If you regularly scroll through wellness, fitness, or beauty Instagram accounts, you’re very likely to have come across so-called experts lauding the benefits of various teatoxs, but I wondered how safe these really are after reading that many of them contain laxatives and can have detrimental effects if used for more than two weeks. They are also not regulated, so brands pretty much have free reign to make whatever claims they like. When it comes to weight loss, there really aren’t any shortcuts, and anything that sounds too good to be true…is! Otherwise we’d all look like Gisele! That said, there are seriously real benefits to drinking “regular” antioxidant-rich tea. Take for example The Republic of Tea’s SuperGreen collection, which blends organic matcha, green tea leaves, and functional herbs. It includes Immunity, Serenity, Lean Green, and Brain Boost. The blends taste amazing, and while I can’t say they soothe my taste buds when I’m dying for a big piece of chocolate fudge cake, they do soothe my stomach after I’ve eaten three jumbo pieces!
Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Real Nutrition NYC says that laxative teas can actually also be very helpful if used correctly. “Senna, the main ingredient in most laxatives, is an FDA-approved nonprescription laxative used to treat constipation and sometimes to help clear the bowel before colonoscopies. For whatever reason, occasional constipation happens to all of us, and drinking a laxative tea to get rid of any discomfort is a luxury that we should not take for granted.” She is quick to note however that there is insufficient evidence for pretty much anything except relieving constipation. “There is no research to support that laxatives promote weight loss. Any weight loss experienced during a typical ‘teatox,’ say 14 days long, is likely water weight that has been drawn into the colon and expelled due to the laxative. Although it may be exciting to see that number go down on the scale, this effect is only short-term.”
Shapiro goes on to explain that excessive consumption of any laxative can cause several gastrointestinal problems. SO BE CAREFUL! “Laxative tea may cause diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Your colon can also become dependent on laxative use, causing the bowels to lose normal functioning. What is considered excessive will vary from person to person, but it is recommended to use senna as a laxative for no more than two weeks. Using a laxative even once may cause discomfort and pain for some while others may be able to do a whole 14-day ‘teatox’ and feel fine. Pay attention to your body and stop the teatox at any point if you are experiencing side effects. You should not have abdominal pain, cramping, or diarrhea.”
Lauren Slayton, MS RD, founder of Foodtrainers, and the author of The Little Book of Thin agrees. “There are a few ingredients in these detox teas that are no-nos even if they are in the same teabag as delicious decoys (ginger, cinnamon, gojis, etc.). I’ve noticed on these websites that it’s difficult to find the details. If ingredients are hard to find, it’s never a good sign.” Slayton goes on to note that the simplest way to lose weight is to drink water! “My favorite is CORE Hydration water because it’s pH-balanced and easy to drink. The bottles also help you measure your water intake. Have, at least, one bottle of CORE (24 oz.) before each meal. This not only helps you shed fluid (water helps you lose water), but it will result in you eating less at the meal.”
Bottom line? We shouldn’t play roulette with our health; instead of opting for those questionable teas we see celebrities advertising on Instagram for extra cash, we should go for reliable brews like the aforementioned ones from The Republic of Tea. Slayton also singles out matcha and pu-ehr teas, as well as dandelion and fennel as great additions to a healthy diet.