Is activated charcoal right for you?

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Activated charcoal is claimed to work miracles but it does come with some potential dangers. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Activated charcoal is claimed to work miracles but it does come with some potential dangers. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Activated charcoal is claimed to work miracles but it does come with some potential dangers.

Here is what you need to know about activated charcoal before you give it a try.


What is activated charcoal?

  • Charcoal is made from coal, wood and other substances and becomes activated when exposed to high temperatures in combination with a gas or other agent to expand its surface area.
  • While many claim it works like a miracle supplement to treat conditions from reducing hangovers to lowering cholesterol, it's important to note that it needs to be used in moderation.


  • Eliminates poisonous substances.
    • Often used by doctors to reduce poisonous substances from prescription drug overdoses, alcohol poisoning or medications like Tylenol, aspirin and other over-the-counter drugs.
  • Helps reduce bloating.
    • People who often have issues with bloating, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues use activated charcoal because it can bind with gas-causing byproducts in foods to reduce symptoms. 
  • Prevent premature aging
    • Anti-aging properties have been found in activated charcoal and it can help by supporting adrenal gland health and may prevent damage to kidneys and liver, although, more medical research is needed to confirm this.
  • Boosts digestive system
    • If you want to eliminate toxins from chemicals in your drinks, pesticides in food, and air pollutants, activated charcoal can help. After ingesting, it can help to increase mental health, relieve joint pain and increase your energy. 
  • Activated charcoal for beauty
    • In addition to ingesting activated charcoal, many people use it as a way to whiten teeth because it can absorb plaque that cause stains. It is also making headlines for being used as a face mask. You put the mask on your face to help clear your complexion and treat acne. The activated charcoal will bind to skin impurities and work to remove them from your face.


  • Unpleasant side effects
    • If you ingest a large amount of activated charcoal or it is ingested too often, the most common side effect is nausea and vomiting. It can also reduce absorption of some medications, so it's important to talk to your doctor before taking it. 
  • Some benefits not supported by science
    • There is still medical research that needs to be done to determine the full effect of using activated charcoal. Many common benefits associated with ingesting the substance (lowering cholesterol, a hangover cure and improving kidney function) are yet to be supported by science. 
  • Stains fabric
    • Before using activated charcoal, be sure to protect any clothing, counters and floors. Activated charcoal can easily stain exposed surfaces. 

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