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?
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?