With obesity being a problem of epidemic proportions in the United States and other western countries, it’s no wonder that people are searching everywhere for a quick and easy way to lose weight. Tea is now a member of the weight loss foods, although weight loss tea has been around for several decades.

True tea from the Camellia sinensis plant (which includes green tea, wu-long tea, and black tea) does have some properties that help in a weight loss program. In addition, some herbal teas are marketed as weight loss tea.

True tea (wu-long, green, or black) is a safe drink for almost anyone, but there is some herbal weight loss tea that can be dangerous. Back in the 1990’s several companies marketed herbal tea which contained senna leaves - a powerful laxative. The overzealous use of this weight loss tea resulted in several deaths.

Even though herbal tea is a natural product, some herbs can be toxic. Other herbs that have a laxative effect include aloe, buckthorn, rhubarb root, and cascara and all of these were used in weigh loss tea. If used in excess, these herbs can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, chronic constipation, fainting, dehydration, mineral imbalances and deficiencies, and could even lead to death.

The toxic effects of some of these herbs can increase the longer they are steeped, and many people who died using this weight loss tea had steeped the tea much longer than recommended.

Wu-Long Tea and Weight Loss

Herbal weight loss tea has fallen out of fashion only to be replaced by wu-long tea and green tea. Unlike the herbal tea previously marketed as weight-loss tea, true tea is completely safe for most people. The only bad effects may be a case of the jitters from consuming too much caffeine.

But does drinking tea really help you lose weight? Several studies have pointed to the fact that drinking wu-long tea can increase the metabolism, and so be an aid in a weight loss program. A Japanese study done in 2003 found that energy expenditure increased by 10% for a period of 2 hours after drinking wu-long tea. This was significantly higher than the energy expenditure observed after drinking green tea.

Green tea also has its proponents as a weight loss tea. Drinking green tea can reduce cholesterol levels and help the body maintain proper insulin levels. Both of these functions have been associated with weight loss.

Tea is Healthy

Many people point to the anecdotal evidence that Asians are slimmer than Westerners as proof that drinking tea can help lose weight. Although tea is no doubt part of the reason for the Asian physique, another perhaps more important reason is the Asian diet which is low in saturated fats and high in fiber.

There are many good reasons to drink tea. Numerous scientific studies have linked tea drinking to reduced rates of cancer and other serious disease. It is also likely that the long-term consumption of tea can aid in a weight-loss program, but don’t depend on tea alone to shed those extra pounds. Drink tea in conjunction with a sensible diet and moderate exercise and those extra pounds will be a thing of the past.