What is detox therapy
Detox - healthier through detox?
What is behind the advertising of detox products?
Many dietary supplements are advertised with the term "detox". "Detox" is the abbreviation for detoxification and means detoxification. Corresponding capsules or powders are supposed to cleanse the body from the inside and break down or excrete alleged or real accumulations of toxins. The ingredients of such products are diverse and range from healing clay, nettle or mint to fruit or vegetable extracts to superfoods such as goji or açai berries. The cleansing of the liver, kidneys and intestines should - according to the manufacturers - lead to more energy, strengthen the immune system, reduce weight and generally increase well-being.
But such statements have not been scientifically proven. As a rule, neither the dietary supplements themselves with their respective compositions have been examined for a possible detoxification effect in serious studies, nor have the individual ingredients an accumulation of toxins (often also "Slag" called) or other health problematic accumulations of metabolic products cannot be detected in the body of healthy people. The liver and kidney are the main detoxification organs in the body. They work so reliably in healthy people that hardly any harmful substances remain. In fact, many "detox" products contain ingredients that are simply dehydrating - but not detoxifying - (such as juniper berries, nettles, horsetail, green oats, dandelions, etc.). The constant use of such agents in high doses can lead to an increased excretion of certain minerals and weaken the effect of drugs.
The term "detox" is not defined by law, so that manufacturers print this term on their product packaging according to their own interpretation. However, the Federal Court of Justice has ruled that the term “detox” on the packaging of a tea manufacturer is a health-related statement and is not just a “general wellness term”. However, there is no health-related statement approved by the European Commission. Use is therefore not permitted.
However, the decision of the Federal Court of Justice does not prevent some manufacturers from continuing to sell products with minimal changes to the term “detox”. In the meantime, terms such as “minus Tox”, “antitox”, “d-tox”, “freetox” or “de-tox” can be found on the packaging, which also advertise cleaning, detoxification and purification.
What should I look out for when consuming detox products?
- There is no scientific basis to claim that "detox products" detoxify the body. Providers actually use the term "detoxification" as a promotional gimmick. The effectiveness of the dietary supplements is as questionable as the advertised detox diets, but they are relatively expensive.
- As an alternative to the prohibited term “detox”, manufacturers use creative terms such as “freetox”, “minus tox”, “antitox”, “d-tox” or develop new ideas such as “detox your soul”.
- Caution should be exercised when using detox products. The ingredients can interact with drugs taken at the same time and lead to dangerous undesirable effects.
- If you use detox products with dehydrating ingredients over a long period of time, this can lead to an increased excretion of certain minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and thus to disturbances in the electrolyte balance.
- Before you regularly take detox food supplements, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about possible undesirable effects.
- Instead of combating non-existent waste products with detox products, it makes much more sense to keep the intake of potentially harmful substances as low as possible. More on this under: What effect do "Detox" powder & Co. have?
What is detox?
Detox is the abbreviation of the English term detoxification and means detoxification. This means the metabolism in the body and possibly the excretion of toxic substances Liver and kidney. With these organs, the human body already has mechanisms to remove harmful substances from the organism. Is there still a need for detoxification through dietary supplements? According to the manufacturer, this is the case because the body needs to be freed from accumulated toxins and waste products. According to the German Nutrition Society, there is no reason to do so: “In a healthy human body there is no accumulation of waste products and deposits of metabolic products. Substances that cannot be used are eliminated via the intestines and kidneys.
Which ingredients are contained in detox products?
Detox food supplements are very different in their composition. Ingredients of detox products can be: aloe vera, anise, chlorella, fennel, flea seeds, green tea, healing clay, calcium, pumpkin seeds, turmeric, magnesium, mate, peppermint, spirulina and many more as well as various Vitamins, minerals and trace elements. These ingredients are available in capsule or powder form to detoxify the body or as a supplement to a detox regimen.
There are also detox products based on zeolite. Zeolites are crystals that occur naturally in volcanic rock as well as being produced synthetically. Due to the nature of their surface, zeolites can trap heavy metals. However, they are suspected of intercepting minerals from food that are necessary for the human organism.
Do something good for your body with a healthy and varied selection of foods instead of buying expensive detox products whose benefits have not been scientifically proven. With the liver, kidneys, skin, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, your body has its own detoxification mechanisms.
Can detox products contain harmful substances?
Zeolite-based detox products can even contain heavy metals, especially lead. Heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury or arsenic can accumulate in the body and have a toxic effect on the central nervous system or organs such as the liver, kidneys or pancreas. They should therefore occur in food in as small amounts as possible.
The epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) contained in food supplements with green tea extracts can also be dangerous. If the dosage is too high, high blood pressure and severe liver damage are possible. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) currently rates a maximum daily dose of 800 mg EGCG as safe.
The Federal Court of Justice. Decision of March 29, 2017 (accessed on April 22, 2020)
Klein AV, Kiat H: Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: A critical review of the evidence. Journal of Human Nutrition an Dietetics, December 2014, DOI: 10.1111 / jhn.12286
Northern German Radio. Toxic lead in dietary supplements. (accessed on April 22, 2020)
Medicine Transparent. The myth of detox. Status: 06.03.2019 (accessed on 22.04.2020)
EFSA (2018): Scienti ﬁ c opinion on the safety of green tea catechins. EFSA Journal 16 (4): 5239 (accessed on April 22, 2020)
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