Even though there truly isn’t a magic pill or supplement that can give you quick, healthy, easy weight loss, so many of us still don’t want to give up the hope. We still want to believe that “maybe there is a cure for overweight, a cure that won’t require that I look at my emotions, learn about nutrition, or exercise”.

I understand that it can be tempting and that modern day advertising makes it especially easy to question whether or not such and such diet supplement, pill, or magic powder will work for you. If you only lose your money and your time, this is the least of your concerns; there are some who have lost their lives, all in the quest for easy weight loss.

What am I talking about? Well, have you ever seen the boxes of dieter’s teas in the tea section of the health food store? Have you ever tried them? I’ve noticed them before but didn’t pick them up because I figured it was another ploy to get me to spend money on some magic, when I what I needed to be spending my money on were whole foods to take home and cook! 😉

I’ve learned that these dieter’s teas in their pretty (often of Asian decoration) boxes are actually quite dangerous, and even lethal. You see, these herbal teas create a laxative effect in the body, and when overused create an imbalance in your electrolytes which can lead to death.

The problem comes in when one uses these teas in excess, thinking that the laxative result will keep them from gaining weight, and that the ingested food’s calories will not be absorbed in the body. This is false, because the food’s nutrients and calories are absorbed through the small intestine, while the laxative effect created by the tea occurs in the large intestine after the calories have already been absorbed in the small intestine.

It’s important to remember that just because something is labeled “herbal”, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Medicines and illegal drugs are created from plants and herbs, so the label “herbal” still needs to be approached with some knowledge and research. In the case of these diet herbal teas, they contain herbs such as senna, buckthorn, and aloe, rhubarb root, cascara, castor oil, and other herbs that act as natural laxatives.

When you create an electrolyte imbalance in your body with these herbal laxatives, you can end up with heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) followed by heart failure. Based on my research, there are currently 4 deaths on file that are accredited to overuse of diet herbal teas. One of these deaths was of an athletic 37-year-old woman, June Grell, who started using an herbal dieter’s tea (Laci Le Beau Super Dieters Tea) in the early 1990s. She had been drinking the tea before bed for months, and one morning she simply did not wake up (more details in this PDF document). Later, several physicians did credit the dieter’s tea with her death.

I’d recommend that you take your time, learn about why you are choosing the foods that are causing you to gain weight, why you are eating when you aren’t hungry, and how you can get motivated to make some healthy changes in your life, instead of spending your money on an herbal tea that is potentially lethal.

A tea or magic diet pill isn’t the answer to your overweight. Learning about nutrition, about the processed food that you have been eating, about the additives you’ve been ingesting with that food, and why you overeat, binge, and/or eat for emotions is a much better (and healthier!) way to spend your time, and your money.