Fitness + Well-being

The Newest Trend in Detox: Drinking Charcoal

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 (Instagram/LuliTonix)

Now that cold-pressed juice shops are on every corner, it's time to step up what's in your cup. The newest trend in healthy living: drinking charcoal. Major juice companies like Project Juice, Juice Generation, and LuliTonix currently have charcoal drinks on their menus, touted as the newest way to detox.

So does it work? Find out more about the trendy drink below.

What Is It?

Charcoal drinks are made from activated charcoal, which is regular charcoal that has been heated with gas in order to form pores. These pores are used to trap chemicals, which is why activated charcoal has medicinal uses.

Does It Work?

The most common, established way doctors use activated charcoal is as an emergency treatment for poisonings; when ingested, activated charcoal can prevent certain chemicals from being absorbed by the stomach. But other ways to use charcoal have popped up as the trendy new way to better your health — anything from trapping toxins in your body to curing your hangover to preventing gas.

Use as a poisoning deterrent aside, activated charcoal hasn't been evaluated in enough studies to prove its effectiveness in other uses. Some studies show that it is effective for reducing gas, for example, while others disagree. And when it comes to preventing hangovers, experts say that it doesn't seem to trap alcohol, which would make it less effective than some charcoal-infused hangover remedies would claim. Activated charcoal has, however, been shown to be effective for reducing bile flow during pregnancy.

What Are the Side Effects?

Side effects of ingesting activated charcoal aren't too serious, but it can cause constipation and black stools, so keep that in mind before you start downing bottle after bottle. In rare cases, activated charcoal can cause intestinal blockage. And since charcoal absorbs what's in your stomach, don't take your medication within two hours of drinking a charcoal blend.

Should You Try It?

If you're curious about trying out an activated charcoal drink, choose a reputable source and start small. Many people describe the taste as neutral, so if you're worried about eating ash, rest assured the other flavors in your juice will be the most prominent. (Check out POPSUGAR Beauty's taste test of Juice Generation's charcoal drinks here for more on what it tastes like.) But if you're looking for a way to quickly detox or feel better after an indulgent weekend, take note: A diet full of fresh produce and whole foods is the smarter way to look and feel your best.