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Teas, as a category, deliver a wide array of benefits. Drink one type of tea in the morning and it'll perk you up and give you what you need to get your day going. Drink another kind at night and it'll help lull you into a restful slumber. And many teas contain legitimate health-promoting and disease-fighting compounds.
But can they really help you lose weight or ferry toxic substances out of your body?
Related: Are Cleanses and Detox Diets Safe?
The idea of a "detox" or "cleansing" tea has been around for quite a few years and doesn't seem to be waning, thanks to celebs like Cardi B, the Kardashian clan, and even Instagram influencers. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of detox and cleansing teas to choose from, many of which promise to charge up your metabolism, shrink your love handles, improve your complexion or [fill in the blank with any long-hoped-for, hard-to-achieve benefit here].
Sounds downright awesome. 🙋
But, reality check … not possible. You see, your body has its own built-in cleanup crew, and the deep cleaners are your kidneys, lungs and liver. Yes, there are some compounds in what we eat and drink that may give the cleanup crew a little extra oomph and support, but you all you need are these built-in cleaners.
However, some elements of detox teas may bring weight-loss benefits.
One common thread is senna. Senna is an FDA-approved laxative that you can buy over-the-counter (aka no prescription needed)—and it's often in weight-loss detox teas. Research shows senna does work as a laxative. Senna fruit is said to be gentler than senna leaf and, as a result, it's recommended that the latter not be used long-term. But because of its laxative properties, it's likely that much of the weight loss benefit you reap from a senna-containing detox tea is thanks to those extra bathroom visits it forces you to make.
Some detox-tea regimens also encourage you to clean up your diet—focus on eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins; limit fat, sugar, salt; and cut out unhealthy processed foods, etc. So that could be another reason you see the numbers on your scale drop with a detox tea.
Detox teas are more often hype than help. But regularly drinking tea has been shown to have a laundry list of health benefits (such as helping to prevent or lower your risk of cancer, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease). So skip over the so-called detox teas and instead choose the real thing—green, black, oolong—for the best benefit.