What You Should Know about Diet Teas

May 7th, 2014

Diet teas are marketed as a way to cleanse, detox, and generally support weight loss, but the evidence that they do any of these things is sketchy at best. Most diet teas—also called slimming teas or weight-loss teas—are based on the herb senna. Senna, FDA-approved for the treatment of occasional constipation, contains chemicals that irritate the large intestine and cause a laxative effect.

Diet tea has been the target of at least two recent class-action lawsuits. We’ve chronicled them in our Class-Action Tracker.

December 2013 – Laci Le Beau Super Dieter’s Tea

April 2013 – Triple Leaf Herbal Teas

  • Dieter’s Green Herbal Tea
  • Ultra Slim Herbal Tea
  • Super Slimming Herbal Tea

The Claims

Click images to enlarge.

laci-tea-box-front laci-tea-box triple-leaf-tea triple-leaf-tea-back

  • “Helps eliminate impurities”
  • “Supports weight loss efforts”
  • “CLEANSE”
  • “Herbal support while dieting”
  • “Helps promote cleansing”
  • “Proprietary blend of herbs”

Do they work?

Diet and detox teas may help you temporarily lose water and fecal (sorry) weight, but they have no lasting effect. From the Triple Leaf lawsuit:

Because the Senna Diet Products contain no weight loss ingredients or fat burners, it is are not an effective treatment for weight loss or appetite suppression and does not in fact work as advertised. Moreover, Senna does not prevent absorptions of calories from food, as it acts to stimulate the large intestine and not the small intestine where nutrient absorption takes place. Accordingly, Senna only effectuates loss of fecal matter and water from the lower bowels, resulting only in dehydration, loss of vital electrolytes and, at times, painful cramping.

According to the Laci le Beau lawsuit, the teas might actually make you gain weight. It says senna is:

an herbal laxative that can actually thwart weight loss by slowing the metabolism and causing, in combination with the Product’s other diuretic ingredients, chronic bloating and constipation.

Is it necessary to cleanse or detox to lose weight?

No. Your body is designed to detoxify itself naturally.

Herbal and natural don’t mean risk-free

Senna products have side effects, even though teas may lack sufficient warnings on the box. The FDA only recommends short-term usage of the drug. With short-term use, side effects can include stomach discomfort, cramps, and diarrhea. It is contraindicated for people with electrolyte disturbances, potassium deficiencies, heart disease, dehydration, gastrointestinal conditions, or for people taking certain medications.

With longer-term use, senna can cause more serious problems. According to the NIH:

Longer use can cause the bowels to stop functioning normally and might cause dependence on laxatives. Long-term use can also change the amount or balance of some chemicals in the blood (electrolytes) that can cause heart function disorders, muscle weakness, liver damage, and other harmful effects.

Nowhere on their tea packages do Triple Leaf or Laci Le Beau say that you should only use these products for two weeks, nor do they list all potential side effects.

Takeaway

Diet teas are made out of the herb senna, which is a laxative. They won’t help you lose weight. They might cause you problems. Don’t use them for a long time, if at all.

More  information about tea claims can be found here.

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