Scroll through an Instagram feed, and you’re sure to find a celebrity (from Kourtney Kardashian to Hilary Duff) promoting one of their favorite beverages for weight loss and toxin elimination. So, what’s so special about the composition of detox tea? Together with experts, we investigate whether they’re truly better than our familiar Lipton tea bags.
The idea of using detox teas isn’t new. For instance, Kendall Jenner has often admitted that, in preparation for Fashion Week, she would indulge in this herbal drink made from a blend of schisandra and green tea. Experts of a detox tea brand, promoted by Kourtney Kardashian, Christina Milian, and Hilary Duff, advise consuming it along with a large amount of water, ensuring a balanced diet, and engaging in workouts three to five times a week for noticeable results.
Research conducted in 2013 by Italian, Dutch, and American specialists showed that tea can help reduce the risk of strokes and heart diseases, lower blood pressure, boost mood, and improve cognitive function.
But when it comes to detoxification, one tea isn’t enough. “No single product, herb, or medicine can cure diseases,” says Manuel Villacorta, Doctor of Medical Sciences.
In fact, there’s no substantial evidence supporting the claims of tea companies that their detox teas truly cleanse the body. The green and black teas we are familiar with are rich in antioxidants. They help reduce “oxidative stress” and free radicals in our body, an excess of which can cause chronic inflammation and even lead to DNA mutation, says the expert.
Advertisements promise that one can cleanse the body of toxins, and as an added bonus, even shed 10 kilograms thanks to detox tea. In addition to the herbs listed in these teas, they often contain specific ingredients with diuretic or laxative properties, as well as components that suppress appetite: nettle leaves, dandelion, senna, lemongrass, and ginger.
Some teas contain caffeine, which also acts as a diuretic. “Your stomach may appear flatter, and you’ll feel lighter,” says nutritionist Alissa Ardolino.
It’s important to remember: go back to your previous eating habits, stop drinking the tea, and the kilos will quickly make themselves known again.
The main issue is dehydration. Such teas make us lose a lot of water, and with it, electrolytes like potassium and sodium, which help the heart beat and muscles contract.
“If you use it for an extended period, you expose yourself to the risk of irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia,”— she adds.
Another popular ingredient in weight loss tea is guarana — a plant often added to energy drinks. Side effects, such as nervousness, restlessness, irritation of the stomach lining, nausea, vomiting, headache, anxiety, agitation, ringing in the ears, increased heart rate, and breathing rate, are typically linked to its caffeine content.
According to Ardolino, detox teas lead to the loss of water or waste, but they don’t promote fat burning, which is crucial for weight loss. As for the claims that detox teas “remove toxins from your body” — this is largely a marketing gimmick. We already have a liver and kidneys that expel toxins from the body. Moreover, these organs do this round the clock. There are no studies that confirm detox teas improve health. In fact, they might even be harmful, says Ardolino.
Laxative ingredients found in detox teas can cause quite unpleasant side effects, such as diarrhea and stomach pains. Take senna, for example. It’s a herbal laxative, approved by European regulations, used in medicine for treating constipation and cleaning the intestines before a colonoscopy.
For most people, short-term use likely won’t have any negative consequences. However, doctors do not recommend drinking senna and senna-containing products for more than two weeks, even for medical reasons.
More and more young women who drank detox teas come to me complaining about their bowel function and gastritis. The problem is, if you drink senna regularly and then stop, you will get constipated and be forced to continue using laxatives for regular bowel movements,— explains Dr. Lauretta Ihonor.
Nutritionists agree that by drinking tea before or after sleep, you can help the nervous system rejuvenate or calm down, depending on the type of tea you choose.
The most important aspect is not the type of detox tea, but the diet. Tea can be medicinal and detoxifying, but if you have an improper diet, all efforts will be in vain. To genuinely detoxify the body from toxins, you need to remove processed and fried foods from your diet and increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and beneficial fats (like avocado and almonds),— says the expert.
Those who plan to start drinking detox teas should consult with their doctor or nutritionist. And it’s better to ensure that the specialist is not interested in selling a specific product.
Detox Tea: Benefits and Harms, Consumption Features, and Contraindications
“Lose weight without effort,” “weight loss tea,” and “detox tea” – these are the top searches on search engines. You’ve probably entered these phrases into the search bar at least once. The popularity of herbal blends for detox and weight loss is impressive, but can they really perform miracles, or is it just clever marketing behind them?
Types of Weight Loss and Detox Teas
All Detox teas can be divided into 4 main groups:
Laxatives: This group includes teas based on the leaves of Alexandrian senna (a shrub from the legume family) and any other natural laxatives. Although this type of tea has been used for weight loss effects since ancient times, it has several significant drawbacks and can have negative consequences for the body.
Diuretics: These teas remove excess fluid from the body, reduce swelling of the hands and feet, and also remove puffiness around the eyes. Plant-based diuretics are used as medicinal products: when consuming them, certain rules must be followed, and a doctor’s consultation is required before starting a course.
Detox teas: Manufacturers claim that they remove toxins and waste products from the body.
Fat-burning teas: Teas aimed at boosting metabolism.
Benefits and Harms of Detox Teas
Benefits: Let’s start with the stated benefits: almost all manufacturers of “weight loss teas” promise to detoxify the body. However, in medicine, detoxification doesn’t refer to the removal of mythical “toxins”, but rather the cleansing of the body from heavy metals, poisons, and narcotics.
Detoxification can be natural (phagocytosis, excretion of carbon dioxide by the lungs, toxins and metabolites by the liver, and lactic acid by the skin) and artificial (administration of vaccines and serums, plasmapheresis, etc.). Detoxification therapy is used exclusively in the treatment of acute exogenous (external) poisonings. Alcohol and drug detox is aimed solely at alleviating withdrawal symptoms. It’s impossible to remove toxic substances using a herbal decoction. According to an official statement from the US Department of Health and Social Services, no long-term scientific studies on detox diets have been conducted worldwide. However, it was found that immediately after discontinuing the teas or “weight loss” juices, the weight returned again.
- Use as a natural herbal laxative when medically necessary: In such cases, doctors recommend using them for no longer than 2 weeks, while continuously monitoring the levels of potassium and other minerals responsible for the functioning of the heart and the cardiovascular system. Weight can be reduced using these remedies due to an enhanced defecation process and a reduction in the body’s fluid levels.
- Use as a natural diuretic for edema: This should be used only after consulting with a doctor, especially in cases of kidney diseases and urinary system ailments. Weight can be reduced with diuretic decoctions and teas only by expelling fluids from the body.
- Boost metabolism: This is precisely how perhaps the only plant-based fat burner recognized by doctors – ginger – works. The gingerol and shogaol contained in it reduce appetite and stimulate metabolism.
Harms of Detox Tea
While many are familiar with the “benefits” of detox teas, not everyone is aware of their potential harm. What can the uncontrolled consumption of detox drinks lead to?
The main danger of consuming diuretic and laxative teas is dehydration and the expulsion of vital trace elements (potassium, calcium, magnesium), minerals, and vitamins from the body. The loss of potassium, which is one of the first to be flushed out, is particularly concerning. This is due to the significant impact of potassium on the body: it regulates blood pressure, plays a role in the transmission of nerve impulses and protein synthesis, and normalizes kidney function.
With continuous consumption of detox teas, the deficiency of trace elements becomes chronic, leading to a deterioration in the condition of the skin, hair, and nails. A chronic potassium deficiency affects a person’s mental health and can be one of the factors leading to endogenous depression.
Constant irritation of the intestines exacerbates existing gastrointestinal diseases and becomes a “trigger” for the onset of gastritis and ulcers.
In addition to physiological problems, individuals “hooked” on detox teas may encounter psychological issues, particularly eating disorders. This very disorder pushes even a completely healthy person without excess weight to attempt weight loss, ultimately leading to diagnoses like anorexia nervosa or atypical anorexia nervosa.
Individual intolerance to components An allergy to one or several components of herbal tea is a valid reason to abstain from it or to choose a different blend. If any allergy symptoms appear (rash, cough, sneezing, swelling, eye irritation, difficulty breathing), the product should be discontinued.
Chronic diseases Endocrine disorders.
Kidney and liver function disorders.
Slimming tea during pregnancy Pregnancy is a contraindication for any diet teas, especially diuretics. Only a doctor should prescribe them if necessary.
Slimming tea in adolescence Children and teenagers should only consume laxative and diuretic teas after consulting with a doctor, and for short periods.
How to choose the right detox tea
Carefully study the composition The ingredients of any detox teas should consist only of plant components: leaves, flowers, roots, and pieces of dried fruits and berries.
Many dietary supplements for weight loss contain the antidepressant sibutramine, which is banned in the USA and European countries due to numerous side effects. Such supplements are hazardous to health and can lead to fatal outcomes.
Check for contraindications and allergic reactions This is especially relevant for multi-component teas: it’s important to check all the constituents of the herbal blend, as allergies might develop to any of them.
Pay attention to the information on the packaging It must list the full composition, effects, instructions for use, consumption recommendations, expiration date, and the full address of the manufacturer.
Buy from a trusted place Herbal blends intended for weight reduction should either be sold in pharmacies or specialized official tea shops (including online stores). It’s not advisable to buy them from unlicensed dietary supplement distributors (most of the time, these are participants in financial pyramids with overpriced products of dubious quality).
Types of Teas for Weight Loss
Green Tea Rumors that regular green tea can be used for weight loss have been circulating for a long time. While one shouldn’t expect miracles from it, green teas for weight loss are beneficial due to their chemical composition: the catechin polyphenols they contain activate metabolism and assist cells in the fat-burning process. Green tea can also gently suppress appetite. To resist the temptation of snacking, you can drink a cup, but, of course, without sugar, honey, and other simple carbohydrates.
Ginger is one of the few plant components genuinely aiding in weight loss. In 2018, a study by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information was released, presenting statistical data collected over several years.
You can read more about how gingerol and its phenolic compound shogaol assist in weight loss in our article about ginger tea.
Anchan (Thai Blue Tea)
Under the exotic advertisement of the “Tibetan Purple Tea Chang Shu for weight loss,” lies the Thai blue tea Anchan, which is also the flowers of the edible Clitoria ternatea vine. Of course, the blue drink is beneficial (and beautiful), but the anthocyanins it contains, although they help break down fats, won’t make you slim without regular physical activity and a proper diet.
Hibiscus Tea (Karkade)
Just like with Anchan, anthocyanins are responsible for the bright and saturated color of Karkade tea. This famous sour tea, which has come to us from Eastern countries, can also affect metabolism and play a role in the fat-burning process. This was proven by Chinese medical practitioners and physiologists in 2014. The drink made from hibiscus flowers has a mild diuretic effect, which can help in weight loss.
We also wrote about other beneficial properties of Karkade in one of our articles.
Mint itself does not have any fat-burning properties, but it can become an effective auxiliary tool in the weight loss process. Firstly, it reduces appetite. Secondly, it has a positive impact on the peristalsis of the gastrointestinal tract and can help with bloating, spasms, and heartburn. Thirdly, mint infusion calms the nervous system and relieves stress, which in cases of disordered eating can be the trigger for overeating.
Sea buckthorn is known not only for its strengthening effect on the immune system but also for its rich chemical composition, which includes organic acids, fatty oil, and the powerful antioxidant quercetin, which protects tissues from damage and oxidative stress.
A sea buckthorn infusion can reduce appetite, so it can be consumed in place of regular snacks (of course, without sugar or honey).
Well-known Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss
“Monastery Tea for Weight Loss” is a fairly famous herbal blend which includes nettles, yarrow, elderflowers, chamomile, mint, burdock leaves, horsetail, bearberry leaves, blackberry, stevia, rosehip, rose leaves, hazel, burr, and other plants. It acts as a natural diuretic but also boosts metabolism.
The products of the company “Evalar” (like “Evalar Bio,” “Turboslim” and others) possess laxative and diuretic effects due to their content of senna and fennel extracts. They also contain chromium picolinate, which aids in fat assimilation and is used to decrease cravings for sweets, which arise due to a chromium deficiency in the body.
“Flying Swallow” is a Chinese tea blend consisting of tea leaves, cranberry leaves, luffa fruit, cassia seeds, Pachyma cocos, the peel of immature mandarins, and others. The woody fungus Pachyma is known as a diuretic and an inhibitor of intestinal peristalsis. Cranberry leaves are also a strong diuretic. And by “cassia seeds”, they mean the fruits of the Cassia angustifolia, also known as Alexandrian senna – a potent laxative.
Thus, all the most popular dietary supplements “for weight loss” work due to the diuretic and laxative components they contain.
How to Prepare Detox Tea at Home
Knowing the properties of various plants and their effects on the body, you can prepare teas for weight loss at home. By the way, in this case, you always have control over the drink’s composition.
Green Tea with Ginger Ingredients: 2 tsp green tea, 15g ginger root, water.
Brew ginger and green tea with hot water, not exceeding 80°C (176°F). Higher temperatures can destroy the taste and aroma of green tea, as well as its beneficial compounds (catechins, flavonoids, and amino acids). Let it steep, drink warm, and avoid adding sugar or other sweeteners.
Quince and Hawthorn Tea Ingredients: 15g ground quince, 12g hawthorn berries, 600ml water.
Pour boiling water over quince and hawthorn, simmer on low heat for 5 minutes, then strain and cool. Drink on an empty stomach in the morning and evening.
Quince improves gastrointestinal function and has a mild diuretic effect. Hawthorn contains a large amount of pectin, which acts as an enterosorbent, removing toxic substances from the digestive tract.
Bonus Video Recipe of a Green Tea and Butterfly Pea Cocktail: This is primarily a cocktail for colds, but it can also be used as a metabolism-boosting drink if you don’t add sweet syrup.
No, you can’t easily lose weight without proper nutrition and a gym membership. No tea, even ginger tea, will help shed pounds without a specially curated diet by experts, cutting back on sweets, and adding physical exercises to your routine. However, occasional consumption of herbal tea is generally harmless. Yet, before prolonged use (a course of a week or more), it’s essential to consult with a general physician, and ideally, undergo some medical tests.