Here's Exactly What Drinking Charcoal Water Does for Your Body
Question: What exactly is charcoal water good for? Before doing our research and interviewing nutritionist Kimberly Snyder for this article, we anticipated reporting on health benefits of charcoal water (made with activated charcoal) such as absorbing excess medications like excess Aspirin, helping to reduce cholesterol, and relieving digestive issues. But Kimberly, who is the author of multiple books on the topic of detox, cautions to be mindful of activated charcoal intake. She shares, “There is no long-term research around how much is ok to consume daily, weekly, or even monthly.”
When we asked another trusted nutritionist, Dara Godfrey, what the benefits of charcoal water are, she also responded that she’s not the biggest fan of charcoal. Why? Yet certified culinary nutritionist and holistic health coach Neda Varbanova of Healthy With Nedi tells Byrdie that some of charcoal’s health benefits include detoxifying the body, relieving gas and bloating, whitening teeth, and treating alcohol poisoning in emergency situations.
What gives the polarising responses? Well, for one, the “benefits” of activated charcoal (like absorbing excess medications) isn’t always a good thing. For example, if someone takes medication daily, consuming activated charcoal could prevent the drug from being absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream.
Kimberly emphasises, “It is extremely important to know that you should NEVER take activated charcoal with other medications administered orally (i.e., via the mouth). Think about it,” she says. “As activated charcoal absorbs substances in the stomach and intestines, it will also absorb the chemicals in the medication and therefore decrease the effectiveness of the medication.”
Ahead, we take a look at the supposed health benefits of activated charcoal and investigate which ones are supported and which ones lack any evidence.
Claim: It Relieves Gas and Nausea
Kimberly says that charcoal water can help with gas and nausea, BUT as Thomas Pirelli, Ph.D., taught her, “there is a lack of scientific evidence to support the claims that activated charcoal helps reduce intestinal gases, indigestion, and diarrhoea,” she states.
“Because of the lack of enough studies, this brings up questions as to what it does to the microbiome and gut flora.” She explains, “There is wonderful bacteria in the gut, and if it captures general toxins, it might also take nutrients with it.” Her recommendation for helping digestion is a taking a probiotic.
Claim: It Removes Excess Various Medications
Claim: It Detoxifies the Body
“While it is just now making a comeback, activated charcoal has been used for health purposes since the time of the ancient Egyptians,” shares Neda. Based on two separate studies, Nedas says, “Used medically for treating some instances of poisoning, activated charcoal relieves toxins from both the digestive and urinary tracts.”
Claim: It Lowers Cholesterol
Claim: It Clears the Skin
Activated charcoal is an ingredient in many cleansers and face masks (such as these from Sephora), and when used topically, it can help to clear skin. According to Livestrong, “Activated charcoal boasts beauty benefits for skin by drawing oil, dirt and other harmful substances from clogged pores due to its adsorption powers.”
Tell us: Do you drink charcoal water? Have you noticed any health benefits or side effects? Sound off in the comments below, and next, see what happened when our editor took a charcoal pill to prevent her hangover.