This article was originally posted at

Activated charcoal has one real use: accidental posioning or drug overdose. Activated charcoal removes these poisons through a process called adsorption. I recently became aware of a new health craze regarding activated charcoal around Halloween of this year. At the root of the new activated charcoal health fad is the misuse, or misunderstanding, of the word “toxin”. In a detox- crazy-fad world, toxins are used to refer to impurities or anything undesirable in your body: stains on your teeth, dirt or dust on your skin, naturally present sugars in your juice, a hangover after a night out,too much Halloween candy?

Personal care products (like teeth whiteners, face masks, soaps, shampoos, and deodorants) containing activated charcoal bank on the idea that impurities can be drawn out during use. Since these products are meant for external use only, they perhaps won't cause any real harm. But there is little to no research to prove that the trace amounts of activated charcoal, combined with other ingredients, in these products are effective or more just marketing.

Activated charcoal products meant to be taken by mouth or eaten, however, are a different story. The same detox effects of activated charcoal can disrupt your regular diet and medication regimen. Whatever foods or other supplements are sitting in your stomach can potentially adsorb to the activated charcoal in your detox .

Though the recommended starting dose of activated charcoal for adults (25–100 grams) may not seem like a lot, a teaspoonful of the powder has the same surface area as a football field. Since supplements and retail restaurants are not regulated by the FDA, it’s hard to know the exact amount of activated charcoal used, so it’s possible that there’s enough to cause some harm. Regular intake of activated charcoal may even cause nutrition deficiencies malnutrition or malabsorption.

Here are the risks of consuming activated charcoal:

It can prevent your body from digesting food and absorbing nutrients.
It can make medications and other supplements WAY less effective.
Side effects can include diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and blockage of the digestive tract.
Last summer, New York City, under orders from the FDA, had to ban activated charcoal in restaurants—presumably because the city had become a mecca of activated charcoal treats.

What medications are affected by activated charcoal?
As above, almost anything taken by mouth can adsorb to activated charcoal given the right circumstances. There is really no safe way to take this and no health advantages to doing so.

People taking ongoing or chronic medications (like statins, antidepressants, the birth control pill, and blood pressure drugs) can be affected the most by activated charcoal, since staying on schedule is important for managing the condition.

– – –

While activated charcoal definitely has a place in the medical world, consumer products and foods containing activated charcoal are not proven to have any medical benefit. Always discuss with your holistic physician or nutrition specialist if you’re thinking about changing your diet, starting a new supplement, or going on a detox cleanse. Also, be a lot more discerning of information found on the internet. Next week join me for a discussion about if you are awakening each night at the same time, Chinese medicine may explain why. Until then, I hope you will visit my Natural Pharmacy for great deals on hundreds of amazing. FRESH health products and FREE, superfast shipping on each order. I am an authorized distributor of every product we sell so you know they are100% authentic and have never been warehoused. Please sign up for notifications of blog topics, special events and sales on our website. I look forward to sharing this topic with you next week and as always:

Best of Health!

Dr. Taryn DeCicco


Author's Bio: 

Dr Taryn DeCicco ND, LAc, LDN of Apple A Day Clinic in Arlington Heights, IL has been practicing Naturopathy, Nutrition, and Acupuncture as a holistic doctor, specializing in acne, skin, digestive disorders, and HPV for over 20 years!