There's almost always a new health fad that pops out every year and nowadays, that seems to be activated charcoal. People just can't seem to get enough of it and why not? From common hearsay, activated charcoal seems to be some sort of super-drug, capable of whitening teeth, clearing up one's skin, and getting rid of that pesky hangover, too—or so they say. But as with every trend that turns up every few years or so, activated charcoal is surrounded by both facts and fiction and here are just a few things you have to know.
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal is charcoal that has been exposed to extreme heat and certain specific gases. This exposure forms small holes or pores to appear on and these pores allow the charcoal, now "activated" to trap certain compounds like toxins. This is why activated charcoal is known as a detoxifier.
First, activated charcoal is time-controlled meaning it only works within (about) an hour of poisoning, when the substance one has taken is still in the stomach and not yet in the small intestine. So if you think that you can detox yourself with activated charcoal after years of consuming certain types of drugs, you're wrong. Another thing is activated charcoal doesn't discriminate between toxins and nutrients. It can adsorb (that is to cause adhesion in a thin layer of molecules) poison but it can adsorb vitamins and nutrients also, which is why putting activated charcoal in lemonade or fruit juice may actually be counterproductive. Lastly, not all toxins are adsorbed by activated charcoal. There are certain substances that it is unable to bind to, for example, alcohol. (via Eater)
CLAIM #1: Activated charcoal clears the skin up.
There is no evidence for activated charcoal clearing skin up on its own, but Ivy Lee, a dermatologist based in California who also works as an assistant clinical professor at UCLA, admits that following the logic of how activated charcoal works, it could. That's not a definite yes however and further studies are needed to prove activated charcoal's effectivity in clearing up one's skin!
CLAIM #2: Activated charcoal whitens teeth
SEMI-TRUE. BUT IT COMES WITH A RISK.
There is no conclusive study showing that activated charcoal whitens the teeth, but a lot of people claim that it works. But if there is one thing that dentists are sure of about activated charcoal it's that it might hurt your teeth in the long run. Eep! Since activated charcoal is abrasive, the coarseness of the powder might actually wear away the enamel on your teeth and could hurt your gums as well, says Dr. Kim Harms of the American Dental Association.
CLAIM #3: Activated charcoal reduces bloating.
YET AGAIN, INCONCLUSIVE.
Four studies have been between 1981 to 2000 to see whether or not activated charcoal helps in reducing bloating. Two studies said it did, two others said it didn't. Your call, Candy Girls!
CLAIM #4: Activated charcoal helps reduce body odor.
Body odor is caused by bacteria on the surface of the skin and unless you're planning on wearing activated charcoal under your armpits for the whole day, then this wouldn't be effective at all.
A lot of the miracles that people attribute to activated charcoal are yet to be proven scientifically. This is because there simply hasn't been enough studies done on activated charcoal to prove anything. It's a fairly recent trend and there hasn't been enough time to fully understand what it can and can't do. Bottom line? Don't jump in too quickly on trends because most of the time, no one really knows if it's truly effective or just simply trends.
Have you added activated charcoal in your beauty routine? What do you have to say?