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Reasons Why Weight Loss Teas Are Bad For You

January 09, 2016

"Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference." – Lou Holtz

Weight loss tea, slimming tea, skinny tea, detox tea, dieter’s tea – whatever you want to call them  have been all the rage lately among those wanting to shed some pounds. It’s not hard to run into tons of fit girls and guys with healthy food photos on social media touting the benefits of these teas due to the healthy weight loss advertising.

Unfortunately, such benefits couldn’t be further from the truth. These types of teas are not doing your body a favor and are generally misused.

Here are some reasons why you should never touch slimming teas:

Laxatives, A Risky Ingredient

Before going into any specifics, let’s first understand how the majority of these teas work.

The most common chief herbal ingredients in weight loss teas are:

  • Senna
  • Rhubarb root
  • Aloe
  • Buckthorn,
  • Cascara
  • Castor Oil
  • Dandelion leaf
  • Cassia
  • Burdock
  • Catsia
  • Prunella

These are laxatives and/or diuretics. Laxatives allow you to quickly lose water weight by increasing the frequency and size of bowel movements. Diuretics increase the production of urine.

Laxatives work in a variety of ways. Depending on the type, they can trigger the intestinal muscles to form contractions, enlarge the stool by absorbing water to stimulate the bowel, and more.

Since laxatives are a main ingredient in many slimming teas, prolonged use introduces a slew of health problems.


Hello Chronic Constipation and Fake Weight Loss

Your body will eventually lose its own natural ability to flush itself and rely on the laxative properties in slimming teas for bowel movements instead. Before you know it, you’ll be trying to figure out how to go to the bathroom without them.

Meanwhile, you may think you’re losing weight but you’re not. You’re just getting rid of the liquid, not fat, in your body with added bowel movements and urination. It’s what we call fake weight loss.

You Will Gradually Become Malnourished

Remember when we said that laxatives in weight loss teas cause your stool to absorbing more water in order to stimulate bowel? This in turn causes less water to be absorbed from the bowel because that water is going to your stool instead. That means your body will become extremely dehydrated and short of important body fluids.

Dehydration prevents the body from absorbing essential nutrients. You’ll feel hungrier and eat more in the long run. That’s a win for weight gain, not weight loss.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Continual use of slimming teas can also cause electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are important for regulating lots of body functions. Calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium are a few. Symptoms include weakness, abnormal heart rhythms, confusion, and seizures.

You Can Die

There’s a reason why you always see warnings for pregnant women from these companies. In addition to the problems above, persistent diarrhea and abdominal cramps are common side effects. You may even die from drinking these teas.

NO Scientific Proof for Weight Loss

There is no scientific proof that all those herbal slimming teas out there work.

General searches for scientific proof about tea and weight loss often produce results of the beneficial effects of pure teas such as green, black, oolong, and puerh instead.

Pure teas can and do help the body increase metabolism or decrease appetite. This is without added ingredients and the safest option.

Some slimming teas do contain the same benefits as pure teas but with the added ingredients, the potential health damage is much greater than the benefits.

Misuse of Herbal Medicine

Weight loss teas can already cause lots of problems, and misusing herbs can further exacerbate those problems. Just because herbs aren’t like the pills we use today doesn’t mean they aren’t medicine and can’t cause unwanted side effects. Humans used herbs for healing purposes for thousands of years before the modern pill was invented. Numerous drugs we take today have been derived from herbal extracts.

According to a fundamental principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), every herbal prescription needs to contain multiple herbs in order to create balance. The effects of one herb should offset or increase the effect of another herb, so the ingredients can work together to benefit the body overall. Basic Western herbology is no different in this sense.

Countless tea companies out there today are combining herbs without the knowledge of how all the herbs work together. It’s common for sellers to single out individual benefits of herbs and then mix them together without understanding how those complex compounds interact with each other.

As a result, both sellers and buyers end up misusing herbal medicine without knowing. Without direction from a professional source, misuse occurs and contributes to a lot of misunderstanding and potentially negative side effects that can often be hard to diagnose.

You can even take it a step further and take a look at a lot of regular drugs. There are warnings about not taking other medications at the same time. You need to understand or be warned about how different medicines interact and their effects for safe consumption.

Don’t take this to mean that non weight loss, herbal teas are unsafe because they can be safe. Consuming blended herbal teas can be safe if you know how to use them.

Inaccurate or Misleading Product Labeling

Companies behind weight loss tea brands often contain little to no information as to how they formulated their blend or explanations of why those blends work together.

Oftentimes, the product labels of these types of teas will not directly state that they contain laxatives. Most people do not know that these ingredients have laxative properties despite knowing that it’s part of the weight loss process with these products (crazy, isn’t it?). Some companies may word it differently by using terms like “natural bowel cleanser”. All in all, the wording may be tricky but the meaning and effects are the same.

Check out specific examples of misleading diet tea labeling here.

The Takeaway: Be Very Wary of Weight Loss Tea

Let's sum up what we have so far. Problems associated with consuming weight loss teas include but are not limited to:

  • Illusion of weight loss by artificially increasing bowel movements
  • Chronic constipation, malnutrition, and dehydration
  • Death
  • Incorrect usage of medicine
  • You don't know what you're drinking

Does any of this sound worth it to you?

Here's a detailed description of senna from the U.S. government, which lists many of the side effects in this article. Feel free to learn more about the other herbs there too.

Instead of drinking slimming herbal tea, try pure oolong, green or puerh tea. These teas help to decrease your appetite without any laxative effects or added ingredients. Our black tea is also a better alternative for burning fat.

Remember, none of these options can substitute a well rounded diet and fitness regimen! Hard work pays off.


The information on this site has not been approved by the FDA and is for educational purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or medical health practitioner if you have any concerns about consuming tea.