Consumer Reports: Why detox teas can be unhealthy

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The "teatox" is the latest diet trend where people are trying to lose weight by pairing certain kinds of tea with light eating and exercise.

But Consumer Reports says detox tea might do more harm than good.

Many of us have tried different ways to tackle those extra pounds gained during the holidays.

The latest weapon in the battle of bulge comes in a bag: Special teas consumed in a regimen called a teatox. Americans spent $62 million dollars on them last year.

Detox teas contain a variety of ingredients including some that claim to help with weight loss: Stimulants like guarana which can contain up to four times the amount of caffeine in coffee.

"Too much caffeine will not only not help long-term with weight loss but can cause issues like jitteriness and nervousness," said Diane Umansky, Consumer Reports.

These teatoxes also often contain laxatives like senna or senna leaf.

"The reason you might see a short-term dip in the scale is because they're dehydrating. But once you consume enough liquid, your weight will go right back up. And used to excess, laxatives can be dangerous," said Umansky.

Detox teas are often regulated like dietary supplements, which means much more loosely than FDA approved medications.

Which means, what's listed on the label isn't always reliable and if weight loss is your goal, there are better, safer and proven strategies.

"It's good to keep an eye on your portions and keep those under control. Get plenty of fiber, which you'll find in whole grains and in produce. And step up your physical activity if you're not so active," said Umansky.

If you're still thinking of trying a teatox, talk to your doctor or phramacist first. If you drink regular, traditional tea - a cup or two a day - that's fine. It can be part of a healthy diet and it could help a little with weight loss.

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