So what is the deal with this trendy activated charcoal? Fitness fanatics and health enthusiasts seem to be gulping this stuff down and it seems every juice place around now has some type of activated charcoal drink or lemonade on its shelves. I researched this stuff and this is what I found.
A lot of people have been consuming activated charcoal to help with digestion. It cleans out your intestines and colon which helps with belly bloat and gas. Its alkaline properties pull toxins from the body and it is a strong detoxifier. It lowers cholesterol, makes you more clear headed and helps you have more energy (but isn’t as strong as caffeine). It helps to remove toxins from the liver and bloodstream after drinking alcohol. Because of its toxin pulling properties, it is good for people who have allergies and can also help reduce joint pain.
It is commonly used in the emergency room and has been for years for people that have food poisoning. The charcoal has tons of tiny sponge-like pores that bind to toxins and they get flushed out of your system. For this reason, it is not good to drink it within 2 hours of eating or taking any type of supplements or vitamins. The charcoal cannot differentiate between nutrients and toxins so it is not beneficial to take it at the same time if you do want to absorb (and not flush out) those nutrients.
It has also been recommended by Doctors to chemotherapy or long-term dialysis patients to reduce their side affects as well as pregnant women to reduce bile flow during pregnancy. Charcoal (capsules) have been recommended to athletes who get diarrhea when running marathons and also to people that have been exposed to mold since studies show it binds to mycotoxins (toxins in mold).
The pics above are from one of my favorite health food spots / juice bars, Kreation in Los Angeles. They have several locations including Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and my favorite location on 3rd street (West Hollywood/LA area). They offer to sprinkle a little bit in your water for free. They also offer a charcoalade there that contains activated charcoal, ginger which is great for nausea, coconut water for electrolytes, coconut sugar (antioxidant), lemon for energy and cayenne for your metabolism. Pressed Juicery (nationwide) also has a similar charcoal lemonade with lemon, activated charcoal, lavender and honey.
When buying activated charcoal, look for ones made from coconut shells or identified wood species that have ultra-fine grains, not ones in powdered form which end to have artificial sweeteners and chemicals. You can sweeten it naturally or with fresh juice.
While it is still fairly new and there have not been long term studies yet on its use, I wouldn’t go overboard on this stuff. Too much can cause constipation. Be careful, it can stain clothing and grout.
Activated charcoal has many alternative uses. Use charcoal to brush your teeth. It changes the pH balance in your mouth and helps prevent cavities, bad breath and gum disease. Just be careful if you have crowns, caps or porcelain veneers as it will stain them. If you try this, be sure to rinse until your spit is clear.
To treat acne, mix one capsule of activated charcoal with two teaspoons aloe vera gel and put on your face. Let it dry, then rinse. It binds with environmental toxins and dirt that cause acne. It’s also good for spot treatments.
Last, you can also treat spider and snake bites with activated charcoal. Just mix coconut oil and charcoal and wrap it around the bite and change every few hours. It will extract the poison.
There seems to be a lot of uses. So go get your charcoal on. That’s all I have for now!
Sources: Dr. Josh Axe / Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, Registered nutritionist & Dietician / Judy Fulop, Naturopathic Physician