Detox teas are a dime a dozen and they’re probably one of the first few things you think about if you’re looking to do a body cleanse of sorts. But do they really detoxify the body?

“The theory behind these teas is that they help to flush out toxins and pollutants you’re exposed to. However, there’s little scientific evidence that they eliminate literal toxins from the body,” says Dr Chester Lan, a resident doctor at DTAP Clinic.

And they may or may not provide real help if you’re hoping to lose weight—it all depends on the formulation of the tea.

Some detox teas can help you lose body weight

Detox teas can help you achieve a calorie deficit if made with the appropriate ingredients.

“Most detox teas contain tea leaves. Tea has caffeine, which is a stimulant that can raise your metabolism and suppress your appetite, so this type of detox tea can help you burn more calories and eat less. The resulting weight loss is true weight loss,” says Dr Lan.

“However, some detox teas contain laxatives, which is widely believed to have a colon cleansing effect. This type of weight loss is mainly water weight loss and isn’t healthy or sustainable.”

But no matter the type of detox tea you consume, you ought to be prepared to suffer from some side effects.

They can result in several health issues

According to Dr Lan, compounds such as caffeine are diuretic and can cause you to pee more than normal. Too much of it may leave you irritable, unfocused and jittery, similar to when you drink too many energy drinks.

On the other hand, laxatives can cause cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte loss and leave you feeling weak and lethargic.

A whole host of other health issues can also arise from the use of detox teas.

“People on detox teas may eat less and have a lower blood sugar level. This can result in hypoglycemia, where the sugar level in your blood is dangerously low, and sweating, confusion, shaking, loss of consciousness and even death can occur,” he says.

“Some of the herbs may have drug-drug interactions with medication you may be taking and raise the levels of the medication in your body to toxic levels. Also, some of these herbs, if ingested in large quantities, may put a strain on your kidney and liver. This has the opposite effect of detoxing your body and is poisoning it instead.”

But this isn’t to say that detox teas are harmful—you just have to be discerning about your choice.

“Tea has health benefits and the other natural ingredients in the detox tea, if in conservative amounts, may also serve to improve your health. But please use it with caution and moderation. Detox teas should be incorporated into a healthier lifestyle.”