. Chemists spoke out describing the same chemistry that KP mentioned. One investigative team went so far as to show a foot spa provider that with no feet in the water, the water would turn colors, due to the chemical reaction and rusting of the metal. The foot spa provider was quite dismayed and confounded by this. Yet she continued to offer the treatments to her clients, as they wanted the treatments.
I learned from the Homeopathy of London site that detoxification in this manner has origins stemming back 5000 years to Ayurvedic medicine. The system of healing used concentrated sea salt baths to draw out impurities in the body. The therapy was also practiced in Roman times. In both cases, impurities were drawn away from the body; from lower concentrations (in the body) to higher concentrations (in terms of salt) in the surrounding water, through both osmosis and diffusion. The use of ionization; where water (in the confines of a foot bath) is charged with positive and negative ions (acting then in a similar way to concentrated salt in water) is a newer idea, but it is founded on the same historical principle. The ionization results appear to be much more dramatic and noted in a shorter time.
The bottom line for me is that I'm appreciative and glad KP shed light on the facts, and I realize now that the 'gunk' is mostly NOT from inside me. For the small amount of money that this treatment costs here, I will likely try it again though, to see if I have the same positive reaction in my joints. Knowing a bit more, I'm also curious to watch more closely the procedure the next time.
And I'm glad that I met Tracy, so the trip to the Ayurveda treatment center was definitely worthwhile.
Sending You Love from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Thank you for taking this journey with me!
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