Detox teas are used to rid your body of toxic substances that build-up because of a poor diet and environmental and physical stress. The process of detoxing is controversial. There's little scientific evidence that detox teas alone are effective, but they may help support your body's natural detoxification process. You can make your own detox teas or purchase them at most grocery stores or natural food stores.
Types of Detox Teas
Pick up almost any health-related magazine, and you'll likely find ads for detox teas. The process of detoxing your body with tea is known as a teatox. There are detox teas that claim to help you:
- Cleanse your colon
- Improve digestion
- Lose weight
- Boost immunity
- Increase energy
- Clear skin
- Improve sleep
- Slow aging
Make Your Own Detox Teas
Except for a few non-herbal teas, such as green tea, detox teas are made from a single herb or a combination of herbs brewed in water. The longer you steep the tea, the stronger the brew. You can make detox teas using fresh or dried herbs. Before using fresh herbs, wash them thoroughly.
On his website, Dr. Michael Lam recommends starting slow with detox teas to limit side effects. He suggests steeping teas for no more than two minutes in one to two cups of water for the first three to five days. As your body adjusts, you may increase steeping time to five minutes. Some people steep longer, but it's best to see how your body reacts first. To make the tea more palatable, use natural sweeteners such as stevia or honey sparingly. You may also add fresh lemon. Following are several detox teas to try making at home.
If you think dandelions are nothing but a nuisance and an eyesore, you're wrong. They are a popular natural remedy used as a diuretic and to detox your liver. They are thought to support digestion by maintaining bile flow. You can make dandelion tea from dandelions in your yard as long as they're not treated with pesticides or located in an area where animals go to the bathroom.
To make dandelion tea, choose younger, more tender dandelions, if possible. The entire plant, roots, leaves, and flowers, may be used. Most people prefer using the flowers and leaves to make tea. Simply steep fresh dandelions in hot water. You can strain the tea before drinking, or you can eat the dandelion. Keep in mind dandelion leaves are on the bitter side. The longer you steep them, the more bitter the tea.
Peppermint tea is a great digestive tonic. It helps relieve bloating, nausea, and indigestion. It may also stimulate bile flow to aid digestion. Research shows peppermint contains antioxidant flavonoids. In vitro studies found it has antimicrobial, antiviral, antitumor, and anti-allergic properties.
To make peppermint tea, add two tablespoons of dried peppermint leaves or about a dozen fresh, bruised peppermint leaves to hot water and strain the leaves before drinking. Alternatively, you may enjoy eating the fresh peppermint leaf.
Red Clover Tea
Red clover is another herb found in your backyard and considered a weed by many people. Yet, it's one of the most popular detox herbs. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, throughout history red clover was used to purify the blood, help the body get rid of excess fluid, and cleanse the liver.
To make red clover tea, add about two teaspoons dried or fresh red clover flowers to hot water; steep, and strain.
Milk Thistle Tea
Milk thistle is another popular detoxifying herb. It contains silymarin which, according to the National Cancer Institute, helps stabilize cell membranes, stimulates detoxification pathways, and regenerates liver tissue. It may also inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells and increase chemotherapy benefits. Because it stimulates bile, milk thistle also has a laxative effect.
Milk thistle tea is made from milk thistle seeds and leaves. To make, add about one tablespoon of crushed milk thistle seeds and leaves to hot water; steep, and strain. Try adding several fresh peppermint leaves for flavor and additional detox benefits.
Green tea is unique among other detox teas since it's not an herb, and its health effects are well-studied. Green tea is high in antioxidants and has a diuretic effect to help your body flush out toxins. One study showed drinking large amounts of green tea (up to twelve cups daily) boosts production of detoxification enzymes, which helps the body fight the build-up of chemical and cancer-causing toxins.
To make green tea, use quality loose-leaf green tea stored in an airtight container. Add about one teaspoon of green tea leaves to a tea ball or tea strainer and place in a teacup or mug. Add one cup of hot water and steep for no more than three minutes. Steeping longer results in a bitter tea. You can enjoy green tea warm or iced.
Senna Leaf Tea
Senna leaf is used in many colon cleanse and weight loss teas. It's a natural and powerful laxative that helps rid the colon of waste build-up.
Senna teas should only be used for short periods. Long-term use may cause severe diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and potassium imbalance. It may also cause stomach cramping and abdominal pain, liver damage, and laxative dependence. According to Medline Plus, senna is an FDA-approved, nonprescription laxative, but you should not use if you have any of the following:
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Potassium deficiency
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- A gastrointestinal condition such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, intestinal blockage, hemorrhoids, or stomach inflammation
Buying Detox Teas
If you can't make your own tea, you may purchase ready-made varieties. Since some brands add sugar and artificial ingredients that may defeat the goal of your detox, read labels carefully so you understand what you're buying. You should also check the expiration date to make sure you're getting the freshest tea possible. Be cautious when choosing weight loss detox teas. Many contain powerful laxatives and high levels of caffeine. They may help you reduce the number on the scale, but unless you're exercising and eating a healthy diet, you're probably losing water weight and not fat.
Here are some detox tea options to consider:
- Yogi Detox Tea: This tea contains burdock root and dandelion for liver support and an Ayurvedic herbal blend to support blood flow. There are 16 tea bags per box.
- Republic of Tea No. 7 Herb Tea for Detoxing: This tea is made from organic rooibos tea, dandelion root, milk thistle, chicory, burdock, and red clover. Natural vanilla and almond flavors are added. You may purchase up to 250 tea bags in one box.
- Traditional Medicinals Everyday Detox Tea: The main ingredients in this tea are dandelion root and chicory root to help detoxify and support the liver. Each box contains 16 tea bags.
- Total Tea Gentle Detox: Senna leaf, ginger, peppermint, rosehips, hibiscus, and gynostemma are in this caffeine-free, colon-cleansing tea. Users claim it's gentle on your tummy. There are 25 tea bags per box.
- Bigelow Organic Green Tea: The only ingredient in this tea is organic green tea. It's great for brewing hot or cold. Each box contains 40 tea bags.
Detox Tea Precautions
Used short-term, most detox teas are safe if you have no health conditions.
- Some detox teas such as green tea contain caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant which, according to the Mayo Clinic, may cause sleep problems, irritability, nervousness, fast heart rate, tremors, and upset stomach in some people. If you're sensitive to caffeine, avoid detox teas that contain it.
- Herbs may cause allergic reactions. Call your doctor if you experience a rash or hives, difficulty breathing, itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, rapid heart rate, dizziness, headache, or any other unusual symptoms after drinking a detox tea.
- Many detox teas are diuretics. Drink plenty of water to help support detox, flush out toxins, and replace lost fluids.
- All herbs are potent and may cause side effects, such as stomach cramping, diarrhea, and indigestion. In addition, some people going through detox report side effects from the detoxification process such as joint pain, headaches, sleep problems, and congestion. If you experience effects that are severe or unusual, contact your doctor right away.
Detox Along With a Healthy Lifestyle
Despite the lack of studies on detox teas, many people use them with positive results. Nevertheless, they aren't meant to be a quick-fix for a lifetime of bad habits. Most detox teas are simply herbal remedies taken as tea. The herbs may help you lose weight, cleanse your colon, boost immunity, or promote healthy skin. However, if you aren't eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking and stress, detox teas won't help much in the long run. If you have a health condition or are pregnant or breastfeeding, contact your doctor or natural health practitioner before using detox teas.