Two very popular diet and tea terms are ‘Cleanse’ and ‘Detox’. But what are the differences between these two terms, and what–if anything–do these teas have to offer? Read on to find out!

Why do a cleanse or detox anyway?

The biggest reason a lot of people do a cleanse or detox is for weight loss, and this is where a lot of the industry focuses its marketing. There are additional reasons we’ll cover shortly, but the majority of these diets focus on weight loss as the ultimate benefit.

What is the difference between a Cleanse and Detox?

While these terms are used often interchangeably, they are drastically different. So depending on your goal, you may do one or the other, or both in different stages.

A cleanse is the process where you eliminate junk food and replace with fiber and nutrient-rich foods. These foods will not only make you feel better, but it will help all your organs, including the liver and kidneys to work more efficiently. A big focus is on releasing stagnation from the GI tract and helping with elimination. Eating properly, along with fiber will help you get rid of bloat and excess water and other “junk”.

Detox works differently. This process helps your body, and more importantly, your kidneys and liver get rid of accumulated toxins such as heavy metals. Food itself cannot detoxify your body, but eating the right type of foods can help your kidneys and liver do their job better. These diets tend to be much more restrictive than their cleanse counterparts. They are often paired with fasts.

How does one choose?

As mentioned before, a common reason for a cleanse is to lose weight. A detox is more of a shock approach and may be used in situations where you ate a lot of bad food or had too much to drink. Detox regimens are usually shorter term in duration. But the key is for you to understand your goals and choose the appropriate approach that will help you reach them. There are also many different diets, but how do you know which one works? A great tool is to use the annual ranking of diets by US News and World Report. One piece of advice: If you are using diet to overcome a medical condition, weight loss, or to reduce your reliance of prescription drugs make sure you coordinate with a doctor who has a nutrition background (most do not) and be willing to have your blood tested regularly to see the results. This is especially for diets that are more restrictive.

How do Cleanse and Detox teas work?

Since tea is considered a food, it is simply another ingredient that you can consume in conjunction with the cleanse or detox diet you are using. A detox tea would generally be a combination of herbs that simulate the kidney and liver and encourage urination. Some of the well-known herbs and spices used are fennel seed, coriander, milk thistle, and dandelion. 

A cleanse tea is usually focused towards releasing stagnation and helping your GI tract. Green tea, fennel seed, senna (a natural laxative), ginger and cinnamon are often found in cleanse formulas.

Regardless of the teas you use, remember they are a tool used in addition to your diet. Drinking tea alone will probably have little effect by itself.

Danger of tea?

One of the issues to be aware of is that some vendors have Senna as their main ingredient. No long-term solution should include diuretics and laxatives day after day. Senna is often used to clear out patients prior to surgery. However too much Senna can also lead to your body becoming addicted. So know the ingredients and make sure you know how much and how long you should drink the teas.

“Regular”  Tea

Besides teas specific to cleansing and detox, a good diet supplemented with pretty much any tea will be beneficial. Old school advice of eating a varied diet also applies to tea. Using green, oolong, black, and pu-erh tea will expose you to all the benefits and can be used in most cases indefinitely without side effects.

Buying Cleanse and Detox Teas

It’s not a bad idea to have a few of these teas handy just like aspirin in your medicine cabinet. We always recommend buying from a dedicated tea merchant who offers a good variety of tea. We do not recommend vendors who specialize in specific detox or cleanse teas, as they are usually not experts in tea but rather social media. Secondly, the prices from these specialty vendors are often much higher because of their much higher marketing overhead.

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