The Truth About the Health Benefits of Detox Tea

The health benefits of detox tea have been much hyped in recent years. They claim to be capable of promoting everything from weight loss to good digestion and increased energy levels. You wouldn’t think consuming tea of any kind would do that much for your health.

A grey chair beside 2 small end tables with books and a cup of herbal tea

Unless we’re talking about mental health, which also involves a good book, a comfortable chair and plenty of free time. So what’s the deal with detox teas? Do they really work? If you haven’t already, grab that cuppa and comfortable chair and let’s find out the truth behind the health benefits of detox tea.

What is detox tea?

Detox tea is essentially herbal tea. There you go, I’ve just saved you some time.

They’re often marketed as a balanced combination of herbs designed to promote cleansing the body of toxins, increase metabolism and promote weight loss. Detox tea benefits seem to be All Good Things, right?

Well, before we dive in, it’s worth finding out a little more about what they can do for your health and what you’re detoxing from.

Detox cleansing: what exactly are we detoxing?

Free radicals and antioxidants

It’s always free radicals. 

The body makes these unstable molecules and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them to stop ageing us. Essentially, because these free radicals have been running amok in your body stealing electrons and trampling on the flowers, you need antioxidants to neutralise them and combat all the oxidative stress they cause.

Harvard has a more scientific explanation.

Detoxification teas are said to contain high levels of antioxidants like catechins and flavanoids that neutralise free radicals which can reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. 

 But there are a few misconceptions about the detox claim; Detox drinks are not a cure-all. 

An flat lay of a cup of black tea beside a wooden spoon with herbs on a linen cloth

Some of the purported health benefits of drinking detox tea include:

Weight loss support

It’s been said that certain detox teas can rev up your metabolism and assist in burning stubborn fat. The idea is that a detox tea may give your metabolism a boost which in turn promotes weight loss. Is it true though? Well, maybe.

But probably not.

A lot of these teas include something called senna leaf which you’ll find in laxatives. That temporary diuretic effect, (you’ll pee more) is what leads to fast but short-term weight loss. You’re losing lots of water weight. Not the same as losing fat. Plus, any weight lost through water will quickly return once you rehydrate.

And you need to hydrate. Don’t skimp on that.

The other problem here is that it might cause an electrolyte imbalance and other negative side effects. Not particularly healthy or effective in the long run.

Even worse, drinking this type of tea on a regular basis can make your digestive system reliant on its laxative effects. And what does that do?

Impacts the digestive system

a cup of black detox tea in a jar on a brown table

You may also experience digestive problems when you start drinking detox teas. While they’re designed to aid the GI tract in eliminating toxic substances they could just be irritating the bowel, causing abdominal pain, upset stomachs and bloating. In the quest for better health, you could just be making things worse. 

As with anything like this, if you have chronic digestive problems, seek medical advice from health-care professionals (not the internet). There might be a bigger underlying problem and a tea’s not going to cut it.  

Still, many of the detox teas out there claim to aid digestive issues and bloating, improve overall gut health and promote regular bowel movements. The truth is, you can already get that effect from some traditional herbal teas.

I can certainly attest that peppermint and ginger tea are absolutely brilliant for soothing a rebellious digestive system. Not only that but they have scientific evidence to back them up.

Peppermint tea being poured into a glass cup on a bamboo mat

Seriously, if you have IBS flare-ups these are your go-to herbal teas. They can relieve gas and bloating, soothe the gut and promote the removal of toxins. This can make you feel lighter and increase energy. Traditional herbal teas pretty much have the one ingredient and no laxative effect or potentially high levels of caffeine

Green tea and black tea instead

So we’ve established that detox tea does include some potential antioxidant properties and possible digestive health benefits. But this is usually because they contain ingredients like green or black tea.

Green tea is rich in polyphenols, and catechins which are potent antioxidants and may lower oxidative stress. It’s been linked to cancer prevention and studies show that it increases the activity of antioxidant enzymes. Green tea also has the potential to modulate the gut microbiome – 4 to 5 cups a day can increase Bifidobacterium which will put your gut in a much healthier state.

Although further research is needed, black tea has also shown itself to be no slouch in the antioxidant department. In fact, Black, Pu-erh, Fuzhuan and Oolong tea may help improve the gut microbiome.

So instead of looking for the best detox tea, it looks like a simple cup of regular tea, black or green, will go a long way to improving overall health.

Supports the immune system?

a cup of green tea in a brown cup beside a white china teapot on a brown table

So, can detox tea really give your immune system a boost? Well again, the health benefits of detox tea are all about the polyphenols. It’s possible that they could potentially support immune function making you less susceptible to common illnesses.

However, you can also get the same benefits from a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables like berries, cherries, spinach and olives. Also coffee, tea and chocolate.

Yep, chocolate can be good for you. That’s the proper kind – not loaded with sugar.

They’re still looking into bioavailability and the potential health benefits of polyphenols but there is a possibility that they could lower the risk of chronic disease. If that’s the case, you could get some benefits from detox tea but I think I know which one I’d rather go for.

Finally

As usual, I’m not a medical professional, but this is another one of those common sense things. Be sensible, be safe and don’t rely solely on the benefits of detox teas to maintain your health. That’s like expecting one soldier to win an entire war. And just like the Multiverse, your immune system needs more than the one superhero. You need a whole bunch of dysfunctional nutrients working together.

Or something.

It’s best to approach detox teas with a little bit of scepticism. A truly effective detox comes from living a consistently healthy lifestyle. In the meantime, have a cup of regular tea and put your feet up.

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