Further, the basic idea that the body needs any help to "detoxify" itself can be misleading. "Any tea that claims to detoxify your system is pure hype," nutritionist Karen Ansel told Self . "Your body has its own built-in detoxication system that works 24/7 — your liver, which dismantles toxins, and your kidneys, which flush out these waste products." Detox teas cannot improve the function of these existing systems.
When teas claim to "detoxify" you, they're usually promising to influence your system through the use of laxatives. A lot of detox tea systems are designed to combine caffeine with substances that have a laxative effect. Health magazine explains that the "lighter" feeling one might get after taking detox teas is due to the fact that they "trigger a laxative effect, which causes your body to eliminate waste from your GI tract." While you may feel lighter, Health says, "your lean-to-fat ratio remains exactly the same." Caffeine is a mild diuretic too, and the end result is a system that's flushed out far too often.
It’s important to note that not everyone who has completed a teatox has reported these negative effects. Many users continue to praise teatox programs as jumpstarts to health and wellbeing. Yet the amount of people who have spoken out about the negative side effects they were not made aware of before embarking on their tea detox is enough to warrant comment from these companies.
During this window — and let’s call it a window for lack of a better word — users are likely to experience cramps, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea. The U.S. National Library of Medicine claims these are expected side effects of senna, but they also state: “Don't use senna for more than two weeks. Longer use can cause the bowels to stop functioning normally and might cause dependence on laxatives. Long-term use can also change the amount or balance of some chemicals in the blood (electrolytes) that can cause heart function disorders, muscle weakness, liver damage, and other harmful effects.”
Detox teas don't exist in a vacuum. They're marketed to feed society's obsession with skinniness and weight loss as the key to "health" and "fitness" — but the relationship between weight and health is far more complicated than that, if the two have anything to do with each other at all. Being bombarded with images of thin celebrities touting the virtues of these teas simply advances the message that women must always be making themselves smaller — and that it's acceptable to put health on the line to do so. The body doesn't need the damage of laxative dependency, dehydration, and nutritional issues, and there's no such thing as "detoxifying" your system. Don't believe the hype.
When asked about how their tea is making some users sick Skinny Mint, Flat Tummy Tea, Slendertoxtea, and Bootea all declined to comment. Skinny Teatox replied with an email statement that claimed the safety and health of their customers is paramount to them, and that the company highly discourages long-term detox tea use and “recommends waiting several months before a new period is started.” When asked where this recommended waiting period can be found, Skinny Teatox failed to reply, but it doesn't matter, tea (or any diet for that matter) shouldn't delay your menstrual cycle.
"I was the teenager who starved herself for years, who spent all her money on these miracle cures and laxatives and tips from celebrities on how to maintain a weight that was lower than what my body wanted it to be," Jamil tweeted. "I was sick, I have had digestion and metabolism problems for life."
Beyond the inspirational Instagram posts and glamorous celebrity endorsements, the hype behind detox tea doesn’t quite add up: how can tea alone make you lose weight? The answer, it turns out, is that it can’t. At least not in any way you want to experience.