Activated Charcoal

This is a genius detoxifier—and inexpensive to boot.


Do you ever stumble upon something and wonder why everyone else isn’t going crazy over it? That’s how I feel about activated charcoal.  

What it is: Heated, a.k.a. activated, charcoal is porous and can collect toxins. Think of a sponge traveling through your system, soaking up nasty bits your body can’t use and wants to expel. Those who use activated charcoal have felt nearly-instant relief after taking it to rid the body of allergens and excess alcohol. (Yep, we’re talking hangover cure—but see below regarding water consumption.) Many claim that it helps with mould that’s built up in the system as well. 

How to use it: According to the instructions on the package. Usually you start with two capsules in the morning and follow it with one or two more throughout the day. It can be found at most pharmacies and Health 2000, where it’s $8.10 for 45 capsules.

Words of warning: Because the charcoal is absorbing toxins in the system to flush out, you MUST—MUST!—drink a lot of water on days that you take it. Otherwise all you’re doing is collecting the toxins together to be reabsorbed into your system. You can also get quite constipated if you forego a lot of water. I’m talking three litres or more on days you take it. Also, absolutely don’t take it at the same time as vitamins, medication or other supplements. Got that? Take hours apart from anything else and drink a ton of water. Also, there are no studies on its long-term use, so I urge you not to use it daily. It’s for those moments when you feel yuck and have had too much of something that doesn’t agree with you.

Also, it isn’t a cure-all for all toxins. There are some things that don’t bind to it, but there are plenty that do. 

And a final disclaimer: Many of the studies on activated charcoal have been performed on animals, not humans, so the scientific data isn’t as strong as it could be. However, I have had immense benefit from occasional use when I’ve ingested too many high-histamine foods (I’m very sensitive). If you’re interested, this is a good study published in 2017 about how it can prevent diarrhea after exposure to bacteria that causes the runs. 



Photo courtesy of Adrien Olichon