What happens when people get convinced that modern medicine is just a bunch of profit seekers, not people truly concerned for your health? And when old superstitions about cures supported not by years-long controlled testing but by someone claiming such and such helped them with their arthritis, diabetes, hair loss, etc.? You get a market flooded with claims about the health benefits of this and that, including a bunch of stuff called “detox tea.” Time to clear the air a bit and help you determine if such things will really be of any benefit to you.
The Basics of Detox Tea
- Many detox “teas” on the market do not contain tea and are therefore caffeine free naturally, which can be a benefit to those overly sensitive to caffeine. However, you can buy lower-priced herbals and get the same benefit.
- Recipes for detox “teas” vary widely, but you will often see lemon, anise, ginger root, and cinnamon in them.
- Freshness of the ingredients is a key to any supposed benefit, but most available in stores and online shops are months, if not years, old and come in those obnoxious little bags. The bags strain out a lot of particulate matter that are supposed to be part of the benefit.
- The idea of a drink being able to remove “toxins” from your body is centuries old from China and India but has no hard evidence supporting the long list of health claims made by those selling and promoting detox “teas.”
A flooded market as everyone gets in on the hype:
Some go for the homemade variety:
The Facts of “Detoxing”
We need to start from this basic premise: we are all different and react differently to things. That is not meant to be “PC” but needs to be set in place up front. Many of you reading this have probably tried a detox “tea” and thought you benefited from it. “Thought” is used here not to challenge you but to get you thinking that the benefit might have stemmed from something else, even from an attitude that the drink would benefit you. In reality, there is no such thing as “detoxing,” medically speaking. You get healthy through a proper diet (which is determined by you and your doctor) and exercise or some kind of activity.
A key benefit to drinking these beverages is said to be weight loss. They are supposed to rinse away your calories, flush your system of impurities, and clean out your various organs in the process. Doesn’t happen. Our system is self-cleaning for the most part. So that concept is just a marketing gimmick.
According to Edzard Ernst at Exeter University, detox is for drug addiction only. The term got hijacked by those seeking to profit from your desire to lose weight and generally feel better. Your body is not going to accumulate nasty substances. If it did, you would be a lot sicker or possibly dead. Instead, the kidneys, liver, skin, and lungs remove the nasty stuff from our systems unless they stop functioning (and you’d soon know if that happened).
The word “toxins” is not even being defined in any clear way. They are assumed to be something harmful and nauseating. There is no way, therefore, to measure them before and after treatment to see if the detox “tea” is having any effect (other than just your wishing it so).
While the idea of detoxing has been questioned for close to a decade, with scientists gathering products and testing them to find no evidence of them having any health benefit, the emotional appeal remains and so the vendors keep selling. Products take various forms: tablets, tinctures, tea bags, face masks, bath salts, hair brushes, shampoos, body gels, and hair straighteners. Spas, yoga studios, luxury retreats, and even gyms offer these detox things. It’s big money for them.
Worse yet are the colonics that became a rage in California in the 70s and continue today. They do no benefit and can actually cause harm if your bowel is perforated. There are also colon-cleansing tablets that do nothing more than uh well something rather disgusting and foot pads containing a substance that turns brown when sweat from your feet permeate them (they say that the pads have pulled toxins out of your feet – a real snakeoil salesman claim).
And then there are the superfoods, something that is popping up more and more on social media. However, some of these foods can be unhealthy in the large doses being recommended. Broccoli helps the liver but contains cyanide, a poison. The same goes for sprouts, mustard plants, and cabbages. Eating a serving a day of one of these is fine. But enjoying massive amounts will build up cyanide in your system. And no detox “tea” will remove it. You are better off having a nicely balanced diet.
Listen to your head (your intellect) and avoid the gimmicks of detox “teas” and superfoods. Your body will thank you.
© 2016-2020 A.C. Cargill photos and text
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