What do Kendall Jenner, Snooki, Vanessa Hudgens, and Lindsay Lohan have in common? Besides living the rich and fast Hollywood life, they have all advertised for various detox teas.
With the increasing popularity of these teas, I’ve had a number of clients, friends and family members ask me about them. I decided it was time to put the research out there. This comprehensive review of detox teas was compiled and written by the wonderful Colleen Farrell. Colleen attends the University of Guelph and is just finishing her Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Human Nutrition. Thank you for your wonderful work, Colleen! Continue reading as Colleen takes a deeper look into the claims of various detox teas.
Despite all the different kinds of detox teas on the market, many of them claim the same thing; lose weight, feel less bloated, look thinner, cleanse your system, and the list goes on. But, have you ever wondered exactly how these detox teas do what they claim to do, if they’re effective, or if it’s all just a money-grabber?
So, what makes a “detox” tea different than a regular cup of tea? Many detox teas contain various herbal ingredients that give the tea its magical “beat belly bloat” and “weight-loss” effect. These ingredients may have some benefits, but there are possible health outcomes that could come with it. Some of these herbal ingredients include:
- This plant contains nearly twice as much caffeine as coffee beans. 4 Guarana might contribute to weight loss if combined with mate and damiana tea, but there is little evidence to support this. 4 Since this plant contains a large amount of caffeine, high consumption of guarana can cause side cause side effects such as insomnia, increased heart rate & blood pressure, rapid breathing, and nausea.4
- This plant contains chemicals called sennosides that stimulate the bowel lining; therefore producing a laxative effect. 8 It’s recommended that this plant should not be consumed for more than two weeks, since longer use may cause the bowels to become dependent on the laxative and prevent them from functioning normally.8 This can also lead to electrolyte imbalances that can cause muscle weakness or heart function disorders.8
- Nettle leaves
- Traditionally this plant was used to treat pain, but it is now used as a diuretic and to treat UTIs and hay fever. 9 Limited human studies have been done about the effects of the consumption of nettle leaves, but it may interfere with blood glucose levels, therefore diabetics should monitor closely. 9
- Garcinia Cambogia Extract
- This tropical fruit contains HCA (hydroxycitric acid) which acts on neuroendorcrine pathways to suppress appetite and increases production of burning body fat.2 In order to maintain its “weight-burning” effects, it must be consumed for a long period of time.2 Even though there is little evidence to support that garcinia cambogia extract causes adverse effects on humans, it is recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding women and people suffering from diabetes or any kind of dementia (including Alzheimers) should not consume this fruit or its extract. 2
After I became aware of the common detox ingredients found in this latest tea trend, it was time to begin my search for different detox tea brands. After a quick Google search, I immediately became overwhelmed (and surprised) by the amount of brands that popped up! Most of the tea brands had a catchy and clever name (the detox tea, “BooTea”, definitely won the best name award) and promising phrases such as “Want to lose X lbs?” and “Get Your Dream Body in X Days!” were scattered all over my search results page.
After tirelessly searching through the never-ending sea of detox teas, I narrowed down my search to 4 popular brands: Fit Tea, Lyfe Tea, Skinny Mint Tea, and Flat Tummy Tea. Most teas came in a set of a morning tea and an evening tea. I decided to take one tea from each brand and evaluate its ingredients and my opinion of the tea’s effectiveness. Take a look!
Fit Tea – 14 Day Tea Detox
Claims: “Can be used as a onetime detox or as your daily tea to boost energy and metabolism.”
Ingredients: Organic green tea, oolong wu yi, garcinia cambogia extract, pomegranate, organic rooibos, ginger, stevia, honey, guarana, citric acid, sea salt (electrolytes), lemon juice, matcha green tea
- This tea contains a LOT of different caffeine sources (organic green tea, oolong wu yi, guarana, and matcha green tea). Unfortunately, the Ingredients list page did not include the ratios of each, but the FAQ page stated, “The caffeine [in 1 packet of FitTea] is measured to one cup of coffee”. So when you feel your energy levels soaring after drinking your morning dose of FitTea, you can thank the FOUR different caffeine sources, not necessarily your body’s natural fatigue fighting system.
- This detox tea contains garcinia cambogia extract, which we learned contains HCA that has potential to suppress appetite and burn body fat.3 However, there has been conflicting evidence if garcinia cambogia does play a role in burning fat or decreasing lipid levels in humans.3
- My thoughts: Thanks to the stevia and honey, I am sure this tea would be super tasty and sweet. However, the garcinia cambogia extract is throwing me off. If you ask me, I wouldn’t want a chemical to trick me into not eating when I otherwise would be truly hungry!
Lyfe Tea – Evening Detox
Claims: “Formulated to help your body metabolize fat and curb cravings.”
Ingredients: Senna leaf/pods, dandelion leaf, chamomile, nettle leaf
- As we know, senna leaf and pods can act as a laxative to move digested food through the intestines.8 Also, nettle leaf AND dandelion leaf both act as a diuretic, which can increase excretion of water from your body. 9
- My thoughts: If you ask me, this tea contains quite a bit of “flushing” ingredients! Since you’re losing a fair bit of water weight, it’s no surprise why you may feel less bloated and heavy. This does not sound like a pleasant tea to drink before bed time!
Skinny Mint Tea – Morning Boost
Ingredients: Green tea, yerba mate, nettle leaves, dandelion, guarana fruit
Claims: “Give you a boost throughout the day and naturally reduces the appetite.”
- Along with green tea and guarana fruit, yerba mate is a plant that also contains caffeine. 11 The Skinny Mint Tea website states that yerba mate can help to “curb appetite and boost metabolism”. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. 11
- This tea also contains dandelion and nettle leaves (both diuretics). Looks like you’re going to be taking more trips to the bathroom!
- My thoughts: I already take enough pee breaks in my day, so I don’t need any more! And why would I want to reduce my appetite when my body is naturally telling me it’s hungry?
Flat Tummy Tea – Cleanse Tea
Ingredients: Senna leaf, peppermint leaf, cassia chamaecrista pods, liquorice root, caraway seed, dandelion root, rhubarb root
Claim: “Detoxify your system, reduce bloating, decrease your water retention, and cleanse your digestive system.”
- Along with senna leaves, cassia chamaecristia pods AND rhubarb are also known for its laxative effects.6 If that wasn’t enough poop, this tea also contains caraway seeds, which are high in dietary fibre and therefore can aid in bowel movements.1
- Lastly, liquorice is used in tea to add flavour and is known for clearing various digestive issues, but there is conflicting evidence to support that it plays a role in weight loss. Liquorice can also cause water retention, which may offset one’s weight.5 Isn’t that the opposite of what this tea claims?
- My thoughts: Wow, I haven’t come across a “cleansing” tea quite like this! This detox tea contains a lot of ingredients that will make you poop. This is not a drink that should be consumed before a date night…or any other night for that matter.
My Final Thoughts…
Wow, that was a lot to take in! With all these “promising” weight loss and energy boosting results, how could you possibly pick just one detox tea to drink?
The answer is you don’t need a detox tea to feel your best. Your body naturally rids itself of toxins for you! Your kidneys, liver, and intestines are greater than any “magical” herb because they are constantly filtering out toxins and wastes. Better yet, their service is free and doesn’t cost extra for shipping and handling. 😉
Also, relying on a detox tea for weight loss is not a sustainable practice. Consuming laxatives and diuretics for long term can cause detrimental (and sometimes irreversible) effects on your health and body such as electrolyte imbalance, severe dehydration, and increase your body’s dependency on these herbs.6 Body weight that is lost during a “teatox” is usually just water weight.
Finally, since these “teatoxes”” usually last between 14-28 days, what’s going to happen when your tea bags run out? Will your weight remain stable and will your bloating problems be banished forever? Probably not.
Remember, being healthy is a life long journey! There is no “quick fix” to feeling and looking your best. Detox products may sound like the next best thing, but the solution to a healthy lifestyle simply can’t be found in a tea bag.
- Caraway. WebMD. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-204-caraway.aspx?activeingredientid=204&activeingredientname=caraway
- Fassina, P., Schere A., Terezinha Zani, V., Kasper Machado, IC., Garavaglia, J., Quevedo Grace, , Ramos, R., Morelo Dal Bosco, S. (2015). The effect of garcinia cambogia as coadjuvant in the weight loss process. Nutricion Hospitalaria, 32(6), 2400-2408. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.6.9587
- Garcinia Cambogia: Safe for Weight Loss?. (2014). WebMD. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/garcinia-cambogia-weight-loss
- Guarana: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosing. WebMD. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-935- aspx?activeingredientid=935
- Licorice. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved from: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/licorice
- Laxative Abuse: Some Basic Facts. National Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved from: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/laxative-abuse-some-basic-facts
- Seethapathy, GS., Ganesh, D., Santhosh Kumar, JU., Senthilkumar, U., Newmaster, SG., Raqupathy S., Uma Shaanker R., Ravikanth, G. (2015). Assessing product adulteration in natural health products for laxative yielding plants, Cassia, Senna, and Chamaecrista, in Southern India using DNA barcoding. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 129(4), 693-700. doi: 10.1007/s00414-014-1120-z
- Senna: Uses and Risks. (2015). WebMD. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and- supplements/senna-uses-and-risks
- Stinging Nettle: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosing. WebMD. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-664- stinging%20nettle.aspx?activeingredientid=664
- Singh, S., Singh, SK. Yadav, A. A review on cassia species: pharmacological, traditional and medicinal aspects in various countries. American Journal of Phytomedicine and Clinical Therapeutics. Retrieved from:
- Zeratsky, K. What is yerba mate?. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy- lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/yerba-mate/faq-20058343