What Makes Detox Tea So Concerning

When you want to lose some weight, nothing feels as tempting as trying to speed up the process. One shortcut some dieters like to take comes in the form of detox tea, a type of drink that contains a slew of supplements that cause the ingester to quickly lose water weight (via Healthline). The drink, which contains strong herbs, laxatives, caffeine, medications, and occasionally illegal drugs, typically can't help anyone lose weight effectively. Don't fall for cleanse teas either. 

A cleanse tea helps replace junk food with more fiber and better nutrition, while aiding in the process of elimination (via The Whistling Kettle). Detox tea claims to flush out toxins like heavy metals, but both can contain mysterious additives. In addition to not providing substantial aid when trying to burn off some pounds, the ingredients can cause some serious damage to anyone drinking the tea. To get the lowdown on this diet beverage, Elizabeth Klingbeil, PhD RDN, an Assistant Professor of Nutrition at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, spoke to Mashed about the dangers of detox tea.

What does detox tea actually do?

Many dieters incorrectly presume detox tea can actually flush harmful chemicals out of one's body. "Food does not detoxify your body," Klingbeil said. "The removal of toxins or "detoxification" happens through processes mainly occurring in your lungs, liver and kidneys. As long as these organs are functioning, you do not need to consume anything claiming to 'detoxify' your body."

She also explained that drinking detox tea can be a risky practice. "Detox teas are full of unregulated supplements meaning that consumers have no way to confirm what ingredients are in the teas and how much of those ingredients are in them," Klingbeil continued. "Because of this risk, you may be consuming significant amounts of harmful substances that you are not even aware of."

Expect to experience a variety of very unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects when you down a cup of detox tea. "Some of these side effects include excessive urination, frequent severe diarrhea, unknown consumption of harmful substances and headaches along with dehydration from these symptoms," Klingbeil said.

A tea with a hefty price tag

If you want to go down the detox tea road, expect to shell out some serious cash. "Detox teas are often expensive," Klingbeil said. "So if you are worried about removal of toxins in your body, you can simply drink water and eat high fiber foods to get the same "detoxifying" effect without the cost. People often claim to achieve a 'more healthy' feeling when following these detox programs. This is often attributed to an increase in fiber or fluid consumption along with the placebo effect found when you pay closer attention to your health. Focusing on a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle is going to be much more beneficial for your health than any detox tea program."

She also explained that the overall idea that we need to "flush out toxins" is simply not true. "We have organs in our bodies designed specifically for this purpose and toxin build up is not an issue," Klingbeil continued. "I advise consumers to avoid over-priced and ineffective detox teas. I heavily suggest staying away from brands such as Arbonne and Herbalife that promise significant weight loss with their detox or 'cleanse' teas, drinks, gummies and shakes."