Ask the Dietitians

The Benefits of Activated Charcoal

You've probably heard a lot about activated charcoal as a powerful detoxifying ingredient in toothpaste, face wash and even smoothies. Is there science behind the hype?

Growing in popularity as a health supplement, food-grade activated charcoal works as a cleansing agent to help flush toxins from the body. It also works well as a digestive aid, as a teeth whitener and as a support for healthier skin. 

Activated charcoal is processed using very high heat to make it more porous, which allows it to bind impurities and unwanted substances into millions of tiny pores. It has long been used to treat drug and alcohol overdoses and some types of food and chemical poisonings. Once ingested, activated charcoal binds with substances in the digestive tract, essentially trapping the toxin before it is absorbed by the body. However, the binding effect it has in the stomach can interfere with the absorption and efficacy of medications and absorption of nutrients from meals. (To prevent this, take at least 1 hour after taking an oral medication. To prevent nutrient binding, take between meals and only when needed.) 

Research into its broader health properties is still preliminary, but when administered correctly, activated charcoal is effective when used as a cleansing supplement or for digestive relief. Speak with your health-care professional about whether it’s right for you.

See our recipe for Orange Ginger Juice with Activated Charcoal.