Chinese teas have long been considered excellent for dieters. Indeed, many companies have manufactured and distributed these products labelled “Chinese diet tea” for those who wish to lose weight. Perhaps the main reason for this production is that many believed the tea only carried 4 calories per serving and the caffeine in the tea was potent enough to increase bodily functions and help burn more calories. Also, the polyphenols in the tea are thought to appear to aid in the digestion of fats, which really makes it a Chinese diet tea.
Chinese diet tea, fasting tea, slimming tea, super dieter tea, and slimming tea, although they have somewhat different names, all convey a common message: drink this tea and you will lose weight. However, many experts have noted that what you actually drink from these products is a herbal laxative which can cause certain ailments like diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fainting, chronic constipation and possibly even death when consumed in excessive amounts.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) once pointed out that the laxative teas and dietary supplements of greatest concern are those containing one or more of the substances, such as aloe, senna, rhubarb root, buckthorn, l cascara oil and cascara. These products are derived from plants and have been used since time immemorial for their ability to relieve constipation and promote bowel movements. They are said to be effective for these purposes with occasional use.
When labelled “Chinese diet teas” are used excessively based on the misconception that frequent bowel movements impede calorie absorption, problems tend to occur. Many studies have shown that laxative-induced diarrhoea does not significantly reduce calorie absorption because laxatives do not work in the small intestine, where calories are absorbed. Rather, it works on the colon, which is the lower end of the intestine.
It has also been discovered that when Chinese diet teas are misused by steeping the tea longer than the product labelling recommends, it can lead to both short-term and long-term adverse conditions. This is also true when Chinese diet teas are taken in more than the recommended amount.
It has been noted that for new users who have been drinking Chinese diet teas more than the recommended amount, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhoea are the common troubles that occur and will last for several days. When these laxatives are used on a continuous basis, laxative addiction will tend to develop with bots of chronic diarrhoea, abdominal pain as well as constipation. In the most severe cases, these laxatives can cause fainting, dehydration, and severe electrolyte disturbances. As noted, these sequelae of excessive use of Chinese diet teas are more likely to develop in people whose nutrition is compromised due to rigorous weight-loss dieting.
Because of these concerns, the FDA is now considering requiring manufacturers of labelled “Chinese diet teas” to place warning labels on all of their stimulant laxative products. It is also important that those using Chinese diet teas for any purpose read and follow the recommended instructions carefully. The words indicated on the label under “warning” must therefore be given special attention.