woman shown drinking dark beverage similar to activated charcoal mixture


The hype of activated charcoal

When you think charcoal, eating it isn't the first thought that comes to mind; however, it seems to be the newest wave in body detoxes and cleanses. An important clarification is that the type of charcoal we're talking about here is activated charcoal, not the briquettes you toss on your grill. The activated kind typically comes in capsule form and has been specially treated to increase its adsorption qualities. 

Activated charcoal is said to whiten teeth, clear up skin, prevent gas, reduce high cholesterol and remedy hangovers. Miracle pill, right? 

Interestingly, activated charcoal isn't new. It's used in emergency room situations to help with poisonings or overdoses. It works as a sponge—grabbing chemicals and preventing them from being absorbed by the body. 

Here's the best thing about our bodies: we have built-in detoxifiers cleaning our insides every day. Our liver and kidneys do the job naturally. I don't think a bottle of charcoal lemonade can get the job done quite as well as dedicated organs. 

There isn't enough research to provide a clear-cut answer on the effectiveness of activated charcoal in arenas other than as a first-aid measure (which should be administered by a health care provider). 

Possible side effects
There are some less-than-great side effects with long-term use of activated charcoal:

  • constipation
  • black stools
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • decreases the effectiveness of certain medications
  • can prevent absorption of vitamins and minerals 

Better cleanse options
If you're looking for a body cleanse, look no further than common-sense decisions for healthy eating: 

  • eat more fruits and veggies
  • eat less fried food
  • get more fiber in your diet
  • eat less sugar


Share this article


Can I still eat that?

Continue reading


Get fun, inspiring, provider-reviewed articles sent to your inbox.

Sign up for our email newsletter