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Is My Detox Tea Toxic? (6 Dangerous Ingredients to Avoid)

Amidst the glowing testimonials on the purported benefits of detox diets and teas, there has also been some growing controversy surrounding some of the ingredients that can be found in detox teas.  This is because there are some ingredients that can be found in a handful of detox tea formulas have a host of detrimental side effects to both your health and the results of your diet.

These can include everything from diarrhea, to increased bloating and water retention, as well as potentially more serious issues such as hypokalemia and hypohydration.

So, while detox diets have been reported to be very helpful for some people, there are a number of ingredients that should be avoided.

These ingredients are reviewed below, along with the potential health hazards they can cause if included in your diet as well as possible alternatives if available. This can help you make a more informed choice and make the most out of your next detox diet.

6 Dangerous Detox Tea Ingredients to Avoid

Japanese Star Anise

The US Food and Drug Administration warns against teas brewed from Japanese star anise. Not to be confused with Chinese star anise, the Japanese variety contains sikimitoxin, which is considered toxic. Both varieties are identical, so it’s hard to tell which is which one the Japanese and Chinese forms have been mixed together. (1)


This laxative is a common ingredient in many detox tea recipes. While this ingredient is useful for many purposes and is commonly used for individuals who suffer from digestive issues and constipation, it can also cause a lot of problems if taken in excessive amounts.

These adverse effects include stomach pain, diarrhea and even a decreased amount of nutrient absorption in the body. (2)

This means that senna may not only cause a large amount of distress, but also could reduce the benefits from other healthy foods by decreasing the amount of them that can be taken in and used by the body.

If you notice that your detox tea pack contains senna as the main ingredient, and you don’t suffer from digestive problems, special care should be taken to manage the amount you consume each day, or consider switching to another formula that doesn’t contain senna.

(Excessive) Caffeine

Caffeine is both a very beneficial and an unavoidable ingredient in detox tea, or any tea formula for that matter. But, taking in excessive amounts of this ingredient can cause some issues. In the short term, this includes frequent urination, restlessness, insomnia and even anxiety.

Along with short term side effects, there are also some long term side effects that can be distressing. This stems from “caffeine addiction”, which can occur when large amounts of caffeine are taken in over days or weeks and reduced or stopped.

The result is “caffeine withdrawal”, which results in increased fatigue, headaches and, in some cases, nausea. (3)

While there are benefits to caffeine in small amounts, you should always check how much is in your tea, and manage your intake throughout your diet and, if a lot is taken in, gradually taper off after your diet is finished.


Like caffeine, guarana is another stimulant that is very popular in many detox tea formulas and can offer some beneficial effects. (4) But, it also contains the risk of adverse effects, which closely mimic that of caffeine. These include restlessness, insomnia, anxiety and can even increase the risk of heart palpitations when high amounts of the ingredient are ingested.

Along with this, guarana also contains tannins. These are chemicals that also have some beneficial effects on health, including antimicrobial or antioxidant properties. But, it can interfere with nutrient absorption and even increase the risk of blood clotting. (5)

Guarana may be one ingredient that you will want to avoid when deciding which detox formula to choose.


This ingredient is used as a preservative in many foods and, despite being so common in many conventional foods, and present in some detox tea formulas, carrageenan has been shown to have some very concerning side effects.

These include increasing inflammation, suppressing the immune system, raising the risk of ulcers and even increase the risk of developing cancer in the colon. It can also reduce insulin sensitivity, which can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (6)

These side effects can lead to a number of potential health issues, particularly when dieting and reducing food intake.

When looking at detox teas, or even detox foods that you’re including in your diet on a daily basis, this ingredient stands as a reminder that you should always check the label and avoid choices with this ingredient in them.

High Fructose Corn Syrup 

This item is used in many foods as a replacement for sugar. While this ingredient was initially intended as a healthier alternative, this is also an ingredient that can cause negative side effects that warrant careful consideration.

This includes a faster rate of weight gain, which can interfere with one of the primary goals of most detox diets: reduce insulin resistance.

It can also cause harm to some organs, with studies showing that increasing intake of high fructose corn syrup can cause strain to the liver and can increase both cholesterol and blood pressure, which can raise the chances of a cardiac event (7)

While this ingredient is a highly uncommon addition to most detox teas, or is hard to find in most european countries, it is still worth looking out for due to the high amount of adverse effects that it can cause when taken in regularly.

Final Considerations

While the above ingredients are some of the most well-known substances that can cause a wide range of side effects, there are a few considerations that should be taken into account when looking at detox teas, or any detox food or detox beverage you’re shopping for.

Firstly, there is a wide range of ingredients, and even foods, that can have a negative effect on your health if taken in excessive amounts, so a lot of health problems can be solved by simply managing the amount of foods that are eaten.

Also, whenever some ingredients seem unavoidable, try searching for healthier alternatives or by consulting a nutritionist for the best course of action.


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