Activated charcoal (no, not the stuff in your grill) is hugely healthful, and has been trendy among the health-conscious for a few years now. And for good reason—activated charcoal is pretty incredible. It can reduce bloating and digestive gas, helps prevent hangovers, whitens teeth, filters tap water, treats alcohol poisoning and so much more. It is affordable, has practically no flavor and has so many beneficial uses. What’s not to love?
But there is a dark side to this black supplement. Depending on your quantity and timing, supplementing with activated charcoal can potentially cause your medications to be less effective or even ineffective, especially if you are on the Pill.
According to research, the porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative electrical charge which causes it to bind to and trap medications in the body, thereby making them less potent. This is hugely important to know, not only if you are on the Pill, but also if you rely on any sort of prescription meds.
Why does taking something as simple as charcoal cause such havoc ? Activated charcoal is really good at adsorbing things rather indiscriminately inside your body, including minerals, vitamins and even drugs. In fact, activated charcoal is sometimes given to those who have taken too much medication in order to prevent an overdose because it is so good at sucking things out of the body system. That means activated charcoal could potentially bind to drugs in your body and render any of your medications ineffective, which could lead to more serious consequences.
This is a real issue if you are consuming large doses of activated charcoal regularly, as some people do when they are on cleanse or detox programs. But you can have the best of both worlds. If you enjoy the benefits of activated charcoal, but want to stay on the safe side, you can alter the timing of your supplementation. Just consume any sort of medications quite a few hours before consuming activated charcoal in order to allow the body to absorb it properly. And, while it is fun to mix activated charcoal into foods to get a fun black color, be conscious of consuming it in moderation.