Does Detox Tea Work?

Jameela Jamil. Photo credit to Wikimedia Commons.

American actress Jameela Jamil recently heavily criticized celebrities who promote detox tea product lines. She tweeted, “GOD I hope all these celebrities all s*** their pants in public, the way the poor women who buy this nonsense upon their recommendation do. Not that they actually take this s***. They just flog it because they need MORE MONEY.” Jamil raises a valid point in the firestorm of tweets she wrote. Detox tea can and has caused serious side effects for users all across the world. In an article by CNN, according to Dina Halegoua-De Marzio, an assistant professor of medicine at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, there is no hard evidence even showing that detox tea cleanses human cells as marketed, and the FDA does not regulate it. “Really, they can put anything they want in these teas,” said De Marzio. “They can make any claim that they want, and it doesn’t have to be supported by any evidence. That makes these very, very dangerous.” The main idea around detox tea is one that snake oil salesmen have been using for centuries—the notion that our bodies are full of poisons that keep us sick and unhealthy, and that using their product will help to cure us from those unhealthy afflictions. In reality this is only half-true. Our kidney and liver detox the body, and if they aren’t functional, then detox tea will not help you. You will need to seek medical help. The reason most people buy detox tea is to lose weight, or to debloat their stomach. Bloating is normally caused by either water retention or gas retention in the body. Most detox teas offers a solution to that, a drug that goes by the name of Senna. Senna is a laxative that can be found in the laxative aisle in most department stores, and it works by stimulating the nerve endings in the walls of the large bowel and rectum. This effect makes the bowel wall contract more often and with more force than normal, which moves the stools through the colon to the rectum so that the bowel can be emptied. What this means for users of detox tea is that weight is shed through excretion. Not regular weight however—just water weight. Water weight is water that the body retains to stay hydrated. This can cause the bloating sensation users who order detox tea can sometimes feel. However, this waste elimination process is not quick or painless. Several women interviewed by Teen Vogue reported having horrible cramps early in the morning after drinking nighttime tea, and then having extremely painful diarrhea. Some women have even experienced irregular periods and other side effects, such as stomach aches and headaches. According to CNN, one also risks getting addicted to the tea, because after a while of using detox tea, the body may become dependant on it. As soon as one starts drinking detox tea, one’s digestive processes will just be waiting for the next hit of laxative to keep it moving. When it becomes backed up and bloated again, the user will have to spend an exorbitant amount of money on what is basically just $50 laxative, and risk becoming reliant. One adult woman, Lise Glancy, who has thought about trying the product, shared some thoughts on this topic. She explained that she did not follow any of the celebrities that were promoting detox tea, but thought that they were, “all about a dollar.” When asked if she would had ever considered taking detox tea for weight loss purposes knowing the side effects, she stated, “I don’t know if I would ever do it. I would at least want to look it up online first before putting it in my body… If it has a health benefit I might do it.” Franklin student Mieke Wright (10) was also interviewed, and explained that she is among one of the prime ages that detox tea markets towards on Instagram. When asked if she has considered taking detox tea knowing the side effects, Mieke explained that she would have bought it if she could, but she didn’t have enough money at the time. “Plus I don’t really buy stuff online,” she said. When asked on her thoughts about celebrities promoting detox tea to their followers,  she stated “That’s how they make money—nothing we can do about it. That’s just marketing.” Overall, detox tea does not appear to give much positive benefit to people drinking it. It clears up water weight, but does not do it forever, and continued clearing can make one reliant on it to function. A couple of years from now, detox tea is only going to be looked back on as an irrelevant fad.

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