The Activated Charcoal Craze 101

Having a healthy lifestyle, to some extent, is a goal that most people have in today’s society. This includes eating healthy food, maintaining an exercise routine and taking care of your skin. Surprisingly, all of these activities have one thing in common today: activated charcoal. You get juices, skin products, water purifiers and even toothpastes with activated charcoal!

In the last year or two, videos of charcoal infused peeling masks and thousands of pictures of pitch black ice cream have flooded our timelines and feeds across various social media outlets. That’s right, all these products are made with activated charcoal.

While the internet suggests that activated charcoal benefits are the next revolution in healthy living and skincare, there’s a lot more to know before investing in these products. Find out why:

What Is Activated Charcoal Used For?

While consuming charcoal, which is found at construction sites or at BBQs is harmful to the body and can lead to cancer; activated charcoal is cleansed and offers interesting health, skin and beauty benefits.

Activated charcoal, which is the byproduct of burning coconut shells, wood, or other plant materials, has the capacity to bind positively charged ions (such as chemicals) together, removing them from the body. The idea behind using activated charcoal as an ingredient works, as it traps toxins and chemicals, preventing absorption. Thus, products that use activated charcoal get rid of toxins from the body and hence are extensively used.

Where Is Activated Charcoal Used?

Earlier, activated charcoal was widely used in medicine. Due to its toxin absorption abilities, activated charcoal was used for emergency poison treatment and it also helped with drug overdoses.

Besides that, activated charcoal also found its way in popular home remedies. While most of these aren’t supported by science, the use of activated charcoal in water filters and for gas reduction has been proved to be right.

Furthermore, activated charcoal has recently come up as the #1 ingredient in many skin products. Face masks, face washes, skin creams and even shampoos now include activated charcoal. While its growing presence makes it seem like an effective solution, the application of activated charcoal on a regular basis can harm the skin as it tends to absorb the good stuff too, like natural oils and minerals.

When it comes to food, however; it contains a much lower dosage than what's used by a doctor for medicinal purposes.

So, you shouldn't expect it to dramatically whiten your teeth or cleanse your body, as it is often advertised. While juices with activated charcoal are consumed for body cleansing, the food is believed to be a cure for hangover and bloating. While none of these are scientifically proven, pictures and videos of activated charcoal infused food and drinks are an internet craze and a great marketing strategy for several food outlets!

Do you also have a toothpaste that contains activated charcoal? While it isn’t scientifically proven, toothpastes with activated charcoal are believed to help whiten teeth. Many dentists have mentioned that while charcoal based toothpaste may help, there is also a potential of damaging the enamel.

So, while the ingredient is currently trending, especially amongst the social media culture, it is advised to consume activated charcoal only when advised by a physician. It is important to remember that even when it is used responsibly, it has adverse reactions such as nausea, pneumonia and vomiting amongst other health hazards. Now, you know the pros and cons of activated charcoal. 

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