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Do Detox Drinks Work?

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Oct 23, 2023 • 7 cited sources
do detox drinks work

“Detox drinks” have been marketed without evidence to consumers to help them pass opioid drug tests by claiming to eliminate the byproducts of these drugs from urine and the body.[1]

Experts at the National Institutes of Health say only a few studies have been performed on detoxification products. And those studies have been small and filled with study design problems.[2] As a result, there’s no compelling, research-based reason to believe detox drinks work.

Researchers do know that some detox drinks can cause harm. In published case reports, people have experienced significant symptoms (including seizures) because of their detox drinks.[3]

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What Are Detox Drinks?

Google delivers more than 44 million results to the query: “What are detox drinks?” They’re sold as juice, tea, smoothies and other beverages. Sellers claim they help boost the body’s natural ability to clear toxins so you can live a healthier life. Some companies claim their products could help you clear drugs and pass a urine screening. 

There is no official consensus about what these drinks contain. Researchers identified these ingredients in a detox tea product that placed a man in the hospital:[1]

  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12)
  • Dandelion
  • Cascara sagrada
  • Turmeric
  • Burdock
  • Milk thistle
  • Guarana extract
  • Green tea
  • Echinacea purpurea
  • Potassium
  • Creatine monohydrate
  • Alfalfa leaf
  • Slippery elm bark
  • Reishi mushroom
  • Uva ursi leaf
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Licorice
  • Peppermint leaf
  • Red root
  • Schisandra

It’s difficult to determine if even one of these ingredients is safe. It’s even harder to understand how they might combine. 

And if one ingredient is proven unsafe, manufacturers could respond by changing their ingredients, triggering more studies. Researchers say law enforcement officials play “cat and mouse” with manufacturers, as they claim their products work and then just change the ingredients when under pressure.[1] 

Since most detox drinks contain water, they can help you remain hydrated. Your body needs fluid to produce urine. Since opioids leave your body in urine, hydration is important.[4]

But there’s no evidence that adding fruit, vegetables or herbs to your body in one large dose will make your organs more effective in filtering toxins. 
Currently, no reliable rapid detoxing method exists.

Can You Use Detox Drinks for Drug Tests?

Don’t rely on detox drinks to help you pass a drug test. Chances are, they will not work. In some cases, they can cause harm. 

Making sweeping claims about detox drinks is difficult, as almost anything could be bundled into a shiny package and sold as the latest solution to your drug-testing concerns. Since teas, drinks and some supplements aren’t tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it’s hard to read labels to understand how these products work and if they’re safe.[5]

But researchers know that adding things like water or niacin or herbs can’t make your organs work faster.[5] Instead, your body needs time to process each dose of drugs you take. 

How Long Do Opioids Stay in the Body?

Opioids linger in your body until your organs can process them. This is an estimate of how long different opioids stay in the body, although these timelines vary by individual based on several factors.

Drug NameHow Long Is It Detectable in Urine?
Codeine1–2 days
Fentanyl1 day
Heroin2–7 days
Hydrocodone2–4 days
Methadone7 days
Morphine2–3 days
Oxycodone1–4 days

Side Effects of Detox Drinks

Side effects of detox drinks can vary based on what’s inside each sip you take. You may not know how you’ll feel until long after you’ve emptied your glass. 

Researchers know herbal products can cause side effects such as the following:[6]

  • Seizures
  • Blisters
  • High blood pressure
  • Renal failure 
  • Psychosis 
  • Stroke 
  • Death 
  • Cushing’s syndrome 
  • Anemia 
  • Abdominal pain 

Alternatives to Detox Drinks

Sipping tea or pounding foul-tasting energy drinks can’t make your organs work faster. But you can take steps to help cleanse contaminants like opioids out of your system.

These are all good alternatives to detox drinks:

  1. Time: Let your organs process the drugs you took. Your system knows just what to do to clear things out of your system and help you feel better. There is little you can do to accelerate this process.
  2. Sobriety: If you’re not using drugs, you won’t need to worry about passing drug tests or harming your organs.
  3. Detox programs: Talk to your doctor about enrolling in a program to help you transition to sobriety. Medications, supervision and therapy can help you get sober safely.
  4. Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT): If you’ve been using opioids like heroin or OxyContin, talk to your doctor about MAT programs. Using Suboxone for opioid detox can keep you from misusing drugs.
  5. Research opioid detox tips: If you’re not ready to get sober now, start your educational journey. Read up on how treatment works and find out if it’s right for you. 
  6. Honesty: If you have a prescription for opioids, bring it with you to a drug test. If it appears in your results, you’re not violating any rules.

Detox Drinks FAQs

We’ve compiled some of the most common questions about how detox drinks work.

What are detox drinks?

The term is vague, but typically detox drinks refer to beverages people consume to push toxins like opioids out of their bodies faster than they’d move overwise.

Do detox drinks work?

There’s no evidence suggesting that all — or even some — detox drinks can clear all opioids out of your body and help you deliver a clean urine test.

Should you use detox drinks before a drug test?

No. As testing laboratories point out, drinking a large amount of anything could dilute your test and make it inconclusive. You’d be forced to repeat the test.[7] And no ingredient list has been studied and proven effective in clearing drugs from your system.

Are there side effects from detox drinks?

Yes. The health risks you face can vary depending on the drink you choose. But health problems, including seizures, have been documented in people using these products.[3]

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. A Case of Psychosis After Use of a Detoxification Kit and a Review of the Techniques, Risks, and Regulations Associated with the Subversion of Urine Drug Tests. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. 2011. Accessed June 2023. 
  2. Detoxes and Cleanses: What You Need to Know. National Institutes of Health. September 2019. Accessed June 2023.
  3. Acute Severe Hyponatremia Following Use of Detox Tea. Cureus.!/. March 2021. Accessed June 2023. 
  4. Extraction and Determination of Opium Alkaloids in Urine Samples Using Dispersive Liquid-Liquid Microextraction Followed by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography. Journal of Chromatography. October 2011. Accessed June 2023.
  5. Beating the Urine Drug Test: A Case Report on Niacin Toxicity. Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives. April 2018. Accessed June 2023.
  6. Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicine Toxicities: When to Anticipate Them and How to Manage Them. International Journal of Emergency Medicine. June 2009. Accessed June 2023.
  7. 8 Tips to Prepare for a Drug and Alcohol Test. Arc Point Labs. August 2022. Accessed June 2023.
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