Activated charcoal is known to detox and help you get over everything from a hangover to food poisoning, but does drinking it on a day-to-day basis really help your health?
Activated charcoal is often used to cleanse the body of toxic substances by pulling these into itself and carrying it out of the body. That’s why when you’ve got food poisoning, the doctor often prescribes charcoal pills. They’re also good for hangovers, intestinal gas and lowering cholesterol levels.
Today, you can also get activated charcoal from juice bars. This usually comes in the form of lemonade that includes lemon juice and sweetener, but it can also be combined with coconut water or even almond milk. Brands like HIC JUICE, AYOMO and Pressed all serve a variation of activated charcoal “juice” here in Singapore, but it’s important to note just how much activated charcoal each juice has in it, for it to be really effective.
According to Li Lihui, CEO of HIC JUICE, “Effectiveness is subjective to each person, and also depends on what the activated charcoal is being used for. For a normal adult without symptoms of food poisoning and diarrhoea, it is not recommended to exceed 5g or two teaspoons of the activated charcoal. In the case of HIC JUICE beverages with activate charcoal, we use only one teaspoon per 500ml bottle, which comes up to slightly above 2g.”
It’s also one of those drinks that seems to be more effective when you drink it in small doses. “Drinking it every day would not result in substantial benefits,” says Founder and Nutritionist Sherie Liang of AYOMO. In fact, many studies have reviewed long-term use and found less benefits compared to short-term use. Once a week is great.”
Since activated charcoal has strong binding properties, it shouldn’t be mixed with high nutrient juices such as green juices, because you might lose those nutrients due to charcoal’s binding and detoxifying properties.
Also, if you’re taking medication, Sherie advises to check with your doctor before you embark on some charcoal chugging, as it can interact with certain drugs. It’s also important to keep drinking water, as charcoal can have dehydrating side effects. Oh, and remember, your poop might go a shade darker, all in the name of detox!
Photography: Nyen / Text: Karen Fong.