The Dangers of Flat Tummy Tea

teapot and cup of tea with herbs in the kitchen

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Flat tummy tea is a detox diet program featuring loose-leaf herbal teas that you drink in the morning and evening. The program features two teas—Activate, which is promoted as a de-bloat tea, and Cleanse, which is promoted as a detox tea. Each tea contains a blend of herbs and spices that the company claims will "boost energy, speed metabolism, and reduce bloating" and help "get that tummy back to flat."

But, the claims about these tea blends have not been tested or proven by any clinical trials. Further, these teas are not regulated, and some herbal ingredients may be dangerous if used incorrectly. Here is what you need to know about flat tummy tea and its risks as well as some alternatives you can try.

What is Flat Tummy Tea?

There are two teas in the flat tummy tea program. Activate tea is promoted as being made with natural ingredients that the company claims can help support your metabolism and digestion. It also contains peppermint, lemon balm, licorice root, dandelion, cleavers, fennel seeds, green tea, caraway seeds, and cardamom.

Cleanse tea is similarly marketed by the company as being made with traditional herbs. In this case, the herbs are supposed to support the body's natural detoxification process and help reduce bloating for a flatter appearing tummy. Cleanse tea contains senna, peppermint, cassia chamaecrista, licorice root, caraway seeds, dandelion, and rhubarb root.

Many of these ingredients have been used in herbal medicine for years, but this combination of flat tummy tea ingredients has not been clinically tested for efficacy or safety. It is important to talk to a healthcare provider before using any of these teas.

Dosage and Preparation

Flat tummy tea is a 4-week program. The plan calls for drinking one cup of Activate tea in the morning with breakfast. It's made by adding 1 teaspoon of loose-leaf tea to a tea strainer, and steeping it in hot water for 5 to 7 minutes.

Cleanse tea is consumed in the evening. For the first week, it is consumed every other night before bed. For the following 3 weeks, it's consumed every third night. It's made by placing 1 teaspoon of tea into a tea strainer and infusing it in a cup of hot water for 3 to 5 minutes.

The program also encourages following a balanced diet and getting enough exercise. In the website's frequently asked questions section, the creators recommend a nutritious diet or exercise to see results. They also state that the tea won't do much if you don't eat right and exercise.

Ingredients

Individually, some of the ingredients found in flat leaf tea have been studied for medicinal effects. These studies test a specific dose of individual herbs and spices to see if they produce a desired effect.

Medicinal Effects of Specific Ingredients

  • Lemon balm leaf may help improve sleep quality and decrease anxiety, which may provide more overall energy.
  • Fennel may help relieve bloating, heartburn, and other digestive issues.
  • Green tea may help with digestive health and improved mental alertness.
  • Caraway may help with weight control.
  • Senna is has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an over-the-counter laxative.
  • Rhubarb acts as a diuretic and laxative.
  • Licorice is used for digestive problems.

But the blend in flat tummy tea hasn't been tested as a combined product. What's more, neither the company's website nor the product package specifies how much of each herb or spice is present in the final tea blends. It's impossible to say if the ingredients may have any medicinal or clinical effects, or if they come with any particular risks.

Other ingredients have historical use as healing herbs, but are not supported by clinical studies. For example, dandelion is promoted as a diuretic, though little is known about its safety profile or actual health effects.

Potential Health Risks

Some of the herbs and spices found in flat tummy tea have been studied for years. In those studies, a specific dose is tested on a specific health outcome, and risk is also analyzed. Because the amount of each individual herb in flat tummy tea is not disclosed, it is impossible to predict risk based on dosage.

For instance, studies show that licorice root can elevate sodium levels, decrease potassium levels, and mess with blood pressure when it's consumed in high doses over a long period of time. Using high doses of senna or taking it for more than 2 weeks is not recommended since it can potentially lead to heart function issues, weak muscles, liver damage, and more. And, rhubarb is not recommended for people with gout, rheumatism, epilepsy, or a history of kidney or gall bladder stones.

Because the amount of these ingredients used in flat tummy tea is not disclosed, it's impossible to know how much is safe to drink, or how long it's safe to continue drinking it. The tea also is not regulated and there is no third-party testing for safety.

Laxatives and Diuretics

Several of the ingredients in flat tummy tea have diuretic or laxative effects, which means they make you pee and poop more often. This fact poses risks related to dehydration and malnutrition.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) explains that laxatives are not a good weight control method, with laxative abuse potentially leading to major health issues, possibly even death, due to a loss in water, electrolytes and minerals.

Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium are present in the human body in very specific amounts to facilitate the proper functioning of the nerves and muscles, including those of the colon and heart. An imbalance can be harmful.

While some of the ingredients in flat tummy tea may have potential health benefits, there may also be some risks. It is also unclear how much of each ingredient is in the tea, so it's impossible to know how much is safe to drink.

If you or a loved one are coping with an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Helpline for support at 1-800-931-2237

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Alternatives to Flat Tummy Tea

Essentially, flat tummy tea is a product that suggests it can help flatten your stomach, which makes customers think that they will lose weight. Because several of the ingredients are laxatives and diuretics, it is possible that your stomach will seem flatter very briefly after you expel urine and feces. Of course, there is no long-term benefit, no sustainable weight loss, and no guarantee of a flat tummy.

If you are experiencing bloating or water retention, you might want to seek out other alternatives. For instance, bloating can indicate a food intolerance, so work with a health professional to see if a specific food may be the culprit. Some people consult with a dietitian to try the FODMAP diet in an attempt to figure out which foods are causing their symptoms.

Bloating may also be caused by constipation, or by swallowing excess air, which may happen when you chew gum, drink carbonated beverages, or eat too quickly. One way to combat that is to practice mindful eating. Try eating slowly and enjoying every bite. You also can try drinking water with meals instead of carbonated beverages, which can be another bloating contributor.

Bloating may also be relieved with gentle movement, such as a casual walk. So you may want to consider taking a walk after dinner or as part of your lunch break at work to help move things along.

A Word From Verywell

It can be tempting to seek out quick fixes, but herbal supplements are not necessarily safe or effective. Diuretics and laxatives come with some risks, including electrolyte imbalances, which can disrupt normal functioning of the nerves, muscles, and even the heart. Always seek guidance from a healthcare professional before trying any herbal supplement, even a medicinal tea.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does flat tummy tea promote weight loss?

    Flat tummy tea contains herbs that are diuretics, so you may lose water weight, but will not lose fat. If you consistently retain a lot of water, you may want to talk to a healthcare provider about your concerns. They also can give you ideas on how to address your weight loss goals.

  • Which tea has health benefits?

    Green tea is associated with a reduce risk of certain types of cancer and black tea is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Many herbal teas have health benefits too, but check with your health provider before trying medicinal herbal teas.

  • What is the best beverage to reduce bloating?

    Try water first. If you are bloated due to constipation or dehydration, water can help. It's also better than carbonated beverages, which can cause more gas and bloating.

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16 Sources
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