Have you ever wondered if detox teas really work? Or if they might just be a marketing scheme to get you to buy more products or drink more tea? This article will help explain what detoxification really is, how it works in the body, and whether or not you should spend your money on these trending products.

Detox Remedies
Photographer: Dominik Martin | Source: Unsplash

It’s no secret that the term “detox” has become quite a buzzword over the past decade or so. You may have begun to understand that your body is exposed to a lot of toxins in the environment and food supply---things like pesticides, antibiotics, heavy metals, pollution, etc. It can be scary and overwhelming to think about. It makes sense, then, that everyone seems to be talking about how to detoxify the body to help fight against the harmful effects of these toxins. One of those ways is through drinking teas that are marketed to help support this process. But do these detox teas really work? If not, how can you safely and naturally help detoxify your body? Read on to find out the answers and determine the best course of action for you.

What is detoxification?

Before we jump into whether or not tea may be able to help support detoxing the body, it’s important to first understand what the process of detox is like in the body. Did you know that your body is designed to naturally help detoxify itself? It does this by eliminating toxins through processes such as breathing, sweating, urinating, and producing bowel movements, which involve the kidneys, skin, liver, lungs, and intestines.

However, despite this innate ability to detox, the body can get into a state of toxic overload, or “oxidative stress”, which occurs when the amount of toxic exposure surpasses the body’s ability to detoxify. When this happens, studies have shown that chronic diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and chronic inflammation can occur. How and why does this happen? There are a few reasons.

One of the biggest contributors to a toxic overload for the average American is consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is lacking in key nutrients to support proper detoxification. Other contributors include excessive exposure to pollution, smoking, pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs, heavy metals, and many man-made chemicals found everyday household items, as evidenced by this study. Fortunately, proper nutrition and lifestyle factors can help to both prevent this oxidative stress and aid in proper detoxification processes (reviewed further later on in this article)

What does a product advertised as “detox” really mean?

It may be easier to understand now why so many products on the market advertise themselves as being able to support detoxification, including detox teas. Unfortunately, the ingredients in detox teas are not regulated by the FDA, nor are they for any dietary supplement.

The FDA is also not required to review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed, which means there are many companies out there that can create products that may be harmful or contain something different than what is described on the label. So, labeling something as “detox” really has no regulated meaning and can be deceiving and outright false in many cases.

Do detox teas really work?

This is debatable, but the likely answer is no. This is because the ingredients commonly found in detox teas, such as caffeine, herbs, and laxatives are likely to simply help speed metabolism or flush water or food out of the body rather than support actual detoxification. There is no reliable evidence that drinking detox teas can help flush toxins out of the body. It is also important to note that most detox teas have not been tested for safety.

There have been specific cases of teas marketed as “detox” which were found to contain hidden drug ingredients, and many other detox teas may cause harm to the body if used long-term, such as diarrhea, heart abnormalities, and electrolyte or sleep imbalances. Ultimately, marketing simply cannot be trusted. Even if a detox tea supplement is safe and legitimate, it does not mean that it will help solve a specific health problem caused by toxic overload.

Other Beverage Options To Help Support Detoxification In The Body

The good news is that even if “detox teas” aren’t all the hype they are created to be, there are much safer and more natural things you can drink to help support detoxification in the body, such as:

  • Smoothies: These can be a good source of antioxidants and fiber. Foods high in antioxidants help fight against free radicals and reduce the damaging effects of toxins, while fiber helps promote production of bowel movements, which is a major way the body excretes toxins. Try drinking an antioxidant & fiber-rich smoothie containing foods like berries, nut butter, avocado, leafy greens, and cinnamon to help support detoxification
  • Water: Staying hydrated helps keep things moving through the body and supports the elimination of toxins via sweat, urine, and feces. Aim to drink at least half of your body weight in pounds in the number of ounces of fluid (ideally water) each day. For a 150 pound person, this would equal 75 ounces or about 9 cups. Consider adding fresh lemon juice or trying sparkling water if the thought of drinking that much plain water doesn’t sound very appetizing.
  • Green tea: Green tea is also very high in antioxidants to help fight against toxin exposure, and it can count towards meeting fluid goals for the day.

Bottom line

As you can see, the concept of detoxifying the body is a bit more complex than most people realize. Whether or not you are actively trying to detoxify your body, organs such as your liver, kidneys, sweat glands, and lungs are always working for you doing some level of detoxification. However, it is possible for the body to get into a state of “oxidative stress”, which surpasses the body’s ability to properly detoxify and can cause harm to the body in the long term.

While detox teas seem convincing and are trendy, they are not a “catch-all” product to help manage this process, and some can actually be dangerous for the body. There are many other safer and more natural steps you can take to help support your body’s ability to detoxify and ultimately reduce your risk of health ailments as a result. What step(s) can you take today?