Activated charcoal is having a moment in food, beauty, and supplement industries right now. But how does it work? And is it even good for you?
The global market for activated charcoal is projected to reach $6.2 billion by 2022. An impressive feat, considering it comes from the same stuff as your grilling charcoal: burnt wood.
The difference is that activated charcoal is burned at higher temperatures, so it breaks down into a fine powder. Which gives it a larger surface area than a chunk of charcoal on the grill. And that’s exactly need you want when you’re trying to remove toxins from your body.
How it works has to do with the microscopic structure of the charcoal itself. Inside each particle are millions of pores that act like a tiny trap. Which is helpful if you’ve just overdosed on drugs since it can prevent them from entering your system.
But it can also soak up minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. So when you drink charcoal-laced lemonade with a healthy meal, you’re absorbing fewer nutrients than you otherwise would. To make matters worse, it can prevent medications, like antidepressants and contraceptive pills, from reaching your system.
Not to mention, there’s no evidence to support the claims from charcoal enthusiasts that it’ll prevent bloating, boost energy, brighten skin, or whiten teeth.