Detoxification products don't work. Unless you are poisoned or suffering from severe drug withdrawal, there is no reason to attempt to "detoxify" your body. Your lungs, liver, and kidneys are a specialized and evolved purification system, and sending in a "detox" product to do their job is about as helpful as sending an army reserve with a knife into a nuclear war zone.
But if one ignores the scientific method, it's easy to prove that anything at all (you're about to read how literal we are) might help the human body fix anything. Then it's just a matter of finding some sucker with money and an equal ignorance of science. The problem is people can get hurt, as illustrated by the following popular detox systems.
Dual Action Cleanse
This unbelievably messed-up infomercial has fascinated us for years.
Host Klee Irwin spends the entire time discussing his unbridled fascination with pooping. His daughter's enormous bowel movements, the 44-pounds of feces they found in John Wayne's body during autopsy, nothing is off-limits for Klee Irwin except not looking like a creep. This would have been okay had Irwin not been making the whole thing up to sell a product called Dual Action Cleanse.
No autopsy was performed on John Wayne when he succumbed to cancer in 1979. The medical examiner's office had no reason to hold an autopsy since Wayne had obviously died from natural causes, and hospital pathologists had little to learn by requesting the autopsy of a cancer patient who had already undergone several major surgeries
Instead of cleaning out your colon, a service which is in itself totally unnecessary most of the time, the product actually does a really nasty magic trick inside of you. After drinking Dual Action Cleanse, it makes a cast of your colon and then you poop it out. The results are really NSFW, and just gross enough to scare people into buying this snake oil product:
To make things even worse, it contains ingredients which can be harmful when consumed at the recommended dosage. All this just to fill your toilet like you just ate a bag of Wow! potato chips.
Detoxification foot pads
Popular in Asia, there are several brands of pads and insoles to be worn in contact with the feet. The premise is that the foot pads contain a special "toxin-absorbing" chemical that can suck the toxins right through your toes. Keep in mind that your feet are made of skin, which we've already established as a horrible way of secreting toxins.
Yet, people keep coming back to buy more. Why? The ruse is that the pads turn a sickly brown or black after just a few nights' wear. This is enough to convince the user that the toxins are being removed. However, the footpads simply contain a chemical which darkens when mixed with foot sweat.
There's a big difference between lying to people about a health product, and lying to people about a health product that actually causes damage. Just like there's a difference between selling notebook paper as LSD, and notebook paper dipped in cyanide as LSD.
On January 3, 2008, the FDA released an urgent warning regarding the potential dangers of many imported pharmaceutical substances including several brands of detox foot patches. We're not sure, but we're pretty certain that people who think their feet conduct evil toxins would view the FDA as some sort of witch coven.
Not quite snake oil, but much more dangerous. Snake-stones (also known as viper's stones, snake's pearls, black stones, serpent-stone, or nagamani) are prevalent in parts of the world with lots of snakes and not much science.
Made of animal bones, stones or nuts, a snake-stone is supposed to be tied to the wound immediately after snakebite occurs. Then the victim goes about their day as if nothing bad ever happened – until they drop dead several hours later.
What makes these extra doofus-ey is that snakebite is not something which baffles modern medicine. We actually have products labeled as "anti-venom" at this point, and none of them are made from animal bones. Unlike magic stones, the curative powers of antivenom has been proven under clinical testing. Too bad, because evil people always seem to have lots of animal bones to unload, for some creepy reason.
Scientology's detoxification treatment
Entering Scientology's 3-4 week drug addiction detoxification program requires taking huge amounts of Niacin, and sweating more than Drew Carey on ecstasy. The goal is twofold: to sweat out the toxins and to break down toxins stored in fat.
This is ridiculous on multiple levels. First of all, there are already well-tested clinical methods for detoxing drug addicts, the methods of which Scientology totally ignores. It's one thing to try to sell people fake magic beans, but this is like selling them right next to a guy who is offering real magic beans.
The method's used have been frequently criticized for ignoring clinical testing and the scientific method. The skin is only semi-permeable, the notion that toxins could be eliminated through this membrane is untested. Frankly, eliminating significant toxin levels through one's skin is considered by scientists to be as farcical as Charlie Sheen running for governor of Arizona.
Not to mention an excessive niacin regimen has been called "totally irrational and dangerous" by the head of lipid research at the University of Washington. In addition, although subjects are asked to stay hydrated and not lose weight, rapid sweating every day for a month can cause all sorts of physical problems, plus no one will want to come near your sweaty ass except for your newfound Scientology buddies, and even then it's just because they want your cash.
We don't even have space to get into the fact that niacin does the opposite of what Scientology claims in regards to lipid reduction, or that this method does nothing to break down deeply stored fats. Or the fact that L. Ron Hubbard was more crooked than Colin Farrell's penis in A Home at the End of the World.
The Gerson therapy
The saddest part about all of this is that we haven't even told you the saddest part, yet. It is that what we are seeing represents the low point of human gullibility. 70 years ago, people used to fall for even more preposterous and dangerous ruses. Anyone who doubts this need look no further than the "therapeutic" regimen designed by Dr. Max Gerson.
Created to cure mother-flipping cancer, Gerson therapy required a bunch of stuff that wouldn't even fool the most naïve person today. Stuff like coffee enemas.
That's right, Dr. Gerson told people to pour java up their butt for cancer – and people actually did it! One could also only eat raw plants and juices. Also, he stuck hydrogen peroxide (the same kind that is used to bleach assholes) down people's throats. Drinking calf liver extract was also mandatory until severe health risks forced Gerson to remove this dangerous requirement.
Suddenly, tying a bone to a snakebite wound doesn't seem quite as dumb.
People seem to think buying into miracle cures is like buying a ticket in the lottery. Sure, it rarely yields results but there's always that chance of hitting that jackpot cure. Except, people forget that A.) This is crap you're putting in your body, which is dangerous when not scientifically tested, and B.) "Detox" products never work.