Both Alan and I had a good laugh about the bizarre marketing tactic used by this company. Wired is calling this "the most appalling medical scam since magnetic immortality devices."
The three characters 木樹液 literally means "wood/tree sap". There is nothing traditionally Japanese about the product or the name. Our suspicion is that the manufacturer just picked a
Japanese-sounding name to peddle their schlock product to gullible Americans with a little bit of "Oriental mystique", and then afterward decided to slap the characters 木樹液 onto the TV ad as a sort of decoration.
Matter of fact, Kinoki is a direct rip-off from a brand of Japanese shoe inserts called 竹樹液, or "bamboo sap". They are only used to remove excess sweat from one's feet, therefore to eliminate foot odor. There is absolutely no claim of detoxifying heavy metal from one's body.
In my opinion, the people behind Kinoki detox foot pads should commit seppuku for misleading consumers.
Update: August 18, 2008 - NPR did a story today about this.
The newest craze in consumer health is adhesive pads filled with "detox" herbs that supposedly suck toxins out of the bottom of our feet while we sleep.
An analysis at a California laboratory shows no significant difference between used and unused pads.