Have you heard about activated charcoal supplements? If not, chances are good that you soon will. After all, activated charcoal is the latest craze to hit the healthcare market.
Why the sudden interest? Simply looking at the reasons you may need an activated charcoal supplement, as well as the health benefits you may reap from taking them, will give you the answer you are looking for.
Below, you’ll find an in-depth look at activated charcoal, including why you may need this type of supplement, as well as what to look for and what to avoid when selecting a supplement. To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve also included reviews of the top 5 activated charcoal supplements currently on the market.
Before we go any further, there is one HUGE thing you need to understand. Activated charcoal is not the type of charcoal you find in a grill. OK, now let’s get started.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
First, let’s examine what activated charcoal actually is. It’s a form of carbon that has been processed to enhance the absorption of certain compounds (1). There’s a good chance you may have heard of it being used in an emergency room to treat an overdose or poisoning.
When it enters your stomach and intestinal tract, it binds to any poisons, toxins, and chemicals to make certain they are not fully metabolized and absorbed. Instead of absorbing these things, your body goes through the process of adsorption, which is a chemical reaction that soaks up and assimilates these things into your body, allowing it to pass right through and quickly be flushed out of your body (2).
So, what does this have to do with you and your health? It’s primarily related to its ability to get rid of toxins, poisons, and other impurities before they can be absorbed.
Why Do You Need an Activated Charcoal Supplement?
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that many of the reasons you may need an activated charcoal supplement are related to the myriad benefits it provides for your digestive system. For example, it has been shown to be useful for anyone who struggles with bloating and gas, thanks to its ability to bind to gas-producing byproducts in food that would usually cause discomfort (3).
Here are the top reasons you may need an activated charcoal supplement.
Provides a digestive cleanse
By getting rid of toxins that can cause oxidative damage, allergic reaction, and poor immune system function, these supplements can help enhance your energy level, improve your mental function, and reduce joint pain (4). Keep in mind that these toxins include everything from chemicals in the water your drink to exposure to mold and pesticides on food.
Has anti-aging properties
Researchers have found that activated charcoal helps to prevent cellular damage to the liver and kidneys, while also supporting healthy adrenal glands (5). This cell damage, along with improper adrenal gland functioning and our constant exposure to toxins and chemicals in our environment, home, and food, can cause premature aging.
Helps improve mental clarity
Again, this is related to its ability to prevent toxins from entering your digestive system. It’s not unusual for these toxins to cause brain fog, chronic fatigue, and an overall decrease in cognitive function. By eliminating them, you are almost certain to see an increase in your mental clarity (6).
Helps reduce high cholesterol
In one study, researchers found that activated charcoal decreased participants’ total cholesterol levels by 25% in just four weeks (7). Even more importantly, it reduced their LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels by 41%.
May reduce your BAC when drinking
This could potentially save you from a hangover (8). However, researchers agree this needs to be studied further because past study results have varied greatly. And, no, this absolutely will NOT help you pass a breathalyzer test, so don’t even think about it.
What to Look for in an Activated Charcoal Supplement
Now that you’re starting to see why you might benefit from an activated charcoal supplement, here are a few things you need to know about selecting a specific supplement to take.
Be sure it will not interfere with any medicines you are taking
There is a chance that a supplement could reduce the effectiveness of certain medications, which is why you’ll want to clear your use with your physician first.
Check that it has been made from a natural source
Coconut shell is a common example of a natural source. Manufacturers have managed to produce synthetic forms of activated charcoal. However, your best is to go with that made from a sustainable natural source. Binchotan, made from Japanese Ubame oak, is considered the crème de la crème (9).
Consider the strength and dosage
According to Drugs.com, the recommended dosage when using the supplement to get rid of flatulence and bloating is anywhere from 500 mg to 1040 mg up to 4 times a day as needed. The site points out that this is not an effective dosage for poisoning and that anyone who may have been poisoned should go to the nearest hospital immediately.
What to Avoid in Activated Charcoal Supplements
Stay away from activated charcoal cleansing drinks
At some point, you’ll come across drinks, including fresh concoctions at your favorite juice bar, that contain activated charcoal. Don’t be tempted by them because activated charcoal can bind to vitamins and nutrients, zapping your drink of some of its nutritional value.
Avoid supplements that include fillers
With so many other options available, there’s no reason to take a supplement that has fillers or artificial sweeteners added.
You are nutrient deficient
Activated charcoal can absorb vitamins and minerals as well as toxins. This is normally fine. If you are deficient in something, however, then charcoal absorbing what little of the nutrient you have could lead to negative side effects and exacerbate the deficiency.
OUR SPECIALIZED RANKING SYSTEM
Now, that you have a better understanding of activated charcoal supplements and what to look for when shopping for one, it’s time to look at some of the most popular products on the market. At Smarter Reviews, we employ a comprehensive evaluation system to analyze and measure the full value of products. This is based on component quality, safety, potential effectiveness, return policies, and overall customer satisfaction. We call our method the Smarter Reviews Ranking System.
TOP 5 Activated Charcoal Supplements
Now, let's look at the five best activated charcoal supplements on the market. This should make it much easier to choose one for yourself.