So Is Activated Charcoal In Food Or Drinks Just A Big Old Scam, Or What?

From toothpaste to ice cream, we’ve seen activated charcoal explode in popularity this year. But besides the aesthetic, what’s the point? 

According to Consumer Reports, activated charcoal has been used in emergency rooms for years as an immediate way to detoxify the body after a drug overdose. The American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, however, emphasized the limited capabilities of charcoal— like the fact that it’s only effective in certain cases. 

Recently, companies have caught on to this effectiveness and began infusing it in all sorts of products. Lisa Sasson, M.S., R.D., told Consumer Reports that “I don’t think that was ever the intent” of activated charcoal. And the leap to everyday charcoal was not based in science. 

According to Spoon, the activated charcoal in our food may actually be doing more harm than good. Charcoal is known for its ability to bind to toxins in the body to help the body expel it, but this means that the charcoal could just as easily bind to nutrients that the body needs. 

On top of that, over-consumption of activated charcoal could cause intestinal blockage or malnutrition, said studies obtained by Spoon. So, those cleansing properties may not go as planned if you’re too obsessed with the gothic food trend. 

Activated charcoal may appeal to your inner emo, but the truth behind eating it is pseudo-science. And as for controlling odor, clearing up your skin and whitening teeth? Well, there are no published articles confirming those claims either, according to Consumer Reports.