Response to Sense About Science release claiming lack of value of detox diets and supplements. See BBC News website for typical reporting.

ANH Press Release


Sense About Science, an independent charitable trust which claims to respond to the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence on issues that matter to society, has made a full frontal assault on detox diets and food supplements.

In a release made today, the trust says that following a detox plan is a waste of time and money and that many supplements do not have any effect and the body can recover from Christmas excess on its own.

The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), an independent pan-European and international alliance of scientists, doctors, practitioners, consumers and innovative natural products companies, believes that far from clarifying the issue, Sense About Science's release on this matter will confuse consumers even more.

Dr Robert Verkerk, Executive and Scientific Director of the ANH, said, “Broad brush generalisations are a recipe for public confusion. What Sense About Science should have said is, in accordance with their own stated remit, that there are a wide range of products available that claim to support the body's excretion of toxins. Some are supported by very solid scientific claims, while others are not. Consumers who have concerns over their accumulated burden of chemicals, wish to lose weight or support liver or immune function should look to the scientific substantiation given by the manufacturer when making decisions on which product to buy. Sense About Science is utterly misinformed if it thinks there is limited or no scientific evidence showing that particular natural products are able to promote particular metabolic processes that accelerate detoxification or excretion. There is convincing literature showing the effectiveness of specific herbs and forms of fibre.”

In an ideal world, a nutritionally sound body will have a fully functioning detoxification system with gut, liver, other organs and cells ‘capable of clearing out harmful substances'. However, in the modern, industrialised world this is not always the case, hence the high rate of cancer which, scientists agree, has been shown to be caused in over 80% of cases by environmental rather than genetic factors.

Inappropriate dietary habits and lifestyle, exposure to pollutants, lack of exercise and high stress contribute to a sub-optimal metabolism that is further impacted by the excesses of the festive season.  The assertion made by Sense About Science that all one needs is tap water and a good night's sleep to feel refreshed, adds further to potential consumer confusion, and dramatically over-simplifies the lifestyle reform that is fundamental to reducing risks of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease that are currently overburdening the healthcare system.  Apart from the fact that the chlorine in tap water gives rise to undesirable compounds when mixed with organic materials in the gut, it can also contain various salts of heavy metals, aluminium salts and fluoride in some areas of the UK. 

The ANH is particularly surprised at the reference by Sense About Science to the benefit of tap water, despite a considerable body of scientific evidence of the potential harmfulness of chlorine, chlorine by-products and other contaminants in tap water. For example, a Johns Hopkins study on 285,631 Norwegian births between 1993-1998 showed a clear association between the presence of chlorine and various by-products and an increase in the rate of birth defects. Additionally, several other epidemiologic studies have indicated that there may be a risk of cancer from ingestion of chlorinated tap water. Other studies have shown that chlorine in tap water may reduce sperm counts.

The ANH supports the view of most health authorities that every adult should consume at least two litres of water each day, but argues that this water should be of a known purity to minimise risk of contamination.

The ANH, within its stated remit of ‘good science and good law', would urge consumers to survey the wealth of available scientific literature on detoxing, before swallowing, hook, line and sinker what Sense About Science would have us believe.

Dr Verkerk added: “Perhaps Sense About Science might wish to consider researching the effect of their press release on people's New Year resolutions. It's quite possible that people who had fully intended to kick off the year with a detox and improved diet might now be put off. I feel it is somewhat ironic that this release has been received on the day Dr Gillian McKeith goes to air to discuss her New Year Detox at 8 pm tonight on Channel 4.”



For further information, including interviews, background documents and images, contact:

Alliance for Natural Health International

Dr Robert Verkerk, Executive and Scientific Director
Tel.        +44 (0)1252 371 275
Mob:      +44 (0)7714 847225
E-mail: [email protected]

Meleni Aldridge, Operations and Communications Manager
Tel:        +44 (0)1252 371 275
Mob:      +44 (0) 7771 750230
E-mail: [email protected]


Alliance for Natural Health: The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) is a UK-based, pan-European and international not-for-profit campaign organisation comprised of scientists, doctors, practitioners, companies and consumers, working to protect and promote natural health care through the use of ‘good science and good law.'  For further information: