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Does Detox Tea Work? Facts and Myths, Dangers and Benefits

Detox Tea Work
Photo: CC0 / Unsplash / Sebastian Sammer

Does detox tea work? Detox tea, detox diets, and other similar products are a familiar mainstay of the health food industry. But many of the so-called miracle cures and methods are ineffective – and some are downright dangerous. Let’s discuss what can help and what definitely won’t.

Nowadays, it seems there’s a ‘detox solution’ for almost everything. There’s detox tea, detox juices, and detox diets. But there are also detox creams to combat wrinkles or detox patches to directly absorb harmful substances through your skin. Detoxing has become a mass phenomenon – but what are the supposed benefits? And, more importantly, does detoxing work?

The Benefits of Detoxification

Detoxifying your body, devotees argue, will help you lose a few pounds, give you more energy, strengthen your immune system, make you feel younger, and improve your general health. How? Most detox products and processes typically aim to remove pollutants, synthetic chemicals, and heavy metals from the body. Other ‘toxins’ include commodities that are unhealthy in excessive quantities such as salt, sugar, or alcohol.

However, there’s no real consensus about what it actually takes to ‘detoxify’ our bodies. Sometimes detoxing just means avoiding certain products (e.g. overly ‘acidic’ foods); other times, only the consumption of a specific tea or supplement will help. But does detox tea work, or is it potentially dangerous? That depends on your interpretation of the term ‘detox’.

The Science Behind Detoxing

Detox Science
Scientists agree that a healthy body needs no special supplements to detoxify itself. (Photo: CC0 / Unsplash / William Moreland)

There’s a simple explanation for the fact that no consensus exists on what detoxing is: detoxing as such doesn’t actually exist. Nobody will get (or stay) sick just because they don’t ‘detox’ regularly. Our body, with its liver, kidneys, and digestive system, is perfectly equipped – when healthy – to excrete harmful substances without special detox products or processes.

No detox product alone can remove toxins from the body: if these products have any effect at all – and there is very little scientific evidence to support the claim that they do – they achieve this by supporting the function of your body’s existing detoxification systems.

Detox products are often designed to give consumers the false impression that it is possible to undo damage in the body caused by unhealthy behaviors like smoking cigarettes and excessive drinking. In this case, the manufacturers are the real benefactors of the detox boom. In the best-case scenario, detox plans simply nudge would-be detoxers towards concentrating on genuinely healthy behaviors like a more balanced diet. In this sense, at least, detoxing can be said to work.

But Why Does Detox Tea Work for My Friends and Family?

Detox Tea Green
It’d be great if a cup of tea was all it took to lead a healthy lifestyle – unfortunately, it’s not that simple. (Photo: CC0 / Unsplash / Monika Grabkowska)

Most of us know at least one person who is always raving about the health benefits they’ve gained through detox. The positive effects on general health, digestion, and immune system – even long-term weight loss – are loudly celebrated by many enthusiastic ‘detoxers’. So why does detox tea seem to work so well for some people?

There’s no reason to be cynical if our friends feel healthier and happier. However, the benefits may have little or nothing to do with the detox tea they’re drinking. Put simply, everybody will lose weight if they pay more attention to what they eat and drink. No matter which nutritional concept or health product is behind it, a more conscious, mindful approach to consumption is all the detoxification we need.

If detoxing works, then it’s because fresh juices and wholemeal products contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Detox tea itself doesn’t do anything to improve your health, but switching to herbal tea instead of coffee with sugar and cream will have a positive impact on your overall well-being.

Detoxing – The Potential Dangers

Warning: If you drastically restrict your diet during a detox treatment, you will soon be at risk for deficiencies in important nutrients like potassium or magnesium. Ironically, these deficiencies often limit your body’s natural ability to detoxify itself. Also, fruit juices and smoothies contain a high amount of natural sugar and should only be consumed in moderation.

Smoothies Ice Cream Cocktails
Smoothies can be a tasty and healthy treat, but it’s important to be aware of their high sugar content. (Photo: CC0 / Unsplash / Pablo de la Fuente)

There are obvious risks to consuming untested, potentially unsuitable dietary supplements. The FTA and the FTC warn that detox products – especially powders and pills from the internet – can be dangerous, as the real ingredients do not always correspond to the manufacturers’ claims. Detox products based on zeolite, for instance, can contain heavy metals, and highly concentrated or impure plant substances can interact with medicines or exacerbate existing medical conditions.

How to Make Detox Work – Avoid Toxins In the First Place

If you live in a first-world country, chances are that over the course of your life, a non-negligible amount of environmental toxins such as heavy metals, microplastics, and other pollutants will accumulate in your body, in fatty tissues in particular. Furthermore, because humans are at the top of the food chain, we also absorb environmental toxins that lifeforms further down the food chain have consumed.

Does detox tea work to remove these toxins? Well, no. These toxins are very difficult to remove, and drugs that are effective against them have heavy side effects and are only approved for use in the case of very specific diseases.

Fish Seafood Market
Seafood, for example, can contain high levels of mercury. (Photo: CC0 / Unsplash / Franceso Ungaro)

Ultimately, we expose ourselves to toxins not only in our food, but also via household products, pharmaceutical drugs, and environmental pollution. Instead of spending money (or even risking your health) on detoxification and purification, you’re much better off concentrating on your body’s natural, everyday ability to detoxify itself.

There are easy, healthy, and natural ways to lose weight and boost your immune system. You can help boost your body’s ability to detoxify itself by finding better ways to fall asleep on time, and by fitting in an early morning workout a few times a week. And don’t forget that you can control the majority of your exposure to toxins – simply by rethinking your approach to food, cosmetics, and everyday consumption.

This article was translated from German by Will Tayler. You can read the original here: Entgiftungskur: Nichts dran am Detox-Trend

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