Skinny Teatox claims their teas will “detox” and “cleanse” your body.
As of 2017, they boast that they are the “number one teatox in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Singapore, Netherlands, and France” and highlight that their products are “made with 100% natural ingredients that promote good health and weight loss.”
They also claim their teas can “burn calories, suppress appetite, and boost metabolism and energy levels.”
Sounds great, but is it all just marketing hot air and hype? Is there really any evidence that you can “detox” yourself plus all these other benefits just by drinking a tea? Are there any potential health risks?
In this review, I will put Skinny Teatox under the microscope and evaluate their marketing claims, break down the ingredients, and weigh out the potential risk for side effects.
What does “detox” actually mean anyway?
Before we get into Skinny Teatox’s specific marketing claims, it’s important to look at the marketing juggernaut that is the word “detox.”
What is “detox” and why is it plastered all over different products these days?
Popularised by questionable internet personalities such as self-styled toxin-hunter Vani Hari (aka Food Babe), the term “detox” has been recklessly bandied around with little consideration for accuracy of use – and frankly, it’s terrifying consumers. But if you buy into the hype, then you are fat, tired, and unhealthy because “dangerous toxins” have accumulated in your body.
Scary stuff. If only it were true.
Scott Gavura eloquently provides a real definition for detox in a recent article on Science-Based Medicine:
“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances — usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body. Drugs used for real detoxification are not ingredients in a smoothie.
Categorical review of Skinny Teatox marketing claims
Skinny Teatox makes explicit claims on its website that the product can not only “detoxify” and “cleanse” you but will also cause you to “lose weight, burn calories, increase your energy levels, and keep your appetite in check.”
But are these claims truthful and can the product actually deliver?
Claim 1: “Detoxify”
“Detox” is the primary marketing claim found across the Skinny Teatox website. But nowhere on the website did I find any mention of specifically WHICH “toxins” the tea actually “detoxifies.” This is a critical piece of information. Are we talking about hexavalent chromium? Lead? Mercury? What’s the story?
How can you KNOW if the tea is actually working? If you don’t know specifically which toxins were talking about, how much or how many are in your body before you start drinking the tea, and you don’t have a measure after you’ve drunk the tea, then how do you know it’s “detoxifying” you?
Claim 2: “Cleanse”
Following on from “detox” above, Skinny Teatox claims their teas will “cleanse” you too. To me, this sounds like similar marketing jargon that goes hand in hand with “detox.” Remember there is no legal or standardised definition for “detox” or “cleanse” in a marketing context, so they can be used any which way a company pleases.
And for all this “detox” talk out there, remember your body has its own built-in filters your, liver, lungs, spleen, and kidneys. But wait, don’t my body’s filters get gunked up with “toxins” and need a good “cleansing?” Unless you’re eating a steady diet of heavy metals and other known pollutants, probably not. You can learn more about this here.
It’s also important to note that many of the ingredients in Skinny Teatox teas are both laxatives and diuretics. If your body’s bowel and bladder movements are normal, then you are naturally “detoxing” and “cleansing” yourself without the need of teas.
Claim 3: “Lose weight”
I believe this claim is truthful, but it deviates from what consumers expectations might actually be. I don’t think there is any question that you will “lose weight” if you are drinking teas loaded with laxatives and diuretics.
However, for many people that want to “lose weight,” their expectation is that they would like to reduce body fat from those trouble spots like the hips, thighs, belly, and arms. And one of the quickest methods to check for “weight loss” is the woefully misleading bathroom scale. Unfortunately, the bathroom scale gives you absolutely no indication if you’re losing fat, muscle, water, or anything else for that matter.
Bottom line: Can Skinny Teatox cause you to “lose weight?” Yes. Mainly in the form of water and feces.
Can Skinny Teatox cause you to “lose fat?” Unlikely. You might lose fat if you’re eating a healthier diet and exercising whilst drinking the teas, but the results would mostly be due to your change in lifestyle over the teas.
Claim 4: “Burn calories, boost metabolism, increase energy levels”
There are countless products on the market that claim they can help you “burn calories, boost metabolism, and increase energy levels.” Sounds great, but is it true? Yes, no, and kinda maybe based on your expectations.
Yes, it is true that Skinny Teatox products contain caffeine in the form of tea leaves and this may cause a small increase in how many calories you burn. It might also make you feel more alert much like you would after drinking a regular cup of tea or coffee.
But now we have to look at these claims in a practical context rather than a technicality.
“Boost metabolism?” Translated to plain English, a “boost” in metabolism means that a person’s calorie burn should increase and remain elevated after drinking the tea. But exactly how many calories are we talking about? And how long is this elevation in metabolism? What evidence is this based on? Not much.
I performed a search of the medical journal databases and was unable to find a single study on Skinny Teatox that related to its effects on metabolism and calorie burning.
I did, however, find an article in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism which found that 12 healthy young male volunteers who consumed 200 mg of caffeine increased their metabolism by approximately 7% (or 13 calories in absolute terms).
Bottom line: “technically” yes, caffeine will bump up your metabolism, but unlikely in any noticeable or meaningful way that it will cause you to shed copious amounts of fat. And since we do not know the actual amount of caffeine in Skinny Teatox, there is no way to know to what extent these findings apply, if at all.
Claim 5: “Suppress appetite”
This claim is true. Skinny Teatox contains caffeine, along with ginseng, dandelion, liquorice, green tea, cinnamon, and cloves, all of which may exert an appetite suppressant effect in the body. This is desirable for people trying to lose weight.
Skinny Teatox ingredients list
Skinny Teatox claims their ingredients are “100% natural with no chemicals or preservatives.” I was unable to find a complete ingredients list for each of the listed teas, but was able to scrape together this comprehensive list from their website and also by sending the company an email request for ingredients.
Standard tea leaves contain caffeine which might make you feel more alert and suppress appetite.
Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of pep in your step and help suppress appetite.
Senna‘s active constituents are called sennosides which stimulate the bowel and causes a laxative effect.
It is not clear which type of ginseng is used in Skinny Teatox products, but the effects can vary from one species of ginseng to another.
Licorice may help people with irritable bowel syndrome by soothing inflamed tissue, helping to relax muscles, and exerting a mild laxative effect on the bowels.
Cinnamon bark may be helpful for soothing irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhoea, and bloating. There is inconclusive evidence on its effects on appetite, with some research showing it can increase appetite and other reports showing the opposite.
Cloves are used for upset stomach and may relieve intestinal gas, nausea, and diarrhoea.
Rhubarb exerts a laxative effect for the relief of constipation but care must be taken, as a high enough dose can induce diarrhoea as a side effect. Rhubarb may also be helpful for a number of other gastrointestinal disturbances like heart burn, stomach discomfort, a
Ginger may exert a laxative effect on the body by stimulating the bowels and may be useful for upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea. It may also promote fluid loss as a diuretic. Ginger might also stimulate appetite which may counter other ingredients in the teas that decrease appetite.
Buckthorn bark contains chemicals which have a laxative effect for constipation relief.
Dandelion leaves may exert a diuretic (makes you pee) and laxative effect to increase bowel movements. It may also increase appetite.
Lemongrass may help improve digestive tract spasms and relieve stomach aches.
Burdock root has a diuretic effect on the body which will promote weight loss (not fat loss).
Peppermint leaves may be helpful for digestive problems such as heartburn, nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome. Depending on the dose, it could have a laxative effect on the body.
The fruit acids and pectin in rosehips may exert a mild diuretic and laxative effect. Rosehips might also help settle your stomach from irritation.
Cornflower may exert a diuretic and laxative effect to reduce water retention and relieve constipation, respectively.
Turmeric may be helpful for irritable bowel syndrome, stomach discomfort, and diarrhoea.
Natural lemon flavouring
I don’t have any other information from the company as to exactly what this means.
How Does Skinny Teatox Work?
According to the Skinny Teatox website, the morning tea is a “stimulant and gives you a steady and constant supply of energy throughout the day, increases your metabolism, and aids with appetite suppression.”
The evening tea purportedly “cleanses and detoxifies your body” and cleanses the colon to “flush out your digestive tract of toxins and unwanted excess which could be making it more difficult for you to lose weight.”
Given the number of diuretic and laxative ingredients, Skinny Teatox works by making you pee and poo a heck of a lot more than usual. This would explain the “weight loss” (notice I did not say fat loss).
If you define “detox” and “cleanse” as running to the toilet more frequently, then yes, maybe it’s “working” but it’s unlikely to be detoxifying you in any clinically meaningful definition of the word.
Any increase in metabolism or calorie burn is questionable and will likely be dose-dependent. You might burn an extra 15 calories but in practical terms it will have no significant effect on your body fat levels.
Are there any side effects?
Skinny Teatox and other similar products on the market are unlikely to cause harm when used as directed (and for the short term). But there is always a potential for side effects.
First, senna leaves and a number of other ingredients in the tea exert a laxative effect on the body that could lead to diarrhoea and possibly dehydration, particularly if you are consuming a lot of the tea and leaving the bag in the water for longer than recommended.
Electrolyte imbalances and nutrient deficiencies
Second, the combined diuretic effect of many of the ingredients could further promote dehydration. If you have diarrhoea, then it could further hasten dehydration and contribute to a dangerous electrolyte imbalance and nutrient deficiencies.
Low blood pressure
Third, if you have cardiovascular disease and are taking medications that promote fluid loss, then the tea could have a compounding effect which might further lower your blood pressure and make you susceptible to dizziness and fainting.
Reduction in birth control effectiveness
Fourth, by Skinny Teatox’s own admission, the teas “can potentially reduce the effectiveness of birth control if you take your pill within 4-5 hours of the laxative effect.”
Reduction in bowel movements
Fifth, the tea should be used for the short term. Long term use could result in your body habituating to the laxative which may lead to a reduction in bowel motility (leading to intestinal paralysis, lazy gut, and IBS) and make you dependent on the tea for normal bowel movements. If you’re having problems with your bowel movements after using the tea, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.
Weight loss abuse
Sixth, because the teas promote “weight loss” through increased urine and feces loss, consumers obsessed with quick-fix weight loss products may be at higher risk for abuse. If you’re the parent of a teen with body image issues, you should pay particular attention to their use of the products.
The fine print: Skinny Teatox “results not typical”
Skinny Teatox is quick put the brakes on too much enthusiasm. On their website they state:
Testimonials, reviews and images found at Skinny-Teatox.com and/or from Skinny Teatox are unverified results that have been forwarded to us by users of our products; may not reflect the typical user experience; may not apply to the average person; and are not intended to represent or guarantee that anyone will achieve the same or similar results. You should always perform your own research and not take such results at face value. It is possible that even with perfect use of our products, you will not achieve the results described or shown. They are meant to be a showcase of the best results our products have produced, and should not be taken as the results a typical user will get.
In my opinion, if “results are not typical” then it’s misleading to only highlight the small proportion of anomalous testimonials that had great “results.”
It’s these types of disclaimers that make me think what we really need is a “detox” from advertising bullish*t. International laws should “cleanse” marketing claims to better protect consumers from being misled by myth, innuendo, and half-truths.
Does Skinny Teatox work? The verdict
Whether or not Skinny Teatox actually “works” depends on your individual definition of the words “detox” and “cleanse.” If you consider urine and feces to be “toxins” then, sure, diuretics and laxatives will do the trick. But it’s unlikely to fix that little mercury poisoning thing you’ve been dealing with.
You’re going to get real cozy with your toilet while using the product and you probably will “lose weight.” But if your expectation is that you’re going to lose stored body fat, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. It won’t turn your metabolism into a raging inferno, nor will it send your energy levels spiking through the roof.
You’re free to spend your money on whatever you please, but remember that no teatox on the market is a substitute for a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a nutrient-rich diet, doing regular physical activity, getting adequate sleep, and reducing stress.
In closing, my final recommendation actually comes directly from Skinny Teatox website:
Skinny Teatox should not replace a healthy diet or exercise! Use your head, and continue to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, eat the recommended amount of calories per day, and be happy with who you are.
I couldn’t agree more.