Flat Tummy Tea is one of the many herbal “teatoxes” on the market that claim to “detox” you and “reduce the bloat” (marketing speak for “lose weight”).
There are scores of social media “influencers” and celebrities promoting it, but don’t let that make you loosen your grip on your wallet just yet. Last I checked, most “influencers” and celebrities are not research scientists with an understanding of biochemistry and physiology.
In fact, many “detox” teas, including Flat Tummy Tea, are loaded with laxatives and diuretics which, up front will cause “weight loss” on the scale, but this should not be confused for fat loss (which requires that pesky healthy eating and exercise).
So what’s the deal? Does Flat Tummy Tea work? Well, it all depends on your own subjective interpretation of “work.”
In this review, I put the product claims on the hot seat and review them through the lens of science so you can decide for yourself if this is something worth forking out your cash.
Flat Tummy Tea products
Flat Tummy Tea is an herbal tea that comes in a two-week or four-week program which includes their Activate and Cleanse Tea.
For their subscription program, you get the Activate and Maintain Teas.
According to Flat Tummy Tea’s website, Activate Tea’s ingredients supposedly “support your metabolism, give you an antioxidant energy kick, and get your digestion ready to start the day on an all natural high.”
The Activate Tea ingredients include:
- Peppermint leaf
- Lemon Balm leaf
- Liquorice root
- Dandelion Root
- Cleavers (leaf)
- Fennel Seed
- Green Tea Leaf
- Cardamom pods
Cleanse Tea supposedly “works to help detoxify your intestinal tract free of built up toxins” and, according to Flat Tummy Co’s website, its ingredients “work together to help get (and keep) that tummy flat.”
Cleanse Tea ingredients include:
- Senna (leaf)
- Peppermint (leaf)
- Cassia Chamaecrista (pods)
- Liquorice (root)
- Caraway (seed)
- Dandelion (root)
- Rhubarb (root)
Maintain Tea supposedly helps “detoxify your intestinal tract free of built up toxins, and is designed to be used once a week.”
Maintain Tea ingredients include:
- Senna (leaf)
- Peppermint (leaf)
- Cassia Chamaecrista (pods)
- Liquorice (root)
- Caraway (seed)
- Dandelion (root)
- Rhubarb (root)
Before we dissect these marketing claims, it’s important to understand what the ingredients are and the effect they have in the body.
Flat Tummy Tea ingredients list
For simplicity purposes, I have combined all the ingredients into one list and provide a brief breakdown for each one:
Peppermint leaves may be helpful for digestive problems such as heartburn, nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome. Depending on the dose, it could have a laxative effect on the body.
Lemon Balm leaf
Lemon balm is an herb from the mint family and has been used for digestive problems, including upset stomach, bloating, intestinal gas (flatulence), vomiting, and colic; for pain, including menstrual cramps, headache and toothache, and for some mental disorders.
Dandelion leaves may exert a diuretic (makes you pee) and laxative effect to increase bowel movements. It may also increase appetite.
Cleavers, also spelled clivers, is used to increase urine flow to relieve fluid retention.
Fennel is used by mouth for various digestive problems including heartburn, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite, and colic in infants among othes.
Green Tea Leaf
Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of pep in your step and help suppress appetite.
Caraway is used for digestive problems including heartburn, bloating, gas, loss of appetite, and mild spasms of the stomach and intestines. Caraway may exert a laxative effect to relieve constipation.
Cardamom exerts a laxative effect on the body and has been used for digestion problems including heartburn, intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, constipation, liver and gallbladder complaints, and loss of appetite.
Senna‘s active constituents are called sennosides which stimulate the bowel and causes a laxative effect.
Cassia Chamaecrista has a laxative effect on the body
Licorice may help people with irritable bowel syndrome by soothing inflamed tissue, helping to relax muscles, and exerting a mild laxative effect on the bowels.
Rhubarb exerts a laxative effect for the relief of constipation but care must be taken, as a high enough dose can induce diarrhoea as a side effect. Rhubarb may also be helpful for a number of other gastrointestinal disturbances like heart burn and stomach discomfort.
Categorical review of Flat Tummy Tea marketing claims
Now it’s time to review the product marketing claims through the lens of science. Each claim has been taken from the official Flat Tummy Tea website.
Flat Tummy Co claims the products will “cleanse your digestive system” and that it “shouldn’t have you running to the bathroom.”
Translation: don’t stray too far from a toilet. The product is loaded with laxatives and diuretics which are actually MEANT to make you use the bathroom more frequently.
The truth is, you’re not actually “cleansing” your body above and beyond its normal abilities by using a so-called “cleansing” tea. Urination and defecation are normal bodily processes and diuretics and laxatives merely hasten this process. You might see a reduction in scale weight but this just fecal and water weight loss, as opposed to fat loss (in case you confuse the two), and the weight will return once you stop taking the tea.
Flat Tummy Tea claims its Cleanse Tea helps “detoxify your intestinal tract free of built up toxins” and that it has a “gentle cleansing effect which is an essential part of the detoxification process.”
These claims are false. As mentioned above, the tea is loaded with diuretics and laxatives and will simply make you use the toilet more frequently. But to be clear, it is not “detoxifying” your body.
The word “detox” in this context is essentially meaningless bullish*t. Check out this article on Science Based Medicine for a fascinating read.
My question to Flat Tummy Co is, specifically WHICH TOXINS is the tea supposedly removing? Are we talking about hexavalent chromium? Lead? Mercury? I did not find anywhere on the website the specifically lists out which toxins are supposedly accumulated in the body and are removed by this product.
In short, don’t be a sucker. “Detox” is a medical term that has been hijacked by marketers to either scare or bullsh*t people into buying products.
3. “Reduce bloating”
Flat Tummy Tea claims that their teas will “reduce your bloating” and help you “kick that bloated, sluggish and blaaaah feeling.“
This is more meaningless marketing sleight of hand because the word “bloating” is subjectively defined and means different things to different people.
Does bloating mean you are carrying too much fat? Are you retaining too much water? Nowhere on the website do they explicitly define what “bloating” means for purposes of their marketing claims (same as with “detox“).
Let’s clarify something here. If you’re taking this tea thinking it’s a magic pill for fat loss, then you’re going to be disappointed. You still need to put down the burgers and chips, start eating more fruits and veggies, and be more active if that’s your goal.
If you’re expecting to reduce water weight, the product will probably do that since it’s a diuretic/laxative tea.
4. “Decrease your water retention”
Sure, any diuretic and laxative will help you reduce water retention. But instead of a diuretic/laxative tea, you can just go down to your local pharmacy and find something over-the-counter for a fraction of the price.
5. “Support your metabolism”
This is more ambiguous marketing gobbledygook that really doesn’t mean anything. What specifically does Flat Tummy Co mean by “support your metabolism?” Nowhere on the website do they define what this actually means.
This is similar to the nebulous “reduce bloating” claim where it can mean different things to different people.
6. “Help maintain a healthy immune system”
This is a claim that begets more questions. How exactly does the product “help maintain a healthy immune system?” Which ingredients are we talking about here? And specifically how does it interact with the immune system? What evidence supports this?
The onus is on Flat Tummy Co to provide evidence that their tea does what it says on the label. If such evidence exists, I’d be happy to review it.
7. “Boost your energy”
To be clear, Flat Tummy Tea contains no calories and therefore does not provide any energy. Green tea contains a little bit of caffeine which may make you feel more alert, but this should not be confused with energy provided by food.
8. “Give you an antioxidant energy kick”
This is more ambiguous marketing bluster. What does “gives you an antioxidant energy kick” actually mean anyway? Antioxidants are often plant compounds, vitamin, or mineral complexes which do not have any caloric value and thus provide no energy.
9. “Maintain Tea ingredients work together to help get (and keep) that tummy flat”
As stated above, the teas are loaded with laxatives and diuretics which will make you use the toilet more frequently. This may help you reduce water weight, but this should not be confused with fat loss (which takes some serious effort).
Is Flat Tummy Tea safe?
For the most part, Flat Tummy Tea and other similar products on the market probably won’t harm you if you use them as directed and for the short-term. It’s important to remember that nothing is risk-free and there is always potential for side effects in some people.
What are some potential side effects?
If you insist on trying a detox tea, then you need to inform yourself of the potential for side effects. The following list is not necessarily what will happen to you, but is provided as a caution so that you know what to look for while you’re taking it.
The Cleanse Tea, in particular, has a lot of diuretics and laxatives in it (senna leaves and a number of other laxative ingredients) which could lead to diarrhea and possibly dehydration, particularly if you are consuming a lot of the tea and leaving the bag in the water for longer than recommended.
Be sure to monitor how often you run to the toilet while using the product and discontinue use if you experience diarrhea.
Electrolyte imbalances and nutrient deficiencies
Following on from above, if you are experiencing diarrhea, this could lead to dehydration and contribute to a potentially dangerous electrolyte imbalance and nutrient deficiencies. If you have any concerns, stop using the product and go see your doctor.
Low blood pressure
Because the product is loaded with laxatives and diuretics that promote fecal and fluid loss, this may lead to a reduction in blood pressure. If you have cardiovascular disease and are taking medications which lower your blood pressure, be aware that the tea could have a compounding effect which might further lower your blood pressure and make you susceptible to dizziness and fainting.
Reduction in birth control effectiveness
Planning on getting pregnant any time soon? If not, then you need to be careful, as detox teas have come under scrutiny for reducing the effectiveness of birth control due to their laxative effect.
Reduction in bowel movements
Detox teas should only be used short term. Long-term use could result in your body habituating to the laxative which may lead to a reduction in bowel motility (leading to intestinal paralysis, lazy gut, and IBS) and make you dependent on the tea for normal bowel movements.
If you’re having problems with your bowel movements after using the tea, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.
Weight loss abuse
Detox teas promote “weight loss” through increased urine and feces excretion. Some consumers obsessed with quick-fix weight loss products may be at higher risk for abuse. If you’re the parent of a teen with body image issues, you should pay particular attention to their use of such products.
The manufacturers provide the bog standard warnings for consumers such as not using the products if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
They also suggest you consult your doctor before using the products which, in reality, we know most people don’t do. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions and are taking medications, then there is always the possibility of an interaction between the meds and the tea. Don’t risk it. Go to your doc for a proper consultation.
Despite all the grandiose marketing claims on their website, they include the disclaimer required by law that “products offered on the Site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
This stems from the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act which is actually a supplement-industry sponsored law which basically allows you to be used as a human guinea pig. Supplements are not regulated and can be legally sold to the public without having to prove the product is safe, effective, pure, or that what’s on the label is what’s in the product. If you want the straight line on this law, check out this article.
Who makes Flat Tummy Tea?
Despite its cutesy name, Flat Tummy Co is owned by corporate conglomerate Synergy CHC (Consumer Healthcare Company) which, according to their website, has a number of nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, and beauty brands in their portfolio.
Where is Flat Tummy Co located?
When I went to the website contact page and the terms and conditions page, I found that they do not have an actual address to or phone number to reach them. But that’s not really fair if you want to speak to a live human being. They force you to send an email to [email protected] or fill in their contact form.
If you need to reach a live human being, then you might try the following information:
Synergy CHC Corp
865 Spring Street
Westbrook, ME 04092
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (615) 939-9004
You can learn a bit more about Flat Tummy Co on their Bloomberg listing as well.
Where is Flat Tummy Tea sold?
An internet search shows the product is mainly sold on their website, Amazon, and the Vitamin Shoppe.
Be sure to check out the refund section further down in this review because if you buy it outside of their website, you don’t have the same rights.
How much does Flat Tummy Tea cost?
If you’re looking to buy Flat Tummy Tea, it’ll set you back around $49 USD for their 4 Week Program and $36 USD for the 2 Week Program. You might be able to find cheaper prices elsewhere, but if you do, it will affect your right to a refund (see below).
Shipping is generally free from within the United States, but if you’re in a hurry, then you’re looking at an extra $10 USD for priority service. If you’re overseas, then it’s about $15 USD for the rest of the world.
Refunds and Returns: Is there a money-back guarantee?
Here is the abbreviated version of Flat Tummy Co’s refund policy: if you buy it, you’re stuck with it.
You can only return it under very specific circumstances, but not for typical reasons you might want your money back (i.e., dissatisfied). If you buy the product from a third-party retailer, then you pretty much have no rights.
No refunds are given unless the product is “faulty” and then you have a seven day window to email them. It also appears that any costs to return the product are your responsibility.
If you try the product and don’t like it, too bad. No cash back for you (unless you complain in a public forum).
If you receive an expired product, tough luck. That apparently doesn’t constitute a “faulty” product either.
If you never receive the product, sorry Charlie. Once it leaves their warehouse, then it’s no longer their concern.
A number of complaints were registered against Flat Tummy Tea through the Better Business Bureau website, most of which dealt with lost orders.
While Flat Tummy Co claims to accept no responsibility for the product once it leaves their hands, some customers complained loudly enough to get their money back “on this occasion.” In other words, the official policy is no refunds, but if you give them a bad write-up online, then they’ll bend the rules for you).
Other complaints included receiving expired products and, even after complaining, Flat Tummy Co still encouraged them use the expired products.
Fun legal stuff
I know you’re probably in a hurry to “lose weight” and are unlikely to read the terms of service. But that’s ok. I had the time and I actually DID read the terms of service for you, highlighting the important bits.
Most notably, you waive your right to a class action suit in case anything happens to you… and a few thousand other people. Here’s a screenshot from the website.
I’ll admit, this passage sort of surprised me. Even though it’s unlikely anything will happen to you unless you abuse the product, what if something happened where the product was adulterated and a lot of people ended up sick? If you’re just barely paying the bills every month, then it’s unlikely you’d be able to afford to pay for a lawyer. Usually a class action suit is the way forward if a lot of people were affected, but assuming their terms of service are legally binding (even though you didn’t ready them anyway), then you’re just gonna have to foot all those medical bills by yourself.
Take home message
Whether or not Flat Tummy Tea actually “works” really depends on your individual interpretation of the words “detox,” “cleanse,” and “reduces bloating.”
A product full of laxatives and diuretics will definitely make you “lose weight” on the scale, but this is not fat loss. Losing a bit of body fluid may temporarily “reduce bloating” but this will return once you stop using the product.
Nor will the product actually “detox” you. To be clear, it’s only hastening your normal bodily processes and making you use the toilet more frequently.
The bottom line, brutally honest truth: if you eat pizza and sit on the couch all day, Flat Tummy Tea probably won’t save you. But if you cut out the burgers, chips, and fizzy drinks and become more physically active, then you’ll probably look and feel a lot better, with or without any detox tea.