After the New Year excess, does ‘detoxing’ make sense?

by , Senior Health Researcher Consumer Rights 2 January 2012
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I’ve never ‘detoxed’ myself, but I’ve got lots of friends who have. To my mind, the New Year detox is almost as big a part of the British psyche as turkey and chipolatas. But are detoxing products a con?

Man tired after party

Yes, say the experts who looked at the claims for two products that form the tip of a very big iceberg: the Nicky Clarke Detox and Purify hairdryer and Vitabiotics’ Wellwoman Inner Cleanse supplements (formerly known as Detoxil).

Toxicologist Dr John Hoskins particularly decried the use of ‘scientific words’ used by Nicky Clarke to market his hairdryer. The claims refer to nanosilver and ionic technology, which may help rejuvenate hair, but Dr Hoskins felt this was dubious:

‘Toxins are substances produced by living organisms that are poisonous to other organisms, like snake-venom. What [toxins are] doing in hair is anybody’s guess.’

We asked the company for evidence on how the hairdryer works, but it declined to comment.

You don’t need to detox

Vitabiotics’ Wellwoman Inner Cleanse supplements claims to provide nutrients that safeguard health during detoxification diets, maintain a strong immune system and support the body’s ‘natural cleansing’. When we asked Viabiotics for evidence, it referred us to a ‘substantial body of worldwide literatures’.

However, expert dietician Catherine Collins told us that you simply don’t need to ‘detox’. The body is a wonderful thing that cleanses itself all the time, and the Vitabiotics product isn’t a nutritionally complete multivitamin and mineral supplement.

If you do need support when you’re dieting, she recommends eating your five-a-day and taking a one-a-day broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement.

Back in 2009, after asking manufacturers to back up their claims, independent charity Sense About Science concluded that the term ‘detox’ is a meaningless myth used to market products. So why do we buy products with detox claims?

Does it make us feel better after the festive food-fest and New Year partying? Or is a potent brew of clever marketing and ‘scientific language’ too confusing and tempting to resist?

5 comments

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Sophie Gilbert

I have always been suspicious of this concept of artificial detoxing, so thank you confirming my suspicion. Catherine Collins’ advice is wonderful, straight forward and b***lsh*t-free. Thank you for that too. “I’m carrying a little extra-weight after the holidays” (Ross in Friends), so I’ll be going on a diet for a bit, but I’ll have to go back to doing a bit of exercise too (and a few more toxins will be eliminated through sweating).

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Dave

The activity of detoxing is complete and utter rubbish. If it had any true health benefits the NHS would have adopted it years ago.Am I correct in thinking that it is not available to men? There could be an business opportunity there! (Forgive the puns).The gut is basically a tube that is genetically designed to deal with all reasonable foods and does not need washing out.In contrast stomach washouts which include swallowing activated charcoal are useful to remove recently injested poisons such as overdoses of many drugs and are in full use by both sexes in NHS casualty departments.

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Dave

Sorry I forgot to include in the above comment that detoxing is in the same class of business as the bottled water industry in the sense that both are totally unnecessary activities and a waste of resources.

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Stephen Hicks

Detox is just another marketing scam, along with many other supplements.

Unfortunately, many people are taken in by these and the situation is not helped by newspapers and magazines spouting rubbish on the subject as well. For example, today’s I Paper looking at fruit juices.

Quotes – “hang over eradicating vitamin c”, “… jam packed with antioxidants, it also a sleep aid”, “should be good for New Year’s Eve “Illness”".

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Stephen Hicks

Somewhat ironic given this conversation that the Which website talks about Detox in the context of vegetable steamers.

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