Ionic footbaths are currently being used as a way to assist the body in eliminating harmful substances such as heavy metals. The currentstudy examined whether whole blood levels of heavy metals declined in individuals receiving ionic foot bath sessions in conjunction withmeditation and nutritional supplementation. A non-experimental design with no control group was used. Thirty-one participants received ionicfootbaths twice a week for twelve weeks. Whole blood samples were taken prior to starting the sessions and after the twelve week program.During each ionic footbath session, the participants were instructed to meditate. After each ionic footbath, the participants were instructed totake one ounce of intraMAX™. Whole blood samples were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma/mass spectroscopy to test for levels ofaluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Levels of aluminum and arsenic declined over the study period.

Ionic footbaths are one of a growing number of alternative health care products available to consumers through chiropractors and spas.Manufacturers of ionic footbaths believe that footbaths assist the body’s natural ability to purge itself of toxins that accumulate in the bodyover time and potentially diminish the health of the individual. One of the most commercially successful ionic footbaths is the IonCleanse®which is manufactured and distributed by A Major Difference, Inc.This report examines whether long term use of ionic footbaths, IonCleanse®, along with meditation, and nutritional supplementation, isassociated with the release of different toxins from the body. It is hoped that findings from these studies will help practitioners and theircustomers better understand the potential benefits of assisting the body’s natural detoxification process with the Ioncleanse®. This report focused on five metals humans are commonly exposed to: aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. The current studyexamined levels of each heavy metal in the whole blood of the people participating in the study. Heavy metal levels were measured beforeand after the 12 week program to observe any changes in blood levels of those heavy metals.The five metals studied here are present in the normal environment of all humans, but pose some health risks with acute exposure to highdosages or when too much of the metal accumulates in the body. Information about how humans are exposed to these metals and what isknown about their potential impact on health is provided in the next sections. We then describe the research methodology and findings fromthe current study. AluminumSources of Exposure Aluminum is a common element found in the natural environment. Everyone has some low level of exposure to aluminum as a result of theirexposure to or ingestion of food, water, soil and air (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry [ATSDR], 2006a). The list ofpossible exposure sources is lengthy and includes (ATSDR 2006b; Blaurock-Busch & Griffin, 1996; Sholer, Pfeiffer, & Papaioannou, 1981): Food SourcesMedication SourcesOther Sources• drinking water• buffered aspirin• aluminum pots and pans, cans, and foil packaging• food additives• intravenous fluids• antiperspirants and deodorants• baking powder• vaccines• polluted air• spices• antacids• Brewed tea Established Health Impact Most aluminum is not absorbed by the human body or if absorbed is excreted from the body through urine and feces. Aluminum can also bestored in human tissues and has been found in the brain, liver, colon, and bone (Blaurock-Busch & Griffin, 1996; Hellstrom, Mjoberg, &Mallmin, 2005). At very high levels of exposure, aluminum has been found to be toxic to the nervous system. This discovery was first madein patients on kidney dialysis who were also given aluminum to control their phosphate levels (ATSDR, 2006b). Toxic effects are typicallyobserved after ingesting large amounts of aluminum as incurred by dialysis or after inhaling aluminum dust as is sometimes observed inworkers at aluminum smelting plants.At lower levels of exposure and accumulation, there is currently no consensus regarding the danger of aluminum to human health (ATSDR,2006b). Some research has suggested that aluminum exposure may be associated with the development or progression of Alzheimer’sdisease; however available data are conflicting and no causal link has been established (McLachlan, Bergeron, Smith, Boomer, & Rifat,
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Center for Research Strategies, Inc. 3 1996). A recent research study investigating whether aluminum affected neurological functioning, only found one significant effect acrossmultiple studies. The same study suggested there was poorer performance in aluminum exposed individuals on other outcomes, but thosedid not reach statistical significance (Myer-Bacon, Schaper, Knapp, & van Thriel, 2007). ArsenicSources of Exposure Arsenic is part of the natural environment and is contained in soil and rock (Benbrahim-Tallaa & Waalkes, 2008; ATSDR, 2007a). Arsenic insome forms can dissolve in water, potentially contaminating sources of drinking water. Arsenic is also released into the air through miningand smelting activities. As a result, people working in mining, smelting, electronic or wood preservation industries can experienceoccupational exposure (ATSDR, 2007a). In the past, arsenic was widely used in pesticides and in copper chromate arsenate (CCA) that wasused to create pressure treated wood for outdoor construction. While these uses have been discontinued, levels of arsenic may still beelevated in the soil of agricultural areas where arsenic containing pesticides were used. Further, while the use of CCA-treated wood hasbeen discontinued for residential purposes, structures such as play sets, decks, and picnic tables built with CCA treated wood remain andcould be a source of arsenic exposure (Zartarian, Xue, Ozkaynak, Dang, Glen, Smith, & Stallings, 2006).Most people are exposed to arsenic through water or food. Well water is more likely to be contaminated with arsenic, particularly in areaswhere the soil has elevated levels of arsenic. In terms of food, higher levels of arsenic tend to be found in seafood, rice, grains, and flour.When considering arsenic exposure, it is important to separate organic from inorganic arsenic. Inorganic arsenic is of greater concern forhuman health. While seafood is the largest dietary source of arsenic in the US, it has relatively low levels of inorganic arsenic (Borak &Hosgood, 2007). Established Health Impact Arsenic is a well known cancer-causing agent. In particular, exposure to high levels of arsenic substantially increases the risk of skin, liver,bladder, prostate, and lung cancer (ATSDR, 2007b, Benbrahim-Tallaa & Waalkes, 2008; Lundstrom, Englyst, Gerhardsson, Jin, & Nordberg,2006). Arsenic is poisonous, so ingestion of relatively large amounts can lead to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and even death. Arsenic alsoimpacts the production of blood cells which can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, bruising, and an abnormal heart rhythm (ATSDR, 2007b).Long-term arsenic exposure causes changes to the skin that includes darkened spots, corns and warts; these are often the first signs ofexposure and are a warning for the more serious internal cancers that can follow with continued exposure (Argos, Parvez, Chen, Hussain,Momotaj, Howe, et al., 2007; ATSDR, 2007a). CadmiumSources of Exposure Cadmium is found throughout the natural environment. It can be found in air, soil, rocks, and food to varying degrees. Cadmium is releasedinto the environment in a variety of ways, including forest fires and volcanoes, erosion of rocks, fertilizer use, and burning of fossil fuels andhousehold waste (ATSDR, 1999a). Human exposure to cadmium occurs primarily through food and cigarette smoking, although individualscould also be exposed to cadmium from household dust (Hogervorst, Plusquin, Vangronsveld, Nawrot, Cuypers, van Hecke, et al., 2007),air, or water (ATSDR, 1999b; ATSDR, 1999a). Occupational exposure is also a risk for those involved in the production of batteries,coatings, or plastics or metal welding and soldering (ATSDR, 1999a). As mentioned previously, food and cigarette exposure are the primarily routes of human exposure. Vegetables, shellfish, cereals, and liverand kidney meats tend to contain higher levels of cadmium relative to other foods (Akesson, Bjellerup, Lundh, Lidfeldt, Nerbrand, Samsioe,et al., 2006; ATSDR, 1999a). Tobacco in cigarettes contains less cadmium, but since the lungs absorb cadmium better than the stomach,there is higher exposure to cadmium from cigarettes than from food. Even low dose exposure to cadmium is a health concern because thehuman body does not eliminate cadmium very well. As a result, cadmium builds up in tissues, particularly the liver and kidneys, and overtime, this long-term accumulation can adversely impact health (Kellen, Zeegers, den Hond, & Buntinx, 2007; Tellez-Plaza, Navas-Acien,Crainiceanu, & Guallar, 2008). Established Health Impact Multiple federal and international agencies have concluded that cadmium is reasonably likely to cause cancer (ATSDR,1999a), although datashowing a causal link are limited. One problem in definitively establishing the causal link is cigarette exposure. While cigarette smokingexposes the individual to cadmium, it also exposes the individual to other known cancer causing agents. Thus, in many studies it is difficult torule out the possibility that increases in the risk of cancer are due to exposure to other cancer causing agents.Besides cancer, cadmium is suspected to have a variety of other health effects. Cadmium can build up in the kidneys and lead to kidneydamage (ATSDR, 1999a; Akesson, Lundh, Vahter, Bjellerup, Lidfeldt, Nerbrand, et al., 2005). It can also affect bones leading to decreased
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Center for Research Strategies, Inc. 4 bone density and increase fragility and inhaling cadmium can damage the lungs (ATSDR, 1999a; Akesson, et al., 2006). While research onthe effects of cadmium are on-going, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) argues that there is minimal evidenceavailable to allow them to conclusively determine the health impact of cadmium exposure for humans. LeadSources of Exposure While federal regulations banning the use of lead in a variety of uses have greatly reduced the release of lead into the environment (ATSDR,2007a), exposure to lead continues to be a significant public health risk (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2007). Duringthe 20th century, lead was released into the environment through vehicle exhaust because it was used as an additive to gasoline. Leadcontamination also occurred because of its use in pesticides, paints, and food cans, and through industrial activities such as mining and theproduction of lead, lead alloys, and lead compounds (ATSDR). These industrial activities resulted in an accumulation of lead in dust and soilparticularly in areas around highways, old agricultural areas, mines, power plants, incinerators, and land fills that can continue to pose healthrisks today. Older homes also pose a continued risk of lead exposure because lead-based paint used in older homes can be ingested,particularly by children who might eat paint chips or dust contaminated from the lead paint. In addition to ingestion, exposure to lead can alsooccur through breathing if lead particles in soil or dust become airborne (ATSDR). Established Health Impact Large public awareness campaigns as well as outreach efforts have educated the public about the risk of lead exposure to children. Childrenare particularly sensitive to the effects of lead because only about one-third of the lead that enters their body is eliminated through urine orfeces; the rest is stored. In contrast, adults eliminate approximately 99% of the lead that enters their bodies (ATSDR, 2007a). Children canbe affected by even low levels of lead exposure. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) established 10µg/dL as the blood lead level atwhich we should be concerned about health effects in children, CDC officials have since recognized that blood lead levels below that aredangerous to children’s health and have been associated with lower intelligence (Jusko, Henderson, Lanphear, Cory-Slechta, Parsons, &Canfield, 2008; Lanphear, Hornung, Khoury, Yolton, Baghurst, Bellinger, et al., 2005) as well as other symptoms of nervous systemdysfunction (Canfield, Gendle, & Cory-Slechta, 2004; CDC, 2007; Téllez-Rojo, Bellinger, Arroyo-Quiroz, Lamadrid-Figueroa, Mercado-Garcia, Schnaas-Arrieta, et al., 2006). While reductions in intelligence and attention problems are probably the best known consequences ofchildhood lead exposure, it has also been associated with anemia, muscle weakness, and kidney damage (ATSDR).In both adults and children, the nervous system is the primary target of lead’s health effects. Lead accumulates in the body over time and isprimarily stored in the bones and teeth, where it can be stored for many years (ATSDR, 2007a; Campbell & Auinger, 2007). Recent studiesand reviews of the literature found that lead exposure in adults was associated with reductions in the size of brain regions, greater declinesin the cognitive abilities of older adults (Stewart & Schwartz, 2007), increased blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular problems(Navas-Acien, Guallar, Silbergeld, & Rothenberg, 2006). MercurySources of Exposure Mercury is a naturally-occurring element in our environment and comes in many forms. The two forms that are known by many people aremetallic mercury and methylmercury. Metallic mercury is a silver-colored liquid that used to be routinely used in thermometers and is stillused in a variety of applications. When inorganic mercury is present in the water system, microorganisms convert it to methylmercury whichthen becomes a contaminant in seafood (ATSDR, 1999a; Yokoo, Valente, Grattan, Schmidt, Platt, & Silbergeld, 2003). Everyone is exposed to some level of mercury which occurs when they inhale vaporized mercury or when they eat or drink something that iscontaminated with mercury (Mahaffey, 2005). Mercury is present at what are considered safe levels in the air of urban and non-urbanoutdoor areas. However, airborne levels of mercury are typically higher in areas near hazardous wastes sites, incinerators, or power plantsthat burn coal or other fossil fuels (ATSDR, 1999a). It is also more likely to be present in work environments such as plants that manufactureelectrical equipment or automobiles, chemical processing plants, medical and dental offices, and in construction (ATSDR, 1999b). Mercurycan also become airborne when it is released from broken thermometers, thermostats, or fluorescent light bulbs or from dental amalgamsused to fill cavities. Metallic mercury is more likely to be absorbed by the body when it is inhaled than when it is ingested (ATSDR, 1999a).In contrast to metallic mercury, methylmercury is easily absorbed when ingested. Methylmercury is typically ingested when people eat fish,shellfish, or marine animals. Larger and older fish tend to have higher levels of methylmercury. Mercury levels in fish that are commerciallysold are regulated by the FDA, so the seafood we consume is typically considered safe. However, mercury does accumulate so eating largeamounts of fish over an extended period of time can lead to a higher than desirable level of mercury in the body. People who eat the fishthey catch may also inadvertently expose themselves to mercury if they are fishing in mercury contaminated waters. Mercury can also bepassed from pregnant and nursing women to the fetus or child.
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Center for Research Strategies, Inc. 5 Established Health Impact Mercury is known to be a toxin to the nervous system and the kidneys; at high levels mercury exposure can lead to death (ATSDR, 1999a;Mahaffey, 2005). The effects of mercury exposure depend upon the type of exposure, because some types of mercury can easily passthrough to the brain (methylmercury, vaporized mercury), but other types cannot (ATSDR, 1999a). A sensation of pins and needles, referredto as paresthesia, may be the earliest sign of lower level mercury exposure (Mahaffey). At higher levels of exposure or as mercuryaccumulates in the system over time, symptoms include tremors, irritability and nervousness, a reduction of the visual field, loss of sensation,memory problems, and muscle coordination problems (ATSDR, 1999a; Auger; 2005; Mahaffey; Yokoo, et al., 2003). Kidney damage canalso occur because mercury accumulates in the kidneys. Breathing high levels can irritate or damage the lining of the mouth, throat, andlungs. It can also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and increases in blood pressure and heart rate (ATSDR, 1999a). The level of vaporexposure needed to produce those effect are more likely to be found in industrial settings where levels are much higher than in the air most of the general population breathes.


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