Green Tea Detox: Benefits and Health Risks

“Drinking a bowl of green tea, I stopped the war”

– Paul Reps

60 years ago, when Paul Reps crafted this haiku in his prime book “Zen Telegrams”, the numerous health benefits of green tea was not still proven scientifically.

But, apparently, there has been enough anecdotal evidence for Paul to assume that green tea can stop wars.

A quick glance at history shows that green tea has not been able to prevent humans from starting wars and killing each other.

And it seems nothing in this world can do that!

However, thanks to the scientific findings during the last decades, we already know that green tea can save lives by improving our health and protecting us against toxins.

One of the purported health benefits of green tea is its ability to detox or cleanse the body.

But, can a green tea detox really help you to cleanse or lose weight? Is a green tea detox healthy? How does a green tea detox work?

What Is Green Tea Detox?

As it was explained in great detail in another article, detox or cleanse is the process of removing harmful toxins from the body by supporting and strengthening the body’s detoxification system.

Further Reading: Wondering why you should consider doing a detox? In this post I’ve explained, in great detail, the reasons behind why you should and why you should not do a detox.

There are so many methods for doing a cleanse. Green tea detox is one of the simplest forms of cleanse. It has become popular in recent years because it’s easy to follow and can be done even without requiring any modification to your diet.

The proponents of green tea detox believe that you may flush out the toxins from your body by only drinking 3-6 cups of green tea on a daily basis.

Some green tea detoxes do not require you to do any modifications to your diet or lifestyle, other than drinking green tea each day. Nevertheless, there are some permutations of green tea detox which require major or minor modifications to your diet. Some detoxes, however, go the extra mile to ask for exercising during the detox period too.

The most extreme type of green tea detox may require you to drink only green tea during the day and avoid any other foods, especially solids.

The duration of a green tea detox fluctuates greatly, depending on the type of green tea detox. Typically it would last for several days to several weeks.

Summary: There are various permutations of green tea detox. The most flexible type of green tea detox may require you to only add 3-6 cups of green tea to your regular diet. However, the most extreme type of green tea detox may ask for avoiding all types of foods, other than green tea, during the detox period.

What Are the Health Benefits of Green Tea?

In fact, a growing number of recent findings have provided compelling evidence of the idea that green tea is the healthiest drink on the planet.

Chinese have been using this amazing beverage for thousands of years to improve their health and prevent diseases.

There are so many health benefits attributed to drinking green tea, and explaining them in detail is actually out of the scope of this article. Below is just a quick list of purported health benefits of green tea.

  • Cleanses the body ()
  • Promotes weight loss ()
  • Promotes hydration
  • Improves brain function ()
  • Prevents cancer ()
  • Fights Alzheimer and Parkinson ()
  • Fights viruses and bacteria ()
  • Improves Type-2 Diabetes ()
  • Improves heart health ()

The most important properties of green tea which makes it a perfect drink for a detox are its ability to cleanse the body and promote weight loss.

Does Green Tea Detox Your Body?

As I’ve pointed in other articles, there is no food or product which can detox your body. Your body cleanses itself through the body’s detoxification system.

As a result, a real detox food or product can only help to detox your body through supporting and improving the functions of your body’s detoxification system.

Similarly, green tea can help to detox or cleanse your body by supporting your body’s detoxification system.

Liver is hands down the most important organ of our body’s detoxification system. Liver transforms the toxins, which have entered into our system, into less toxic substances through a 2-phase process: catalysis and conjugation.

Free radicals are highly toxic substances which are produced as a byproduct during the first phase (catalysis) of liver’s detoxification process.

Antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, beets, and green tea can greatly help liver to neutralize free radicals and boost the detoxification process.

Green tea contains a large amount of Polyphenols, micronutrients which are packed with antioxidants that can help the liver to neutralize free radicals and boost the detoxification process (, ).

A 2015 study also showed that consuming green tea on a daily basis can protect liver, the major detox organ, and would help to reduce the risk of liver disease ().

Proper hydration during a detox is essential. Green tea consists of a large amount of water, and drinking a large amount of green tea during a green tea detox may promote hydration.

By keeping your body well-hydrated during a detox you make sure that you’ve provided the required fluids for your colon and kidneys, two other important detox organs, to complete the detoxification process.

It should be noted that you should not depend only on green tea to keep your body hydrated during a green tea detox. You need to consume loads of water and other healthy beverages (if your detox allows it) during your detox to make sure your body is well-hydrated.

Warning: Drinking way too much water may lead to a dangerous health condition known as overhydration or water intoxication. So, make sure to use the proper amount of water to keep your body well-hydrated and stay away from the health hazards of dehydration or overhydration.

Summary: Green tea contains loads of antioxidants which may help to boost the liver’s detoxification process. It also contains lots of water which can hydrate your body and help to cleanse your body.

Can Green Tea Detox Help You to Lose Weight?

New studies show that supplementing with highly concentrated green tea extract can boost the fat burning process during the exercise () or promote weight loss ().

Nevertheless, there is not enough scientific data to prove that drinking green can have the same effects as green tea extracts.

In fact, a 2012 study showed that drinking green tea on a regular basis may help to induce only a small and statistically non-significant weight loss ().

Despite the results of these studies, which shows that green tea is not a very effective weight loss booster, there is lots of anecdotal evidence which shows that a green tea detox can help to shed lots of pounds during a short period of time.

The truth is that some of these detoxes, especially the extreme type of them, can really help you to lose lots of weight very quickly. However, the problem is that the majority of the weight you would lose during this detox is just water but not fat.

Most likely, you would regain that weight as soon as you go back to your regular diet and start eating ordinary food.

When you drastically cut back on your food intake and go on an extreme diet, such as an only green tea detox diet, your body would slow down its metabolism to avoid starving. When you go back to normal eating it takes some time for your body to boost metabolism again and it means you would gain more weight after an extreme green tea detox.

In conclusion, green tea detox can be a good choice if your goal is only to lose some weight quickly and you don’t mind if you regain that weight as soon as you go back to regular eating. If you’re looking for sustainable and healthy weight loss, a green tea detox is not the way to go.

Summary: A green tea detox can not be considered an effective weight loss solution. The amount of water you would lose during a green tea detox is mainly water content which you may regain quickly after coming back to your regular diet.

Is a Green Tea Detox Healthy?

Despite some health benefits associated with green tea detox, there are some potential drawbacks to using green tea for detox. The main drawbacks are:

Iron Deficiency

There is lots of scientific evidence which shows that excessive green tea drinking may lead to iron deficiency (, ).

So, the people who are at the risk of iron deficiency should avoid all types of green tea detoxes.

The results of a 2004 study showed that it’s not necessary for healthy people with no risk of iron deficiency to restrict their tea intake. However, those at risk of iron deficiency are advised to avoid drinking tea for at least 1 hour after eating a meal ().

Nutritional Deficiency

As it was mentioned earlier, there are various permutations of green tea detox. Some of them do not ask for any diet modification, while others may require you to only drink green tea for a few days or weeks in order to cleanse your body.

By following an extreme detox, which restricts your daily intake to only one or two certain foods, you increase the risk of nutritional deficiency.

Our body needs a wide variety of nutrients to function optimally. One needs to follow a healthy and balanced diet, which contains a wide range of many different foods, in order to provide the body with all the nutrients it needs to function properly.

When the only food you consume is only green tea for a few days or weeks, you’re actually depriving your body from the essential nutrients it needs. It may jeopardize your health.

A healthy detox diet should be planned carefully so that it provides the body with all the essential nutrients it needs to function optimally.

Liver Toxicity

When it comes to using green tea for detoxification purposes, too much of a good thing can hurt you.

As it was laid out above, there is compelling evidence which confirms that green tea is a liver-friendly drink and can boost the liver’s detoxification process.

Green tea is an ample supply of EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), also called catechin. EGCG is a potent antioxidant and, in fact, it’s the same compound which boosts the liver’s detoxification process and has rendered green tea an excellent detoxifying food.

However, a new 2018 study conducted by European Food Safety Authority showed that supplying more than 800mg of EGCG per day may have counterintuitive effects on liver and may lead to liver toxicity (, ).

A cup (8 ounces) of green tea contains about 50-100 mg of EGCGs. So, consuming 8 or more cups of green tea per day may lead to liver toxicity.

Nevertheless, this study also confirms that consuming less than 800mg of EGCG is completely safe for healthy adults.

High Caffeine Intake

Green tea is high in caffeine, although its caffeine content is not as high as coffee, black tea, or energy drinks.

1 cup (8 ounces) of green tea contains 28mg of caffeine. That’s while the same amount of black tea, coffee, and energy drink contain 47, 96, and 29 mg of caffeine respectively ().

According to a 2003 study, it’s safe for healthy adults to take up to 400mg of caffeine per day (). 400mg of caffeine is equal to more than 14 cups of green tea.

In conclusion, a healthy adult can safely drink up to 14 cups of green tea each day provided that green tea is his/her only source of caffeine.

If you are healthy and consume other foods than green tea during your detox period take care to limit the foods high in caffeine so that you do not exceed the 400mg daily caffeine intake limit.

Reproductive-aged women and children are two groups which need to limit their caffeine intake. Reproductive-age women should limit their caffeine intake to less than 300mg per day, while children are allowed to consume up to 2.5mg of caffeine per their weight (kg) (). To give an example, a 20kg child is allowed to use up to 50mg (2.5 x 20) of caffeine per day.

Excessive caffeine intake may lead to general toxicity, cardiovascular effects, effects on bone status and calcium balance (with consumption of adequate calcium), changes in adult behaviour, increased incidence of cancer and effects on male fertility ().

Caffeine is also an addictive substance. It means, if you continue to use it for a few weeks and then quit or cut down on caffeine intake, you would experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache, anxiety, insomnia, or other ailments.

Summary: Drinking lots of green tea may lead to iron deficiency or other types of nutritional deficiencies. Green tea also contains lots of caffeine and drinking lots of green tea alongside other foods high in caffeine such as coffee, black tea, or energy drinks may lead to excessive caffeine intake and its associated risks. Reproductive-aged women and children, in particular, should limit their daily caffeine intake.

Final Verdict

Green tea is a very healthy and helpful drink which can help to boost the body’s detoxification process and improve overall health.

However, there is no evidence to show that a green tea detox, which requires one to drink loads of green tea during a short period of time, can do any good.

It does not help you to lose fat, but only water, and may even pose health risks such as high caffeine intake, liver toxicity, iron deficiency, or other kinds of nutritional deficiencies.

To reap the most health benefits of green tea, you’re not required to do a green tea detox. Just enjoy several cups daily alongside a healthy and nutritious diet. 3-5 cups of green tea per day is the recommended daily intake for healthy adults.