Should You Drink Activated Charcoal to Cleanse? Health Coach Insights


May 18, 2015

Last Updated:

April 30, 2019

Image via Shutterstock

You’ve heard about the benefits of green juice – but gray juice?! Activated charcoal is exactly what it sounds like: Real charcoal that’s been heated to increase its adsorptive (not absorptive!) power. The result is a gritty, black substance that acts like a magnet, binding to toxins in the body and flushing them out. 

Though it may sound less than appetizing, it’s the latest cleansing supplement popping up in juice bars around the country. Proponents say it helps the body detoxify, improving digestion, skin health, energy, and more. So should you jump on the activated charcoal trend? 

The only way to find out is to try it out yourself in different amounts and see how it affects your body. Always check in with your doctor before taking something new. Proponents of activated charcoal trumpet these benefits: 

Relieves indigestion, gas, and bloating: Activated charcoal adheres to digestive byproducts that can cause discomfort, which are then flushed out of your system. It may benefit people suffering from diarrhea. 

Potent detoxification: Activated charcoal has long been used as a remedy against poisoning and drug overdose. On a day-to-day basis, it can serve to flush out toxins from processed foods, alcohol, and environmental pollution. 

Relieves skin ailments: When applied topically, activated charcoal can relieve inflammation from insect bites, poison ivy, and other skin issues. Many people also enjoy using it as a DIY purifying facemask when mixed with water and clay. 

May improve heart health: Some studies show that activated charcoal may lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipids in your blood as well as prevent sclerosis. 

Yet many scientists argue that these benefits have not been proven by studies and believe the hype is overstated. In addition, there are a few known cons to consider:

May interact with medications: Since activated charcoal flushes out substances in the stomach and intestines, it can decrease how much medicine your body absorbs. 

It is not a cure-all: Even considering its known benefits, activated charcoal cannot serve as a quick fix for overeating or excessive drinking. 

At Integrative Nutrition, we think it’s great to keep an open mind to new wellness trends and experiment with different foods, supplements, and products. Does activated charcoal sound interesting to you? Get educated on the facts and try it out to see how it makes you feel. There’s no one-size-fits-all diet, and more than that, the perfect diet for you may change depending on the season, your age, or simply how you feel on a certain day. 

Do you take supplements or other detox products? Why or why not? Share in the comments below – we can’t wait to hear from you. 

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