Detox theory a myth and a waste of money

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A group of scientists in Britain say beyond the clinical treatment of drug addiction and poisoning, the ‘detox’ theory is a myth and the general public is being misled.

The scientists who are associated with the charity ‘Sense About Science’ say the best way to stay healthy is to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and they say there is no evidence that products which claim to help the body ‘detox’ work.

A group of over 300 young scientists and engineers reviewed 15 products, ranging from bottled water to facial scrubs, and they warn that the claims made about many such products are “meaningless”.

They have put together a report called the “Detox Dossier” which debunks the detox myth which follows an earlier report, “There Goes The Science Bit…” published by Sense About Science, which exposed a number of science claims by manufacturers about their products and generated such interest that it led to the ‘detox’ investigation.

According to the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK unsubstantiated claims by companies regarding their products are challenged but the problem in this case appears to be the varied interpretations of the term “detox”.

Detox is currently was used to promote a range of products with little consistent explanation of what the word means and more often than not there is no evidence to support the ‘detox’ claims made.

The group challenged companies behind products such as vitamins, shampoo, detox patches and a body brush on the evidence they had to support the detox claims made and most producers and retailers were forced to admit that they had simply used the term detox instead of the deadly dull ‘cleaning’ or ‘brushing’.

The scientists say detox diets are a waste of money and some are potentially dangerous - they cannot improve liver or kidney function, and high doses of some of the detox supplements could have serious and even deadly consequences - they could also interact in a negative manner with other drugs and reduce their effectiveness.

The scientists involved included physiologists, biochemists, doctors and pharmacists and they have produced a leaflet “Debunking Detox” aimed at the general public which will be available outside high street shops in central London.

The leaflet covers the bodies’ own detox system, the liver and the kidneys, and explains that money spent on expensive treatments and products is unnecessary and says eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep is a far better investment.

The leaflet will explain that shampoos, cleansers and moisturizers which claim to have detox properties cannot help the body remove excess substances and are no better than any other shampoos etc but may be more expensive.

The investigators say detox patches for the skin may make the area sweat more, and release very small amounts of chemicals, but the effect is very small and makes little difference to the overall amount of chemicals in the body.

Detox claims are now used to promote everything from foot patches to hair straighteners without any reliable evidence or consistent explanation on what the ‘detox’ process is supposed to be.

Sense About Science is a small charity promoting evidence and good science for the public.


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