The Ion Cleanse: Can a Footbath Really Help Autism?
“Holy Cow! We actually won!” This past Christmas, my wife and I entered the 12 Days of Giveaways contest presented by Generation Rescue. We were hoping to win either an IonCleanse® by AMD or an infrared sauna. I am so happy to say that our Ion Cleanse arrived in the mail a couple weeks ago. We could not be more excited to add the Ion Cleanse to our autism detox arsenal. (click here to read our current autism detoxification protocol)
This Lady is Nuts
My wife and I dove in head first after receiving an autism diagnosis for our son. We immediately started a gluten/dairy/soy free diet (aka GFCFSF) and were very open-minded when it came to alternative/integrative treatments for his autism. However, there were still some things that seemed way too farfetched or “woowoo” to me.
I remember reading a Facebook thread about how this kid improved after using a footbath. I thought to myself, “Say what?!?! This lady is nuts. How the heck is a footbath going to reduce the symptoms of autism?!? That makes no sense. I remember saying to my wife, “these autism parents are intense man!”
A Lot has Changed Over this Journey
Those were my thoughts 7 years ago as a new autism Dad. However, a lot has happened over the years. I am now a lighter, smarter version of my former self, and I am probably classified as one of those “intense autism parents”. At least, I hope I am. I can now logically rationalize how a footbath might actually be able to reduce the symptoms of autism. That’s not to say that I’m not still skeptical. I still have some questions about whether or not the Ion Cleanse can actually help my son. I am, however, super excited to give it a try.
Why Does Someone Need an Ion Cleanse® & What is It?
The body is naturally equipped with systems that help eliminate toxins, so why would anyone need additional detoxification support. Unfortunately, the level of toxins in the environment typically overwhelms the body’s ability to detoxify itself. Kids with autism often have interferences within their detox pathways that prevent these systems from working properly. Therefore, they are in need of extra detox support through supplementation, infrared saunas, or ionic footbaths.
According to their website, “The IonCleanse by AMD is a unique total body detox that uses biocompatible electrical frequencies with the healing power of ions – the same kind of beneficial ions that make you feel so wonderful walking along the beach or near a waterfall. The IonCleanse by AMD is the safest and most effective way to cleanse and purify the body.”
Okay, So What Exactly is It?
Simply put, the Ion Cleanse is a really fancy footbath. It sends a specific electrical current through the water. This current interacts with the salt in the water and creates trillions of ions or an ionization field. The electrodes split up the water molecules (H2O) into OH-(negative ions) and H+(positive ions).
How Does a Footbath Detox Your Body?
The Ion Cleanse has 2 components that help detox the body. Essentially, it relaxes then detoxes. The system stimulates a relaxation response within the body. According to AMD, this is what sets their machine apart from its’ competitors. They use special proprietary & patented technology to send an electrical current in a specific frequency. This frequency is one that is harmonious to the body, so it puts the user into a state of ease.
Lessening the Woo
If this is sounding a little too woowoo for you, let me help lessen the woo factor. Stay with me. There’s a little bit of physics here for you. Everything has a frequency (vibration). This means when an object or person is touched, bumped, or otherwise disturbed, it will vibrate. Typically, people talk about frequency in terms of sound. For example, drop something on the floor. It vibrates and produces a sound. In this case, we cannot hear the sound produced by the human body, but that does not mean it does not have a natural frequency. The Ion Cleanse sends a current in a frequency that is pleasing to the body allowing it to relax.
Frequency Following Response
While we cannot hear them, our brains have a frequency. Doctors can measure the vibration of our brainwaves. When you sleep, your brainwaves have a smaller frequency than we you are awake. In a process called Frequency Following Response, it’s been shown that sound can actually change your brainwaves and thus their frequency.
I have no evidence, but I suspect the Ion Cleanse works in a similar fashion. The special current produced by the electrodes somehow stimulates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system and allows it to relax. A body in a stressed state will not detox, so this component is paramount to the success of any detoxification program. It is why Destressing is a major focus in our own autism treatment plan.
Actual Detoxification Process
The Ion Cleanse uses the electrolysis of water to create both positively and negatively charged ions. Opposites attract, so the negatively charged ions will attract and neutralize positively charged toxins in the body. Positively charged ions will attract and neutralize negatively charged toxins. According to AMD, “neutralized particles will be pulled from the body through osmosis. The toxins will be harmlessly pulled from the cells and will come out in the water through the feet.”
Is it Safe?
AMD reports a pristine safety record. I have found no indications that this machine will cause any harm to anyone that uses an Ion Cleanse. There are restrictions for certain populations such as pregnant women, people with pacemakers… For the most part, the Ion Cleanse appears to be completely safe even for kids.
When it comes to detoxification, there are much more invasive treatments that pose a much greater risk to health of the patient. Supplements/drugs designed to pull toxins from the body can be quite dangerous. Treatments like IV chelation also present there own risks. In the case of an ionic footbath, there is nothing that is being put into the body, which makes it a gentle method of detoxification. According to AMD, an ionic footbath only creates a “one-way valve that draws out impurities, heavy metals, & toxins through the feet into the water. Giving the body a new channel of elimination.”
How Much is It?
The Ion Cleanse by AMD is not a cheap machine. The basic model is about $2,000. However, all detoxification programs are quite expensive. IV chelation and infrared saunas will cost much more. Even oral chelation using pharmaceuticals and/or supplements can end up costing around the same amount as the IonCleanse®.
AMD does offer payments plans, and they also provide a 60-day money back guarantee. Judging from the results of the 2 TMR studies (see below), 60 days is more than enough time to determine if your child will see a benefit.
Does It Actually Work?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive, peer-reviewed scientific study that ultimately proves or disproves the efficacy of the Ion Cleanse. As with any form of “alternative treatments”, there are swarms of naysayers determined to disprove its effectiveness. I typically dismiss many of these studies, as they are mostly trolls & cynics looking for clicks. However, I do listen to what they have to say and judge them on a case-by-case basis.
Bias: Always a Scientific Obstacle
There are a several studies available on AMD’s website. However, AMD was involved in someway with each of these studies, so there is a natural bias there. That’s not to say that these are not significant. We, as parents, have to look at every aspect of the research when considering options for treating our children. When we look at a study on sugar and discover that Coca Cola funded that research, we of course don’t consider that to be a good source of information. Using that logic, we have to assume that AMD’s own research is also biased.
I did find one study that claimed to be free from bias. The study was titled, “Objective Assessment of an Ionic Footbath”. Unfortunately, this study was very poorly designed and it only included 6 participants. I read this study, but I did not weigh it too heavily due to its limited scope. *You’ll find a link at the bottom of this page for this study.
The TMR Study #1
I did find one study that I found to be useful. The group Thinking Moms Revolution (TMR) performed this study. TMR is a group of autism moms (and 1 Dad) that are dedicated to helping kids lose their autism diagnosis. They conducted a 4-month study. This study followed 24 participants of ages 2-13 and included both male & female kids. Participants used a detox footbath every other day for a minimum of 15 minutes at a time.
Objectively Assess TMR Study
Before I discuss the results of this study, let me first point out its’ flaws. First, let me start with myself. Thinking Moms Revolution is an organization in which I have great respect, which means I am personally biased when reviewing this study.
Having said that, I did find a few issues with the study design.
- Bias: A Major Difference (makers of the Ion Cleanse) helped fund the study by providing units to participants during the study.
- Small Sample Size: The study only included 24 children, which is a useful size, but not one that can provide a definitive answer.
- No control group
- Too Many Independent Variables: The basic protocol was for a footbath at least 15 minutes. This means that one participant could have had a 15-minute soak while others had 30 minutes or more. There were also no controls to account for differences in demographics, diet, exercise, lifestyle, or overall health before entering the study.
- Subjective Measurements: The participants themselves reported their results.
TMR used ATEC scores to measure the effectiveness of the Ion Cleanse. The Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist is a tool designed to evaluate children on the spectrum. These types of tools are necessary, as many kids with autism cannot communicate for themselves. Surveys like the ATEC provide parents and practitioners the ability to assess the severity of one’s autism condition. A lower score means a higher functioning; less severe individual while a high shows the opposite.
The major flaw in ATEC is that it is subjective. It is the parent’s opinion of how their kid is doing. My wife and I both completed this survey on our son, and we both got different scores. They were close, but they were still different results for the same subject. Furthermore, I asked my mom and mother in law to complete the ATEC for my son. Their results were quite different as well. Since many kids with autism cannot communicate clearly, the ATEC is one of the few tools we can use to evaluate our kids. Despite its’ limitations, we have to use what is available for us, and the ATEC is one of the better options.
ATEC scores were taken at the beginning of the study and then every 30 days for a period of 4 months. TMR reported a 35% overall improvement in ATEC scores. This would indicate that the severity of the participant’s autism declined by 35% in just 4 short months. That is pretty incredible!
There are some very interesting observations reported in the study. For me, I searched to results to find male subjects close to my son’s age with a high ATEC baseline score. Participant 25 (P25) is a 12-year-old male with a beginning score of 83. My son is 10. Our score for him was 91, so P25 was of particular interest. He finished the 4-month study with a score of 54, which is a 34.9% progression! That is very exciting, and it is a huge improvement in a very short period of time.
The Official TMR conclusion:
“The efficacy of treatments using ionic detoxification footbath technology has been validated through the TMR-ATEC Survey. Observed results, combined with mathematical analysis, have shown clearly that detoxification is an essential element in the autism recovery process.” (TMR)
“These results establish high confidence that continued use of the IonCleanse® Detoxification Footbath System can be used as an effective tool in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder.”(TMR)
Keep in mind that the study was only used to evaluate the participant’s autism severity. It was not a study designed to determine efficacy of detoxification. The assumption of TMR is that the 35% progression was caused by a detoxification effect. *Find a link to the full TMR study at the end of this page
TMR Study #2
Thinking Moms Revolution completed a 2nd review of the Ion Cleanse for autism. This goal of this study was to determine if increased session times and frequencies resulted in improved results. Basically, does doing the footbath more often, for longer periods each time improve ATEC scores?
Age Group Expanded
This study followed 27 participants. This time the age range was expanded to include older kids. The group included 10 teenagers, and the age range was 4-19. In study #1, participants used a detox footbath every other day for a minimum of 15 minutes at a time. The protocol of study #2 was to cleanse 3 consecutive days with 1 day off. Session times started at 15 minutes for the youngest participants and went up to 30 minutes for the older kids. *Parents did have the option to alter times/frequencies.
Overall average ATEC score reduction was 55%, which is better than the first studies 35% improvement. TMR reports that 100% of participants improved with the increased use of the Ion Cleanse system. Again, I keyed in to the kids around my son’s age and ATEC score. I could not believe the improvement seen in one specific child. She was a 12 year-old girl with a beginning ATEC at 120. After four months of Ion Cleanse treatment, her ATEC was 45! That is a 62.5% reduction in autism behaviors. The older kids appeared to have the most benefit. TMR reports the greatest average reduction in scores came from the 13 to 19 year-old age group. My son is headed towards age 11, so this makes me quite hopeful.
After reviewing all the evidence I could find, we are left with nothing other than anecdotal evidence. However, simply because the proof is circumstantial does not mean the results are invalid. For example, there is no double-blind placebo controlled study that tells me ice is slippery. But when my wife tells me to be careful the roads are iced over, I’m still going to drive slower.
Anecdotal evidence is where we warrior parents live and breathe. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for the entire scientific community to accept a new technology. After all, it took 50+ years for climate change to become scientific consensus. We can’t wait until our kids are 50 to try new things especially when they are as harmless as an ionic footbath.
What do I Think?
When evaluating a new treatment modality for my son’s autism, I ask myself these questions.
- Is It Safe?
- Is There any way this Might Help My Son?
- Will Our Doctor Okay with It?
- Can I afford it?
Is It Safe?
AMD reports a perfect safety record, and I have found nothing to indicate otherwise.
Can It Help My Son?
I’ve personally spoken to many parents, and I’ve read numerous stories from fellow autism parents on the amazing results they received after using an Ion Cleanse.
The results of the Thinking Moms’ study also indicate a potential for the Ion Cleanse to help my son.
What Does Our Doc Say?
We see a top biomedical doctor in the autism community. He is a certified family physician and an integrative holistic medicine practitioner. We have created our own Ion Cleanse protocol in conjunction with our doc. He was actually very pleased that we won the system and can’t wait for us to try it out.
Can I afford It?
The Ion Cleanse has been on our radar since autism first entered our lives 7 years ago. We never gave it serious consideration because of the steep upfront cost. We are a family of 5 living on a teacher’s salary, so the $2,000 was always out of reach. Thanks to the generosity of AMD and kindness of Generation Rescue, we no longer have to worry about the cost!
Follow Our Own “N=1” Study
We are going to be conducting our own study, but with an even smaller sample size, 1 subject. We’ve taken a baseline ATEC score, and we will be redoing the survey every 30 days just as TMR did in their study. We will not be using the TMR protocol as we will be using the protocol created in conjunction with our son’s doctor.
Is it Helping? Using the Ion Cleanse for Autism: Our 30 Day Results
Click Here to read about our first 30 days using the Ion cleanse for autism!
While there is not a study able to unequivocally proclaim the Ion Cleanse will lessen the severity of a child’s autism, there is plenty of proof for me that it is worth a try. The magnitude of anecdotal evidence and testimonials from fellow autism parents lead me to believe the Ion Cleanse is an effective tool in the treatment of autism, and I am very anxious & excited to start treatment with my son.
*Remember, I’m not a scientist, doctor, or researcher. I’m Simply A Dad who reviewed the IonCleanse® and weighed the risks vs. benefits and drew his own conclusions.
Have You Used the Ion Cleanse by AMD?
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*This is an affiliate link* However this post contains my open and honest thoughts and beliefs behind the Ion Cleanse system. Should you decide to try it for yourself, I would receive a small commision from AMD. Order Here
Is it Helping? Using the Ion Cleanse for Autism:
- A 5 Year Old Explains the IonCleanse by AMD
- A Major Difference
- Frequency Response
- ATEC Survey
- TMR STUDY
- Objective Assessment of Ionic Footbaths
- Comparison of ionic foot baths
- Autism One Presentation
- TACA Webinar