The first time I emigrated to Australia I put on a lot of weight. Over a stone, in fact. As with all unwanted weight gain, it afflicted me with a huge self loathing and I wanted rid of it – stat. The thing about loosing weight is that there is no ‘quick fix’ – despite what the global weight management market (which is estimated to be worth USD 442.3 billion by 2025) may tell you – but try telling that to anyone who’s desperate to shed some pounds.
My housemate at the time had previously used one of the ubiquitous instagram ‘teatox’ brands, by the name of ‘SkinnyMe Tea’ or ‘SMT’. I had seen their product appear in my instafeed a few times before – and after spending a while examining the ‘before and after’ photos on their seperate @skinnymetearesults account – decided it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. I ordered their 14 day ‘teatox’ which consisted of a ‘morning cleanse’ and an ‘evening cleanse’ tea. The morning cleanse tea was actually quite nice, it was basically a loose leaf green tea. The ‘evening cleanse’ tea, however, was far less refreshing. It consisted of teabags containing pure senna – which is a known bowl irritant or more commonly known as a laxative – and you were to drink a cup of this every second night, as part of your ‘teatox’. After letting the senna teabag brew for the recommended five minutes – not only was a urine yellow colour – it also smelled like cat urine. Delish! Despite my apprehension, I held my nose and downed the mug of ‘evening cleanse’ tea anyway – hoping it would do something for me.
I awoke the next morning with stabbing abdominal pain – I mean it was bad. The pain continued until I eventually had to head to the toilet to relieve my body of this irritant, and it wasn’t pleasant.
‘Is this what all of these tanned, toned instamodels do every second day?’ I thought, ‘Just spend all day crapping themselves?’ I found myself dashing to the bathroom all day, and it was miserable. I had essentially just given myself ‘diet-rrhoea’, all in the hope of loosing some weight. I felt so lethargic, and after mixing up some electrolyte powder (had it to hand for the oul’ hangovers) decided it was too dangerous to be loosing fluids like this and knew I had to stop.
….Lol JK, I did it for a few more days and then stopped.
The SMT website claims their ‘evening cleanse tea’ does a lot of things;
“Assist weight loss by promoting efficient bowel function when combined with the SkinnyMe Detox Program.” It makes you shit yourself.
“Help to reduce Bloating, through cleansing the digestive tract” ...by shitting yourself.
“Contains celery seed that helps to reduce water retention” ..Ain’t gonna be no water retained when you’re shitting yourself.
“Contains senna leaf that helps to support the body’s natural detoxification processes through the efficient cleansing of the digestive tract.” aka, shitting.
“Combined with carminative herbs valerian and celery to calm the stomach and digestive system.” Valerian and celery aren’t going to calm your digestive system from the Senna that’s irritating it.
And, even more of a con;
“Cleanse and detoxify the body through the elimination of potentially harmful metabolic toxins”
Let’s get one thing straight. ALL detox products are a sham, all of them. There’s a really good article on the Guardian website about the myth of the ‘detox’ here.
“Let’s be clear,” says Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University, “there are two types of detox: one is respectable and the other isn’t.” The respectable one, he says, is the medical treatment of people with life-threatening drug addictions. “The other is the word being hijacked by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment that allegedly detoxifies your body of toxins you’re supposed to have accumulated.”
Edzard goes on to say that your body has organs that detox your body perfectly well, and nothing you can take will ever help them do that any better. Period. Any time you see a product that claims to ‘detox’ you-be it herbal tea, juice, pills – whatever – it’s a false promise and it won’t do anything of the sort. So the above claim from SMT is just another flat out fallacy to add to their shady repertoire.
SMT has extremely clever marketing. Their website is adorned with photos of beautiful, sun kissed girls with perfect highlights and mega-watt smiles – they all have the idyllic and generic toned instagram tummies and they all love SMT and how it tastes and the results it gives them. What’s not pictured – funnily enough – is them doubled over in pain sitting on the toilet.
They have impressive ‘before and after’ photos and testimonials – but all of them seem to mention how they lost weight using the teatox programme “in addition to healthy eating and exercise” – none of them claim that they achieved results solely from using the tea alone. That’s because using a laxative will make you loose water weight, and then a few days later you will gain it back. Along the way you’ll also loose essential fluids and electrolytes, and possibly your dignity as you scurry back and forth to the bathroom all day. Did these people need to use a teatox to achieve the results posted in the after photo? Not at all – diet and exercise is enough – but of course these tea companies don’t make money that way. If anything, using a laxative long term – alongside a diet programme or otherwise – is not a healthy thing to do.
How on earth are you supposed to exercise if you’ve depleted fluids from your body using their laxative tea and have no energy? Laxatives can disrupt the flora of your gut, cause stomach distress, indigestion, dehydration, diarrhoea, laxative dependancy and even interfere with your menstrual cycle and your contraceptive pill. There’s a huge disclaimer page on the SMT website, stating among other things that:
“Prolonged use may cause serious bowel problems. Do not use if you have abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, or if you develop diarrhoea”
However that is the whole point OF the teatox, they know you will experience these side effects from ingesting a known bowel lining irritant and they also know you aren’t likely to stop taking it should you experience those things. Their target customers are young girls and people so desperate to lose weight and see results akin to their ‘before and after photos’, that they’ll just carry on consuming the tea despite the cramps and the diarrhoea and the stress it puts on their body. By warning people of these consequences the brand is simply covering their own back – should you fall ill. SMT is just trying to sell a product, a quick fix weight loss facade they know thousands will buy in to. They do not care in the slightest about your health, they are instead marketing this to the most vulnerable, misinformed people. It’s awful. How can they mention prolonged use may cause serious bowel problems and then have a testimonial from a girl who says she has “completed the 28 day teatox 4 times now”? All of their marketing cancels out their disclaimers and is misleading and false. There is no point for this product to be sold as a ‘weight loss supplement’ – only greed and profiting off people’s desperation. Sure there’s a healthy diet programme they also sell to compliment the tea, but why can’t they just sell that programme alone, instead of pushing their fantasy “weight-loss” “detox” tea onto you? A healthy eating plan is pointless if you’re going to expel all of the nutrients without properly absorbing them every second day anyway. It makes me sad that companies like SMT can be so morally bankrupt, and have such a feckless disregard for the minds of young people – especially those with eating disorders.
There are hundreds of other copycat teatox brands spammed all over instagram – and although the ingredients may very – any of them that claim to ‘detox’ you are lying. I mean herbal tea is awesome, I love herbal tea. I drink peppermint tea everyday – but I drink it because it has proven benefits – not because I think it is ‘detoxing.’ No herbal tea is detoxing. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing, or models and celebrities holding bags of detox tea over their toned abs. The only healthy way to loose weight is to exercise regularly and eat the right things – even cutting out sugar makes a huge difference. I did eventually loose all of the weight I put on; but it took me a year to do it – and because it was safe and gradual I have managed to keep it off. Don’t fall for those omnipresent detox tea posts on instagram – if it seems to good to be true, it always is.
– Aisling Abbey