Rimma Bondarenko/ShutterstockDid someone say, charcoal juice? Indeed, a lot of people are saying it. High-end juice companies are adding activated charcoal to their products because the charcoal can absorb toxins from the body and leave you feeling renewed. You’re probably wondering if this seemingly odd idea can actually help purify and energize—it can. Once you’re over the look of a bottle of black juice, you’re well on your way. (These experts weigh in on if activated charcoal really improves your skin.)
Activated charcoal is not the charcoal that grilling bricks are made of. Rather, it’s charcoal that is high in carbon and made from organic materials (often wood or coconut shells) that has been heated in order to be able to absorb even more than regular charcoal. Don’t worry: this charcoal is food-grade and can be safely ingested. You cannot, however, char a burger over it.
Can I actually drink this blackish-grey stuff?
The good news is that charcoal lemonade adds very little taste to whatever it’s added to. Lemonade will still taste like lemonade; juice will still taste like juice and a kale smoothie will still taste like a kale smoothie.
It also won’t mask the taste, either. Because of this, you can add activated charcoal to just about any juice cleanse without having to worry about the flavor. In fact, Canadian fresh-pressed juice companies like Well Juicery Canada, CRU Cold-Pressed Juice, Revitasize each sell an Activated Charcoal Lemonade.
But does it work?
This is the big question, isn’t it: what does it do? Activated charcoal binds toxins (think pesticides and other chemicals found in food) very strongly. It does this so well that it’s used by professionals as a treatment for some types of poisoning. When used in moderation and combined with a juice cleanse, activated charcoal can help pull unwanted toxins out of your system.
Is activated charcoal lemonade safe?
Yes! Activated charcoal is a favorite for detoxification because your body doesn’t actually absorb it. You drink it; it does what you sent it in to do and it leaves, taking toxins with it. Drink activated carbon in juice between (but not with) meals and only in non-acidic (no citrus) juices.
What you need to know to use activated charcoal properly
Activated charcoal binds with a number of things beyond toxins, like healthy vitamins and minerals. For this reason, you should space out your doses so that they don’t overlap with meals. Taking other medication? Don’t drink your charcoal juice alongside other medication; this will avoid having the charcoal bind with your medication, which you don’t want. Also: be sure to drink lots of water along with your juice to keep your fluid levels up! (Another charcoal trend, pizza crust!)
It’s time to bust some myths
Heard about the popular lemonade and activated charcoal juice cleanse? Unfortunately, mixing activated charcoal with a lemon juice or any other kind of acidic beverage, like orange juice, can reduce the effect of the charcoal. (Good news: that means you can combine this with an alkaline lemongrass detox!)
Advocates for activated carbon juices (the lemonade is quite popular among them, despite what we’ve noted above) will tell you that it is the cure for hangovers. Sadly, we’re going to have to bust this myth. Activated charcoal doesn’t bind well to alcohol, and it won’t absorb it. The good new is you might still feel better after drinking it, on account of the activated charcoal removing other toxins ingested along with that alcohol. (Remember that fast food craving you had after your night out?)
Safe, natural and without side effects
Activated charcoal juices are all natural and safe to drink. As long as you follow the guidelines above, it will remove toxins from your body. Most people’s systems do just fine with activated charcoal, so there’s no real danger in trying it. Because it isn’t absorbed into your system, it shouldn’t add to any problems you’re experiencing.
And, despite looking gloomy and cloudy, there are no negative side effects to report. For maximum effect, try activated charcoal juice no more than one than once or twice a week. This should leave you feeling recharged for the time in-between.