Sap sheets, or detox pads, are covers made of natural woods, such as bamboo, which adhere to the soles of the feet and allegedly draw impurities out of the body. Detox pads are based on the principles of reflexology, which teaches that the 7,000 nerve endings in the feet are so closely linked to certain parts of the body that manipulating and adding pressure to these endings will result in pleasure or healing in the corresponding body part. The pads are marketed as devices that relieve stress and improve health by applying consistent force to key pressure points on the feet, primarily at night, since the user must be in a reclining, relaxed position.
During slumber, users of detox pads allegedly have metals, chemicals, and other impurities pulled downward toward the feet in a wicking action caused by the pads. Manufacturers of these pads claim to have tested used pads after eight to 12 hours of use. The tests reportedly show the presence of oxalic acid, uric acid, and heavy metals like mercury, insinuating those things have been absorbed onto the pads. Users also report that the pads are frequently covered with brown and black substances after one night of use. Some news investigations and medical schools, however, claim the detox pads have not been proven to actually remove impurities from the body.
Vigor upon awaking is the main purported benefit of detox pads. Other benefits include relief from headaches, stomach pain, and joint pain. Such pains were generally caused by the acids and poisons removed. Uric acid, for example, is the forerunner of gout and other forms of arthritis, while oxalic acid can result in the formation of kidney stones. Memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease are often linked to metallic content in the brain; detox pad manufacturers claim these sheets can help reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s in some people.
The detox pads allegedly restore normal balance to the body, clearing up rashes, improving the circulatory system, and ending overall malaise. Reflexology, the Ayurvedic practice that detox pads pay homage to, also claims to yield these benefits. Some pad users opt instead for reflexology treatments which have some key differences and have some occasional research support. Bare hands are used to massage bare feet in reflexology instead of wood fiber pads; also, a trained practitioner applies manual pressure for 40 to 45 minutes at a time and afterward massages the patient’s hands, which also have nerve endings.
Detox pads are often sold in various flavors and scents to capitalize on any aromatherapy and holistic effects from added essential oils and herbs. Cayenne pepper, grapefruit extract, and lavender oil are three common ingredients added to pads. Some varieties include raspberry extract, fennel and dandelion. Chips of healing stones like tourmaline are also added occasionally.