I think many of us would jump at the chance to feel more slim, fit and fab with minimal effort. But how many of us would willingly not only sign up, but pay for, an uncomfortable tummy, diarrhoea and cramping? Yeah, not so many.
If you have a look at even a small handful of the companies selling 'teatox' tea blends, you'll notice the similarities in ingredients: lots of beautiful herbs (great), antioxidants (great), and...laxatives (natural, sure, but not so great).
The most common laxative ingredient is medicinal herb Cassia senna - or senna - leaf. Senna's main chemical constituent are its hydroxyanthracene glycosides, also known as sennosides, responsible for the laxative effect. By stimulating colon activity and by softening stools in only 8-10 hours (usually overnight), senna can help to cure short-term, severe constipation in those suffering from IBS or other conditions, or help to clear the intestine before renal or bowel examinations. So it's no surprise that sennosides feature in many commercial laxatives.
The first side-effect of senna consumption is weight loss (ahh, so now it makes sense as to why teatox companies are using laxatives in their 'skinny' tea!). Even if you're surprisingly alright with quite literally shitting yourself thinner, the overall effect on your health might have you questioning how far you're really willing to go. The less desirable consequences of senna use may include:
- severe diarrhoea
- stomach cramping and griping
- fluid loss
- electrolyte loss
- reduced absorption of any drugs taken orally (including oral contraceptive pills- eek, hello surprise pregnancy!)
- loss of appetite
- swollen fingertips
Like any stimulant laxative, senna definitely should not be taken for more than two weeks without medical supervision - prolonged use can result in liver toxicity and melanosis coli (pigmentation of the colon) amongst other side-effects like rectal bleeding, disturbed water/electrolyte balance, impaired colon function, dependence, and more.
Senna also shouldn't be taken when nausea, stomach pain or vomiting already exist. It is contraindicated in those with ileus, intestinal obstruction, undiagnosed abdominal symptoms, inflammatory colonopathies, appendicitis, abdominal pains of unknown cause, severe dehydration, or chronic constipation.
While a qualified healthcare practitioner would factor all of the above into prescription of senna, teatoxers would only find out the vast majority of this pretty important info from a heap of thorough scouring online (and even then, you probably won't find a heap on the company's website).
How terrifying is this?!
If weight loss is something that you're interested in, and you need more help than a basic diet clean-up and regular exercise can provide, I would urge you 110% to see a qualified naturopath or other healthcare practitioner who can take into account your whole body health, and your obstacles - both mental and physical - to safe and effective weight loss. My favourite naturopath, and many others, offer clinical programs to support a successful, healthy and safe weight loss journey.
If the detoxification side of tea-toxes appeals to you more-so than weight loss, why not try our Detox Tea combined with a detox diet and lifestyle for a big fat boost of your body's own detoxifying powers (believe it or not, we all have an inherited ability to detoxify ourselves safely and naturally - our bodies are truly magical!).
References: ABC, Innovate Us, W.H.O.