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What’s in detox teas

“The main ingredient in most detox teas—like Smooth Move—is senna leaf, which has been used as a medicinal herb for hundreds if not thousands of years,” says Stella Metsovas, CN, a gut health specialist and clinical nutritionist. “Some studies show great efficacy in using it to treat mild constipation.”

Metsovas says her main issue with detox teas is that they can discourage people from getting to the root of their digestive probs. “You shouldn’t rely on these teas as a solution,” she says. “For example, people who are more prone to constipation could have an issue with the underproduction of hydrochloric acid, a necessary stomach acid that helps digest proteins.”

Detox teas aren’t intended for weight loss

As for using laxative teas for that other reason—both experts say it’s definitely not a good idea. “It only offers a temporary weight loss due to a short-term reduction in water retention,” Mendes says. “Lifelong weight loss is only achieved through a healthy gut,” adds Metsovas. “There are no shortcuts or magic pills.”

Okay, using a laxative tea for weight loss or regular use is a no-go. But if you’re looking to stock one for when your digestive system just needs a little extra help, Metsovas offers two pieces of advice: Go with a reputable company and pick one that does double duty by supporting your adrenals, too, by looking for ingredients like adaptogenic mushrooms. (Her go-to is Rishi Tea’s White Ginseng Detox Tea.) Of course, you can also make your own brew. Ginger and garlic (yes, garlic) is a power combo for soothing an angry gut, and Mestovas says she likes to make a big pitcher of mint and lemon water to sip on throughout the day.

When it comes to laxative teas, there’s a time and place to use ’em. And as long as you aren’t relying on them on a regular basis, you should be in the clear. Hey, even kombucha has its caveats when it comes to gut health.

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