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The Craze Behind Diet and Detox Tea and How They Work

Diet and detox teas are all over social media but do they work? We look at the ingredients to help you see what works and what the real secret behind these teas are.
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You've probably seen detox, weight loss and cleansing tea all over social media promoting better digestion, cleansing toxins and making you feel altogether better. It's easy to wonder just what make these teas special or whether they're really worth a try. Let's explore, shall we?

First we should talk about what it is that make these teas for "detox" or weight loss. As pointed out in our Tea Guide, herbal tea can be made up of just about anything. In fact, in most countries, herbal tea isn't technically called "tea" but rather "tisane". If a tea doesn't contain tea leaves from the tea plant, then it's not actually considered "tea". This is where diet and detox teas fall. Most don't actually contain green or black tea leaves and are instead made up of herbal ingredients. The difference between diet teas and other herbal teas is that while most herbal tea still contains health benefits, they're blended more for taste. Diet and detox tea contain ingredients specially for their effect on the digestive and other systems at stimulate weight loss or detoxification. Call them a subcategory of herbal tea.

That doesn't mean diet teas aren't tasty. Most will be blended with other ingredients that keep them tasting great like cinnamon or peppermint. These aren't the ingredients you're looking for, though. We've listed what you should be looking for below.

The popularity of diet and detox tea is all due to their ingredients.

The Ingredient List

There are different herbs diet and detox teas use to help stimulate physical reaction in the body. If the label contains any of these, this is what they're used for:

  • Milk Thistle - painful to step on but beautiful to look at, milk thistle is a great herb to turn to when dealing with the liver. Not only does it calm liver inflammation but it's also used to treat deadly mushroom poisoning. You can learn more about milk thistle here.

  • Dandelion - different parts of the dandelion will have different effects. Dandelion leaves are a diuretic and help you urinate. They're also used in many herbal remedies for kidney health. The roots are used to detox the gallbladder and liver. There's little scientific support for it but herbalists have been using dandelion for hundreds of years. According to one study, dandelion flowers do contains antioxidants which is always beneficial.

  • Caffeine - believe it or not, caffeine is a great diuretic. While more and more detox teas are actually getting away from caffeine in favor of other ingredients, caffeine is a natural chemical that can come from green or black tea and helps the body expel water. It'll also help wake you up. Just be aware if your detox tea has caffeine that you aren't also drinking other caffeinated beverages. That'll cause a bad case of the jitters.

  • Senna Leaf - used for constipation, the senna leaf stimulates the intestines and helps you go. It's used in certain FDA-approved drugs but is also used as a supplement. You can find it in a lot of these teas. This is one to be careful of, though. If your tea contains senna, you need to limit how much you drink to ten days (at the maximum), drink a lot of water between cups and check with your doctor if you have digestion, kidney or liver problems. It can get pretty dangerous with certain medications because of how effective it is. Good for those that are a little blocked up, though.

  • Lemon - this is great because of how simple it is. Lemon water is another craze hitting up the media but you may be getting the same benefits from your tea. Lemon helps aid digestion and delivers more antioxidants. The citric acid is also a great way to help your kidneys out.

  • Aniseed - for the truly herbal detox tea, aniseed is a superstar ingredient. It's been a long-time remedy for bloating and unsettled stomachs. It might not be in all teas but it's definitely a good one to see on the ingredients list.

  • There are others, of course. Green tea has it's own weight loss effects by increasing metabolism and decreasing appetite and garcinia cambogia has recently seen it's debut in tea after gaining massive popularity in weight loss supplements. Peppermint and ginger, while I dismissed them earlier for taste, do have anti-bloating and gas benefits that you may be interested in. The list above is the biggest contenders that you usually won't find in regular herbal blends.

    The Truth About Detox Teas

    The title of weight loss and detox teas are slightly misleading because most studies don't find these ingredients scientifically effective. But there is a benefit to switching to tea in the new year.

    The ingredients in many of the diet teas offered provide beneficial nutrients like antioxidants you may be lacking if your diet is poor. Many of the above ingredients are also great for digestion and you may feel better just by experiencing better regularity, even for a short time. By switching to tea instead of reaching for soft drinks or energy drinks, you cut back on sugar and artificial ingredients and can increase hydration.

    What's important to take away from attempting a detox is if you feel better for a short time, it's not actually your body getting rid of anything bad -- it's you putting good things in your body instead. Our liver and kidneys are designed to naturally cleanse whatever we put in it. A temporary diet isn't going to do any long-term change but it can demonstrate how much better you could feel when eating and drinking better. 

    If you're making a commitment this New Year to be healthier, starting with diet or detox tea is a first step. It's a great way to introduce yourself to something new, tasty and healthy and could be what leads you to better eating and weight management. 

    If you're interested to learn more about tea, what kinds there are and how to drink it, check out our comprehensive Tea Guide

    What else are your goals for the new year? Tell us on Facebook or tag us with them on Twitter or Instagram so we can cheer you on! And check back in for more health tips and news on living well!
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