As a pharmacist I get questions from customers, friends, acquaintances and family about the most random things. With the upcoming New Year and people trying to get into shape I have had more than a few people ask me my thoughts on detox teas. You’ve seen them all over Instagram. There’s always a super fit woman holding a package of this tea saying how great the tea was in helping them look how they do. Like this…
Yeah… She got that body by drinking tea! We can scroll through her timeline and see that she has been fit for a very long time… waaaaay before the tea. Then we have Khloe of the Kardashians promoting this tea… and we all know how amazing HER body is now! But I think that had more to do with hard work with a personal trainer than a cup of tea.
And yet again, another slim girl posing with the miraculous tea.
So what it is with this detox thing anyway? It’s like everyone is trying to detox but no one really knows why. It just seems like the cool thing to do. I hear all sorts of things like “Oh I read somewhere that if you detox it helps kick off your weight loss” or “Yeah, if you detox you rev up your metabolism” or “Detoxes help eliminate cravings” and my favorite “My cousin’s friend did the detox teas and lost a bunch of weight!”. Are these claims true? Who knows! I have not seen any studies that have been conducted by any reputable institution that validates nor negates these claims. But before you jump out there on the latest craze at least be informed about what you’re putting into your body.
First understand that dietary supplements and teas are not federally regulated. So when the manufacturer says the product contains ingredient A, B, and C the quantity of these ingredients can vary from package to package and could be present in only negligible quantities. The manufacturer is not required to demonstrate the effectiveness of their products and no one validates their claims. If you have any pre-existing conditions or are taking medications, there could be interactions even when the product claims to be “ALL NATURAL”. Herbs and “natural” products can interact with medications or lead to a negative reaction in some individuals so talk to your physician or pharmacist who know what medications you’re taking and the conditions you have before taking these teas.
Since I love you guys I decided to do some research on some of these detox teas. The three that I looked at were: Flat Tummy Tea, Fit Tea 28 Day Detox, and Detox Skinny Herb Tea. Why did I pick these three? Because they’re the ones I saw on my Instagram feed most recently. I am simply giving my personal opinion and utilizing my professional knowledge and experience to write this commentary so if you had great success drinking these teas please feel free to comment and share your experience. I’m only looking at the facts and literature.
The teas I looked at contained ingredients that are one or more of the following: 1) they are diuretics (i.e. they make you urinate and eliminate water) 2) they have a laxative effect 3) they ease gas and bloating 4) they contain caffeine and may help stimulate your metabolism. I’m sure many of you are thinking “oh that’s not too bad”; however, if you have high blood pressure and are taking medications for that, are diabetic and are on medications for that, nursing or trying to become pregnant, have heart problems, are on blood thinners, are taking antibiotics (like Cipro), are taking birth control pills, or are on sedatives you should think twice and consult your physician before taking these teas. So let’s look at these teas individually.
Flat Tummy Tea claims to “get your tummy flat and keep it that way. It works naturally to speed your metabolism, boost your energy, and reduce bloat so you’re feeling better and looking better.” Oh… and its gluten free. This product line contains two different teas: Activate and Cleanse. According to the website Activate is taken in the morning and “… get(s) your digestive system ready for the day ahead. Our Activate tea’s 10 natural ingredients will help pump up your metabolism, give you an antioxidant energy kick and get your digestion ready to start the day on an all- natural high. #winning.” The Cleanse tea is taken in the evening and “… works to help detoxify your intestinal tract free of built up toxins and reduce water weight- basically two of the main reasons why some days you look and feel 5 months pregnant. It’s 7 natural ingredients work together to help get (and keep) that flat tummy.”
Alright, let me first say I was a little turned off by this website because of its use of words like “babe”. I get that they’re trying to be cheeky and cool but come on… BABE? But I digress. Let’s look at the ingredients. To make their tea sound official they chose to list the scientific names of the herbs that comprise this tea. I guess to make up for calling you babe. The 2 teas contain:
Activate: Dandelion leaf and root, Clivers, Oolong tea, cardamom, licorice, peppermint, caraway, lemon balm and fennel
Cleanse: Senna, dandelion root, peppermint, caraway, licorice, and rhubarb
Activate tea contains some ingredients with diuretic and mild laxative properties but mostly contains ingredients to help with the bloating/gas. If you’re taking birth control pills there is a word of caution as the fennel is said to have some estrogenic properties that can impact the effectiveness of the pill. Cleanse lists Senna as the first ingredient- which is a laxative. The dandelion and rhubarb also have some laxative effects so use caution if you have a sensitive gut. This tea is not intended to be used daily (per the instructions) and should be limited in its use. Your body can become dependent upon the laxatives if taken too frequently. Diabetics and individuals with high blood pressure should exercise caution with both teas.
FitTea, the one Khloe promoted, claims that it can promote fat burning, loss of body weight, boost the immune system, has been found to have antimicrobial properties, and promotes and soothes digestion. With this one you are advised to drink one cup per day. The website for the Fit Tea is better than the previous one in that it lists the ingredients in recognizable terms and also provides you with a breakdown of what the ingredients are supposed to do for you. This tea contains: green tea, oolong wu yi, garcinia cambogia extract, pomegranate, roobios tea, ginger, stevia, honey, guarana, citric acid, sea salt, lemon juice and matcha green tea.
Of the three teas I actually like the ingredients in this one the best as it does not contain any ingredients with diuretic or laxative properties. It does however contain a nice amount of ingredients with caffeine so if you’re sensitive to caffeine use caution. Also individuals using insulin or other diabetes medications, blood thinners, statins for cholesterol, and Singulair should be careful as their medications can interact with the garcinia cambogia.
Detox Skinny Herb teas, according to their website, are a “unique combination of two infusions which aim is to cleanse your body and speed up your metabolism. The result is healthier, beautiful body and unwanted weight loss. You will feel lighter, your metabolism will stabilize and you will have more energy. Skinny Detox Herbs will help you achieve your dream silhouette quicker without exposing you to diet regime and hard physical training.”
The morning start tea is to be taken 3 times a day. Unfortunately, the ingredients listed on the website are contradictory. In the “About” section it lists one set of ingredients and on the “Ingredients and Directions” section it lists different ingredients. The only common ingredients in the morning start tea between the two sections is Pu-erh tea and dry garcinia cambogia extract. The ingredients for the Bedtime tea is consistent between the two sections and contains substantially more ingredients including: black elder fruit, hawthorn fruit, nettle leaves, chicory root, knotweed herb, lovage root, dandelion root, rosehip peel, sweet flag rhizome, flaxseeds, peppermint leaf, fennel fruit, orange peel, garcinia cambogia extract, and chamomile flower.
Since there was a conflict in the ingredients of the morning start tea I can’t really provide a true opinion on this tea. The bedtime tea contains several ingredients that have diuretic and laxative like properties so again be aware and use caution. Diabetics and those with high blood pressure should use caution when drinking these teas as some ingredients have been shown to interact with some medications used to treat these conditions. Also as stated above, some individuals should use caution due to the presence of garcinia cambogia in these teas.
The one thing I found really entertaining about my research was that all of these websites offered suggestions or tips to their users on how they can lose weight and they ALL said what most personal trainers or nutritionists would say. Essentially you need to drink 8-10 cups of water a day, eat more fruits and veggies, cut out processed foods, limit alcohol intake, exercise more, and stress less. Oh, and drink the tea. Who wouldn’t lose weight by following those directions with or without the tea? Can the teas help? Sure. The laxative effects of some of these teas can help some people feel lighter since it is helping their system move. The diuretic effects of some ingredients will help you lose water weight and some bloating. The caffeine in some ingredients will make you feel like you have more energy and help boost the metabolism a bit.
Do I think it’s worth the $25-$50 some of these tea companies are charging? Hell to the nah! So what else can you do to “detox” or to simply get your system in order? The following are things that I personally do and recommend:
- Drink warm lemon water every morning. Juice half a lemon, add warm water and drink. If you want to get an extra metabolism boost, add a pinch of cayenne pepper. The lemon water helps to alkalize your body and can help get your bowels moving.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother). I take a shot of 1-2 tablespoons with a splash of water before breakfast. Some people prefer to dilute it some more with 4-6 ounces of water. It’s nasty and it burns like a shot of tequila but it is excellent for boosting metabolism, boosts your immune system, and helps maintain a healthy gut among other things.
- Drink green tea. Go to your local Asian market and get some loose leaf green tea. A nice sized package can run you anywhere from $4.50 to $10. Drink 1-3 cups a day. Green tea contains antioxidants that are great for your overall health and also has been shown to help boost metabolism and promote weight loss.
Hopefully you all found this helpful. I’d love to hear your experiences with these teas, what you use as your personal “detox”, or your thoughts and questions on this post. Leave me a comment below!