Let's talk about... Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has exploded as a health food trend in recent years. Whilst we love a charcoal latte or a white chocolate and charcoal mini loaf we want to explore just how good for you activated charcoal really is. The black powder is made from carbon-containing material, like wood, that is heated at high temperatures to create charcoal, then oxidised, which is the process known as “activation”. At Pearl and Groove we use an activated charcoal stick to filter our water and the powdered charcoal in lattes and our cakes. Recently, I’ve started taking activated charcoal pills, I love a health food trend and am happy to jump on any old bandwagon. They are supposed to neutralise the gas in your stomach and make you less bloated. The problem with any of these fads is that it’s hard to tell whether they are working or whether your body is behaving differently due to hormones, stress or a multitude of other external factors. Just like with the turmeric trend it requires rather more charcoal than you might think to have a positive effect on the body, more than might be in your charcoal lemonade. It could be that the quantity in most activated charcoal products is just enough to give it that grunge aesthetic we enjoy so much. At least it’s “Instagrammable” hey?
To date there’s no scientific evidence to suggest activated charcoal reduces bloating or gas and studies that have been done report back with mixed results. What’s more, I’ve read that if you’re taking medication activated charcoal should be avoided as it can make it less effective. However, we can verify that it is used in the absorption of poison from the body, if one were to get poisoned somehow… Hopefully not. Ultimately, and this is important to note, your body removes toxins perfectly well all by itself, it’s what the liver and kidneys are for, so there’s no need to reach for the detox juice or supplements. Maybe that’s some advice I should heed myself.
From what I can gather, activated charcoal looks great, tastes like the love child of an Oreo and red velvet in our cakes and is effective at filtering chemicals in London’s questionable tap water but if you’re looking for a detox then look no further than your own organs.