7 Things That Actually Happen When You Teatox | Jess English | Dietitian | Brighton
Brighton based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
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7 Things That Actually Happen When You Teatox

7 Things That Actually Happen When You Teatox

Although I was ever-hopeful that Detox teas would disappear years ago, it seems they’re on the rise again and shelves are heaving with celeb endorsed varie-teas (sorry, not sorry).

They look cool though, what can they do for me?

If you believed everything you read they can do everything from brighten up your skin and make your hair shiny …to the more infuriating claims – like curing cancer.

Some of these teas make bold claims to ‘cleanse and detoxify the major organs’ – which, unless they’re getting up there with a scrubbing brush (do not try this at home) just isn’t happening.

As well as this magical organ-cleansing wonderfulness, these super teas obviously also claim to help shift those ‘few extra pounds’ that diet culture insists you shouldn’t have. They are yet another wellness product equating health with thinness.


brighton dietitian detox nutritionist tea blue shelves

Let me clear something up

Your body does a great job of ‘detoxing’ on its own. You have a liver, kidneys, lungs, skin etc that all do a bloody great job ‘round the clock of helping you manage things that are toxic to your body. Looking after your health will definitely help to support these functions but there isn’t any one thing that you could eat or drink that will somehow help ‘rid your body of toxins’ (what even are these evil toxins?!) in a super-effective magical way.


So they don’t do it then?

Nopenopenope. This is just plain screaming nutribollocks.


What’s in them?

The ingredients vary and can be anything from plain old dried flowers to stronger laxatives, caffeine and stimulants.

The ‘daytime’ teas invariably contain a bunch of caffeine – which of course is a stimulant and diuretic (this makes you wee more). The night time teas are usually some concoction containing senna – a laxative that works by stimulating nerve endings in your colon until your bowels open. You might lose weight in the short-term, but it’s probably all water and poo and not being able to eat because you’re on the loo or feeling like shit the rest of the time.

There is no convincing research that shows that these teas have any meaningful long-term effect on weight or your metabolism – your metabolism is a pretty tricky thing to play with.  

brighton dietitian nutritionist tea jar flowers detox

Pretty iffy side effects

As the teas aren’t listed as a medicine, the ingredients listed aren’t regulated or monitored. You pretty much don’t know what you’re getting.

Cramping, diarrhoea, irritability, headaches, bloating, pain, nausea, disrupted menstrual cycle and interfering with birth control methods. The list goes on.

These laxative teas affect the way your body processes contraceptive pills and although this guidance may be reported on the tea boxes, there have been reports of unexpected pregnancies following teatoxes. This takes diet culture to another level.

When senna is prescribed as a laxative for constipation it also comes with NHS advice not to use for longer than 1 week. This is because it can cause lasting changes to your bowel habits. These teatoxes are usually for 28 days OR MORE and even if they have breaks from the night-time tea this is still an unnecessarily high amount and potentially dangerous amount to take.

There is absolutely no reason why people should be routinely taking this amount of senna – it is not recommended in any regular medical guidelines.  


7 things that ACTUALLY happen when you embark on a ‘teatox’


  1. You take an appetite suppressant, laxative or diuretic in the form of tea.
  2. You’ll probably eat significantly less than usual – mostly because you feel like crap.
  3. You tell everyone that you feel great because you’re a bit delirious and need to justify the money you just spent.
  4. You feel deprived because you can’t eat the foods that you like.
  5. When you stop the teatox and re-introduce those foods you’re likely to feel out of control around them and maybe eat more of them than you intended to.
  6. You re-gain any weight that you lost because your body is screaming out for nutrients… and then feel guilty about it. Time for tea-tox round two.
  7. The only pounds you lose permanently are the £ kind.  


So it’s all nonsense then?

These products play on our desire to achieve health via the thin ideal – with young, thin celebrity endorsements a-go-go. The idea is that we’re somehow morally superior and ‘good’ if we manage to restrict our intake and deprive ourselves of things that obviously must be ‘bad’. Like fat, sugar…joy… you see where I’m going with this.

This form of self-flagellation helps us to atone for the fact that constant immersion in diet culture leaves us feeling guilty because we dare want to eat or do things that we enjoy. So we’re told we need to ‘detox’. When actually, the only detox you’ll likely need is one from toxic diet culture.

brighton nutritionist dietitian tea white table teapot detox flower

The takeaway

There’s no single magic ingredient, food or tea that’s going to outweigh all of the other factors involved in health – social interaction, mental health, stress, sleep, and activity and a myriad of other things all play huge parts.

Stick with your fave tea. Enjoy it, or try a new one – whatevs. But there’s nothing in that tea-tox that’s going to magically improve your health or change your weight in the long term. Nor is it going to change how you feel in or look at your body, and how we feel about our bodies directly affects how we look after them. This is super important – if we’re constantly told that we need flat tummies or to be a certain size to be happy, we’re never going to be happy. 

Long story short, it’s never time for teatoxing.


Fed up of dieting and detoxes and want to find out more about rebuilding your relationship with food and your body? Check out some of my other posts –


The Food Police

What the heck is a non-diet dietitian

Fruit sugar isn’t evil

Intuitive Eating – what’s it all about? 

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