You may have heard about various “Teatox”, Flat Tummy, bloat reduction and weight loss teas being advertised these days. These companies claim to promote weight loss, reduce bloating, and give you a ‘flat belly’ among other things. We initially learned about these teas when someone called our shop looking to find out what the status of their order was, not realizing they called the wrong number.  An employee who happened to be an avid Instagram user knew about this company. Having sold various cleanse and detox teas over the years, we decided to look into some of the claims of these companies.

Tea, especially herbal teas, have been used for centuries to address various health issues. This is nothing new. And many people understand that herbs like Chamomile help calm and relax you, or that peppermint can be used for an upset stomach. If you have herbs that can help with infections, promote blood circulation, why not weight loss?

THE PREMISE

Using a variety of herbs, these companies claim things like ‘helps with energy and weight loss’, ‘bloating and indigestion’, ‘improved metabolism’, ‘cleanse and detoxify’.

Now it is not unreasonable to say that the above claims could be true. However, there are a few things wrong with the picture that we want to bring to your attention. First off, these claims may or may not include ‘diet and exercise’, but often they are vague and general. It takes some research to find out what particular combination of diet and exercise it ideal for you.  There is also little in the way of detailing what in their cocktails are giving you the energy or cleansing properties.

DOSING AND SIDE EFFECTS

Herbal supplements are in the ‘grey area’ because they are not regulated. Supplements can be purchased in capsule form, or in this case – tea form. Therefore, it’s important to know what you are taking. We’ve seen the commercials of all the regulated drugs and the litany of side effects they have to provide at the end of the commercial. No such requirement exists for herbs.  We’ve all probably had that really stubborn cold and have taken Nyquil to get a good night’s sleep. Does that mean you should take it every night or whenever you sneeze? NO. That goes for many herbs.

There are herbs or spices like mint or ginger which are relatively benign and can be consumed on a regular basis by most people. There are some lesser known herbs like coltsfoot or kava that have serious side effects and should be avoided at all costs. And there are others that should be used in moderation and with careful dosing. This is one reason we don’t recommend using powdered extracts. Many of them, including those derived from green tea, often have their main ingredients in UNSAFE CONCENTRATIONS.

The problem with many of these flat belly sites is that they don’t discuss much about the ingredients they are putting in their teas. And with closer inspection, you’ll find that many of them contain herbs that have side effects that warrant more attention. However, none of these sites imply that you should ever stop using their products. WebMD has a database of almost every herb and can tell you side effects, whether they are safe for pregnancy and if they interact with certain medications.

DIURETICS AND LAXATIVES

Most of the companies provide two types of teas – one for the morning and one for the evening. The morning tea may or may not contain regular tea (camelia sinensis) but usually contains some sort of diuretic, the most common being dandelion root.

The second phase gets interesting, and this is where the laxatives come into play. Nearly all of them contain a laxative in one form or the other. Senna is the most common, another uses psyllium (also found in products like Metamucil).

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that drinking a combination of these herbs and the ensuing results will probably help you lose water weight. But does that mean it’s healthy for long term use? Using diuretics and laxatives to lose weight can be a SHORT TERM solution. But it will not fix a problem if you continue to eat poorly. Moreover, using laxatives on a sustained and basis may create a dependency on these products to stay regular.

ETHICAL ISSUES

If you are a tea purchaser, you probably want to know a little about the tea company you are buying from. And if anything, knowing there is a physical location and phone number will go a long way into establishing credibility.  Most reputable tea companies will let you purchase samples before trying out a larger quantity of a product.

First and foremost, nearly all the companies we’ve looked into that sell these “tea-tox” and belly flattening teas are NAMELESS AND FACELESS. They have no history of being in the tea business, they list no address, and do not provide a phone number. In fact, they do not even document anything that shows they know anything about tea. What they are good in is social media marketing.

INSTA-SCAM

Our first clue there was something wrong was seeing scantily clad girls holding up packets of some of these teas. Clicking through the feed reveals that these were not overweight, bloated customers who, by taking the tea, became super toned, thong-wearing models. THEY DO THIS FOR A LIVING. In fact, we found out there is an entire marketplace that allows companies to buy someone to influence a product. A “teatox” tea one day, a summer dress the next. Some go even further by posting fake before-and-after photos. It is in our opinion that these are not a reputable way to purchase something that affects you will consume on a daily basis.

The bottom line is, if you hear about a product on social media – make sure the person is reputable and credible.

THE ONLY THING BLOATED IS THEIR COST

Most of these companies do not sell their teas by weight but rather by days supply. This means they can greatly vary the quantity sent and overprice their teas. Many of these price a one month supply at around 49 dollars. You get 28 tea bags of each type. Have you weighed a tea bag? Often a tea bag will hold 2-3 grams of tea. Let’s says 3 grams which equals 1/10 of an ounce. The comes out to 2.8 ounces of tea.  Rounding up, you are getting about 6 ounces of tea for about fifty dollars. When you look at the ingredients provided, the mark up is more than double over purchasing a comparable blend from a qualified tea merchant.

SHOULD YOU DRINK TO LOSE WEIGHT?

Tea can be used for weight loss, again factoring in that you should be eating correctly and burning calories. Simply drinking Green tea will help boost your metabolism. Pu-erh tea has also been found to promote healthy digestion. Most tea vendors will have their own cleanse and detox blends.  Many of these blends will help in losing or maintaining weight. Knowing the ingredients and a vendor that can help educate you or answer questions goes a long way. For example, does the tea vendor have a nutritionist on staff?  Doing simple google searches on the ingredients will help you determine what side effects an herb has. A good tea vendor should provide you with plenty of information.

While Diuretics and laxatives may help you lose weight short term, they should not be used as a long term solution. Once you are reaching your goals, switch to more everyday herbs and spices that can be consumed safely and daily. Oolong, Pu-erh and Green Tea all help boost metabolism. Newer types of tea like Purple tea also have the metabolism benefits along with other health properties. Getting a good blend of tea from a reputable tea supplier, along with doing the proper research is the best way to go, and we say avoid the Instagram focused marketers.

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