Scientists warn detox fads are a ‘waste of money’

By Ben Mitchell
SCIENTISTS yesterday warned the public that adopting New Year detox products and diets is pointless.

The Sense About Science group, a charitable trust which works to ensure accurate scientific and medical information is available to the public, said a glass of tap water and an early night were the best remedies.

The group advises that the human body has its own "detox" mechanisms such as the gut which prevents bacteria and many toxins from entering the body.

Sense About Science director Tracey Brown said the tens of millions of euro spent on detox solutions was a waste of money.

"When harmful chemicals do enter the body, the liver acts as an extraordinary chemical factory, usually combining them with its own chemicals to make a water soluble compound that can be excreted by the kidneys," she said.

"The body thus detoxifies itself. The body is rehydrated with ordinary tap water. It is refreshed with a good night’s sleep.

"These processes do not occur more effectively as a result of taking ‘detox’ tablets, wearing ‘detox’ socks, having a ‘detox’ body wrap, eating nettle root extract, drinking herbal infusions or ‘oxygenated’ water, following a special ‘detox’ diet, or using any of the other products and rituals that are promoted.

"They waste money and sow confusion about how our bodies, nutrition and chemistry actually work."

Ms Brown said the group’s advice followed research by a number of leading scientists into the role of detox solutions.

Dr John Emsley, chemical scientist and popular science writer, said: "Our bodies are very good at eliminating all the nasties that we might ingest over the festive season.

"There is a popular notion that we can speed up the elimination process by drinking fancy bottled water or sipping herbal teas, but this is just nonsense.

"In fact, many of the detox diets and supplements really aren’t that good for you, nor have they been properly tested."

Professor Martin Wiseman, visiting professor of human nutrition at University of Southampton, said: "Whether or not people believe the biblical story of the virgin birth, there are plenty of other popular myths that are swallowed with religious fervour over Christmas.

"Amongst these is the idea that, in some way, the body accumulates noxious chemicals during everyday life, and that they need to be expunged by some mysterious process of detoxification, often once a year after Christmas excess.

"The detox fad - or fads, as there are many methods - is an example of the capacity of people to believe in and pay for magic despite the lack of any sound evidence."