Written By Sukhman Rekhi
Facebook feeds, Instagram timelines, and even local news channels have been talking about the newest craze in the health and beauty world: activated charcoal. Whether it is in your skin care routine, your next detox method, or your food, activated charcoal has taken the world by storm. But does it really work or is it just a fad?
Activated charcoal is a potent treatment that supposedly has widespread health benefits such as whitening teeth, curing hangovers and reducing gas. It is most commonly made from wood, coal, or coconut shells that is then activated by heating it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat increases the surface area of the charcoal while reducing the size of its pores .
Some studies suggest that activated charcoal is the new miracle worker for a plethora of health conditions. For example, it fights gum disease and whitens teeth by moderating the pH level the mouth. Other research finds that it is effective in curing acne when used during a skin care routine. It is can also remove toxins from the body to strengthen the immune system .
One study found that activated charcoal is powerful enough to be a preventative treatment for hangovers and alcohol poisoning. Due to its ability to absorb toxins and flush them out of the gastrointestinal system, activated charcoal can be given to an individual who has participated in moderate binge drinking within the first hour to eliminate the chance of alcohol poisoning or tissue damage to the liver. Researchers also suggest that the charcoal is safe enough to be administered regularly in six-hour intervals if the individual has participated in severe binge drinking. This particular study, which has since been repeated and supported, recommended activated charcoal to be readily available in first aid kits .
However, not all experts agree to these benefits. Science writer Julia Calderone has argued that the body already has the liver and the kidney to flush out toxins naturally . Other medical professionals are also skeptical of the new supplement and advise patients to use activated charcoal with caution as it can have side effects such as constipation and dark stools. Experts also caution individuals about activated charcoal if they are on other medications as the effects can intensify if not used with the approval from a primary care physician .
Instead of using medications or harsh chemicals for skin and health care treatments, activated charcoal seems to be a good alternative. While it may seem to be harmless and to have minimal side effects, it may be a good idea to use activated charcoal only in small doses until new discoveries are made.
1. Petre, Alina. “What is Activated Charcoal Good For? Benefits and Uses”. Healthline. 29 Jun 2017. Web. 18 Oct 2017.
2. “Top 10 Activated Charcoal Uses and Benefits”. Dr. Axe. 2017. Web. 19 Oct 2017.
3. Neuvonen, PJ. “Oral activated charcoal in the treatment of intoxications. Role of single and repeated doses.” Medical Toxicology Adverse Drug Exposure. 1988 Jan-Dec, 3(1):33-58. Web. 19 Oct 2017.
4. Calderon, Julia. “Activated Charcoal Isn't a Magic Health Bullet.” Consumer Reports. 13 April 2017. Web.