The Dirty Truth About Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal has been popping up as part of a “goth” food trend. Foods containing the substance have taken over Instagram as a counter to the popular “unicorn” and “mermaid” food trends. Everything from ice cream to lemonade to pizza has been offered in the deep black hue, beloved as much for their cynical appearance as for their detoxifying properties.


Used for decades in hospitals as a way to prevent drug overdoses, activated charcoal is known for its ability to detox the body. Its porous nature sucks up poisons, preventing the body from absorbing the bad stuff. Therefore, activated charcoal can help with everything from food poisoning to hangovers. Usually taken as a pill or dissolved in water, hip food spots have started including the substance in everyday items.


While consuming activated charcoal once in awhile as a cleanse is obviously beneficial, experts say you should proceed with caution. The substance is amazing at sucking up molecules in your stomach but the problem is that it can’t tell the good stuff from the bad stuff. So with all the toxins the charcoal absorbs, it also takes essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, potassium along with it. Eat activated charcoal too often and you could be dealing with malnutrition.


If you take prescription drugs, activated charcoal is especially dangerous. The substance will absorb your medicine, which could lead to health complications. This includes birth control pills, so be careful and use a secondary method of contraception if you want to try some fun goth food.


As with most food trends, activated charcoal items should be viewed as a treat, not an everyday occurrence. Try some black ice cream or a latte once for the ‘gram or when you are feeling especially sick and you’ll be fine.