What Is Activated Charcoal?

Walking into Planet Organic one rainy Tuesday (pre lockdown) and I spotted a super interesting menu that perked my interest! Their ‘Activated Charcoal’ drinks list – where you can grab a Charcoal Latte, Charcoal Coffee, Charcoal Refresher, or a Charcoal Shot.

Activated Charcoal started appearing on our shelves a few years ago in a big way. It took over the natural toothpaste, tooth whitening & face mask market, as well as appearing in our liver cleansing and detoxifying juices & tonics. But…what actually is it and how does it work?

So here comes the technical bit…..activated charcoal is made using carbon, which is combined with gases and exposed to very high temperatures. Through this activation process the carbon develops pores which are believed to ‘catch’ chemicals and toxins in your body.

It’s definitely not to be mistaken with the standard charcoal you might be familiar with that you use in fires and barbecues, where additional toxins and chemicals are actually added in.

So what’s it used for?

Water Purification – it’s said to catch, retain and remove harmful chemicals.

In supplement form – to help remove and detoxify your body from processed and refined foods that you consume.

For Digestive Health – taking an activated charcoal supplement either before or immediately after a meal may help reduce any gas & bloating.

For cholesterol levels – by absorbing toxins and harmful chemicals that may otherwise lead to cholesterol build up.

As a beauty treatment

  • One of the most popular being charcoal toothpaste – which can help remove stains from things like red wine and coffee. However, be careful using it on your nice clean bathroom & worktops as it has the potential to stain them!
  • For deodorants –the idea being that it catches pong-producing microbes!
  • For skincare – Your skin is the largest organ of the body and it collects a lot of stuff during any given day (things like dust, dead skin, bus & car fumes and sweat to name a few!) so activated charcoal is used to remove these toxins from the surface of the skin.

Insect bites – it may help remove bee stings & chemicals released from insect bites.

So coming back to the drinks menu, should you really take a sip?

The amount of research on activated charcoal is somewhat lacking, however of what is out there, it’s proving to have positive results.

My advice would be to ensure you are choosing pharmaceutical grade, activated charcoal and also…that you always drink water with it, as it can lead to dehydration if not.