I thought they were just kidding…

This is disturbing.

Yesterday, I did a rather light-hearted edition of Your Friday Dose of Woo about “ionic foot detoxification.” A reader pointed out that in a story in which Randi had also discussed this woo, there was a comment along the lines of “I think autistic children should really do this.”

How prophetic! Sadly, it turns out that autistic children are already being subjected to this woo. For example, I found this particular video on YouTube that has to be seen to be believed:

It’s a woman named Ashley discussing “ion cleanse” foot detox for her 4 year old autistic son Braden. Her blather about the “foot detox” is so utterly inane, credulous, and without a basis in any science that I find it hard to believe anyone would publicly post it. Witness the part where she describes how the detox occurs through “reverse osmosses.” She also claims that the foot detox can get rid of mercury, the “bad yucky yeast,” nicotine in the air, and all manner of other unnamed “toxins.” I have to say, the part where she discusses how there’s “no way to know” if by “moving the mercury around” and not getting out all of the mercury this might cause harm is painful to watch.

The only good thing that can be said about this is that it’s probably harmless. Probably. Even so, it’s painful to watch a mother fall so hard for this quackery, to the point of posting in essence a testimonial for it on YouTube. One must remember that not all quackery is as seemingly harmless as this. The belief in the discredited concept that mercury in vaccines causes autism has led parents to subject their autistic children to all manner of quackery, such as chelation therapy (which can kill) and a number of “biomedical” interventions with no good evidence to support their efficacy.