What's the Scoop on Using Activated Charcoal Internally?


Activated charcoal made a big splash in 2017! It was being glorified everywhere -- making appearances in cold-pressed juices, frozen yogurt, cocktails, detox lemonades, toothpaste, deodorant, and face masks to name a few. It has many beneficial properties but it can also be quite dangerous if consumed incorrectly.

Are you educated on the pros as well as the cons? 

Activated charcoal is derived from coconut shells, wood, or peat that is then “activated” when exposed to certain gases at very high temperatures. This process causes the formation of an abundance of tiny pores on the charcoal’s surface that work as little traps that attract and adsorb compounds and particles. (Adsorption is different from absorption -- it's the process where molecules of gas, liquid, or dissolved solids adhere to a surface.) 

Activated charcoal been used safely in the medical community to treat severe oral poisoning such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) and sedative overdoses for hundreds of years now. However, in more recent years people have translated the success of activated charcoal in emergency rooms to their everyday lives, assuming that if it can adhere to and remove certain drugs in emergency rooms, it can soak up all kinds of unwanted toxins -- but that just isn't exactly the case. The effects of activated charcoal are limited to the gastrointestinal tract; it does not get absorbed into the bloodstream, therefore the culprit has to be in the digestive tract to be efficiently adsorbed by activated charcoal. 

Thus far, research shows that it does not discriminate between what it sees as ‘toxins’ versus ‘nutrients’ in the body, meaning that if activated charcoal is added to food or juice for an additional health benefit, it could actually lower the nutritional content of that food itself. That hard-earned $12+ spent on a cold-pressed charcoal fruit juice is literally being flushed down the toilet! Ouch!  

So if activated charcoal can't differentiate between toxins and nutrients, what about medications or supplements?

It's crucial to know that you should never take activated charcoal with other medications and/or supplements administered orally as this may decrease their effectiveness. If needed, take activated charcoal 2-3 hours before medication/supplements -- I beg you!

However, as a stomach aid in relation to intestinal gas or bloating, I would recommend using activated charcoal -- but only in severe cases. The better option is, and always will be, to find the root of the intestinal issues as opposed to slapping on a Band-Aid.

While I'm a big advocate of holistic practices and alternative natural medicine -- I know that even innocent little plants can do more harm than good if not taken properly, especially internally. My advice: always read labels, do thorough research, ask a ton of questions, and consult with a trusted holistic nutritionist or integrtive medical doctor. 

Did this blog post clear up some confusion? Do you have any thoughts or comments you'd like to share? Comment below and join the #holisticheels tribe @holisticheels https://www.instagram.com/holisticheels/ 


Peace, self-love, and kale,

Monica Elena