Image copyright India Benjamin Image caption India got hooked on diet tea while at uni

India Benjamin had never heard of diet tea before she saw people she followed on social media promoting it online.

“Everyone I seemed to be following – the skinny bronzed daughters – were all simply flogging it at the time, ” the 26 -year-old tells Newsbeat.

She tried a diet tea which use laxatives when she was at university to try to balance her unhealthy student lifestyle.

But India had previously fought with eating disorders and says her employ of diet tea became an addiction.

Doctors say using laxatives can be “dangerous” and shouldn’t deemed to be a part of a weight loss plan.

“It changes how a intestine works, it changes the gut bacteria that we know now is very important to maintaining our health, ” said Dr Duane Mellor, senior lecturer in human nutrition at Coventry University.

And there’s “no scientific evidence” to back up claims that herbs in diet teas have weight loss benefits, according to nutritional therapist Sonal Shah.

India’s experience was several years ago, but diet teas – and the celebrities who promote it – have come under harsh criticism this week from actress and activist, Jameela Jamil.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jameela Jamil hit out at several stars on Twitter, including Cardi B and Iggy Azalea

“If you tell your fans to be thinner, you don’t love your fans, ” she tweeted.

Jameela targetted Cardi B, Iggy Azalea, Khloe Kardashian and Amber Rose for recently promoting weight loss products to fans.

She says people who are paid for these sponsored posts don’t are of interest to fans’ “mental health or self worth”.

Image copyright Jameela Jamil/ Twitter

In a video watched by 10.1 million people, Cardi says she used the tea to suppress her craving and planned to continue to use the tea when she ate fattening foods.

And Iggy Azalea said a brand of tea helped define her stomach without losing weight from other parts of her body.

‘I was addicted to feeling thinner’

Image copyright India Benjamin Image caption India convinced herself she had IBS when she was suffering from bowel problems caused by over-use of diet tea

Many brands, including the one Cardi B advertised and leading UK diet teas, don’t utilize laxative herb senna in their products – but it was the effects of senna that caused problems for India.

“You take them and lose a little bit of bloating, but when you’ve had an eating disorder you get addicted to feeling thinner and they do help in the short term, ” she says.

India says drinking the tea “completely messed up my bowels” after drinking several beakers a day in a six-month period.

Most brands recommend drinking much less over a very short time period.

When the cost started to build, India ditched the branded teas and started drinking cheaper senna teas, which can still be bought from high street health stores for as little as PS2. 49 a box.

Image copyright India Benjamin Image caption India says she only realised she had a problem with diet tea when her boyfriend made a joke about her being addicted to them

She believes drinking diet teas can be useful for someone feeling bloated and said today friends of her who use it experience no problems.

“I’ve got a couple of friends who still do them occasionally, like if they’ve had a really indulgent week, but it’s only really me who got a bit crazy on them, ” she says.

“But that’s because I’m the only one of us who’s had an eating disorder in the past.”

‘I lost my appetite – and gave myself an ulcer’

Image copyright Queenette Konyeha

23-year-old Queenette Konyeha tells Newsbeat she developed an ulcer and a bladder infection after use products she’d ensure celebrities promote on Instagram.

“You want to try it because you feel that they use the product and it works for them so it will actually work for me too, ” Queenette says.

“But I got an ulcer from use it because I wasn’t feeing properly anymore. It attained me lose my appetite.”

Queenette now uses other natural remedies and exert to lose weight – the method recommended by experts.

“Diet teas aren’t sustainable, ” says Nutritionist-Resource member Sonal Shah.

“If they were, then everyone would be seeming slim and healthy. It has to be a whole lifestyle change and it’s got to be something that is sustainable.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Diet teas are made from a mix of herbs, some of which can have inhibited appetite or have a laxative impact

But many diet teas on the market, as Jameela suggested when talking about Cardi B , contain laxatives, which some people employ as a quick way of losing weight.

Newsbeat has asked the brand Cardi B is promoting for a statement on Jameela’s comments and their products, but they have not responded.

We’ve also contacted UK-based brands of diet teas for commentary, but have not heard back.

Diet tea can ‘distort’ how we understand food and our bodies

Experts say celebrities promoting diet teas on social media can lead to their adherents developing a poor relationship with food from an early age.

“Young people, especially young girls – many of them don’t need to lose weight – start on a weight loss dieting cycle at an early age, ” says Dr Duane Mellor, senior lecturer in human nutrition at Coventry University.

He says the use of senna-based products “potentially could lead to other uses of laxatives or even purging behaviour, which is very unhealthy.”

“It distorts all that natural route we should enjoy food and get to understand how food affects our bodies.”

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