On The Table

A collection of knowledge-based articles to inspire overall wellness.

What You Need to Know About Drinking Activated Charcoal

Most would not envision charcoal as a contributor towards good health but its users may disagree. So what exactly is activated charcoal and how can you take advantage of its intake? Find out what you need to know here!

What You Need to Know About Drinking Activated Charcoal

When visualizing charcoal, it is more than likely not envisioned as a contributor towards good health. But its users may disagree, as they abide by its potential benefits. So what exactly is activated charcoal and how may you advantage from its intake? Find out what you need to know here!

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is NOT the same as the coals you would use to heat up the grill, but rather a medical treatment or lemon-type juice promoted by Gwenyth Paltrow. "Activation" occurs by heating a piece of wood or another carbon-rich product in the presence of certain gases. The process ultimately creates pure carbon, with its newfound characteristics offering internal spaces and expanding surface area. The resulted characteristics chiefly provide its primary and sought-out use: detoxification.

The structure of activated charcoal is used for medical detoxification, mostly after a poison contaminates the body and creates a life-threatening situation. When activated charcoal is introduced within the body, it remains solidified in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Unlike most foods becoming absorbed upon intake, activated charcoal exhibits adsorption, a mechanism that can be described as a magnet. Adsorption is a surface-based process and causes particles to adhere to its exterior. In medical detoxification, toxins essentially stick to activated charcoal, eliminating them from the body system. That being said, what are the suggested health benefits of drinking activated charcoal water?

Activated Charcoal Benefits

The "detox" effects and claims of activated charcoal drive home its desire. Individuals seek out detoxes to rid the body of toxins, mostly in the form of preservatives and additives that come from foods and other contaminants occurring in the environment. So since it binds and excretes poisonous compounds in a medical environment, drinking activated charcoal water as a detox regimen is logical, right?

Well, in reality, the evidence lacks to support such a claim. Most health and nutrition experts tend to promote another approach for such healthy detoxification... Also known as your body's own detox system, including the skin, liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system. In general, the personally-owned detox system runs most efficiently through good health choices, chiefly obtained through a nutritious diet, sufficient water intake, consistent exercise, adequate sleep, reducing stress, and protecting the skin. Though not extensively validated and concrete recommendations, small studies and its advocates claim activated charcoal may reduce flatulence (gas), cure hangovers, clean and whiten teeth, and fight against chronic disease.


Activated charcoal has been shown to be safe, but when used short-term. Consistent and overuse of activated charcoal may slow down the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and cause constipation, also with the potential to produce black stools. Though more uncommon, activated charcoal may completely block the GI tract and cause dehydration. And when considering activated charcoal is not broken down within the body, its ability to create intestinal complications is a clearer picture. Other concerns lay in nutritional deficiencies, as studies have suggested a considerable reduction in vitamins and minerals following its ingestion. Since there is no evidence to suggest what components are actually being eliminated following its ingestion, this raises the concern that activated charcoal acts as a free for all, adhering both "good" and "bad" body compounds to its surface. After considering the potential consequences and still desiring or exploring its use, consult with a healthcare professional for best practices and health considerations.