What is Iaso Detox Tea?
Iaso detox tea is manufactured by Total Life Changes, a multi-level marketing (a.k.a. direct sales, network marketing, or pyramid selling) company based in Fair Haven, Michigan in the United States.
The company claims Iaso tea is a “world-famous all-natural cleansing drink” that can help you “lose weight, boost energy, improve mental clarity, and cleanse your internal organs” and that its “unique blend of nine ‘essential’ herbs rid the body of harmful toxins.” You can supposedly “lose up to 5 lbs in 5 days” by drinking 2 1/2 cups a day.
Bold yes, but is there any scientific evidence to substantiate such claims? Or is this all just marketing hype and hot air?
“Essential herbs?” Essential according to whom?
“Harmful toxins?” Which toxins?
“Lose 5 lbs in 5 days?” 5 lbs of what exactly?
The thing is, so-called “detox” products have a not-so-good reputation for being sold with ambiguous and suggestive phrasing which might fool you into thinking things that are misleading or just plain false.
You’ve already seen the Iaso tea marketing spin, but what’s the other side of the story that has been, shall we say, de-emphasised?
It’s your responsibility to be an informed consumer and make informed purchasing decisions, which means evaluating all aspects of the product and the veracity of the advertising being used to sell the product.
Therefore, the purpose of this review is to cut through all the magical marketing and golden unicorns and give you the brutally honest, no conflict of interest, unvarnished facts about what is physiologically plausible and realistic, as well as information on ingredients, safety, pricing, refund policy, and consumer complaints.
Disclaimer: No conflicts of interest. This review is 100% independent and has no affiliate links. Ads appearing on this site are autogenerated based on your individual Google search and web browsing habits and I do NOT have direct granular control over them. Revenue generated from ads offset website costs to keep these articles unbiased and free for you to read.
Iaso Tea nutrition & ingredients
TLC claims Iaso Tea contains nine “essential” herbs to rid the body of “harmful toxins.”
Scary sounding stuff, but let’s be specific. What’s actually in the product and what are the effects of each ingredient?
Holy Thistle/Blessed Thistle
Holy thistle (a.k.a. blessed thistle, spotted thistle, or St. Benedict’s thistle) may exert anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects in the body. It has a mild diuretic effect which might make you pee more often.
Note: Both holy thistle and blessed thistle are listed as separate ingredients on the Iaso nutrition label, but on a different product sheet, they mention that holy thistle is also called blessed thistle (therefore the product would appear to have eight ingredients).
Persimmon leaves are rich in plant compounds known to protect against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and damage from chronic alcohol consumption. The leaves exert a diuretic effect which can cause more frequent urination.
Papaya exerts a laxative effect on the body which may increase your number of bowel movements to prevent or relieve constipation.
The papain enzyme found in papaya may assist with protein digestion.
Malva leaves may exert anti-inflammatory and mild laxative and diuretic effects. It might help with irritation of the mouth and throat, cough, and constipation.
Limited evidence suggests that marshmallow might help relieve stomach ulcers, diarrhea, constipation. It may also exert a diuretic effect in the body.
Ginger may exert a laxative effect on the body by stimulating the bowels and may be useful for upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea. It may also stimulate appetite as well as promote fluid loss as a diuretic.
Myrrh is a sap-like substance that is derived from a tree in Africa and Asia and may exert anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic effects. It has also been used topically for wounds and infections and is used as a flavouring agent in foods and beverages.
Chamomile is commonly consumed in tea form and has been touted as a natural remedy for a multitude of health conditions. It exerts a mild sedative effect in the body due to the flavonoid apigenin, though the mechanisms for this effect are not well-understood. A 2010 study in Iranian women found that chamomile tea could help reduce menstrual discomfort. Preliminary research in rats suggests that chamomile may help with blood sugar control. A 2004 test tube study found it may help promote bone density.
Content plagiarism on the Iaso website
I found a couple instances of what appears to be copy and pasted ingredient descriptions verbatim from WebMD and Healthline.
While plagiarising content might seem like no big deal, in my opinion, this gives me the impression they just threw together some tea ingredients, slapped up a website, populated it with lifted content from other health sites, and started marketing it to consumers.
Note to TLC: Write your own original content and provide correct attribution to source articles.
Plagiarised from WebMD
In the myrrh example below, you can see that the exact same phrasing is used on the original WebMD article. And whoever copied and pasted the content (“FIRE THAT INTERN!) didn’t even bother to change anything, including leaving the parentheses.
WebMD source article
Plagiarised from Healthline
In the chamomile example below, as in the Web MD example above, you can see that the content is identical both in phrasing and punctuation.
Healthline source article
Analysis of marketing claims
Careful review of Iaso Tea marketing revealed a hodgepodge of ambiguous and open-to-interpretation claims with no scientific evidence to substantiate them.
While there is research on individual ingredients, a search of the PubMed scientific databases found no published studies on the end product to support any of the marketing claims.
The only hits for the search term “Iaso” appeared because the authors were affiliated with Iaso General Hospital in Athens, Greece, but the research topics had nothing to do with detox tea.
Claim 1: Lose 5 pounds in 5 days
This claim is deceptive and begs the question: 5 pounds of EXACTLY WHAT in 5 days?
It’s physiologically implausible that you could shed five pounds of STORED BODY FAT in five days.
Short of running a marathon every day for five days, lopping off a limb, or having liposuction, it’s unrealistic to think you’ll lose that much body fat in such a short period of time.
However, because the product ingredients have diuretic and laxative effects, you’re likely going to spend more time getting acquainted with your toilet.
Bottom line: while you might “lose weight” on the bathroom scale, it will likely be water and fecal weight rather than stored body fat.
Claim 2: Weight loss and weight management
Following on from “5 pounds in 5 days” above, specifically, what “weight” are you expecting to lose?
If you’re taking this product with the expectation that it alone will cause “fat loss” then you will likely end up disappointed.
Whether or not you use any “detox” tea, you still need to be making good food choices and maintaining a healthy overall lifestyle.
Any sustainable changes in body fat will occur over an extended period of time and will be due to your consistency in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Claim 3: Boost energy
The claim that you can “boost energy” is, at best, vague and ambiguous and can mean different things to different people.
Many “detox teas” rely on caffeine-containing ingredients to give users an increased feeling of alertness, much the same as a standard cup of coffee or tea.
However, based on the ingredients listed on the Iaso label, there does not appear to be any herbal stimulants which might make you feel more alert.
So you’ll need to specifically consider what your expectations are and how you define “boost energy.”
Claim 4: Mental clarity
As with “boost energy,” the phrase “mental clarity” is vague and undefined and could mean virtually anything to anyone.
It would be helpful if Total Life Changes was specific and defined exactly what “mental clarity” means.
Otherwise, this is just another suggestive ambiguous marketing gibberish left open to individual interpretation.
Claim 5: Improved skin
Just more ill-defined marketing jargon which really doesn’t give you any clear idea of what to expect.
“Improved skin?” Does this mean it will make your skin smoother? Reduce wrinkles? Reduce acne?
TLC, please be specific and explain how this can be objectively quantified.
Claim 6: “Gentle cleansing of your intestines and internal organs”
More baseless marketing gobbledygook.
Be specific? What does this even mean? How is this “gentle cleansing” quantified? Based on what objective research?
How do you know it’s “cleansing your intestines and internal organs?” Simply, you don’t.
Claim 7: “…nine essential herbs”
Again, more meaningless invented phrasing. “Essential herbs” according to whom?
While it’s true there are such things as essential amino acids, essential vitamins, and essential minerals, there is no such thing as “essential herbs.”
Claim 8: “…ridding the body of harmful toxins”
Really? Which toxins? Please name them and be specific.
Are we talking hexavalent chromium? Lead? Mercury? What?
If you spend some time looking around the Iaso website, you will notice that nowhere do they specifically identify by name which “harmful toxins” their product rids from the body.
The threat of “toxins” is a very common fear tactic used by health marketers to scare you into buying the product.
But rest assured, if you have two working kidneys and a liver, you have all the built-in detox fire power you need.
Check out my Interactive Detox Decision-making Tool.
Claim 9: “a world-famous all-natural cleansing drink”
Just more bog standard marketing hyperbole you can ignore.
“World famous” according to whom?
The “all natural” claim is another common bogus phrase that tries to leverage on the myth that if it’s “natural” then it must be safe and effective (even snake venom, arsenic, and poison hemlock are “all natural” but that doesn’t mean you want them in your body).
Moreover, while the risk does remain low for most herbal products, you need to be aware that the risk is never zero and there have been reports of serious injury and death from products labeled “all natural.”
To be clear, I am NOT saying that Iaso tea is dangerous. I am simply making the point that, when it comes to marketing in general, you should never be lulled into a false sense of security by the phrase “all natural.”
Claim 10: “Supports the circulatory system”
What does this even mean? “Supports the circulatory system” how exactly? Be specific.
You know what else supports the circulatory system? Fruits and veggies, exercise, not smoking, and getting adequate sleep.
Claim 11: “Encourages healthy intestines”
“Encourages” healthy intestines? 🤦♂️
Summary of claims
Overall, the marketing claims made for Iaso tea are deceptive, misleading, physiologically unrealistic, and unsupported by any scientific evidence.
It’s not what what you’re being told. It’s what you’re NOT being told that matters.
The consistent ambiguity in each marketing claim leaves each marketing claim open to your own personal interpretation.
While it may be technically legal to phrase things this way (see below), in my view, it does raise concerns considering there is no publicly-available peer-reviewed research on the finished product in any medical journal to support any of the marketing claims.
FDA “Miranda warning”
Also notice that the product marketing is loaded with those pesky asterisks* which basically refers to the FDA Miranda warning: “*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.“
In other words, “we can make wonky claims as long as we’ve let you know they’ve not been vetted by any regulatory body.”
The syntax is always the same: make a questionable claim, then waive it away with an asterisk. “You’ll lose 5 lbs in 5 days…”
Translation: *Probably not.
A grain of truth
Ironically, after hitting you with a litany of confusing and ambiguous claims, the only straightforward honest thing I read on the website was in the fine print disclaimer at the very bottom of the website:
*This product supports a healthy lifestyle. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary based on diet and exercise. We cannot and do not guarantee that you will attain a specific or particular result, and you accept the risk that results differ for each individual. Health, fitness, and nutrition success depends on each individual’s background, dedication, desire, and motivation. Always consult your healthcare professional before consuming any dietary supplement.
But here’s the thing. When you buy a product like, say, a lightbulb, you have a reasonable expectation as a consumer that when you install it and flick the switch, it is going to light up the room.
You don’t want to see a disclaimer that says “we cannot guarantee that you will attain a particular result” and “you accept the risk that results differ” for each lightbulb.
That said, if a company cannot, with reasonable confidence, assure that you will get a desired result, then those claims are deceptive and misleading – pesky asterisk or not.
About Total Life Changes
According to a Bloomberg listing, “Total Life Changes, LLC (TLC) is based in the United States and offers health, wellness, and beauty products. The company offers soap, hair oil, solution kits, gym bag, eye drops, body cream, and other personal care products. TLC serves customers worldwide.“
6094 Corporate Drive
Fair Haven, MI 48023-1422
Phone 1: +1 (586) 630-5791
Phone 2: +1 (810) 471-3812
Website: totallifechanges [.] com
Iaso Tea retail price
To buy Iaso Tea, it costs $49.95 US dollars retail for a 5-pack.
However, once you’ve become a distributor, there is the option to purchase the products in bulk:
- 10 pack – $99.95 USD
- 25 pack – $249.95 USD
- 50 pack – $499.95 USD
The only thing I found peculiar about the bulk pricing is that it does not yield a volume discount compared to the 5-pack.
In fact, if you do the math, the per unit price for the 5-pack, it’s $49.95/5 = $9.99. For the 50 pack, it’s $499.95/50 = $9.99 as well.
To become a Total Life Changes independent business owner, called a “Life Changer,” you just need to buy a starter kit (either digital or physical) for $49.95 USD.
The starter kit includes:
- Product sample credits
- The top 5 product guide
- Physical samples (in standard kit)
- The product catalog
- The TLC brand & culture book
- The purple book
- The welcome letter
- Replicated retail website
- Online business management system
I did not see any conspicuous mention on the site that the prices become discounted once you’ve signed up as a product distributor, but presumably the commissions made on product sales which would offset what you pay.
However, if you sign up as a “Preferred Customer,” you can earn credits towards free products when you share them with other retail customers.
Income earning potential
In the interest of transparency, when it comes to the direct selling industry, there is a documented history of promoting inflated earnings potential, so it’s important to do your due diligence about what you can realistically expect to earn.
Hyped-up promises of high earnings, especially on social media, should always be thoroughly vetted. In the legal troubles section below, you’ll see that the FTC sent a warning letter to TLC regarding unrealistic health claims and earnings potential.
In the TLC earnings disclaimer below, you can see that, per month and before expenses, 44% of first-year distributors earned an average of about $157 and 64% of other distributors around $362.
Fifty-six percent of first-year distributors and 36% of other distributors earned no money at all.
And if you’re in the top 1 to 10%, you can make significantly more than the average.
According to the Total Life Changes website, there is a 30-day refund policy.
You can return products for a 100% refund (less shipping and handling costs) within 30 calendar days from the date of delivery.
You just need to print and complete the RMA form on the TLC website and return it with your product to:
6094 Corporate Drive
Fair Haven MI 48023
Products purchased through third-party websites such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart are not eligible for a refund.
According to the Better Business Bureau (as of this writing), Total Life Changes has had 171 consumer complaints in the last three years, of which 157 were closed in the past 12 months.
The majority of complaints centered about problems with the product (74), delivery issues (58), and billing/collections issues (22).
On a positive note, the company holds an A+ rating so this would at least suggest that TLC is making an effort to resolve issues.
In December 2015, The Environmental Research Center filed suit against Total Life Changes for products adulterated with lead (full PDF here).
According to the document:
Ongoing violations have occurred every day since at least December 16, 2012, as well as every day since the products were introduced into the California marketplace, and will continue every day until clear and reasonable warnings are provided to product purchasers and users or until this known toxic chemical is either removed from or reduced to allowable levels in the products. Proposition 65 requires that a clear and reasonable warning be provided prior to exposure to the identified chemical. The method of warning should be a warning that appears on the product label. The Violator violated Proposition 65 because it failed to provide persons handling and/or using these products with appropriate warnings that they are being exposed to this chemical.
To be fair, this lawsuit does not mention Iaso Tea so I cannot say it applies to that particular product. Though I am concerned that the company would not internally test all of its products before allowing them to hit the market and remain so for three years up to the point of the lawsuit being filed.
As of 2020, I do not have any follow-up information on resolution of this case but, if any reader has information, please let me know so I can amend the article.
False COVID-19 treatment claims and earning potential
On April 24th, 2020, the United States Federal Trade Commission issued a warning letter to Total Life Changes stating that product distributors unlawfully promoted certain products on social media with claims they could treat or prevent COVID-19 and misrepresented that consumers who become Total Life Changes business participants are likely to earn substantial income.
Regarding product claims, the letter states:
It is unlawful under the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 41 et seq., to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease unless you possess competent and reliable scientific evidence, including, when appropriate, well-controlled human clinical studies, substantiating that the claims are true at the time they are made. For COVID-19, no such study is currently known to exist for the products identified above. Thus, any coronavirus-related prevention or treatment claims regarding such products are not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. You must immediately cease making all such claims.
Regarding income earning claims:
Additionally, representations about a business opportunity, including earnings claims, violate Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 41 et seq., if they are false, misleading, or unsubstantiated and material to consumers. Express and implied earnings claims must be truthful and non-misleading to avoid being deceptive, which means that claims about the potential to achieve a wealthy lifestyle, career-level income, or significant income are false or misleading if business opportunity participants generally do not achieve such results. Even truthful testimonials from participants who do earn significant income or more will likely be misleading unless the advertising also makes clear the amount earned or lost by most participants. Your business opportunity participants and representatives must immediately cease making all express and implied earnings claims that would be false or misleading to current or prospective participants.
Take home message
Overall, the marketing for Iaso Tea is loaded with ambiguously deceptive and misleading claims and, to the best of my knowledge, there is no objective published evidence on the final product that substantiates a single claim.
I found a number of ethical issues including what appears to be plagiarised third-party content used on their website, numerous consumer complaints, and legal troubles surrounding adulterated products, false COVID treatment claims, and inflated earnings potential for would-be distributors.
In summary, given the numerous unsubstantiated marketing claims and ethical concerns, I do not support Total Life Changes nor recommend Iaso Tea.